Excuse me if I ramble here a bit. I’ve been thinking about how I want to shape this post, and it’s hard not to sort of think back to my days as an undergrad or wax philosophical in turns. But can’t those two sit well under an umbrella together – what college student doesn’t like to get deep, man? I’ll try to keep this concise.
Anyway, the reason I write today is because I’m thinking an awful lot about the Voices of New Orleans event we have coming up in New York City on the 22nd. It brings together two publications each worth (multiple) blog posts (and then some) in their own rights, both based in New Orleans. We have our second location in New Orleans, so it makes sense to us as a company, it’s interesting beyond doubt, and attention given to the rebuilding of that great city is a worthy cause and will continue to be pretty much henceforth.
Outside of the obvious focus on the city of New Orleans itself this event will have, I am so intrigued, amped up, and downright giddy about the idea of talking about how creative communities contribute to the very soul of any city – New Orleans, New York or otherwise. It is here that these two publications highlighted at the event, How to Rebuild a City: Field Guide from a Work in Progress and Constance: Delicate Burdens, intersect. This is the stuff that makes me go all weak in the ‘profound’ knees. I myself am still early in the pages of both publications, which we sell in both spaces. Anthony could give a much better synopsis of each book cover to cover, but until I’ve reached that point myself, I’ll stick to what I know. The issue of building community and infrastructure and economy in an urban setting obviously doesn’t apply only to New Orleans, and it doesn’t apply only to cities that have seen something tragic happen to its streets and its residents in recent or not-so-recent history. It is something that anyone can learn a lesson from and apply to their own circumstance.
Cultural currency is as valuable as any other currency. Does that make Constance like a bound book of $100 bills? It is a beautifully done collection of artwork (printed on full pages in color) and prose and poems by artists and writers local to New Orleans, and includes useful bits such as their contact information. It is just begging for collaborations to be born, for conversations to start. These pages are in a sense a call to action to document and create or collect and collaborate.
A more literal call to action, the whole final quarter of How to Rebuild a City is an uplifting ode to optimism titled “Nourish and Flourish.” While earlier pages could make you weep with the stories of devastation, the last section allows you a glimpse into the many projects that have given new vitality to the city of New Orleans. Interestingly, they are almost entirely made up of cultural organizations. The value of culture in society at large is always up for debate, it is so subjective. But from parades to publications (like Constance, sited there among the rest), galleries to gardens, and held within memory banks made up of documents or videos, made by children or established film-makers, it is clear that when citizens come together to collaborate creatively and celebrate each others’ work and imaginations and cultural viewpoint, great things happen. A city rebuilds.
If these things pique your interest the way they do mine, come join us. The editors and designers of the two pubs will be there to give a short talk and answer questions. It’s far from a costume party, but I like to dress a part even if subtly when I can pull it together – not sure if I’m going to go Academic Attire in honor of my nerdy eagerness to learn something new or Bourbon Street Best in honor of Who Dat Nation.
Until next time,