Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Susanna's Post

There are a lot of really amazing posts that the team has been adding to the Seattle Works blog. I just read Susanna's and it moved me. As did Bryan's the other night.

They have both put into words what I haven't had a chance to process yet. I'm honored to read their reflections. What an amazing group of people.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Flickr Set

Here is a link to my flickr set. I'm having issues with the image sizes, so I'll probably have to upload them all again, but it is late and I don't feel like it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Seeing New Orleans through new eyes.

I've been to New Orleans. At least twice before Katrina. Once when I was in 9th grade or so. Once during college.

I've been to New Orleans. Three times since Katrina. Once briefly before spending time in Biloxi. Once in the muggy middle of summer. And once, just now.

I know her. I've heard her music, echoing through the alleys off Bourbon Street. Past the tourists. Past the locals. Past the voodoo shops and gumbo shops. Down Frenchmen. Beyond the French Quarter.

Her song is sad. When you listen closely, it weighs heavily on your heart. You can't ignore the beauty. You can't stop listening.

She lingers in your mind. The song gets stuck. Like the jingle to a commercial. Like a grade school crush. You'd write her name over and over, with hearts and plus signs. Carved out on Magnolia trees.

I've seen her, but seeing her through their eyes - brings her back again. I can't seem to answer the simple questions right away. Because I've been with her before. But I keep going back. Just wanting to tell her story once more. Wanting people to understand why she cries. Still. Two and a half years later.

Katrina was a bitch. No one questions that. But New Orleans is the most complicated woman in the world. You want to save her, even though she's drowning in her own mess of tears. She never quite learned to swim, but you can blame the Army Corps of Engineers for that. And lousy leaders. Some people say she needs to just drown. You can't save her.

But try telling that to someone who is in love.

New Orleans sways her hips to hip hop, jazz, spoken word, hurricanes, Abita brews, beads, remnants of brothels, rollings sidewalks and lingering notes of legends. She spins in circles when the wind blows. She breathes it in, bursting at her seems.

She is as strong as she is weak. She is falling, slowly, softly. She is full of grace. She is dirty. She is beautiful.

Back - and now the real blogging shall begin!

As you may have noticed, I didn't blog too much while I was in New Orleans this time. It was a combination of things, but mostly, once I got behind, I didn't want to take the time catching up - not if it meant missing things while we were there. And it seemed like there was ALWAYS something to do with this group! I have a ton to write, but I decided to just do it in bits retroactively as I process my experience.

The other thing is I decided to really focus on using my flip and documenting a lot of the trip through that medium. I edited some things from the first day and a half and I was thrilled with what I saw. But it also means a huge time investment in the coming weeks as I make a series of short videos with soundtracks, photos, etc. about our experience. I have lots of ideas for themes - Carver Elementary, Mardi Gras Parades, Food!, Having Fun, Sightseeing, Rebulding Together... and it'll be easy to create a soundtrack to it all because New Orleans is amazing when it comes to music. Simply. Amazing.

So, expect a lot of posts now as I begin to reflect. I'll also link to things like this Sheryl Crow video that Trish found. Full of NOLA references:

Sunday, January 20, 2008


By the way - if you want a more well-rounded perspective, Nora is also blogging.


Today we had a full day off, before we get started volunteering. We all had different experiences - most of us at least went to Cafe du Monde for some beignettes and cafe au lait.

A large group of us left our base pretty "early" (10:00 - it took awhile for us all to gather together)... Our base, by the way, is in a great location - right off Magazine Street, on Napoleon and Camp. Great location. I make the analogy that Bourbon Street is to Magazine Street what Pioneer Square is to Ballard or Capitol Hill or Georgetown. Capiche?

Anywho - we had grandious ambitions of eating at Petunia's, but the line was ridonkulous. So we kept walking towards the river and asked a concierge where we should go. He recommended we go to Johnny's. Talk about great cheap eats. I had grits with butter, a biscuit sandwich with sausage, egg and a tea for $7. All included. Nice.

After breakfast we walked down by the riverfront and then around Jackson Square. I bought a really neat gift for someone special... :-)

Then we waited and consumed goods from Cafe du Monde before catching a cab to Magazine Street. We tried to go to Dirty Coast, but they were closed on Sundays. So we moseyed along for the mile or so back to Napoleon.

Right as we were approaching our place, we ran into a random little parade! Here is a clip from it:

By the way, I'm working on a much more elaborate video with music and stuff from our first day and a half. I just need to get my hands on the perfect song or two to edit it with. It'll be slow and maybe even a tad boring - but fun, nonetheless.

We're here

Travel went smoothly yesterday. We went through LAX and the sunshine tempted people in the group to go outside, but no one wanted to have to deal with getting through security again. Sixteen people is a large group. We are 75% female - just 4 guys in the group. I have a really great feeling about this group - which is fantastic with this many people.

We did have one little mishap in taking the shuttle from the airport to HONO. We accidentally went to their corporate offices, and not where we actually wanted to be. Oooops. Our driver made one helluva tip. We did take him to the opposite side of town.

Last night our group wandered through the French Quarter. There was a Mardi Gras parade going on, which I managed to miss altogether. We stopped at the Absinthe Bar on Bourbon, ate at the Gumbo Shop, and went back to the Absinthe Bar. Some other folks went to Pat O'Brien's (and I'm sure several other places.) True Madri Gras spirit was happening - beads were flying and the masses were walking Bourbon with their tall fruity drinks - grenades and hurricanes. I stuck to some Abita brew.

Food at the Gumbo Shop was excellent. I have some great little video clips I will try to upload later today. Right now we're going to try to find a good spot for breakfast!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

USA Today article

Interesting article on volunteerism in the Gulf Coast.

The Breach

I went with some friends last night to see the Seattle Rep's production of The Breach. Susanna found a great 2-for-1 deal in the New York Times, so it was fun to coordinate a small group to go.

First, I was thrilled that I found 5 other people who wanted to go with me. I love going to the theatre, but I rarely end up going. It was nice to have so many people on board and ready for a nice night out.

The play itself is three stories all intertwined. The majority of the story-telling takes place after the storm itself. The three narratives have little to do with one another, but I liked that they chose this format instead of having 3 short plays back to back.

Water is a very big theme in this production - on the set and as a character itself.

I'm curious to hear other people's reactions to the emotional connection of the show. Maybe it is because I have been following the aftermath of Katrina closely, but I didn't really feel like it brought anything new to the table. However, I'm thrilled to see it in production and sparking dialogue about this national tragedy.

I guess I'm comparing it to my emotional response to When The Levees Broke, which I think should be required viewing for all US citizens.

The coolest thing - the Rep is selling art in the lobby after each show, with 100% of the proceeds benefiting New Orleans artists. I didn't buy any and I regret it. Maybe I'll try to buy some local art when I'm down there.

Just a few more days! We leave bright and early this Saturday!!!

Here is an interesting video from the playwrights:

Monday, January 7, 2008

Upsetting News re: Katrina Corps

The organization I volunteered through last time I went to New Orleans, Katrina Corps, was recently evicted by St. Vincent's - the building that housed the volunteers. You can read more about it here.

I've written to express my support for the organization. Obviously, I don't know all the details of the agreement, but I do know what I saw when I was down there. I experienced and organization that truly had a passion for rebuilding New Orleans. Individuals who were willing to sacrifice other priorities in their life to get the work done. There's so much work to be done and it takes grass roots organizations like Katrina Corps to coordinate volunteers to get it done.

I truly hope the situation is resolved - and quickly!