Guest Blogger: Jhae Dupart on NOLA Blogger Marcia Wall of 411 NOLA

“On St. Joseph’s Day a few years back, a man and a woman stumbled upon our celebrations at St. Augustine.  I was serving food from our altar and asked them if they wanted any.  They asked me what the cost was.  I replied that there was no cost and began explaining to them the customs and traditions of St. Joseph’s Day.  They were thrilled to be with locals and partake in our traditions but noted that if it weren’t for mere chance, they never would have found us.  

 I understood what they were saying.  I am a world traveler and search out local culture when in a new place but find that tourist guides don’t do much to help me with that.  Both before and after Katrina (but especially after), people from all over the world hunger to know New Orleans like locals do.  I am a resourceful person, so I always end up getting the inside scoop but realize that many travelers don’t have the skills or time to research a place.  411 NOLA aims to remedy this for our visitors.  I want to connect people to each other, to make travel about genuine communication between people and cultures.

 Although the site is popular with people from out of town, many locals love it too.  We are a city smitten with itself like no other.  There is so much to do, so much local talent, so many hidden opportunities…people want a place where they can learn about it all.  ” ~ Marcia Wall

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Marcia Wall is the creator and administrator of 411 NOLA, a local website dedicated to all things New Orleans for New Orleanians and visitors alike. This profile of Marcia is the first in a planned series about  New Orleans bloggers: who they are, why they blog and  what they talk about. The formats will be eclectic, including interviews by myself, interviews by others and profiles by guest bloggers like the one you’ll read today by Marcia’s former student turned friend, Jhae Dupart. The NOLA blogosphere has grown by leaps and bounds since I began blogging in 2005 and I discover new-to-me bloggers almost every week writing on a myriad of subjects from politics to fashion to lifestyle and everything in between. I hope you’ll enjoy this wonderful tribute to Marcia that Jhae has shared with us and I hope you all as readers will participate by making suggestions as to which bloggers you’d like to see profiled here.

~Charlotte, NOLAFemmes creator and administrator

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I met Marcia Wall in 2000.  I was a sophomore at the University of New Orleans, and she was the instructor of the English course I took that summer. Her class centered on interactive discussion of taboo topics like gender and sexuality, making it a like no other I’ve ever had.  But her innovative approach to education isn’t the only thing that makes her a standout.  Marcia, a writer, educator, photographer, performer, activist, and founder of 411 NOLA, is a unique blend of talents that make her a welcome and integral presence in the NOLA community.

Marcia is originally from the South but grew up in California.  After graduating from college in Santa Cruz, she moved to San Diego.  But wanting to live some place that “oozed creativity,” she relocated to NOLA twelve years ago.  She quickly fell in love with the culture – “[not] just festivals, good food, and good music, [but] the close-knit feeling of the city, its ethnic and religious diversity, its sense of pride and determination, and the way each neighborhood is almost a city unto itself.”  As someone with both Southern and Sicilian Catholic heritage, Marcia found NOLA’s diverse community a perfect fit.

Her first job here was teaching English at UNO.  Since then, her focus as an educator has taken many roles, like life coach and consultant for educational programs.  To Marcia, education is about empowerment.  In her words, “I can’t teach anyone anything.  I can only help them to realize that they already know everything they need to know.”  Likewise, as an activist, she strives to enable herself and others to have a positive impact in the world.

Marcia is a modern-day Renaissance woman.  She always envisioned herself as a writer and, after school, as a photographer.  She also developed a knack for performing, transitioning from reading her funny essays on stage to creating her own hilarious comedy routine, which she’s performed at venues across NOLA, San Diego, and Los Angeles.  On top of all this, Marcia continues to dabble in other creative outlets – designing jewelry, making bath and beauty products, and experimenting in the kitchen.  As she says, “Being an artist is about manifesting one’s vision and sharing that vision with the world.  It’s about giving the world the gifts that the Creator gave you.”

It is her relationship with the Creator that sparked the inspiration for her most recent venture – the 411 NOLA website.  “One day, after I had finished doing a big consulting job for an educational program for developmentally challenged adults, I prayed to God and asked what I should do next.  In an instant, the whole idea for 411 NOLA unfolded before me.  I saw in my mind’s eye what the site would be like.”

