“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
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
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.