Somos NOLA

“Guillo, el armadillo”

“Guillo, el armadillo”

Click aqui para español- > “Guillo, el armadillo”

A book that inspires children to find their unique talents.

As a local Spanish teacher, mom, and author, Andrea Olatunji has always strived to connect with her community. When schools closed this past March, she found herself teaching six classes from home while helping her five-year-old son with his, and also promoting her recently published book “Omar, el jaguar”. 


Looking for ways to help others in her situation, she created a Youtube channel where she reads books for children in Spanish; she participated in storytime events with her book at Children’s Hospital, The Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University, and UNICEF, among others.  And, on top of that, she finished working on her second book, “Guillo, el armadillo,” which will be published this October.

Andrea, tell us about your book? What is it about?

This is the second book in a series that depicts animals that are native to the Americas. The first one is “Omar, el jaguar”, a story about a jaguar that learns to celebrate diversity. “Guillo” is the story of an armadillo, a popular and protected species in my home country, Uruguay. Guillo wakes up on a Monday ready to start school. He is excited and can’t wait to learn new things. However, as the week goes by, he grows increasingly disappointed because he can’t meet the challenges proposed each day by the teacher. He is either too short, too slow, or simply unable to accomplish these activities. By the end of the week, he is convinced that he does not have any talent and he is reluctant to come back to school. Eventually, however, his talent unexpectedly reveals itself.


Which other autochthonous animals are depicted in your books? 

The books include a sloth, a toucan, an anaconda, a pink dolphin, and a condor, among others. This is a great opportunity to teach kids about these animals and their environments, and about the reasons why some are in danger of extinction, along with deforestation in the Amazon forest. 


Where did the idea for “Guillo, el armadillo” come from?

It is inspired by my students. In my twenty-plus year journey as a Spanish teacher, I have always enjoyed using projects to enhance my student’s learning experiences. One of my favorite activities is called “Mi Talento” (My talent). Here students need to teach their classmates and teacher something they know how to do well. Most of my students loved to show off their talents, but there are always a couple of children who seem intimidated by the challenge. When talking with them, they would tell me “I don’t have a talent. What can I teach?”. This puzzled me. Guiding these students in the process and then seeing them empowered by the discovery of their talents is what inspired me to create “Guillo, el armadillo”.

What makes “Guillo, el armadillo” a special book?

Its empowering message: to believe in yourself and discover your unique talents. As a teacher, I wrote it thinking about those kids who are learning the language. Thus, the vocabulary is simple and repetitive, enabling children to remember it easily. 

This is a book specially designed so a child with basic knowledge of the language can understand it. This enables the educators to teach in context and to elaborate as the child progresses. Finally, parents that do not speak the language have found the vocabulary intuitive, which together with the illustrations, has enabled them to understand the story.


The book’s illustrations are fun and eye-catching. Inspired by Panamanian “molas” (colorful fabric panels made by the local Kuna women), and the work of Uruguayan artist Carlos Paez Vilaró, the animals are full of detail and intricate shapes. Yet, there is a simplicity to them. The backgrounds are reminiscent of something that young children do a lot: cut and paste. This tissue paper collage gives the illustrations a nice 3D effect. Finally, there is a guide to accompany the book, which comes with lesson plans, printables, project ideas, and guiding questions.

How have teachers and parents reacted to your books so far?

“Omar, el jaguar” has become an asset in many teachers´ curricula during this pandemic. 

Also, several parents that were now teaching their kids at home considered it as an option to help their kids continue practicing their Spanish.


When will “Guillo” be available?

I am doing a crowdfunding campaign from September 15th till October 15th to get funds to finish editing this book and print it. This is a costly process, so I need help. 

This campaign is an “all or nothing”. This means that if I don’t meet my desired goal, then the project does not get funded and I won’t be able to print my book. But what I like about it is that people do not just give money to a cause; they get to purchase exclusive rewards. For example, they can pre-order signed copies of the book for less including shipping; they can get a class package that includes an author virtual visit, etc. It is a great way to get help and at the same time give back.

Where can people join this campaign?

I invite those interested to subscribe to my website www.cuentacuento.com for information about the campaign. I also give my subscribers first dibs into the rewards and they get opportunities to participate in discounts and giveaways. I can also be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Whitney Plantation

The Whitney Plantation 

By AnaMaria Bech

Para español hacer clic aquí ->La Plantación Whitney

Last Summer, I took out-of-town visitors to the Whitney Plantation Museum when I heard it was the only museum in Louisiana with an exclusive focus on the lives of enslaved people. Most of the tour took place around the grounds of the plantation complex, which has over twelve historic structures. It was a very hot day and I was in agony. My distress was null in contrast to the pain that I could hear within the stories of life in the sugar plantation and the difficult conditions endured by enslaved people. Hearing their names, seeing them engraved on the memorial walls, and even finding their relation to known local descendants put everything in perspective and made it feel too real and present. Perhaps one of the hardest thoughts was when I heard that when slavery “officially” ended, many workers decided to stay at these plantations because there were no other worthwhile alternatives for them.

Recently, our world has been protesting and questioning more than ever the systemic racism that continues to hurt the quality of life of Black Americans and other people of color. 

It is important to educate ourselves and understand the past, and how it has shaped our current society. When you visit the Whitney Plantation in Wallace, Louisiana and take one of their accurate historical tours that talk about the culture, life, and operations of New Orleans plantations and the history behind the Atlantic Slave Trade, your eyes will be open to seeing that slavery is not such a distant entity. A tour is not enough, but it can be the beginning of an educational journey so that we can all understand better and become advocates for a fair society for Black Americans and others who face injustices.

“The Wall of Honor is a memorial dedicated to all the people who were enslaved on the Whitney Plantation. The names and the information related to them (origin, age, skills) were retrieved from original archives and engraved on granite slabs. So far, more than 350 slaves were identified on official records.” - Whitney Plantation Museum

  • Published in Somos NOLA

Pontchartrain Conservancy

Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation Announces Rebrand to Pontchartrain Conservancy

Brand refresh communicates progression and expansion of the environmental organization’s work and mission

Para español click aquí -> Pontchartrain Conservancy

NEW ORLEANS (June 24, 2020) — The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation (LPBF), a leader in coastal sustainability, water quality, and environmental education for more than three decades, has rebranded as Pontchartrain Conservancy effective immediately. The comprehensive rebrand, which includes a new website, logo, and tagline, aims to communicate the nonprofit environmental sustainability organization’s expansion from a singular focus to the entire Lake Pontchartrain Basin and Louisiana coast.

LPBF was founded in 1989 by scientists and community leaders to confront Louisiana’s coastal crisis of diminishing water quality and land loss. Over the past 31 years, the organization has successfully worked to protect, restore and sustain Lake Pontchartrain, facilitating programs for coastal sustainability, water quality, and education. LPBF has also worked to transform confusion and fear surrounding Louisiana’s coastal crisis into understanding, advocacy and activism for environmental sustainability.

“The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation has become a beacon of success for other environmental organizations around the country who look to our scientists as experts in environmental preservation,” said Pontchartrain Conservancy Executive Director Kristi Trail. “However, there has been much confusion as to who we are and what we do, and a lack of awareness regarding our successes and current programming. We’re proud that this new brand identity will showcase the accomplishments of our organization and garner continued support of our critical work.”

Pontchartrain Conservancy will carry on LPBF’s more than three-decade legacy and host of strengths — its depth of scientific knowledge, understanding of the pertinent challenges affecting the basin region and proven track record in finding practical solutions.

In 2006, LPBF restored Lake Pontchartrain as a healthy economic and recreational resource for the region. As the decline of Louisiana’s coast has visibly accelerated, Pontchartrain Conservancy has extended its focus to include coastal sustainability. The organization created and coined the renowned Multiple Lines of Defense strategy for coastal restoration and storm protection in 2006. Pontchartrain Conservancy’s new tagline, “Science for Our Coast,” aims to communicate this success and continued work.

