Inspired by the Dutch, New Orleans is looking at adopting a more sustainable water management plan. The Greater New Orleans Urban Management Plan emerged from a series of conferences with Dutch water experts called The Dutch Dialogues. The plan will address “flooding caused by heavy rainfall, subsidence caused by the pumping of storm water, and wasted water assets.”
New Orleans’ emerging water management plan is being steered by local architect David Waggonner. Listen to my conversation with David here.
I’ve been back in Canada for almost a month. Sifting through audio recordings of my time in Louisiana, I’m transported back to Cajun country. Shuffling over corn meal on the dance floor, couples two-stepping the night away. T-fer, rub board, accordion, twin fiddles ringing through the night, the singer hollering, “Somebody scream!”
I started the residency thinking I’d explore an endangered culture. With the French language being spoken by so few in Louisiana today, I expected to find that the culture was caught between holding onto an image fabricated for tourists – the story of Evangeline regurgitated – and a scraping together of the old ways still clinging to the sides of the cast iron pot. What I found, though, was a place that has adapted and evolved; a place where it’s possible to dig up the past through ancient ballads and stories and breathe new life into them. Keeping things moving forward by using the archives as a starting point and not as a tomb. I know there are always things lost, things forgotten. As we age, there’s only so much we can hold onto. Yet, it seems the spirit of L’Acadie burns brighter in Louisiana, with more tenacity and swagger than the L’Acadie of my ancestors in Canada.
I am grateful to everyone that shared their stories with me, who shared contacts and took time to give me a window into Cajun culture in Louisiana. As the first Canadian Deltaworker, Maaike, Joris, Maggie and Dawn helped make my time in Louisiana magical. Over the coming months, I’ll be sifting through and editing the recordings for a series of radio pieces as well as an audio installation. In this clip, Bruneaux Miller describes a contraption he has rigged up to roast a large hog at Lakeview Campground outside of Eunice.
My Deltaworkers residency started in the desert, in Taos, New Mexico. I decided to ride a motorcycle to New Orleans, half inspired by the 1969 road movieEasy Rider, but mainly because I like the contemplative space riding a motorcycle on one’s own creates.
I was attracted to the Deltaworkers residency program because of the nomadic spirit of the founders. While based in New Orleans, the organisation encourages artists to spread their wings and explore the Southern States. As a radiomaker, my practice depends on throwing myself into new situations and talking to people. As a Canadian – particularly because I grew up on the border of the U.S – I’ve always been fascinated by the United States. Riding a bike east from New Mexico, across the Texas panhandle and into New Orleans seemed like an appropriate way to contemplate the mythos of the American South.
I flew down to Taos from my home in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, a small subarctic city in Canada, in mid-October. I found a few bikes for $2,000U.S or under on Craigslist. I drove out to see one of them, ended up lost on the mesa and drove onto a property with ‘No Trespassing’ signs. The folks that lived there threatened to shoot me (turns out they were harvesting marijuana) if I didn’t get out of there. Needless to say, finding a motorcycle in New Mexico was not as easy as I thought it would be. Thankfully, a friend of mine spotted an ad in a Taos Laundromat which turned out to be the dream bike. Not only was it a solid bike that was light and easy to handle on the road, the guy I bought it from, Greg, took great pride in the old bikes he fixed up and pleaded with me to bring it back to New Mexico someday.
With my recording gear in a small hard shell suitcase bungeed to the back of the bike, I rode 1500 miles from Taos to New Orleans. Greg called me periodically as I made my way east to see how the bike was running. The route I took across the Texas panhandle took me into small towns and I took my time getting to Louisiana.
New Orleans is a wild, beautiful city but the focus of my research is in Cajun country. I spent time in Lafourche, St. Landry, Evangeline, Acadia and Lafayette Parishes.