Susie Price: Cutting Through The Weird Food Codes

For something which everyone has to do in order to stay alive, eating is fraught with way too many social boundaries, judgements about weight and health, strange unspoken rules about what men and women are supposed to eat (or enjoy), and much more. It’s a mess, and everyone knows it, but nobody really talks about it like normal people. The obese get talked about a lot, as do those with eating disorders – not men, mind you, because nobody likes to acknowledge that men suffer from eating disorders as well – but everyone else ends up wandering the desert and speaking in strange codes. Time for some feminism, which seems to be alive and ready to do some kicking.

Dessert Is Not a Moral Issue

Of all the weird food codes, “guilty pleasure” is most insidious. If, like most people, we occasionally enjoy something kind of sweet and not really diet-squad approved, it’s okay to talk about it in public so long as we call it our guilty pleasure. Even yogurt which tastes like it once wandered past lemon cheesecake is marketed as something we ought to feel guilty about enjoying, so the idea of enjoying an actual slice of lemon cheesecake is only acceptable if we claim to feel a little naughty about even having a bite. Suddenly, food becomes a moral issue, something to feel guilty about even if it’s “part of a balanced breakfast”, or lunch, or dinner. It’s easy to say that it’s just a figure of speech, but when we’re talking feminism and the whole messed-up culture surrounding how women are allowed to eat, everything we say on a regular basis tends to run deep. Thankfully, a lot of feminists are now taking a stand against the idea of food-related guilt: “I don’t have guilty pleasures because I shouldn’t feel guilty about my food,” wrote a Guerilla Feminism contributor, which is about as no-nonsense as this kind of thing ought to be.

Our Eating Habits, Ourselves

Quick question: if you’re told about a lazy, self-indulgent, unemployed woman, what does she look like in your mind’s eye? Probably not thin, though maybe not obese – most likely somewhere in between, and definitely overweight. We’re subliminally told time and time again that fat people are slobs, thin people are vain and probably have eating disorders (but are definitely the right candidate for the job), and that there isn’t really a weight or way of eating that doesn’t come with supposed personality traits attached. People suffering from eating disorders are, unfairly, hit particularly hard, with the assumption that they’ve brought their disorder on themselves through vanity or just perfectionism. “An eating disorder is characterized by an extreme disruption in regular eating habits, whether it is eating too little or eating too much,” according to an expert at Psychguides.com, but popular culture would rush to reassure us that what eating disorders are really characterized by are personal failings. However, we all ended up getting painted with the same brush, just in different colors.

Food Doesn’t Need To Be Justified

Ordering dessert – or even just a fatty, delicious steak – in a restaurant can be a fraught moment. Regarding ordering cake when your friends are abstaining, The Story of Telling writes that a “great waiter knows that an emotional decision is being made. He understands that he’s not just there to scribble down an order—he’s there to support the dessert orderer’s choice.” That choice is often justified by ‘well, I’ve eaten well all day’, or ‘I had a salad for lunch’, because society is convinced that we should be held accountable for every small indulgence we grant ourselves. It’s become such a common tactic that it’s now used to advertise cinnamon buns and cakes – something which bemuses even those involved in the diet industry, one of whom wrote that “there’s nothing inherently evil about this or any dessert. Though I would imagine that promises of burning the calories later are more likely lead to weight gain than simply making sure that you eat dessert in moderation.”

This, of course, is the paradoxical heart of nutrition double-talk – not only does it make us feel worse, but it also makes it difficult to have a healthy relationship towards food, and therefore difficult to eat well. It’s a vicious cycle, and one we could all do with getting off.

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NolaFemmes reader Susie Price is now a travel writer, but before she took to sitting at her desk musing on the places she’s visited, she spent a good deal of her life working in the leisure industry in different roles. Now she combines random scribbling with motherhood and is pretty happy with her lot.

Operation Loki: Google Glass in NOLA

lokiGoogle recently announced some crazy new technology, a wearable computer called Google Glass. 8,000 people have been chosen to test drive a pre-final version of the technology. I have had the good luck to be one of the ones picked here in the New Orleans area. (For more about Glass including a video fo the interface in action check out my column for SixEstate, Exploring with Google Glass.)

I’ve been a pro blogger since 2006, as well as the founder of HumidCity back in the pre-K days. I’ve had the good fortune of being able to work in the social media and online content field since the days when Facebook was limited to Harvard students.