The New Canal Lighthouse Museum will continue to function as both Pontchartrain Conservancy’s headquarters and education center. The Education Department will carry on its mission of promoting awareness and activism through public outreach initiatives and the development of innovative environmental curriculum to educate students from grade school through college, as well as teachers. Pontchartrain Conservancy’s Water Quality Program will continue to monitor, trace sources of pollution, assist in the correction of failing wastewater systems and advocate for green infrastructure and watershed management.

“As our region faces increasing environmental threats and challenges, our organization’s programs have never been as vital to Louisiana, and to the nation, as they are today,” Trail added.

For more information, visit Pontchartrain Conservancy’s website at scienceforourcoast.org.

VN Creators Camp

Registration is NOW OPEN for the VIVA NOLA Creators Camp!

The VIVA NOLA Creators Camp is for young creatives who want to learn the basics of professional video making and hosting! We have a 3-hour morning session for ages 8-11 at 9a.m, and a 3-hour afternoon session for ages 12-14 which starts at 2:00p.m. The camp will take place on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in Metairie and will begin on July 6th. Limited spots!

Registration $25 

Week 1 July 6th: $150/ Early bird $140

Week 2 July 13th: $150

***Registration Fee waived if you register before June 30th***

¡Registración abierta AHORA para el VIVA NOLA Creators Camp!

Este programa es para jóvenes creativos que quieren aprender las básicas de realizar videos profesionales y presentar. Tenemos una sesión de tres horas en la mañana para edades 8 a 11 que comienza a las 9a.m., y otra en la tarde para edades 12 a 14 que comienza a las 2p.m. El camp es los lunes, miércoles y viernes, y empieza del 6 de julio. Cupos Limitados

Registración: $25

Semana 1, Julio 6: $150/ Precio especial $140

Semana 2, Julio 13: $150

***Registración gratis si te inscribes antes del 30 de junio***

VN Campers Registration

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Are You Hurricane-Ready?

Are You Hurricane-Rready?

Click aqui para español- >¿Está preparado para huracanes?

The State of Louisiana is urging its residents to have a hurricane plan that is updated to deal with the pandemic. This information can be found in more detail in getagameplan.org and in ready.nola.gov.

Understand that your planning may be different this year because of the need to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Give yourself more time than usual to prepare your emergency food, water, and medicine supplies. Home delivery is the safest choice for buying disaster supplies; however, that may not be an option for everyone. If in-person shopping is your only choice, take steps to protect your and others’ health when running essential errands.

Protect yourself and others when filling prescriptions by limiting in-person visits to the pharmacy. Sign up for mail order delivery or call in your prescription ahead of time and use drive-through windows or curbside pickup, if available.

Pay attention to local guidance about updated plans for evacuations and shelters, including potential shelters for your pets.

If you need to evacuate, prepare a “go kit” with personal items you cannot do without during an emergency. Include items that can help protect you and others from COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer, or bar or liquid soap if not available, and two cloth face coverings for each person. Face covers should not be used by children under the age of 2. They also should not be used by people having trouble breathing, or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or unable to remove the mask without assistance.

When you check on neighbors and friends, be sure to follow social distancing recommendations (staying at least 6 feet, about 2 arms’ length, from others) and other CDC recommendations to protect yourself and others.

If you need to go to a disaster shelter, follow CDC recommendations for staying safe and healthy in a public disaster shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • Know what emergencies or disasters are most likely to occur in your area and have an emergency kit pre-assembled.
  • Inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare and school, faith organizations, sports events and commuting.
  • Refill prescriptions so that you always have a seven (7) day supply.
  • Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and plan to work together as a team.
  • Know the difference between different weather alerts such as watches and warnings and what actions to take for each.
  • Learn about your community’s warning signals and frequently monitor television, NOAA radio, Internet and mobile apps.

 >> Don’t wait until the storm approaches to download your apps.

  • If there is a chance you will have to evacuate, turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and keep them closed as much as possible so that food will last longer if the power goes out.
  • Listen to local officials and be ready to evacuate. Know your evacuation routes and emergency shelters and checkpoints. Notify someone outside the disaster area of your plans.

Online Education Challenges for ELL students

Online Education Challenges for ELL students

By Cody Downey

Click aqui para español- >Obstáculos en educación en línea para aprendices de inglés

Since the closure of schools on March 16, education has moved online. The closure has posed a real change of pace for students, especially to those with limited English proficiency, commonly referred to as English Language Learners (ELL).

According to the most recent statistics from the Louisiana Department of Education, 4.08% of students have been identified as having limited English proficiency. Out of all the school districts, Jefferson Parish Public Schools and New Orleans Public Schools have some of the highest English Learner populations with 17.99% and 6.61%, respectively.

With the move to online education, schools had to work harder to keep these students learning and engaged. New Orleans Public Schools advised their schools to connect with their students and families and work with them to change their instruction plans as needed. “NOLA Public Schools continues to work with and support schools as they implement their continuous learning plans,” NOLA-PS said. “Schools have planned to address the needs of all their students, including their ELL populations.”

With approximately 3,000 English Learners in their district, schools have had to reach out more than ever before to ensure the continuation of education.

At Sophie B. Wright Charter School, Charter Director Sharon Clark said her school has been constantly reaching out to their 40 ESL students. They have provided meals and sent numerous messages to provide equipment.

“We made sure that our students had computers and internet hot spots. If the students could not come and get the needed items, we brought the items to them,” Clark said. “We are a family at Wright, and every student counts.”

According to Clark, all students that were in the ESL program graduated, and were able to pick up their diplomas. “We are proud of all of our students and will do anything we must to make sure that they are successful,” she said.

In Jefferson Parish, the school district had to make similar arrangements to provide education and accommodations to their 9,025 English Learners.

According to Executive Director of Language Equity and Acquisition Karina Castillo, the school district transitioned into online learning for these students by assigning ESL staff to online classrooms and reaching out to individual students.

“Providing individualized accommodations for each student is our goal,” Castillo said.

However, the transition has not been completely easy for English Learners. Kathy Hall, an ESL teacher at Marrero Middle School, said that the biggest struggle for these students is access to technology and to the internet. According to Hall, the extent of some English Learners’ access to technology is their smartphones.

“Google Classroom and many of the programs being used are not compatible with proper functioning on a cellphone,” Hall said. “Even those who do have access to computers or Chromebooks still were not trained in how to access and use the Google Classroom features and tools.”

Along with this, Hall said that for English Learners, learning can be even harder when they need a more face-to-face or hands-on type of instruction. “They are already limited in English, so trying to communicate online in English [and assess] what it is that they do not understand in order to receive the help they need, sometimes seems or feels insurmountable,” she said.

Castillo echoed the same problems by saying that access to technology was the biggest challenge. However, she said that there has been a lot of good work done on the district’s part in trying to help these and other students.

“Since our buildings have closed, we’ve served around half a million grab & go meals to children, provided online learning resources to families, distributed over 70,000 printed learning packets, and have loaned over 5,000 Chromebooks to families,” she said.

With the end of the school year, Castillo said that the district will be looking to students and their families to help them move forward.

“As we plan for next school year, we are seeking input from families on how the pandemic has impacted them, how we have helped and where we can improve,” she said.

A Message From Thelma Ceballos-Meyers

**Attention State Farm Customers**

**Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, we are taking the following temporary safety measures to ensure the health of our customers and team.   Please call our office 504-366-1155 we are here to assist you by phone or email**

State Farm is committed to the health and safety of our customers & associates and minimizing interruptions to our customers while continuing to provide the personalized service you expect.  With so much uncertainty about COVID-19 Coronavirus, we are working hard to do our part to slow the spread of this virus by maintaining social distance and limit contact. Our goal is to keep you safe, as well as keep our employees healthy so we can continue to serve our customers.

