There are many significant world events that people often refer to as a measure of time. Pre-war is one… Although, I recently called the building I live in a “pre-war” building and I had someone ask me “Which war?” Now, I think they were kidding (I hope they were), because obviously that term is used to refer to pre-WWI, but it struck me when I was in New Orleans recently when I heard locals referring to “Pre-Katrina” as a measure of time. It was just in the course of conversation, but it really is like living in a post-war time period for them.
|Photo credit: TripAdvisor.com|
I was only in New Orleans for 44 hours, but I managed to squeeze in a whole lot of amazing NOLA experiences in that amount of time! As soon as I got there, I headed over to Mardi Gras World where the IEEE SuperComputing Convention was having their closing party.
Mardi Gras World stores the Mardi Gras floats for many of the MG Krewes. I have been there before, but this time it was great to see the Saints SuperBowl parade float and to also see four floats that were totally white, about to be painted anew for the ’11 Mardi Gras!
Work to Do
The next morning I had an appointment to meet with a meeting planner to see his show that was also in town this week; I bid on this one and lost, but I’m hoping for the opportunity to bid again in the future and it’s helpful when you can see it first-hand. I then did some work back at the hotel and headed to Mother’s for lunch! This restaurant is iconic in NOLA and many a Facebook friend was jealous of the good eats I was enjoying.
Charity & Fun
I then headed over to the RiverWalk Mall where I bought a dress for a benefit I was invited to that evening. I then sent out a proposal that was due that day and headed with my local friends Cheryn and Meg to a benefit for Multiple Sclerosis. There was a TON of art and excellent items in the silent and live auctions that evening, all to benefit an amazing organization. The band was SO GOOD and the food was amazing. The bonus fun? Archie Manning and his Delta Gamma wife Olivia were there (I did not bother them!) and their eldest son Cooper was the Auctioneer for the live auction. Cooper is FUNNY! He was also inappropriate at times (seemed he knew most of the crowd), but he did a really good job. I joked that I should trip Archie because of what he pulled with the Chargers and Eli’s draft, but… I didn’t :-). What a fun, unexpected night!
|Photo Credit: NationalGeographic.com|
But the best part of the trip was having the opportunity to help plant Wetlands while there. Cheryn was planning to go to this event arranged by the Young Leadership Council, and the only reason I wouldn’t go would be so I could sleep in… and that sure didn’t seem like a good enough reason. I learned quite a bit from a woman from the LSU AgCenter who helps run the Wetland Center in City Park. This park is in Metairie, which is a suburb right next to New Orleans and it was completely under water because of Katrina.
The storm completely changed the park! The treeline changed and the grass was ruined. Our task on this morning was to plant and replant different types of individual sprouts of grass in individual pots where they are nurtured and grow. This grass is what makes up the wetlands; they act as a vital buffer protecting land from storms coming in from offshore. Check out this article for more details: http://dirt.asla.org/2010/09/21/restoring-wetlands-to-save-the-gulf/.
I hadn’t done anything to help this city that I love so much up until now, so I’m SO happy I had this opportunity!
As I worked alongside these young people who live in New Orleans, they spoke about what they do for a living and with each person it evolved into a conversation that involves Katrina. This horrible storm is now part of the fabric of who they are… Everyone has a story about where they were, where they went post-storm, and when and why they came back. New Orleans becomes a part of who you are and now Katrina is woven into that fabric. I pray there isn’t another war story like this in our lifetime, but in the meantime, the levies are NOT the only things that need to be fixed! The Wetlands must continue to be restored—how amazing that grass can be so powerful, right?
If you plan on visiting New Orleans any time soon, why not do a little something to give back while you’re there? No volunteers can help with anything related to the oil spill, but you can help to restore the Wetlands! Check out this Web page and reach out if you can lend any of your time while there: http://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp713050.jsp
And then reward yourself with the fantastic food, drink, and music this city is so famous for!