I want to use Glass primarily to share aspects of our unique culture here in New Orleans. Too many times have we seen ourselves in the fun house mirror of bad movies and poor reporting. As a native whose early years were split between the Garden District and the Bywater I have a foot in each end of the urban core, a background that should help me present a more organic view of the Crescent City.

Some of the groups I intend to work with and document include:  Skinz ‘n Bonez,  Krewe du Who, the Noisician Coalition, Chef Eric Mars of Louisiana Bistro, NOLA Wenches, WWOZ, WTUL, The New Orleans Musician’s Clinic, and  a wide variety of local bloggers (including the wonderful NOLA Femmes who asked me to do this guest post) and bands.

The rough part, and the reason why I am writing this today, is the cost. While I have been accepted as one of the 8,000 participating requires an outlay of $1,500 plus tax for the hardware and a run up the coast to New York city to pick it up (probably in the $400-$800 range depending on how far in advance Google gives us the dates). Like many New Orleanians right now I just don’t have the resources. That is where crowdfunding comes in.

I’ve launched an IndieGoGo campaign to raise the money. While I hate to sit here holding my hand out I also refuse to pass up this chance without a fight. So here is the skinny.

This fundraiser is to help me sponsor those costs:

  • Google Glasses will cost me $1500 Dollars + Tax (est $105)
  • Travel costs to NY are between $500-$800
  • IndieGoGo’s fees  Approximately $175 (determined by level of fulfillment)

No amount is too small or too large, if a lot of you readers donated a single dollar that would take me over the top. Any surplus funds raised will be split evenly and donated to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the New Orleans Musican’s Clinic. This will also be the fate of the funds if I do not raise enough funds to actually participate in the Glass program.

As to the trip, I have already arranged to stay with friends in NYC up so the only travel expense you would be helping cover with is airfare/trainfare. I won’t be buying expensive Manhattan cappuchinos or drinking till dawn with your generous donation.

So, what do you say? Feel like supporting a New Orleans blogger in reaching for the cutting edge? If so stop by my IndieGoGo campaign. Every dollar helps (and I’ve got some pretty decent perks for donating as well)!!

Thanks for reading!

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Guest Blogger: Theo Eliezer of Momma Tried Magazine

MOMMA TRIED_LaBastilleFor the past year my partner Micah and I have been working on creating a new conceptual magazine called Momma Tried. Both long term New Orleanians (he was born in Opelousas LA, I moved here in 1998), our vision is to bring together a print-only publication that is equal parts literary journal, art magazine, and non-heteronormative nudie mag; a new platform to showcase the talents and perspective of our community.

From the very beginning of this project, we’ve been inspired by the idea that print is “dead,” and chose to fully embrace the romance of this allegedly lost medium as a part of our concept. By only making it available as a tangible publication printed in editions of 1000 and distributing it internationally, we’re hoping to create a magazine that is an archive of a moment in time and feels more permanent and precious than what can be achieved with pages displayed on the internet. We’re endeavoring to create something that is a nod to the publications that influenced us most when we were growing up, including the role of iconic and often misogynistic retro advertising. As an ad-free publication, Momma Tried gives us the opportunity to explore the tropes, manipulations, and possibilities of print advertisements, so through an aspect of the magazine that we call “disruptive content,” we’re partnering with artists to create original and appropriation based satirical adverts that deconstruct the nature of advertising, while simultaneously embodying the essential visual role of magazine ads.

Micah and I started the magazine while we were working on a large multi-disciplinary art installation in New Orleans last year, and from that experience of collaborating with many local and national artists, we realized that a cornerstone of our objective for Momma Tried was to create a new platform to share the talent of local artists and writers with the world. Since then, this dream has manifested into a collaborative work that is nearly complete. The first issue of Momma Tried will be approximately 150 pages long, full color, perfect bound, and contains the work of dozens of contributors from New Orleans, across the U.S, and abroad, as well as our core team of local collaborators which we have worked closely with to create our conceptual nude photo editorials.