Our office is open and we are here to serve you on the phone or via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We are happy to assist you over the phone and can come to your car to assist you with your needed transaction.

***We continue to serve our customers in multiple ways during this time:

Make a payment


·         Please call our office and we can take a credit card or Electronic Fund Transfer payment over the phone. (No fee to pay by phone)

·         By Paper Check: please leave check in our locked mailbox, call us and let us know it is there.

·         By Cash: please have exact change or money order.  Please obtain a money order if possible. We will come to the front door and obtain your cash and provide you a receipt.

Report a claim

·         Please call our office (504) 366.1155 or call State Farm claims at (800) 782-8332.

Talk to a customer representative

·         To discuss your account or make changes, Please call or email us and we will respond back to you as soon as possible. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;

24 Hour Good Neighbor Service

·         Contact us by phone after hours and our 24 hour Good Neighbor service can assist you. You can make a payment, file a claim, manage your account balance or ask a question.

On line: StateFarm.com

State Farm mobile app (Brochure on table) 

·         Manage your policies or accounts online or by our State Farm mobile app. You can pay your insurance bill, file and track a claim, or connect with us.  If you need assistance setting one of these up, please call our office and we will be happy to assist you over the phone. 



If you are sick, please call us.  Please do not come into the office.       

***We appreciate your patience and understanding under these uncertain times for our community, country and world***

Thank you for your business & the trust you have placed in our office!  Thelma Ceballos Meyers, Agent




If you think you may have the coronavirus and want to get tested, figuring out where to go can be confusing and challenging. Medical facilities and doctors offices ask that everyone call ahead so they can make arrangements to protect others when people come in for testing.

Call your primary care physician if you are concerned and showing symptoms. If you do not have a primary care physician, contact the Louisiana 211 Network by dialing 2-1-1 to be connected to the nearest community clinic. The Louisiana Department of Health recommends testing for any patient with fever, respiratory symptoms and a negative flu test. Testing is not recommended for asymptomatic patients. Any physician can order testing based on their clinical judgement. Testing is being conducted by the state public health laboratory and some commercial labs. The state lab tests samples of high-priority patients, which include:

  •       Hospitalized patients with a severe respiratory illness with no other known cause
  •       Patients with recent onset of similar fever and lower respiratory symptoms who are associated with others with a suspected outbreak of COVID-19
  •       Health care workers with direct contact to a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 case with recent fever and lower respiratory symptoms
  •       Homeless patients with suspected COVID-19
  •       Patients with suspected COVID-19 who are associated with a high-risk exposure setting such as a long-term care facility or a correctional facility

State lab results are typically available within the same day. Results times may vary at commercial labs. For more information, contact the Louisiana 211 Network by dialing 211 or by texting LACOVID to 898-211, or visit the Louisiana Department of Health's coronavirus website.


Department of Labor -Employee Rights

DOL’s Wage and Hour Division remains available to assist employers and employees alike with questions they may have regarding employer obligations and employee rights, particularly as they relate to the FLSA and FMLA.   If you have questions, feel free to contact the Wage and Hour Division at 1-866-4US-WAGE (1-866-487-9243) or 504.589.6171.  We also established recently a virtual call center (VCC) to increase the number of staff available to answer calls live, so callers may reach a representative outside of Louisiana. Regardless, those staff members are equally trained and available to offer assistance to the public.

In addition, you may find the following resources helpful as you navigate the COVID-19 situation. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic

 Disaster Relief Lending Small Business Administration Assistance 

Process for Accessing SBA’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Disaster Relief Lending

  • The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Upon a request received from a state’s or territory’s Governor, SBA will issue under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration.
  • Any such Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance declaration issued by the SBA makes loans available to small businesses and private, non-profit organizations in designated areas of a state or territory to help alleviate economic injury caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance will coordinate with the state’s or territory’s Governor to submit the request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance.
  • Once a declaration is made for designated areas within a state, the information on the application process for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance will be made available to all affected communities.
  • These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
  • SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.
  • SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans are just one piece of the expanded focus of the federal government’s coordinated response, and the SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible.

For additional information, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Stress, Anxiety, and Emotional Support During Emergencies


Feeling stressed, anxious or depressed is common among human service clients, staff, and children during emergencies. The Disaster Distress Helpline is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year national hotline that provides immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any emergency. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the U.S. and its territories.


Unemployment Benefits

Workers can apply for financial assistance and SNAP benefits (food stamps) through the Louisiana Workforce Commission, which has loosened eligibility requirements to help workers affected by COVID-19.

For more information, visit laworks.net.


Gig Economy Fund New Orleans Business Alliance


  • The New Orleans Business Alliance is awarding between $500 and $1,000 to musicians, drivers, and other gig workers affected by COVID-19. Must be an Orleans Parish resident.


MusicCares COVID-19 Relief Fund

The Recording Academy is giving financial assistance to musicians whose livelihoods have been jeopardized by the pandemic.


Jefferson Parish Schools Grab and Go Meals

Meals will be provided weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Grand Isle School), beginning March 18. Families can pick up the first round of printed learning packets in the grab and go meal line March 18-20. New packets will be available March 30 through April 2.

Families can go to any of the 14 locations to pick up a free Grab and Go meal and at-home learning packet, even if the site is not their home school.

The grab and go locations are:

  • Bissonet Plaza Elementary: 6818 Kawanee Drive in Metairie
  • Emmett Gilbert School: 435 S. Jamie Blvd. in Westwego
  • Fisher: 2529 Jean Lafitte Blvd. in Lafitte
  • Grand Isle School: 149 Ludwig Ln. in Grand Isle (11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at this location)
  • Gretna Middle: 910 Gretna Blvd. in Gretna
  • Hazel Park Elementary: 8809 Jefferson Hwy. in River Ridge
  • Marie Riviere Elementary: 1564 Lake Ave. in Metairie
  • Marrero Middle: 4100 7th Street in Marrero
  • Meisler Middle: 3700 Cleary Ave. in Metairie
  • Riverdale High: 240 Riverdale Drive in Jefferson
  • Terrytown Elementary: 550 E. Forest Lawn Drive in Terrytown
  • Truman School: 5417 Ehret Road in Marrero
  • Woods Elementary: 1037 31st Street in Kenner
  • Worley Middle: 801 Spartans Drive in Westwego

Meals will be offered to any child age 18 and under (21 and under for special education students) regardless of whether they are a Jefferson Parish Schools student. Printed learning packets will be available for students in grades pre-K to 8th. Children must be present with an adult to receive a meal and learning packet. Meals will include lunch for that day and breakfast for the following morning. The printed learning packets are intended for families who do not have internet access to the resources available on the district website. High school students are encouraged to use the digital coursework linked at jpschools.org. 

The grab and go service will include pick-up lines outside the school for families to drive through or walk up. In order to avoid creating a large crowd, it is important that families immediately leave campus after receiving their meal and packet. 


COVID-19 Child Nutrition Programs Available for Families

  •       Beginning Wednesday, March 18, NOLA-PS, in collaboration with many charter school leaders, the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORD), local non-profit organizations, faith-based partners and private businesses, will launch a full-scale Citywide Feeding Program.


  •       This program will consist of 43 Community Feeding Distribution sites across New Orleans that ensure families can easily access breakfast and lunch during this prolonged school closure. The 43 sites consist of schools, NORD facilities and local business locations


  •       Students do not need to be present to receive meals. Parents or caregivers may pick up meals on behalf of the students within their household. 


  •       Child nutrition resources are available to those under 18 years of age* and those who currently attend a public school. 


  •       Students over 18 that are enrolled in public K-12 schools, including students with disabilities through age 22, are also eligible for free meals at open sites. 