411 NOLA is a rich info source for all things NOLA for visitors and residents alike.  Since coming online, the site has evolved to include articles, guides, recommendations, links, lists, photos, as well as an events calendar, a visitor’s guide, slide shows, products, contests, freebies, and opportunities for writers and artists.  Marcia attributes the success of 411 NOLA to faith and hard work.  When I asked how she feels about the site’s progress, she responded simply, “So far so good.  Thanks J.C.!”

Marcia, ever the visionary, is already looking to expand the features available on 411 NOLA.  “We would like to create a 411 NOLA video channel that highlights up and coming NOLA performers (of all kinds).  We are trying to develop a program that will allow users to send postcards of their adventures in NOLA directly from the site.  Later on, we hope to offer more merchandise and to host live chats and performances with NOLA writers, artists, personalities, musicians and the like.”  As the site evolves, she will continue to follow her inspiration from God.

I can’t help but be inspired by the breadth of Marcia’s talent and character.  She embodies the diversity of spirit and delightful quirkiness that makes NOLA one of a kind.  In all that she does, she continues to make NOLA a richer, more vibrant city.

Marcia Wall lives in the French Quarter with her two cats, Gracie and Boo.  When she’s not working on 411 NOLA, she enjoys traveling, cooking, exercising, and Sunday services at St. Augustine Church.  To find out more about her photography, see her photography website at See It My Way Photo.  To find out about her upcoming performances, “like” Cia’s Comedy Corner on Facebook. Follow 411 NOLA on Twitter.

NOLA Noteworthy

Good morning, NOLA!

Here for your pleasure is another random (as in whenever I get around to it) post of links that impressed me from the NOLA blogosphere as well as articles of interest that are not local but are NOLA-related. Without further ado, you must click over to:

  • Karen Beninato wrote her review of episode 13 of HBO’s Treme, “On Your Way Down”. I’ve mentioned Karen’s reviews here before because I like her style of writing clearly and knowledgeably, as a local,  but without getting mired down in minutia. This episode drew upon the explosion of violence we experienced in the city in 2006 – a situation that was especially heart-wrenching to those of us who experienced the spirit soothing balm of a violence-free few months in the wake of the storm. Probably the only positive, however short-lived, that came out of the devastation. This episode depicted the robbery and rape of our feisty and strong LaDonna and I particularly like how Karen took the opportunity to educate her readers on  rape statistics in New Orleans and to recent political attempts to “reclassify rape victims as “rape accusers,” and  “efforts to split sexual assaults into two different terms, rape and “forcible rape”. Great job, Karen!
  • The rising of the river and threat of flooding was, and continues to be, a concern for New Orleanians and Southeast Louisiana residents. Several local bloggers and photographers have posted pictures of the rising water. Kate over at What I Saw Riding My Bike Around Today blog posted what is a stunning photo of the engorged river from the Holy Cross community with the cityscape in the background. The tranquility of the scene belies the seriousness of the situation but, sweet baby Jesus, you cannot help but admire the beauty of it. Arthur over at Calliope Street blog has been watching people watching the river and posted several photos taken from the French Quarter area and Liprap posted a slide show of river photos that look like they were taken at The Fly.
  • Harry Shearer was on Real Time With Bill Mahr Friday night. I have to confess this was the first time I’d ever watched the show and I tuned in strictly to see Harry. I’m glad I did because I think I like Bill and his show but I know I love Harry who has worked his butt off trying to educate people about the great levee failure of 2005 and exactly who is responsible. He talked a bit about his film, The Big Uneasy, but didn’t get nearly the amount of time to expand on it that I would have liked. Not only did I like this episode because of Harry but also because of Bill’s commentary about Bin Laden’s death, Christians and the teachings of Jesus at the end of the show. Y’all must watch. But not if you’re an easily offended person who thinks you’re a Christian. Just sayin.
  • Dambala at American Zombie went to court Friday for a well-earned day of entertainment compliments of the Mark St. Pierre trial and, in turn, entertains us with a blow-by-blow. Eat your heart out, MSM.
  • If you’re into the local literary scene or just like to know who the hot poets and writers are and who are signing their books around town, check out Mark Folse’s weekly lit post, Odd Words, every Thursday.
  • Aura Fedora’s latest podcast on Backstage On The Bayou is an interview with NOLA’s own hip-hop artist, Truth Universal. Don’t miss it.

