Monday, October 4, 2010

1853 Days Later: New Orleans Now

When we started our classes with students, seven weeks before the trip, we posed that they could pick any story. This program isn't about the rehashing of water-lined houses, or the still-present giant red spray painted X's on their sides. It's about an examination of one of America's great cities, and celebrating the culture, diversity, and daily life within. Katrina, we always tell students, needn't be covered, because she is in everything--eventually. Sometimes she rears her head easily--as in the work of Shelly Benson and her careful and thoughtful examination of Tennessee Street in the Lower 9th Ward, and at other times in more subtle ways, as in Krystal Hoover's work on the kids of Katrina--it turns out, kids will be kids. Fewer are the playgrounds, but joyful are their occupants.

During an interview Devin Meierding conducted on Thursday at Musician's Village, his subject said, "I want this to be a positive thing--no negatives--nothing about why I'm moving." And I thought to myself, as I'd thought many times this past week, "Why?" In her case it was, as I did a little digging on the internet, because non-disclosure agreements are being required in order that remediation of Chinese drywall installed in Musician's Village can take place (I imagine that's why). There are two sides to every story, some of those other sides will emerge as films and photo essays are refined in the coming weeks. But many won't. Pretty pictures are more desirable to paint.

Home is home was the enduring message across all projects this time. The marvelous fishermen of the fishing villages of Yscloskey and Delacroix (introduced in part of Adam Theis' film) teach us that, through their generations-deep traditions of crabbing, fishing, etc.

But I feel compelled to share a little reading material. Because for all the good and wonderful things, there are some that while smiling and sharing the greatest positivity, our subjects choose to omit. It's understandable. They just want us and our folks to know Greater New Orleans is a great place to visit. And it is. So do. But read the following, and know there is still so much to do:

On the musicians' plight -

On the BP educational effort -

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