Maps were collected from several sources, including an interactive flood scenario map created by students at Old Dominion University, the flood resiliency plan developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineering, Norfolk District; the “Vision 2100” coastal development plan, and the storymapping project “Living Together / Living Apart,” among others. I then digitally manipulated the different outlines created by the information of these maps on individual sheets of transparency film or cardstock, which are then placed on top of light tables to create interactive stations. These maps can then be laid on top of one another to reveal more immediately what some of the thought processes and future implications may be to our past and current actions.

Another piece in this exhibit features a triptych made from hand-cut paper and cardstock outlines of Norfolk's borders, a map of the city when under 3 feet of water, and a map of projected sea level rise 80 years from now (assuming we take no mitigation measures, such as cutting our carbon emissions). These are paired with different words and phrases from the oral interviews conducted for this project. The final piece of this exhibit calls viewers to read some of the concerns of their neighbors and share their own concerns by leaving a brief comment on a large neighborhood map about where and how they have experienced the effects of flooding in Norfolk. As viewers leave their concerns on the wall, the map becomes fuller with stories and allows participants to explore the relationship between our individual narratives and shared narratives.

Oral interviews with local Black women and other women of color who have experienced the effects of flooding in Norfolk are paired with the visual data to emphasize the impact that this data and our human actions (and perhaps, inactions) in response have had or may have for the future of already marginalized people in the city. These interviews were conducted throughout June 2023 and are now available to read online on this website as of October 2023.

Process & Methodology

Impressions of Water

Impressions of Water I (2023)

Impressions of Water II (2023)

Impressions of Water III (2023)

paper cutouts on cardstock, wood and glass frame

cardstock, wood and glass frame

cardstock, wood and glass frame

Paper is cut in the shape of the city of Norfolk. Swirling around it in a wave-like formation are key words and phrases from the “Mapping Floodlines” oral histories. These words highlight some of the interconnected concerns and issues interviewees discussed.

This handcut map shows how predicted sea level rise is expected to change how the city of Norfolk appears by the year 2080, assuming we take no mitigation measures.

This handcut map shows what land is currently left 3 feet above sea level rise.

click to enlarge photos

Interactive Station

Map 4: What land is left of Norfolk above 3 feet of sea level rise

Consider the following questions for reflection:

Think about which areas of Norfolk are receiving what kinds of support and political visibility over time.

Who lives there? What else exists there?

What factors do you see influencing flood resilience protection and development? How is “risk” defined?

What narratives can these maps tell you individually vs. together?

Map 3: Areas chronologically color-coded for the implementation of different flood resilience efforts, as part of the “Vision 2100” city plan

map transparencies displayed on a lightbox

Map 2: Redlined districts from the 1930s and 1940s

Viewers were invited to place the maps on top of the light table and look at them individually.
Then, viewers looked at them together by layering the pages on top of each other.

Redlining is a discriminatory practice in which governments marked neighborhoods that had a majority Black and/or other non-white population so that mortgage lenders and insurance providers would deny services to those living in outlined areas, resulting in less investment in these areas. It is illegal today in the U.S., but the policies of the past continue to impact the present and future.

For more information on the practice of redlining, visit the online story map “Living Together / Living Apart” directed by Dr. Johnny Finn of Christopher Newport University.

Color Key

Light Red - Protection of economic assets

Green - “Low risk” areas for potential economic development

Yellow - “High flood risk” neighborhoods for flood mitigation infrastructure

Red/Blue - “Less risk” neighborhoods for infrastructure development & economic improvement

Map 1: An outline of the city of Norfolk

Our Stories

Do you live in Norfolk? Is there a place in Norfolk that is significant to you, be it for school, work, leisure, or nostalgia? When you think of that place, what are your own concerns or thoughts about flooding in Norfolk? Viewers were invited to reflect on their own and others' experiences with flooding in Norfolk by writing personal testimonies on sticky notes and placing them on a map.