Well, it’s past midnight and I’m ready to visit la-la land so off I go. Remember, you can catch many of these stories, and more, weekly via NOLAFemmes on Twitter. Or, you can wait for the random post here. Until next time….

NOLA Noteworthy

OK, boys and girls, here is the next installment of NOLA Noteworthy, my personal picks of the best from local blogs and websites that I’ve read in the past week, in no particular order.

  • Season 2 of Treme begins April 24 and the Nola-based blog Back of Town is awakening from it’s between seasons slumber. If you haven’t read this blog you’re missing out on a nice forum for local chatter and background information that you won’t read anywhere else. Check it out.
  • Speaking of Treme, my choice for local blog quote of the week goes to  Cliff’s Crib (referring to this brouhaha):
    “I want to tell David Simon and the folks connected with Treme that even though the mayor went ahead and demolished the block of blighted houses featured on your promotion pictures that you shouldn’t worry. We have dozens of blocks like that. You can choose a new one for each individual episode if you want to. ”  Word.
  • Editor B. over at B.Rox gives an update about the design and construction of the Lafitte Corridor greenway, a project he’s been involved with for five years now. In the following post, Hike Report 2011, he gives a first-hand account of this years’ Lafitte Corridor hike.
  • Disenfranchised Citizen posted yet another of his hard-hitting, no holds barred opinion pieces on the continuing disaster that is the aftermath of the BP oil spill, And So It Begins: Year 2.  Drake has become the go-to man for late-breaking, well researched and concise  information regarding all issues related to the Macondo spill. Keep your eyes on that space.
  • Architecture Research posted an interesting piece, with photo,  about the Cultural Center for New Orleans that was proposed in 1963. In part it reads, “With an estimated cost of $18 million, the plaza was to extend from the Orleans-Basin Connection to St. Philip Street, and from N. Rampart to N. Villere Streets. Widespread site clearance began in 1966, after the relocation of 122 families. Hampered by financial shortfalls, the CC was delayed and eventually abandoned. “
  • That Cultural Center post puts me in mind of another not fully funded project that has relocated families in Nola. Inside The Footprint talks about and  links us to recent comments made by State Treasurer John Kennedy about the financing for the proposed University Medical Center hospital in lower mid-city.
  • I recently discovered a new blog – well, new to me – called Riverside and instantly fell in love. It has got to be one of the most complete resources I’ve ever seen for all things New Orleans. It has everything from where to eat in Nola to where to shop to a list of local blogs to local music, art and videos to upcoming events, etc, etc, etc. I particularly like a video he posted which is a great snapshot of life in One Square Mile (around 4th and St.Charles) of the city and the people who live there. So cool.

Do you have a favorite story from a local blog you’d like to share? Just email me at nolafemmes at gmail dot com and we’ll publish it on NOLA Noteworthy with your name.
Like what you’ve read here? Follow us on Twitter for daily tweets of everything we find interesting about NOLA and other subjects.

We Love Our Readers & Referrers

WordPress sent me some information about this blog that I thought I’d share with y’all. I believe this is the first year they’ve compiled and provided this kind of info for their clients and I was quite pleased with the results. We at NOLAFemmes are only 18 months old but thanks to our readers and referrers we’re doing quite well.

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 27,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it.

 

In 2010, there were 201 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 283 posts. There were 550 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 511mb. That’s about 2 pictures per day.

The busiest day of the year was February 7th with 975 views. The most popular post that day was The Saints are Miami Bound!!!.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, twitter.com, networkedblogs.com, noladder.blogspot.com, and nola.humidbeings.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for saints logo, voodoo fest promo code, voodoo fest promo code 2010, holly brown kern, and new orleans saints logo.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

The Saints are Miami Bound!!! January 2010

2

It’s Day 86 and I’m Not Okay. July 2010
11 comments

3

60 DAYS 2 YEAR 5: A Photographic Journey June 2010
8 comments

4

How the Oilspill Can Affect Your Health May 2010

5

Environment America’s Report Includes Statistics On Toxic Discharge in Mississippi River January 2010
1 comment

 

Once again Big Thanks and Big Love to our readers and the Who Dat Nation with a special big thanks to NOLA Ladder and Humid Beings for their support.