The aspect of sexuality in Momma Tried is something we feel strongly about as an opportunity to create a new, more diverse and inclusive presentation of bodies and identity. We feel that art and sexuality go hand in hand as forms of expression and discovery, and that being interested in depictions of nudity or sexuality shouldn’t be an embarrassment, or kept away from other expressions of creativity and thought. We believe that sex and art are intrinsic to the human experience, and it is our hope that by pairing them in a way that is inclusive of people regardless of orientation or gender, we will be creating common ground for a diverse array of people to share, regardless of perceived differences. Idealistically, we’re attempting to create an artistic platform that allows artists, writers, and readers of the magazine to be embracing of their sexuality as well as intellect, which however small of a gesture it might be, is a step towards being more comfortable and honest with ourselves and each other.

After a year of working on this very rewarding and ambitious labor of love, we’re almost ready to send it to print! We’ve recently launched a Kickstarter campaign where people can pre-order the first issue and support us in our efforts to publish what we believe is a valuable addition to our local creative culture.

Please join us on facebook, tumblr, and twitter to learn more and keep up to date on our progress!

www.mommatriedmagazine.com

Guest Post: It’s your party and I’ll cry if I want to: Why the St. Claude Night Market needs to talk to its neighbors

This past Saturday night, there was a community event on my block. Or at least that’s what the people there told me was going on. I wouldn’t have known about it if I hadn’t been home and wondering what all the noise was. My first thought was that Treme was filming in the lot across the street from my house, but then I realized there hadn’t been any signs up, nor any flyers stuffed in my shutters.

Even before I went to check out the event, I had a flash of resentment towards it, akin to the anguished feeling of not being invited to a classmate’s party in grade school. Why didn’t I know a planned “community” event was going on across the street from my own house? Who is organizing such things and not telling the neighbors?

This feeling turned closer to anger when I opened my front door and found a stranger’s bicycle locked to my elevated(!) front porch, and my neighbor distraught at the possibility she might not be able to park directly in front of her home if she went out again. Far from lazy, this is actually a serious concern given her caretaking responsibility for her disabled mother-in-law (which necessitates quick and easy access to a vehicle in the event of a medical issue), as well as the very real threat of violent crime, particularly against women, in our city.

When I went to see what was happening, I found that it was an art and food market coinciding with the monthly St. Claude Avenue “walk” amongst and through the neighborhood’s art galleries. Though the market was festive and interesting, I felt a little strange attending a party on my block that I didn’t feel invited to, or even informed about.

It wasn’t so much that I felt awkward or unusual navigating the space of the market; it was more that I experienced it as an imposition on my neighborhood. This was especially weird because the majority of the market vendors and attendeees were young white scruffy people, just like me. As the presumed intended audience demographic, I was perturbed that I did not know who the organizers were, they didn’t seem to care to know me or even tell me the event was happening on my block, and so the whole thing felt forced.

While I should have been happy that a normally desolate corner of my street was inhabited by brightly lit creative enterprise, I felt like a bunch of people just came, had their party, and left, with no thought as to their physical or psychological impact.

This impact was echoed in my neighbor’s concerns about parking, my feelings of invasion when I saw that bike on my porch (and there was even valet bicycle parking at the market!), the overall sense of disorder brought by the vendors’ cars parked in all kinds of directions on my one-way street, and the slipshod approach to neighborhood ingratiation. It seemed that the people behind the event expected that such a thing would be embraced and celebrated by the “community,” but they didn’t even check in with their next-door neighbors about it, some of whom are artists and craftspeople themselves and might have wanted to participate in the market as vendors.

So, to the organizers of this market, I think that you should take a look at your goals and the realities of this city we inhabit, and come to a more sensitive threshold from which to make future decisions. You may be artists and entrepreneurs, social movers and shakers, concerned citizens and the like, but you are also a mostly white gentrifying force, bringing all the baggage that entails.

Yes, you bring your clever jewelry made from repurposed materials, but you also bring an anxiety to residents who do not know your intentions. You bring your “shamanic consultations,” along with a sense of unrequested spatial appropriation.

What I’m saying is that while your aims may not necessarily be antithetical to those of the neighborhood, it would do us all a great service for you to come to an immediate understanding of how your presence imposes upon your surroundings.

I do not object to you as individuals, to your DIY aesthetic, to your livening up the block with art, people, much-needed street light; in fact I was intrigued by much of your crafts and goods. I do object however to your lack of community outreach and to your overall neglectful attitude towards the very residents of the block you occupied last Saturday night, however briefly.

