Origins is a three-part photography and reporting project that explores how climate change is exacerbating hurricanes that cause river flooding in Princeville, North Carolina—the oldest town in America founded by formerly enslaved Black people—and investigates what Princeville is doing to become more climate resilient as well as natural climate solutions in eastern North Carolina. The project is a partnership between the Pulitzer Center, the Coastal Review, NC Policy Watch, and the Solutions Journalism Network.
The project tells the story of a young, queer, Black woman who is moving home to Princeville to run her grassroots nonprofit that, in the spirit of Princeville’s ancestors, is dedicated to historical preservation, increasing community self-sufficiency and Black autonomy, and teaching sustainable farming that addresses food inequities and climate change. Its overall mission encourages “climate resistance” by building climate resilience and resisting white supremacy and its injustices.
One chapter explores how climate change and the ecological emergency are one crisis driven by the same colonialism that created segregated towns like Princeville; how these floods are the result of racist policies and destruction of ecosystems; and what the town is doing to become more climate resilient.
The other chapters explore climate solutions, including Black agriculture methods like low-till farming, which holds carbon in the ground and rebuilds soil that was destroyed by antebellum cotton farming.
The final chapter uses the story of whale fossils buried under Princeville to reveal what whales can teach us about natural marine climate solutions; and how the fates of Black people and whales are an interconnected racial justice issue.