 

Happy Talk: Writing, Books, Blogs & Getting Rid of Stuff

No, this isn’t a post about  Kermit’s new CD which is on my very short list of must-haves but, yes, I did steal the title from him. My must-have list is very short because I have begun a journey of decluttering my life and home and have vowed that any material item I purchase must be something I really need or can’t live without. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time…..my house is bursting at the seams and all this stuff has become a bigger and bigger background stress for me.

Today is my first step toward purging some of the stuff in my home that I really don’t need and can’t use. I cleaned out my closet and donated 3 large lawn and leaf bags full of clothes, shoes and handbags to the Vietnam Veterans of America. I even purged items I held onto in the last 3 closet cleanings.  Let me tell you, when I lugged those heavy bags down the stairs and out the door this morning I felt such a lightness of spirit it was exhilarating! And when I looked into my closet which is now only half full, I felt like I was floating on a cloud. It was all just stuff I didn’t need. And this is only the beginning. I have 4 more bedroom closets, 2 linen closets, 3 bathroom vanities and a kitchen full of cupboards to purge and I Will. Be. Ruthless.  Oh yeah, and a sideboard full of dishware I never use too. I just don’t need it all.

Serendipitously, I found the website Miss Minimalist (whose motto is “living a beautiful life with less stuff”) and may I say Yay! What an inspiration she is with her wealth of experience and tips. If you’re on a decluttering journey too I highly recommend her website.

So a couple of unexpected things happened to me recently that have made me a happy girl and I’m going to tell y’all about them. Two of my loves in life are photography and poetry and I dabble a bit in each. I have a blog where I post poetry that I write and interact with others who share that passion but I’ve kept it a bit of a secret for the past 3 years and published under the pseudonym Zouxzoux. In January of this year I took the shaky step of submitting some of my poetry to online zines for publication. I guess I had beginners luck because the very first submission was published in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature and I’ve really had very few rejections from other zines I’ve submitted to since. Anyway, a few weeks ago I received notification from St. Somewhere Journal that they’ve nominated one of my poems for the Pushcart Prize. I was (and still am) astonished and very grateful – it’s such a privilege, especially for a struggling writer like me. I know thousands of writers are nominated and it’s unlikely I’ll actually win but the fact that I was nominated has really given me a boost of confidence and that means so much. Another source of that strange feeling known as confidence comes from my friend and mentor, Tammy Vitale. I met Tammy several years ago online and she has really been a creative inspiration for me. When she heard about the nomination, she asked if she could interview me for a post on her wonderful website, Women, Art, Life: Weaving It All Together and I was, of course, thrilled. Here is the link to the interview and I encourage you to peruse her website – it is such a positive and beautiful place to visit.

Then a few days ago I won a copy of Debra Shriver’s beautiful book, Stealing Magnolias: Tales From a New Orleans Courtyard.  (Check out this great piece about the book on Style Court.) I had entered a photography contest on FaceBook sponsored by Glitterati which asked for photos of New Orleans and I won! I entered a photo of Nick’s Supermarket on Washington Avenue (below). It’s not what most people think of when photographing the city so I guess that’s what caught their eye. Of course, to the locals, it’s pretty much a typical scene although I’m sure there are plenty of locals who pass scenes like this everyday and never really see. I know not everyone likes street art but I think it’s really interesting and, often, carries a message if you’re only open to it. This creature is known as “Tard” and the lettering is by local sign painter Lester Carey who’s painted many, many of the signs you see everyday in the city. There’s a great write-up about him here on NO Notes blog so go on over and read his story. It’s fascinating. One local who photographs scenes we all might pass everyday without seeing is the blogger at What I Saw Riding My Bike Around Today. I’ve been following her for probably a year or so now and she always has fantastic local photos as well as interesting posts. You should visit.

Well, I’ve about run out of “Happy Talk” for the moment and the cat is meowing for supper so I’d better get off my butt and get going. Have a great week-end, y’all!



An Intercultural Marriage

“One thing is certain: there is always a bowl of rice in our fridge. My greens live on the bottom shelf: beet greens, collards, Swiss chard and mustard greens. Washed, drained, chopped up and sautéed with garlic, olive oil and a sometimes a little onion, they often accompany the daily khep & chicken or bandie & beef. Assane will eat a bite of it, but no more.”