  •       Eligible families who are unable to access food resources this week should call United Way’s 211 information system which has the latest information about finding the Second Harvest food pantry nearest you.


If you’re in Orleans Parish, dial 211 for assistance

Homer Plessy 721 St. Philip St., New Orleans, LA 70116 9:00am –12:00pm

Beacon LightInternational Baptist 1937 Mirabeau Ave, New Orleans, LA 70122 9:00am –12:00pm

Ben Franklin HS 2001 Leon C Simon Dr, New Orleans, LA 70122 9:00am –12:00pm

Bethune 2401 Humanity St, New Orleans, LA 70122 9:00am –12:00pm

Coghill 4617 Mirabeau Ave., New Orleans, LA 70126 9:00am –11:00am

Foundation Prep 3121 St Bernard Ave, New Orleans, LA 70119 9:00am –12:00pm

John F. Kennedy 6026 Paris Ave, New Orleans, LA 70122 9:00am –12:00pm

Living Faith Church 4339 Eastern St, New Orleans, LA 70122 9:00am –12:00pm

NORD Commission (Milne Playground) 5420 Franklin Ave, New Orleans, LA 70122 9:00am –12:00pm

Pierre A. Capdau 5800 St. Roch Ave, New Orleans, LA 70112 8:30am –1:00pm

USPS Parking Lot (Old Prep Space) 2067 Caton St, New Orleans 9:00am –12:00pm

Save-A-Lot Parking 4726 Paris Ave, New Orleans, LA 70122 9:00am –12:00pm

ReNEW Sci Tech820 Jackson Ave, New Orleans, LA 701309:00am –12:00pm

Martin Luther King ES* Starting Monday, March 23rd*1617 Caffin Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117 9:00am –12:00pm

Abramson Sci Academy 5552 Read Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70127 9:00am –12:00pm

IDEA Oscar Dunn 12000 Hayne Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70128 9:00am –12:00pm

KIPP Morial 7701 Grant St, New Orleans, LA 70126 9:00am –12:00pm

Livingston 7301 Dwyer Rd., New Orleans, LA 70126 9:00am –12:00pm

Mildred Osborne 6701 Curran Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70126 9:00am –12:00pm

ReNEW Dolores T. Aaron 10200 Curran Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70127 9:00am –12:00pm

ReNEW Schaumburg 9501 Grant St, New Orleans, LA 70127 9:00am –12:00pm

Sarah T. Reed HS 5316 Michoud Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70129 9:30am –12:00pm


NORD After School Meals

NORD, in partnership with Share Our Strength /No Kid Hungry Louisiana will offer hot meals starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020 from 4-6 PM at all of our rec centers except Annunciation Rec Center to youth ages 18 years old and under.  In addition, New Orleans Public Schools will also offer meals.  Please visit https://nolapublicschools.com/covid19/nutrition for locations and times

Behrman Rec Center 2529 General Meyer Avenue 4-6 PM

Cut-Off Rec Center 6600 Belgrade Street 4-6 PM

Gernon Brown Rec Center 1001 Harrison Avenue 4-6 PM

Joe W. Brown Rec Center 5601 Read Blvd.4-6 PM

Lyons Rec Center 624 Louisiana Avenue4-6 PM 

Milne Rec Center 5420 Franklin Avenue 4-6 PM

Rosenwald Rec Center 1120 S. Broad Street 4-6 PM

Sanchez Multi-Service Center 1616 Caffin Avenue 4-6 PM

Stallings St. Claude Rec Center 4300 St. Claude Avenue 4-6 PM

St. Bernard Rec Center 1500 Lafreniere Street 4-6 PM

Treme Rec Center 900 N. Villere Street 4-6 PM



Both Comcast and Spectrum recently put out press releases announcing their offers, and the details of each are slightly different.

Spectrum is offering free Wi-Fi and broadband access up to 100 MBPS to any household with K-12 and/or college students that doesn’t already have Spectrum. Installation fees will be waived for these households, and anyone wishing to enroll will need to call 1-844-488-8395.

Comcast is expanding a service they already offer for low-income families called Internet Essentials. The service, which is normally $9.95 a month, will be free for new customers for 60 days and is 25 MBPS. People hoping to sign up for the services can call 1-855-846-8376 for English and 1-855-765-6995 for Spanish.

Both internet service providers are also offering free access to their Wi-Fi hotspots across the country. 

Cox isn’t providing free internet, but they are offering service at a discount for 60 days. New customers to their “Starter” package will pay $19.99 for 50 MBPS for 60 days. Their offer is valid through May 15.


DIAPER BANK. Hispanic Resource Center. City of Kenner

The Diaper Bank of the Hispanic Resource Center from the City of Kenner will be open to the public, CALL before you come to find out if we have the size your baby needs and what appointment is available. Diapers will be provided by APPOINTMENT ONLY every 30 mins to avoid crowds: (504)469-2570. PLEASE COME AT THE TIME ASSIGNED. Don't line up, don't come in large groups, DON'T BRING PEOPLE WITHOUT AN APPOINTMENT. FOR THE WELLNESS OF ALL, FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS, DO NOT EXPOSE YOURSELF, OR EXPOSE OTHERS. Please call for appointments: (504)469-2570.



Fidelity Bank is committed to making banking easier for our clients across Southeast Louisiana. Beginning today, March 17th, 2020, through June 30th, 2020, Fidelity Bank has made the decision to waive;

Any late payments and negative credit reporting for loan clients that would have incurred fees.

All early withdrawal penalties on certificates of deposit.

In these unprecedented times, it is vital to reaffirm our commitment to our customers, clients, and community. For over 111 years, Fidelity Bank has been #hereforgood. We plan to be here for many, many more.

INFO bankwithfidelity.com/notice-details.html


UNITED WAY COVID-10 Community Response and Recovery Fund


United Way Worldwide has established a COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund. This Fund will support communities struggling in the wake of the new virus, through local United Ways and the 211 network, the go-to information resource in times of crisis. Every year, 211 call specialists answer 12 million requests by phone, text chat and email to connect people with disaster, food, housing, utility, health care resources and more. There is no other network in the country that has a similar pulse on America’s needs. 


Senate passes coronavirus package as Treasury proposes rescue with emergency checks

  • Published in Somos NOLA
  • Written by

Hispanic Complete Count Committee

Hispanic Complete Count Committee

U.S. Census 2020

El conteo del 2020 U.S Census (Censo Estadounidense) comienza el 12 de marzo. Cada diez años, el mayor desafío para el censo ha sido verificar que ciertas comunidades no estén representadas adecuadamente en el conteo. La comunidad hispana es una de estas comunidades. Por esta razón, el Censo de los Estados Unidos nombró el primer Comité Hispano de Conteo Completo en el estado de Louisiana. Este grupo está comprometido con la tarea de interactuar con la comunidad hispana para informar sobre la importancia de hacerse contar, sobre la seguridad de la información proporcionada a la entidad y para incrementar así los niveles de participación en el censo.

El Comité Hispano de Conteo Completo es un grupo conformado por líderes comunitarios y organizaciones interesados en el resultado de este esfuerzo. Las organizaciones locales que se han unido para apoyar el censo de 2020 en Louisiana son la Cámara de Comercio Hispana de Louisiana, Puentes New Orleans, la Fundación de Herencia Hispana (HHFNO), VIVA NOLA Magazine, Jambalaya News, Telemundo / KGLA, el Apostolado Hispano de la Arquidiócesis de Nueva Orleans y la Administración de la Parroquia de Jefferson.

El objetivo del comité es ayudar a la comunidad a comprender que el conteo tiene un gran impacto en la asignación de recursos que cada área recibe para familias y niños. Otra área de enfoque para el comité es aclarar que la información solicitada por el censo de los Estados Unidos no incluye preguntas sobre ciudadanía o estatus legal. El comité también alentará la participación al explicar que la información presentada es confidencial y no se comparte con otras instituciones federales.