Indeed, when I tried to look up your event on Facebook (which is not a medium easily accessible to all my neighbors, it should be said), I found that you had listed the address of the market space completely incorrectly – there is no 3600 block of Independence Street – betraying at best a sloppy approach to event-planning, at worst a lack of localized knowledge.

I suggest for the next time – and I do hope there is a next time, as your intentions seem to be from a sincere and good place – you do some meaningful outreach in the neighborhood beforehand and gauge the residents’ mood towards your event: What are the concerns? What bothered us about last time? What would we want to see next time? After all, when you look around your event in Bywater – or anywhere in New Orleans, for that matter – and the faces you see are almost exclusively white and young, you are not having a community event.

I say this as a person who looks very much like you, who moved here post-Katrina, and who grapples with the very same conundrums of racial, economic, political, and social life that beset your operation. I did not ask my neighbors if it was alright if I moved to the block. But I do invite them to my parties.

Sincerely,

Arielle Schecter

PS: Also, please do a better job of cleaning up your trash when you leave next time. I don’t think that organic empanada detritus was there before you arrived.

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Editor’s note: Arielle’s post was first published on her blog, Shtetl Chic, where she received quite a response to this issue including the event organizer here.

Dr. Andre M. Perry on The Consequence of Missed Opportunities

Reprinted with permission from Dr. Perry
The One Son Who Got Away

By Dr. Andre M. Perry

About a year ago, Ms. Chanda Burks met me in my office to discuss establishing a mentoring program for black males through her sorority Delta Sigma Theta.  Ms. Burks brought along her adolescent son Jared Michael Francis to take in the conversation.  One year later, just a few days ago, I bumped into Ms. Burks at a NOLA for Life event.  There, Ms. Burks informed me that her son Jared died from multiple gunshots in front of their home in the hushed neighborhood of Tall Timbers. He died September 15, 2012.  He was an 18 year-old senior in high school.

After hearing this horrible news, I immediately recalled the robust conversation we had about mentoring and staying in school.  I remembered how encouraged Ms. Burks and her son left the meeting.  Ms. Burks in fact told me during our recent encounter that our past chat made a positive impression on Jared.  But, deep down I knew a conversation wasn’t enough.  I missed an opportunity to save a son.

A balance of regret and responsibility motivated me to call Ms. Burks a few days later. I also wanted to get a sense of what happened in between the time we last met.  Ms. Burks told me that he lived the typical life of a middle-class teenager. She saw few negative signs. Ms. Burks acknowledged the presence of one peer that showed a penchant for trouble. No one as of yet has been charged with his murder.  I told myself that a few more conversations could have reached Jared and his troubled friend.  But ephemeral conversations are not enough.

I like many others have abdicated our community responsibilities to teachers, community based organizations and City Hall.  To a fault, we’ve placed undue responsibilities on police and prisons to restore order. Given the magnitude of our community problems, everyday citizens must unlearn how we made disengagement an acceptable behavior.

According to the report, Building an Inclusive, High-Skill Workforce for New Orleans Next Economy from the Greater New Orleans Data Center, 14,000 youth between the ages of 16 and 24 in the New Orleans metro are neither enrolled in school nor employed. Disconnected youth is the latest tag used to describe this horrible state of anomie. It means that fourteen thousand youth in the New Orleans metro are adrift and disengaged from the social anchors that could instill the type of character that incite youth to fight injustice instead of producing it.

Jared did not qualify as someone who we deem as disconnected, but those we take for granted are receiving the collateral damage of socially dysfunctional communities.  We cannot escape ourselves.

The overwhelming statistics demand intimate and intrusive engagement that rises above fleeting conversations. But they’re reasons why we don’t get close enough to embrace a young man or woman.  We’re scared. The annual murder counts are more than alarming. Murder creates an environment of fear that facilitates a hands-free ethic of care. Consequently, even the best of us essentially drop in from our collective ivory towers only to helicopter out with deliberate speed.  We never become a part of the social milieu. We’ve become what I often refer to as arms-length advocates.

Arms-length advocacy can’t replace the strong hugs our children actually need. We can’t let fear or disengagement deny ourselves opportunities to prevent the unnecessary loss of yet another Jared. The community involvement we need is so simplistic it’s almost insulting to repeat. If more of us who care are fully present, murder rarely happens. If family members, neighbors and friends displayed the courage and love to take the gun away, report the crime and redirect the anger, we would not be our current situation.  If those who are not expected to save a son took every opportunity to act, the ongoing professional work could gain traction.

