Casual Questions with David Burley

David Burley is the author of Losing Ground: Identity and Land Loss in Coastal Louisiana. Losing Ground is a collection of interviews "everday" coastal residents taken just before the 2005 hurricanes.

Burley is an assistant professor of sociology at Southeastern Louisiana University.
  • What was your first job?
    My first job was working at a fabric store in my neighborhood in River Ridge, a suburb in metropolitan New Orleans. I was 13 years old and would ride my bike. It didn't last long, a few months or so. I remember having the feeling that I didn't know what I was doing and I was very shy so I had a hard time asking for assistance. I also recall that I didn't show up a couple of times and then there was some discrepancy about my pay. My dad had to come and talk to them. They then paid me whatever it was they owed me and that was pretty much it. All in all, your typical story for a suburban, middle-class kid.
  • How do you like to relax?

    My favorite thing in the world is hiking and camping mostly in the national parks of the North American west. For me, there is nothing better than the exhilarating yet spiritual solitude of those wonderful places. While my wife and I love them all, our favorite is Yosemite National Park in CA.

    Also, like so many, I also love beaches and the ocean. My wife and I went to Turks and Caicos last summer.
  • What is the most satisfying thing about having a book published?

    This is my first book, so its all I have to go on, but by seeing it in its printed form I get the sense that it contributes to the conversation about how we handle Louisiana's coastal land loss and environmental degradation in general. The Gulf oil spill provides yet another opportunity for us as a society to consider what type of world we wish to live in. It seems that most of us value community and our environment yet our behavior does not mesh with those values. While it is necessary to figure out the particulars of who is at fault and what went wrong in the Gulf, the near singular focus in this area obscures larger issues that I believe we should be seriously discussing. The negative impact of the oil and gas industry on Louisiana is not only illustrated by this spill. It is felt everyday as a little more land disappears.
Can't get enough David Burley? Check out this interview with David at ArtsCrtiticATL .