“Somos conscientes de la importancia de educar y llegar a la comunidad hispana para lograr la mayor participación posible. Solo tenemos una oportunidad cada diez años para que se nos cuente, lo que determina la representación política, los fondos para educación, atención médica, infraestructura y otros programas comunitario“, dijo Mayra Pineda, presidenta y directora ejecutiva de la Cámara de Comercio Hispana de Louisiana.

El comité trabajará en una campaña de información pública, eventos de concientización y participación en varios eventos comunitarios.

Si tiene preguntas o desea obtener más información, comuníquese con Mayra E. Pineda 504-885-4262.

Krewe of Red Beans

Krewe of Red Beans

By AnaMaria Bech

Click aqui para español- > Comparsa de Frijoles Rojos

The Krewe of Red Beans began in 2008 - and launched the first “bean parade” on Lundi Gras 2009. Each year, Krewe members begin working on their suits after Halloween passes. On the best Monday of the year (Lundi Gras, the day before Mardi Gras) they parade through the streets of the Marigny and Tremé. 150 Krewe members parade alongside thousands of “unofficial” paraders - and everyone is welcome to make their own bean suit and join in on the fun!

The idea of the Krewe of Red Beans Parade was to take inspiration from different elements of New Orleans culture: making a suit like an Indian and Second Lining like a Social Aid and Pleasure Club… and of course, to celebrate the culinary tradition of Red Beans on Monday!

Friends and friends-of-friends were recruited in 2008 and they began working on their first suits. From those first 25 members (and 1 or 2 spectators) to now three parades and around 10,000 spectators, the Krewe of Red Beans has grown into a loved Lundi Gras tradition.

Red Beans Parade - Frijoles! 2020 Lundi Gras - Krewe of Red Beans and Krewe of Mayahuel parading together in “Red Beans Parade”. The original Red Beans parade (Marigny) will be a little more Caribbean and Mexican this year, as they welcome the Krewe of Mayahuel, a Mexican folkloric krewe that celebrates Mexican traditions, and a Caribbean band created by musician Cole Williams.

Red Beans Parade - 2pm Lundi Gras Day - 725 St. Ferdinand (Marigny Opera House)

And the newest sub-krewe, Feijao (beans in Portuguese)- a “Brazilian/cajun” parade is taking off this year in Bywater. Feijao starts on Lundi Gras Day at 2pm at Bud Rips Bar. All are welcome!

Dead Beans Parade --Dead Beans was launched in 2018, and it parades near Bayou St. John with music by Panorama Brass Band and Bon Vivant! The Dead Beans wear suits inspired by any mythological or folkloric tradition that deals with death, mortality, or the afterlife, or paying homage to someone who passed. This year’s theme is mythical or extinct animals.

The Krewe of Red Beans welcomes everyone in the community who wants to participate. Just make your own costume and join one of the parades. For more information, you can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.redbeansparade.com

Photography: Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee

Acción de gracias

Acción de gracias

Acción: Hecho, acto u operación que implica actividad.

En los Estados Unidos existe el día de “Thanksgiving” que ha sido traducido, en su mayoría, a Día de Acción de Gracias. Con los agites del mundo moderno y la facilidad con la que obtenemos nuestras necesidades básicas, tomamos todo por hecho, deseamos más, estamos inconformes, y la mayoría del tiempo nos enfocamos en lo que nos hace falta.

El Día de Acción de Gracias es de gran relevancia en la cultura estadounidense, y nos sirve como una pausa para Compartir en familia y recordar todas las razones que tenemos para agradecer.

Obed es un niño de 12 años que a pesar de sus dificultades siempre se muestra agradecido. Obed, quien está bajo el cuidado de su madre, ha pasado por más de diez cirugías en el cerebro por hidrocefalia, ha pasado por una cirugía de corazón, y ahora batalla con un tumor en su pierna que será operado con urgencia.

Angélica Rivera de Colmex Construction recibió una llamada acerca de la situación de Obed y la necesidad de una rampa de acceso para su residencia. La historia de Obed la conmovió profundamente, pero fue cuando Rivera conoció en persona a Obed que su corazón le exigió acción. “Lo que más me llamó la atención de Obed cuando lo conocí fue su actitud positiva frente a la vida. A pesar de todos sus problemas y las cosas difíciles por las que ha pasado, es un niño que irradia alegría”.

Rivera y su familia inmediatamente se pusieron manos a la obra. Home Depot se sumó a los esfuerzos luego de escuchar brevemente la razón del proyecto, y donó cerca de $2,000 en materiales. El sábado pasado fue el día de la obra. “Para mi fue una sorpresa muy especial ver que todos los integrantes del equipo llegaron el sábado a ayudar”. Rivera había hecho un llamado para quienes quisieran donar su tiempo para esta causa y sin cuestionarlo, 14 integrantes de Colmex Construction, incluyendo personal de oficina, llegaron al sitio para donar su trabajo en su día libre y construir la rampa para Obed.

Acción: Una llamada, una respuesta, una visita, un compromiso, una donación, una construcción en equipo. La suma de estas acciones consiguió algo tan simple como una rampa. Para Obed, esa rampa facilita movilidad en la silla de ruedas. Para

Obed, también es de gran impacto en su vida, sentir el cariño y el apoyo de una comunidad que no lo abandona.

Obed quien se prepara para la cirugía del tumor en su pierna pronto, en este día de acción de gracias tiene un pequeño motivo más para seguir siendo esa persona positiva, que aprecia la vida y se muestra siempre agradecido.

Recordemos ser más como Obed y tener en cuenta los miles de motivos para agradecer hoy y cada día. ¿Por qué agradeces en este día?




By the NOLA READY Team

Click aqui para español- > NOLA READY

Each year in New Orleans, hurricane season lasts from June to November.

Tropical weather begins with a low-pressure area of circling winds over water. A system can develop into a tropical depression, tropical storm, or a hurricane. Dangers include high winds, heavy rain, tornadoes, flooding, and power outages, which means you should insure your property for both wind and flood damage. You’re probably no stranger to these storms. Still, it’s important to make a plan with your family in case a storm comes our way. This guide offers the basics. There are extra things to consider during an emergency for seniors, young children, people with medical needs, and pet owners. Call 311 to sign up for the special needs registry if you are elderly or have medical or mobility needs. Find more information on ready.nola.gov.


Make a “home kit”

Clean & secure your property

  • Remove debris from gutters • Clear debris from catch basins • Prune trees & shrubs • Bring outdoor furniture & decorations inside • Secure or bring garbage bins inside • Prepare for power & water outages • Fill bathtub with water to clean & flush toilets • Turn fridge to its lowest temperature. • Charge electronic devices. • Preserve cell phone battery life.
  • If you need power for medical equipment, call 311 to register your special needs.

Stay safe & informed

  • Bring pets inside. • Lock doors & windows • Close curtains & blinds. • Stay inside until officials say it’s safe. • Call 911 in an emergency. Call 311 for information. • Storms can be scary for kids. Talk about what’s happening & entertain with games & toys.


Make a “go bag”

Plan your route

Know where, how & with whom you’re going. • Leave with a full tank of gas & plan that it could take four times longer than usual.

Use City-assisted evacuation if you can’t evacuate on your own

  • During a mandatory evacuation, go to an evacuspot. Five of them have extra help for seniors.
  • If you can’t get to an evacuspot because of medical needs, you might be eligible to be picked up from your home. Call 311. • Buses will take you to a shelter outside the area & will bring you back when it’s safe. • Bring only 1 carry-on sized bag per person. • Pets should have an ID collar, leash, medications & a carrier.

Clean & secure your property

  • Remove debris from gutters & downspouts. • Clear debris from catch basins. • Prune trees & shrubs. • Bring outdoor furniture, decorations and garbage bins inside.