Ms. Burks and I simply can’t let another opportunity pass.  If the community character is not present, we must develop it.  Moral discernment must be taught, displayed and executed.  Therefore, we ask everyone who reads this to take opportunities to build our capacities.

Each year for my birthday (October 12) I try to give back.  I’m privileged. Service is the obligation of privilege.  My birthday always seemed like the perfect date to give back.  This year I asked Ms. Chandra Burks if we could become mentors and direct our friends to deeper mentoring opportunities.  She agreed.  Over the next week we are directing people to the New Orleans Kids Partnership Mentor and Tutor sign-up program < http://www.nokp.org/mentortutor/>.

New Orleans Kids Partnership has coordinated a variety of proven mentoring and tutoring programs across the Greater New Orleans region. NOKP made it very convenient for anyone to choose an organization that fits our busy schedules.  They also provide training and guidance on how to mentor or tutor. We can’t assume that everyone can serve as a role model.  Many “mentors” need mentoring. Nevertheless, NOKP and its partners make youth engagement a safe and organized process.

When you sign up, please indicate in the appropriate section that you heard about NOKP’s mentoring program through Ms. Chandra Burks.

As Ms. Burks and I meandered through our discussion, she could not keep straight the number of children she currently had.  She would say, “My three…I mean my two children.”  She may have lost a son, but she certainly gained a brother.  Hopefully, we will soon begin losing track of how many sons we have gained rather than from how many we have lost.

Andre Perry, Ph.D. (twitter: @andreperrynola) is Associate Director for Educational Initiatives for Loyola University New Orleans and author of The Garden Path: The Miseducation of a City.

Poverty in America – Guest Post

The  author of this essay, a woman in the GNO, has agreed to allow the below to be published on the condition of anonymity.  

I’m what poverty in America looks like.

While I am fortunate enough to have a home, the home is barely furnished. There isn’t enough money to eke out on a nice couch, beautiful dinnerware, or cookware that doesn’t rust after one or two washings while keeping the electric on or groceries in the fridge. At this point, I would be happy with a comfortable bed in place of my  air mattress with a slow leak. Most things that people throw out without second thought are things that are on my wish list.

I am not jobless because I’m lazy. I’m jobless because I have applied for jobs and am told that  I either have too much or not enough experience. Add to the limited experience large stretches of time away from the workforce to raise my special needs child, back when I was married and life was happy, I’m not an ideal job candidate.

I’m smart. I’m articulate. I’m intelligent. I’m a hard worker. I’m reliable.

These things don’t translate well on job applications, though. These are things that one needs to see, but we are a results-orientated society that wants the sure thing, and on paper, I’m not the sure thing, but the long shot.

I am back in college. I do odd jobs for friends. It’s not much, but it’s enough to disqualify me from receiving government assistance, even though I have a young child. I can assure you that the stories that you hear about how easy it is to scam the system and live a charmed life on welfare are absolutely false. They are urban legends created out of hatred and fear, uninformed opinion, and maybe a little bit of self-loathing.

I’m what poverty in America looks like.

I have a car, but can’t drive it. I can’t drive because my car needs to be fixed. I can’t fix my car because I don’t have money. I don’t have money because I can’t find a full-time job. I can’t find a full-time job because I have little experience. I have little experience because I raised my family. It’s a lot like the childhood song, There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, right? That’s what my life feels like. It feels like each and everything I do, no matter how good, no matter how well-intentioned, gets overwhelmed by the next issue and the next problem. And I live my life on pause, frozen and stuck.

I don’t have Mom and Dad to call for help. I can’t return with my tail between my legs to my childhood home and get back on my feet. My parents are dead. In this world, it’s my child and me. And that’s it. I don’t even really have friends. People don’t generally like to be friends with the girl who can never go out and do anything.

The bags under my eyes come from sleep deprivation due to worry.