My online buddy, Maura, has a very interesting blog, The MoxieBee,  that I want to share with you. I’ve only recently begun reading because I only recently met her through Twitter where she found me and immediately became a great supporter of NOLAFemmes. Her post, A Fridge As Cultural Bridge, 2002, about food and her relationship with her West African husband is absolutely wonderful and fascinating.  I want to pass this link along to y’all and you must go read if you enjoy reading about other cultures and food. And, hey, we live in New Orleans, right? You can’t live here and not love all cultures and all food!

“He laughs easily.   Except when he broods, or calls home to Senegal, where he lived for most of his life, or Guinea, where he was born.  Guinea means woman in Susu, the language that is his mother tongue; therefore, he tells me Guinean men make the best husbands.  He scoffs when I fail to immediately accept this peculiar logic. “

Sunday Postscripts

Welcome to Sunday Postscripts which I hope will become a weekly feature here, goddess willing. It’s the one day of the week when I can spend a little more time perusing the blogs and newspapers to catch up on what I missed in the past week and read articles I bookmarked for “later”. The plan is to share the links here in case you missed them too.

The first story I want to share was written by Swampwoman on her blog, The Mosquito Coast, entitled Mary Landrieus Healthcare Forum. I cannot believe I initially missed this but am so happy I found it today. She recently attended a town hall meeting in Reserve, LA and has written an excellent report with many really great photos of the event. Having worked in healthcare on the clinical side and the business side for 28 years, I have a very keen interest in Healthcare Reform. If this is an issue you care about and you haven’t attended any of the town hall meeting, you must read this post. It’s a real first-hand account from the fray from our friend, Swampwoman.

I’ve been meaning to write a post about KatrinaWarriors, a local organization that describes itself as follows:

Katrina Warriors Network is the diverse body of individuals, affinities, organizations, & institutions working to support and enhance the well-being of women and girls in New Orleans, Louisiana and the U.S. Gulf South.

I first became aware of this org in 2006 when I heard about it on a local radio station and immediately blogged about it because I felt strongly about the work it was seeking to do which was to raise awareness in the community of the violence brought against women in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Over the years I’ve tried to keep up with KW events although I admit it’s been sporadic. Well, no more. I’ll be bringing their events to your attention here and you can also look forward to contributions on this blog from Jen who is a force behind Katrina Warriors.
Right now I want to point everyone to an extensive list of healthcare resources for New Orleans women on the KW site. Link to the pdf. The New Orleans Women’s Health Resource Guide is a collaborative publication of: Common Ground Health Clinic, REACH NOLA, Tulane University, New Orleans Women’s Health Clinic, New Orleans Women’s Health & Justice Initiative, V-Day, Katrina Warriors Artist Rowan Shafer & many community members.

Speaking of Katrina, there are many local blog posts about yesterday’s 4th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina aka locally as The Federal Flood. I haven’t read them all yet but I want to point out my friend Rex’s post on his blog, NoLA Rising which I found very profound and healing. I highly recommend this read, not only for New Orleanians, but for all Americans. Here’s a snippet:

In the end, I will celebrate as a New Orleanian should. I will celebrate my friends who have returned and still fight the specters of the past. I will celebrate the many new faces who have come to New Orleans not to take from it her riches, but to lend their positive spirit to the greater whole. I will celebrate those who come to gawk at our history and drink on our streets, enjoying the freedoms we take for granted in this city. Rex raises his glass to you all!

Valentine Pierce is a poet, New Orleans native and someone I’m proud to call my friend who recently began blogging at Poet Sense & Sensibilities. In her anniversary post she talks about her memories before and after Katrina and her on-going effort to find peace with it all. I highly recommend her book of poetry, Geometry of the Heart, which I devoured post-K and still read regularly. It stays on my coffee table.

I want to thank Nordette of Blogher, a native New Orleanian, for her thoughtful and informataive post as well and for linking to many of the NoLA bloggers anniversary posts. I’m very happy that she included this fledgling blog by linking to our own Nikki’s haunting photograph. Thanks, Nordette!

Well, that will have to be it for this week – the kitchen is calling out “cook, cook, cook!” So off I go to fry up some pork chops, check on the simmering collard greens and mix up the cornbread.

Take care, all.