Mardi Gras Love

Mardi Gras Love

By Christopher Ard

Click aqui para español- >Amor de Mardi Gras

Most people come to New Orleans to “see the Mardi Gras” and anticipate an overabundance of drinks, color, flesh, music, and food. However, for those of us who are from here, we know it’s more than that. Family, for example, is a large part of carnival. If anything, spending time with family and friends is what we’ve been doing all winter throughout the Christmas holidays…so we’re just extending the holidays by a few weeks. Carnival also marks the beginning of spring—more daylight, warmer weather—and love.

Here in the United States, we are lucky enough to celebrate carnival AND Valentine’s Day—that day set aside for love, lovers, liking, lust, longing, and several other words beginning with the letter ‘L’. So, with carnival and Valentine’s Day happening at the same time, there must be a carnival love story—and there is! Keep in mind that I’m writing this the Tuesday before Valentine’s Day, so love is on my mind.

In 1871, the Russian Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich Romanov was on a tour of North America. At some point in his travels he met an actress named Lydia Thompson while she was in a play singing a funny song called “If Ever I Cease to Love.” Rumor has it that Alexei fell in love with Lydia. One of his last stops on his tour was New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Miraculously, Lydia showed up in town as well. There was a new daytime Mardi Gras krewe called “Rex” that year. The city was excited to know that the Grand Duke was in town and everyone had heard the rumors of their love affair. So, throughout the parade, every band would play the song “If Ever I Cease to Love,” to put a smile on the Duke’s face.

If ever I cease to love, If ever I cease to love, May the moon be turned to green cream cheese, If ever I cease to love.

Of course, Alexei was 21 years old, so the love affair didn’t last too long. Both he and Lydia went their separate ways, but the song remained. It became the official song of Mardi Gras and has been played during every carnival season since 1872, much to the confusion of most tourists today.

In my opinion, this story captures the essence of carnival in New Orleans—excess. Carnival is great already, but now I introduced some extra information, like a Russian Duke and an actress. It’s details that aren’t really needed to have a great carnival, but it just makes it that much MORE impressive.

And that’s carnival. There’s too much drinking, too much food, too many parades, too much music, too much dancing…all in celebration of life and love. I hope you all have a great carnival season and indulge in too much of everything because, if you’re anything like me, it’ll make for an extremely relaxing and peaceful Lent.

Happy Carnival!

Are You From Here?

Are You From Here?

By Christopher Ard

Click aqui para español- >¿Eres de Aquí?

When I purchased my home in New Orleans’ 8th Ward a few years ago, my neighbors came out to meet me. They were kind and very welcoming, and eager to find out the answer to their question, “Where you from, baby?”

Now, understand that I’m a born and raised New Orleanian, so, I knew exactly what they meant. However, I also have some very distinct Native American characteristics, so I understand the confusion I cause when my response is, "I’m from here." Inevitably, hearing this response leads to “Yeah, but where you really from?”, which then leads to my answer, "The Lower 9th Ward. Tupelo Street." This answer generally satisfies most New Orleanians.

You see, the from here question isn’t really about my appearance; it’s about whether I’m a New Orleanian—a REAL New Orleanian. But what is a real New Orleanian? And if you weren’t born here, can you ever become a REAL New Orleanian?

In this article, I’ll attempt to give instructions on how to become a REAL New Orleanian. This first thing to understand: NO ONE IS REALLY FROM HERE.

We are a port city, no different than New York, London, San Francisco, or Singapore. We are constantly evolving, changing, expanding and shrinking. Without the influx of new people and ideas, we would not have jazz, shotgun houses, Spanish architecture, jambalaya, or even individuals like me who embody the variety of ethnicities that have created this city.

With that said, here is my version of what you need to do to become a New Orleanian.

You must experience a life-altering event with your community.

Hurricane Katrina dispersed most New Orleanians to every state in the nation. Nearly half a million people were scattered about the country, without a home, away from family, not knowing if everyone got out...for months. Those of us who experienced this have been linked together for the rest of our lives, much like military veterans who develop camaraderie while fighting in a war zone, or like passengers who survive a plane crash. Let me be clear, I hope you never have to experience strife while living here--a flood, a hurricane, or even a shooting--but when you do, if you do, you automatically become a New Orleanian.

Forgive us our sins.

Please ignore the current New Orleanians’ sense of ownership over our town and culture. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was the largest city in the country with the largest native-born population. After the hurricane, we became extremely protective of what’s left of our city. We turned our attention to symbols that weren’t too popular like the fleur-de-lis, searching for a sense of belonging or a connection to what we lost. If you want to become a REAL New Orleanian, start by accepting current New Orleanians for who they are--attitudes, cultures, beliefs, accents...all of it.

Don’t try to change us; just add to it.

Understandably, racism, sexism, poverty, the failing school system are all things that needed to change. Everything else can always be improved upon. I grew up in the Lower 9th Ward and St. Bernard. My Christmas’ dinner featured gumbo, jambalaya, shrimp stew, AND Mexican tamales. You see, we didn’t choose one or the other. We had both. Don’t move here and start a Philly cheesesteak restaurant. Mix it up! Try something new. Make us the envy of the country, not a mirror image of Brooklyn or another city.

Love us, but don’t use us.

We get it. The rest of the country is just Cleveland. The United States of Generica can be boring, repeated, capitalist, copied, and the rules are out of hand. So, you found refuge here, below sea level, with the rest of us. Real New Orleans will take you in. It’ll love every inch of you, imperfections and all. It’ll sacrifice its drainage system to your refuse, its neutral grounds to your SUVs, its balcony polls to your bike chains, all with the intent of you loving her back.

Part of that love is honoring her traditions. There’s a reason for Carnival, for Mardi Gras, and for St. Joseph’s Day. And no, it’s not so you can put more glitter on and get drunk. I’m not asking you to become Catholic, but I am asking you to temper your needs to contribute to the tourism machine. You don’t need to party every day. When you do, you neglect New Orleans. You contribute to the exploitation of her culture and the demise of everything we hold dear.

If you want New Orleans to survive, you must do the work. If you want to live somewhere simply to drink and be selfish, go someplace terrible like Las Vegas. You won’t harm a thing there. So, those are my basic instructions for becoming a REAL New Orleanian.

You see, it’s not up to me, or any other person born in New Orleans to decide whether you are FROM here. I believe some people are already born with New Orleans in them. If you’re lucky, you’ll live here at some point and let your New Orleans show.

First, we are a city of historical conformity, of tradition, of family, and of love, all of which takes work. Second, we know how to take a break every now and again, don a mask and some color, and give thanks that we live here. But this is all the opinion of a guy who was born in Metairie—take it or leave it.

Do Whatcha Wanna-- on Frenchmen Street!

Do whatcha wanna-- on Frenchmen Street!

By Christopher Ard

Click aqui para español- >¡Haz lo que te parezca En la calle Frenchmen!

It’s January in New Orleans and that means it’s time to hit the streets! Odds are, you’re going to find yourself dancing down Frenchmen Street at some point this carnival season—celebrating life. Yes, there are few streets in post-Katrina New Orleans that conjure up images of fun, laughter, jazz, and an all-around good time like Frenchmen Street. However, things at the edge of the French Quarter weren’t always so jovial.

In 1763, the countries of Europe signed the Treaty of Paris, thus ending the 7 Years War (also known as the French and Indian War). Just a year earlier, France and Spain met secretly and signed the Treaty of Fontainebleau which gave Louisiana and New Orleans to Spain. Of course, there were no cell phones or Internet back then, so news of the secret treaty finally spread in 1764.

-Overnight the French and German settlers of New Orleans became Spaniards-

Overnight the French and German settlers of Louisiana and New Orleans became Spaniards, and as such, it was expected that they now drink Catalonian wine from Spain, rather than Bordeaux wine from France. Well, this news was shocking to most residents of New Orleans, as you can imagine.

