Mary Queen of Vietnam Development Corporation

In 1975, after the fall of Saigon, many of the Christian Vietnamese who supported the U.S.-allied government in the south fled. Some ended up in camps in the Midwestern U.S., at least until the Archdiocese of New Orleans invited them to come to the Gulf of Mexico, where the climate was more like what they were used to in Vietnam. Many of the Vietnamese were also fisherman, so the Roman Catholic church thought they’d have a better chance if they could pick up their old trade in Louisiana.

Now, almost 40 years later, there are 8,000 Vietnamese concentrated in a one-mile radius in New Orleans East. The community of fisherman was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina, and then the Deepwater Horizon debacle, but found ways to come together. At a recent EPA conference on repurposing industrial areas, or brownfields, Tap Bui, a community organizer at the Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation, discussed how this unique community recovered with sustainable aquaponics.