I worry about my child and how I am going to provide all of the needs, much less a few of the wants. I worry about whether to pay the electric this week or risk disconnection so I can get the good groceries – unprocessed fruits and vegetables, meat, milk, and nothing that comes in a can – or if I am stuck with the same high-calorie, cheap food that won’t offer much in nutrition, but will keep the hunger pangs away while it packs on the pounds. Yes, America, we have an obesity problem and part of the problem is the inability to purchase healthy food because food costs are high, leaving families to fill up on 99 cent cans of spaghetti and the Dollar Menu at McDonalds.

I worry whether or not my child would be better with someone as a parent that wasn’t me; my child deserves someone who could offer more financial security and all of those things that kids want: nice clothes, toys, books, games, electronics, vacations, and memories. Right now, I feel like the only thing that I can offer my child is supervision. I can’t give  everything that I want to give. And it makes me feel like the biggest failure in the world. The contempt that you throw my way when you look at me and make snap judgments against me for being poor doesn’t even compare to the contempt that I feel for myself.

I worry about my health. For the last few months, I’ve had some pretty terrible stomach pains. I don’t have insurance. I cannot afford the $150 office visit. I scour the internet, searching for home remedies, hoping that one of them will give me some sort of relief. Normally I can handle it, but the painful gall stones almost did me in. I haven’t had a pap smear in  three years. What happens if one day I just discover I have cancer? And I could have prevented it had I been able to get a physical each year?

Lately, my biggest worry is this: What if this is all there is for me in this life?

I’m what poverty in America looks like.

I don’t want a lot of things. It would be nice to have furniture. It doesn’t even have to be fancy. It would be nice to get the good ground beef instead of the ground beef that is about to go bad and needs to be sold right away. It would be nice to treat my child to a movie or museum or a toy that has been requested multiple times with the answer always being not now. It would be nice to not dread Christmas, for Thanksgiving to be more than a Turkey Loaf in the oven, to have clothes that fit me, to get my hair cut in a salon, to have a nice dinner out, to be able to join a gym,  to wax my eyebrows, afford make up, to have a car and to be able to get in and just drive.

What I want is for you to understand. I don’t want your judgments and your hate and your flippant comments about how I am a lazy sack of shit and your self-righteous declaration that you work hard for your money and you shouldn’t have to support me. I don’t want you to. I just want a chance.  But believe me when I tell you that  just getting up in the morning in the political climate we live in is hard work. Doing it all on my own is hard work. And trying to not fall apart is hard work.

What I want most is for you to see me as a person, someone that has a lot of worries and a lot of fears, someone that loves and cares and tries to do what good I can, but mostly someone that isn’t  the cartoon character that you have created in your mind about people like me – the poor.

Guest Blogger: Bayou Creole on A New Nursing Home Trend

The hands of an elderly resident at a nursing home (John Stillwell/PA Wire)

The hands of an elderly resident at a nursing home (John Stillwell/PA Wire)

New Nursing Home Trend

Many moons ago, the only people  living in nursing homes were the elderly.  If your parents or grandparents needed 24 hour care, you could put them in a home where there would be nurses and aids there 24-7  to assist them. But, there’s a new trend going on( here in Louisiana for sure).

Facilities that previously only had elderly people are now getting young folks,folks in their 20′s-50′s…way too young to be in a facility with the elderly.Not only that, a lot of these young people have mental health problemsor drugs and alcohol problems. Some of the young people who end up in these facilities are helpful to the elderly. But a lot of times, they intimidate the elderly to the point where the elderly are afraid to say anything against them. Then, there’s the abuse and the situation of having young, sexual men in a place with females who are either elderly or mentally challenged. I received a phone call today informing me that an elderly female in one such facility was raped by a male living there. That’s a hard pill for a family member to handle. You think you’re doing the right thing by your loved one, putting her somewhere medical care is available, meals are being served, she can no longer wander out of the home so, she’s supposedly safe. Then, you get a call saying someone raped her there.

The nursing game has changed. It’s sad but, it’s true. I’ve heard horror stories over and over again. I’ve witnessed horror stories too. Since there aren’t any place for the mentally ill to go anymore, it seems the new trend is to put them into nursing facilities. But what happens to the poor elderly people who have to be there… with a paranoid schizophrenic, who refuses to take his medication? Who’s  really protecting them? Folks call the state all the time and nothing ever changes.