A few years passed, and Spain finally sent a new Spanish governor to Louisiana. Don Antonio de Ulloa showed up with his wife and was immediately met with resistance by the French population who did not want to be Spanish or drink Spanish wine. Ulloa wanted to stop some of the nefarious happenings in New Orleans. There was rampant smuggling happening up and down the river, so the new Spanish governor decided to shut down all of the entrances to the river except for one. The local shipping industry wouldn’t tolerate it. In 1768, 600 residents helped run Ulloa out of town in what is now called the Louisiana Rebellion of 1768—the first rebellion of European-Americans against European powers.

When news of the rebellion reached Spain, the King was furious. About a year later, Spain sent Don Alejandro O’Reilly (an Irishman) to re-establish Spanish rule. Upon his arrival, O’Reilly threw a dinner party and invited those who organized the rebellion. He promised no one would be punished. However, at the dinner party, he had them arrested. Five of the conspirators were sentenced to death by firing squad on October 26, 1769, another five were imprisoned in Cuba for two years, and another was sent to prison in France. Among those killed were Nicholas Chauvin de Lafreniere (same as in the park in Metairie).

Over the next few months, “Bloody” O’Reilly (as he was then known as) established Spanish rule in Louisiana. French flags were lowered, and Spanish flags were raised, street names were translated or changed, the currency changed to the peso—but the local population never forgot the Frenchmen whom were killed or imprisoned during the revolt.

36 years later, Bernard Marigny sold his land downriver from the French Quarter and subdivided the land. As he named the new streets for things he loved, like Craps, Love, and Good Children, there was one street he saved in honor of those men who died fighting for their freedom. Rumor has it that the execution of the Frenchmen happened nearby where Frenchmen Street meets Esplanade Avenue today.

So, this carnival, as you dance down Frenchmen Street, pour some out for those Frenchmen who stood up against government rules and regulations. Listen to some jazz—that musical art form from New Orleans that breaks all the rules. Do watcha wanna!!!—it’s tradition.

Reveillon: Just like Nochebuena, but here in New Orleans

Reveillon: Just like Nochebuena, but here in New Orleans

By Christopher Ard

Click aqui para español- >Réveillon: La Nochebuena de Nueva Orleans

Pork tamales. If there’s one flavor that reminds me of Christmas, it’s that of pork tamales. Well, to be honest, gumbo is also one. There’s nothing like a hot bowl of gumbo on a cold, wet night to get me into the holiday mood.

I didn’t know it when I was younger, but my cultural background was a blessing. On the Mexican side of the family, our table was full of tamales, tortillas, beans, rice, and turkey. On the Louisiana side of the family, it was shrimp creole, oyster dressing, gumbo, and a variety of other dishes my cajun grandfather would whip up from his garden.

Yes, I was blessed with the best meals at Christmas, but little did I know, although the food was different, the tradition was the same. Long before the United States’ Christmas culture of trees, gifts, and consumerism arrived in New Orleans, French families carried on the old tradition of a Reveillon--a big dinner on Christmas Eve filled with family and friends. Sure, Christmas Day is great, but Christmas Eve is the real party!

If you’re fortunate enough to know someone with a Louisiana background, you may have been invited to one of these large meals. According to Wikipedia, within the United States, it’s something unique to New Orleans--or is it?

Just as French-American gather for Christmas Eve and stuff themselves with traditional meals, Latino families follow a similar tradition. Nochebuena is what many Spanish-speaking people call Christmas Eve.

From Spain to Colombia to Mexico, families gather together on Nochebuena to eat, attend midnight Mass, dance, and exchange gifts. While the two names for this celebration are different, the purpose is the same--to bring families together for the holiest night of the Catholic calendar.

Of course, Latinos are a diverse people. Many of us are far from home and won’t get to see our families this year and not every Latino practices Catholicism. No matter, if you find yourself in New Orleans this holiday season, you too can partake in this French, or Spanish, tradition.

Since the 1990’s, the New Orleans tourism engine has encouraged restaurants to offer Reveillon menus in order to attract tourists during the typically slow holiday period--and it’s not just on Christmas Eve.

Keep your eyes out this holiday season for Reveillon menus and specials. While you may not be able to get home this year, you can do your part to continue the tradition of gathering at Nochebuena right here in New Orleans--at least with friends over an incredible meal.

Illustrator Daniel Garcia

Get movin’!

Get movin’!

Click aqui para español- >¡Muévete!

Mobility has always been a problem for humans. Our earliest ancestors used to carry things back and forth with nothing but their body strength. Eventually, someone invented the wheel. The wheel transformed humanity. No longer did people have to carry everything. Now, they could roll things where they needed them to be. Fast-forwarded a few hundred years and man began to power their machines with steam, coal, and wood. Bicycles were invented so people could pedal themselves across town. Then Henry Ford invented the assembly line and started producing automobiles that nearly anyone could afford.

Of course, man wasn’t only tied to the ground. Humans took flight over the last several hundred years through advances in physics and engineering. We were now able to get to most places on the planet, compared to our ancestors who could only dream of transporting water from the river to their villages in jars balanced on their heads.

All these advancements influenced how and where we settled. Most major cities are near a river or an ocean—the world’s original highways. Later, as we changed transportation styles, we were able to settle places like Las Vegas and Denver—far from sources of water. The look and feel of our cities are tied to transportation and density. If your city developed in the 1900’s, chances are, there are large highways for the movement of cars. It’s likely difficult to get around without a car. The population is likely to be more obese because people walk less. If your city was settled before the invention of the automobile, like New Orleans and most cities in Latin America, you’ll notice narrow streets, smaller homes, and distinct neighborhoods because people were used to living within a more confined area.

As I write this article, I am on my way to Florence, Italy, and Berlin, Germany—two older and dense cities. I personally like visiting these places because they allow me to walk easily everywhere. I don’t have to rent a car, and I can walk around and see everything the city has to offer.

Luckily for me, I live in New Orleans, which gives me the same advantages in my everyday life. We live in a small, big city—all the amenities of a large city, but in a compact area. When the weather is nice, I can walk to work, or to the French Quarter, or just to get a cup of coffee. Besides destressing, the exercise is good for my heart, and helps me maintain my weight—although I probably could lose a little more.

For those of us who have been here since before 2005, our methods of urban transportation have changed drastically. Most of us remember when the only option was the bus or your personal vehicle. The streetcars were an Uptown thing and not close to our homes. Today, the City of New Orleans has over 100 miles of bike lanes and counting. Recent safety measures that have been implemented are making walking and biking in New Orleans safer for everyone. It’s true that some people are complaining about this new addition to the driving experience in New Orleans, but like every other city—we change.

Take some time to learn about the new transportation methods available to us in New Orleans and you’ll see just how similar we are to Latin American and European cities. Rent a Blue Bike and visit the new Moon Walk along the river. Catch the streetcar from the cemeteries to downtown. Ride through Mid-City on a dedicated pedestrian path called the Lafitte Greenway. Autumn is here. Get outside and enjoy your pedestrian-friendlier city!




We are all Americans, Right?

We are all Americans, Right?

By Christopher Ard

Click aqui para español->Todos somos Americanos…¿no?

Happy Columbus Day! or maybe it’s better to say Feliz Día de la Raza! Either way, let’s celebrate America! Land that I love. Land of the free. Home of the brave. There’s just one problem--what is America?

Most of you reading this are likely of Latin American descent. So, does that make you American? When the United States government asks for nationality, do you say American? There are many Americas, from the north to the south. There’s Spanish America and Portuguese America, and even a little French America, which together make up Latin America. But there’s also Central America, but then there’s the United States which claims the overall title of American. So then, what does America mean?

