Although our experiences in New Orleans are have come to a close, we are now in process of reflecting on our observations and then linking these with the knowledge gained through readings and learning activities. Although there is a lot to ponder, some of our insights can be placed into context through photographs centred on themes. Photographs truly can say a lot by telling visual stories. We hope to provide a meaningful context of our interpretation of these stories through our photos.
– Amy, Alexa, Kennedy and Darshi
As someone who has never traveled to New Orleans before but has heard about New Orleans both pre and post Hurricane Katrina, there are a number of iconic images that come to mind. The below photo displays an artful collage of several iconic images of New Orleans, including being the birthplace of jazz and the prevalence of music, a house that represents the close-knit community, pictures of seafood identifying both its popularity and that fishing is a big part of the economy and the trolley cars of the French Quarter. As these photos are painted by local artists and on display in the French Quarter, it is exemplary of the importance of these images as being distinctly New Orleanian. As well, it reinforces that art is an important aspect of the New Orleanian culture.
Through out all of our experiences, we were made very aware that New Orleans has a number of grassroots community based initiatives that have come together to strengthen community ties and networks. Our group learned about Our School at Blair Grocery (OSBG), a local organization that works towards empowering youth and combating injustice. It is located in the Lower 9th Ward, an area that has a high rate of poverty and was physically devastated post Hurricane Katrina. OSBG is an example of how communities come together by working towards a common goal. It is evident that the community has always been strong within certain communities but is perhaps not unified as a whole city. The model of solidary has everyone working together towards the interests and goals that benefit everyone, not just a select privileged or conversely needy population. OSBG is working towards a unified community through providing healthy food to both local communities and restaurants while at the same time empowering all youth to be future leaders. In this respect, it is program that appears to benefit everyone and not just a select group of individuals.
This image of a sticker that was seen in multiple locations throughout New Orleans. It is evidence that there is a certain amount of pride that comes from being a resident of New Orleans. These stickers reinforce this belief and likely build community in the neighborhoods that it is placed. A proud community is more likely to take care of maintaining local spaces, groups and individuals within the community.
Being part of a social networks through your personal ties within family, workplaces communities and other areas are some of the factors when taking into consideration of social capital. Below is a picture outside of the charter school in the lower 9th ward, celebrating Black History month. New Orleanian history and culture has without a doubt been predominately shaped by African Americans. Celebrating this history is a way to instil pride and celebrate the accomplishments within the black community. In this way, it is increasing social capital through creating a social network that is knowledgeable of where it has been and is inspired about its future.
In line with celebrating Black History month, this photo is an advertisement in a local restaurant that is encouraging a stronger community through supporting local business. A strong community with strong social capital will also be one that is proud and less likely to have high rates of crime, drug use and violence. This photo was unique because none of use had seen anything quite like it before. It is exemplary of the community recognizing the negative aspects of some communities through acknowledging its presence and trying to create positive change by creating a solution.