If anyone is thinking about putting their loved one in a nursing care facility, do your research first. Don’t believe what they tell you. Visit there at different hours of the day. Walk every single hall in the facility. Take note of the mental capacity and age of everyone you see, employees included. Let your senses be your guide. What do you see, hear,smell? Hang around for lunch and order a plate, how does it taste? Do you see residents wandering around aimlessly or are they engaged in activities? What is the work environment like? Happy employees take better care of people. Visit as many places as humanly possible before making a decision about where you’ll put your loved one because, the game has changed.Healthcare has changed… and the elderly are suffering because of it.
~~~
Bio:
I’m a registered nurse born,raised and living in the fabulous city of New Orleans. I’m married to a man who’s way too good for me and have two kids who keep me young and zany. My passions are for all things NOLA, Elder Rights and Animal Rights.
~~~
This piece was previously published on Bayou Creole’s blog of the same name.

Guest postess Janet Hays – Zion City Neighborhood Improvement Association Event Saturday March 10 at 9:00 am

In response to this recent post on NOLAFemmes, we were contacted by Janet Hays of the Zion City Neighborhood Improvement Association.

I am fully aware – [and horrified] – of the fact that the gang rape that happened last month was at a property in Zion City owned by the president of the BioDistrict.

In light of that rape, we – in conjunction with Councilmember Stacy Head’s office – are arranging a clean up for the Zion City Neighborhood.

As part of the clean up, we are involving women’s groups that may be interested in helping us educate people on mechanisms and resources they can employ to protect themselves from violent criminals. We would also like to amplify the idea that real estate owners should not be allowed to scoop up properties in neighborhoods for the purposes of letting them stay in blighted conditions while waiting for a State buyout or property values to increase. Buyers should be made to do something with the real estate they own within 6 months of purchase in order to contribute something to the communities they ate investing in – or resell to buyers that are truly invested.

We will have informational tables set up for health care and awareness organizations promoting self defense and real community development.

If you or any groups you are affiliated with would like to participate and get you message out, please contact me!

Here is the flyer – if anyone or any groups are interested in participating, please contact the Zion City Neighborhood Improvement Association via e-mail: JusticeZionCityNO@att.net or by telephone: 504-274-6091

This event would be a great opportunity for service learning or community service. Thank you to the Zion City Neighborhood Improvement Association for choosing NOLAFemmes to help spread the word on this event.

Guest Blogger Dawn (aka FQP) on anarchist posters in the FQ

Recently a friend posted some photos she’d taken of several placards recently posted in the French Quarter/Marigny area. A conversation ensued and I asked her to write up something about her opinion of the message the posters were broadcasting. Dawn is a photographer and has lived in the city off and on for most of her life beginning when she was a child. Shortly after Katrina, she made New Orleans her permanent home and lives in the upper ninth ward.

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I walk often in the Quarter trying to take shots of New Orleans from a local perspective, rather than usual shots you always see from vacationers. As I was walking on Decatur I happened to come across one of those sticky posters you see slapped on a pole or whatever happens to be at eye level. The image that I first saw was of a machine gun…an AK I believe it is. As I stopped and read the poster I was rather flabbergasted at its words.

Now at first appearance, if I was a tourist this would scare the shit out of me. In fact, even as a local I was determined to find out a bit more. Who is this posting this??? What is their supposed message? At a time when we will have many tourists here for Mardi Gras, I am still trying to form an opinion.

After going to their website nolaanarcha.blogspot.com and reading, it seems to me they are very much at cross purposes and contradict much of their own observations and rants.

On one hand they are promoting the poor, and make some very valid points on the problems with New Orleans. I actually agree with several of them in regard to our housing problem. I have been touting the idea of selling houses that are left abandoned for $ 1.00, require them to bring the house up to code within 3 years, live in it for 5 and then be eligible to sell it. This program worked extremely well in areas such as Detroit and a small town called Sanford, Florida where I used to live myself.

Then on the other hand they become bigots and racists by grouping this as a race war with posters such as this one:

This is in response to the new curfew which would be in place to keep those 16 and under out of the French Quarter after 8 pm unless accompanied by an adult or going to/from work. This curfew is in effect for ALL children no matter their race…Why then does the website and poster seen here make it a race issue? It’s not about race, it’s about everyone’s safety considering the rise in crime in the entire city. To say a curfew “ Effectively teaches kids to get used to living under permanent Martial Law” is bullshit to me. Many cities across America have curfews! You can bet they don’t have the crime stats we do in New Orleans.