For a few years, Columbus and other European experts thought they had sailed around the world and arrived in Asia. Until that time, spices and other goods were transported across Asia and Europe. So, when Columbus landed he saw the native people and their brown skin and thought, “Oh, these are Indians.” That’s the reason why many people today still call native people Indians. It was a big mistake, based on racism and a lack of a knowledge about this new land.

Through his knowledge of the stars, descriptions of Asia, and his own mapping skills, Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian explorer figured out that this new world was much larger than everyone suspected back in Europe and was, in fact, an entirely different continent--or two! Amerigo had figured out that what he and Columbus were exploring were North and South America, two entirely different continents. As a reward for his discovery, map makers started labeling the new world as America--the female version of Americus, Latin for his name.

Fast-forward a few years and Europeans began pouring into the new world, some with slaves. Some of these people spoke French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and English. The largest divisions were between Brazil--where the Portuguese landed--and the rest of South America where the Spanish had a majority control.

The next division was basically right here in New Orleans, where Spanish, French, and English were spoken depending upon which part of town you were in. If you left the city to the East, you’d find the United States citizens who spoke English. Leaving the city to the West, you came across Spanish territory where they spoke Spanish. (Ever heard of the Zwolle Tamale festival in western Louisiana?) Before the Louisiana Purchase, you could say anything West and South of the Mississippi River was Latin America. Today that line is now the United States-Mexican border. But if we’re being honest, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Nevada could all be considered part of Latin America because of cultural similarities.

Finally, there’s the most confusing part of this story--where is Central America? Central America is not a continent. It is, in fact, geologically part of the North American continent. But that’s not enough to stop everyone from making up their own definitions for Central America. The United Nations refers to Central America as all countries from Mexico to Panama. The British include parts of Mexico to Panama. The Portuguese include all the Caribbean Islands as Central America. And finally, if you say Middle America, then you’re referring to all lands from Mexico to Colombia and Venezuela. To make everything more complicated, in many countries of Latin America only 5 continents are taught in schools, with America being one, though divided in 3 regions. This contradicts the teachings from other places that divide the land into 2 continents: North America and South America.

You see, America is a label applied by the Europeans to the new world--this giant land mass between Europe and Asia. They never intended for the term American to only be used by the people of the United States, and honestly, I don’t think the United States means any disrespect. Simply put, if they stop using American, is there another word in the English language to describe citizens of the United States? Maybe it’s time we invent one.

Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month

By Christopher Ard

Click aqui para español->Mes de la Herencia Hispana

Every year, from September 15 to October 15, the United States observes National Hispanic Heritage month. During this time, the nation celebrates the significant contributions made by Hispanics to the cultural fabric of the United States. But there’s a problem…or two... What the hell does Hispanic mean?

In our nation’s need to categorize everything, the United States had a problem when it came to people from the southwest and Latin America. Originally, the terms Spanish-Americans, Spanish-speaking Americans, and (my favorite) Spanish-surnamed Americans were used to describe this group of people. However, the leaders of our country quickly realized that not every Latino could speak Spanish, not all Latinos have Spanish last names, and many Latin Americans are actually native American with no Spanish ancestry.

So, the term Hispanic was invented to group all of us who dance, eat beans, live south of Texas and Florida, are likely Catholic, and usually a shade or two browner than most people. It derived from the term Hispania which is the old Roman name for the Iberian Peninsula which has something to do with rabbits--but that’s not what this article is about.

Since 1988, after Ronald Reagan signed the National Hispanic Heritage Month into law, there has been much controversy about the name. Probably the biggest problem with the name is that it leaves out Brazilians. That’s right--National Hispanic Heritage month leaves out the most populous country in Latin America; although if you ask a Brazilian-American, they absolutely identify with other Latinos.

While the name of the month-long celebration may be a bit out-of-date, the timing of the holiday couldn’t be more appropriate. The independence days of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica are all on September 15th. Mexico’s independence is on the 16th, while Chile celebrates on the 18th.

Of course, like it or not, the United States celebrates Christopher Columbus’ conquest of the Americas on October 12--although many of us may know it as Dia de la Raza, or Day of the Race which is a great way to end this article.

Most Latinos outside of the United States don’t refer to themselves as Latinos. They are more likely to identify with their country of origin, or even their region of the country. Terms like Latino, Hispanic, Spanish-speakers, etc., were used to identify something or some people who were new to the current culture. At times, this was done to marginalize minorities because the dominant culture felt threatened. But, they were also used to unite a group of people who share a very similar culture. Some of us dance salsa, some bachata, others champeta colombiana.

Some of us speak Castellano, Quichua, Portuguese, and/or English. Many of us are Catholic, but not all of us go to church. This National Hispanic Heritage Month take a moment to learn about the other countries of Latin America--including Brazil; after all, we’re all related... at least according to the United States government.


By Christopher Ard

Click aqui para español->Huracán

It’s August in New Orleans and that means two things--heat and hurricanes. August and September are considered the height of hurricane season in New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast and Caribbean.

Each year, we nervously watch the daily weather updates hoping that nothing is coming our way. The thought of a major hurricane destroying our homes, our communities, and life as we know it, strikes fear in most New Orleanians who have been through a hurricane. However, the Native Americans offer a unique perspective. The English word hurricane comes from the Native Americans of the Caribbean.

The Taíno of Puerto Rico had a word to describe these large spiraling storms that would come about during the summer. When the Spanish arrived, they borrowed the word and spelled it Huracán. The word Huracán was also shared with other native peoples within the hurricane belt of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean.

While the spellings and stories about these storms differ across cultures, there is one central theme that is often overlooked. Like many early cultures, the native people of the Caribbean understood that life was not always happy and not always sad. There was an equilibrium that occurred in nature. You can think of this as day and night, male and female, hot and cold, etc. The native peoples understood that nothing was permanent: Along with life comes death, but after death, life comes again.

This theme of an infinite spiral of chaos and life can be seen in the Taíno version of the hurricane. The symbol they used depicts the face of Guabancex, or “the one who destroys everything” with two long and curly arms spiraling out of her face. We use a version of this symbol today to depict hurricanes on our modern weather maps.

 The Mayan story of the god Huracán survived the European conquest better than most of the other cultures. According to the Mayans, Huracán was one of the creation gods, who could create great destruction or build new worlds. It was Huracán that destroyed the earlier versions of the earth with fire and then a great flood. Each time he destroyed the earth, Huracán gathered up materials and started new. He commanded the land rise out of the sea and then he created humans from a dough made of corn.

While we, today, associate hurricanes as powerful wind and rain storms, the Maya understood these storms a bit more in depth. The Yucatan Peninsula is a large flat area of land that is situated at one end of the Caribbean--directly in the path of the most powerful hurricanes and the center of the Mayan universe. The Maya knew that a hurricane wasn’t just the single storm alone.

As these storms blew through the region, they would knock down enormous swaths of forest. After the rainy season, the fallen trees would dry out. One bolt of lightning could then ignite the trees and huge fires would then sweep across the Yucatan. The now deforested land would then be susceptible to flooding. Of course, there was also the large storm surges--large waves that would wash far up onto the land, changing the coast line. For this reason, to the Maya, Huracán was more than the initial wind and rain. Huracán encompassed all the power of these great storms--including their aftermath and the renewal of the land.

The word hurricane comes from the Americas--from the native peoples of Latin America--and they never intended for it to be a scary word. Our ancestors acknowledged all aspects of the hurricane--the destruction and the renewal; and that’s how we should see them, along with other disasters in our lives.

 There will always be hurricanes, and floods, and fires, but with these disasters come opportunities to grow stronger and better. It may not be the easiest thing to do, but the next time you’re faced with a disaster take a step back and look at the entire picture. Life is an infinite spiral of ups and downs, of tears and laughs, of births and deaths. A hurricane is just nature giving us a chance to renew.

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