The website and the person’s message that the city is trying to create “White Zones” does nothing but ferment attitudes that have been in place for way to long in this city. It seems to me that to cry and whine (along with a bit of a warped attitude) because things are now being rebuilt, laws that benefit everyone are being put in place, and communities are becoming much more diverse than in recent times sends an extremely unrealistic message of what New Orleans is all about.

The website conflicts many times in its articles. On one hand they advocate for the poor, the homeless, green initiatives and how new programs are revitalizing the neighborhood, but then goes on to say it’s the white population only that is benefiting. The Author’s anger comes across to me as if he is very much stuck in a time warp that really doesn’t exist today. His posters are in places that are
extremely diverse. To group people or to try to make tourists think that it’s only the black population that are in these zones is ridiculous to say the least. I live in one of these zones….I am living next to not less than 5 houses that are considered blighted and abandoned. I pay an outrageous price for my rent just like the author of the site. I battle New Orleans crime, fear of walking my dog, sitting on my porch and corrupt politicians just as he does. However, I am White. Where does this put me in the Anarchists eyes?

I had posted this poster and it’s URL to get other’s take on the site on a G+ post and received mixed opinions. I am only one person, and this is only my opinion, but I think residents should be aware of this message being sent to the masses.

Guest Blogger “Fireproof”: An Insider’s View of the Tour Guide Licensing Controversy

© Charlotte Hamrick

Every day throughout our country, citizens discuss history and culture. They argue their viewpoints and opinions about history and the important events that have influenced our lives. Over coffee at cafés, in checkout lines at grocery stores, and in staff break rooms people talk about history.

No one inhibits this discourse. No one has to prove expertise to join discussions. People are simply exercising their First Amendment rights. No one dictates who may or may not share his or her views or stories. There is an exception to this freedom in some cities. Some city administrations have decided that there is group whose right to free speech should be constrained. In New Orleans, and five other cities, that group is tour guides.
The mayor of New Orleans has declared that strict regulations for a tour guide license are necessary to prevent tour guides form harming tourists. This viewpoint has led to fingerprinting, police records checks, drug tests, a knowledge test and residency requirements.
Mr. Mayor, support your opinion that tour guides may be a menace. Tell us how many tour guides have lost a license because of a felony conviction. How many have been rejected because they failed a police records check, or have been convicted of lesser charges such as purse snatching, public drunkenness, or battery of any kind? Show us the factual foundation for statements that are an insult to the tour guides of this city.
The city of New Orleans should stop regulating and licensing tour guides because:
Guides are not city employees; private companies hire them.
The city’s knowledge test of 100 questions is an inadequate tool for determining the knowledge or ability of an applicant to give tours.
There are a minimum of twenty-seven tour operatives, two nonprofit organizations, and one federal agency conducting walking tours once or twice a day. There are at least eight van companies, four bus companies, four carriage companies, three bike companies, a kayak company, and a Segway company conducting one or two tours a day.
The city lacks the personnel to consistently enforce its rules and regulations for these. Lack of enforcement breeds disregard and contempt for the law.
The city uses fingerprinting requirements to generate income. It requires guides to use a city agency at the airport for $50.00. This service is available for $19.00 – $20.00 at other sites in the metro area.
The concept of a “one stop shop for permitting and licensing” is a farce. Guides must go to the taxicab bureau for a photo, to a facility for a drug test, to the airport for fingerprinting. The new guide must go to still another site for a “knowledge” test.
The city contributes nothing to the training, competence, or knowledge base of tour guides.
Tour planners and tour operators employ guides. The success of their companies depends upon their ability to identify and train high performers who are knowledgeable, flexible, and personable. The income of their companies depends on the competence of their guides. Thus, tour guiding is a “self – cleaning oven.”
 
Tour guides do not have intimate contact with tourists. Anyone seeking intimate contact with tourists can explore licensing by the city as an escort. See the Municipal Code, Chapter 30, and Article 7: “Escort Services.”
In summary, the city is not an effective agency for testing, monitoring, or enhancing tour guide performance. The city’s regulations are a tariff on free speech.
Boston, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Las Vegas, and San Francisco, do not license or regulate tour guides. Six cities in the U.S. license and regulate tour guides. New Orleans is among the unfortunate six.
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“Fireproof” is a New Orleanian who loves her town.