Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Day 2! Sunshine, paint, and poetry

Hey ya'll!

It was a fun-filled day here in New Orleans. We woke up freezing because of a window being open all night but luckily the sun was up and shining and the sky was a pure blue. We had the pleasure of volunteering for the Stokes family from 9-4 where we put the first coat of paint on their house. It was a little chilly with the wind but we all got lots of vitamin D so we were happy (even with burned faces). Many of us were uncomfortable standing on tall ladders at first but we became pros as the day wore on.

We volunteered with two site supervisors: Emma and Will. They were both interesting and energetic people who had lots of stories to tell and guidance to provide. We liked them and the site so much that we're hoping to go back tomorrow. We painted the house brown from a dismal, peeling white. The radio was playing and people were singing all afternoon.

One of the highlights was the family's children coming home from school and seeing their house a completely different color on the front. Tina and Nur said their faces were priceless and it was the defining moment of the day.

The whole family was very generous and kind. One man insisted that Alyssa, Nate and I try the catfish he had just bought and offered up large portions. This is a great example of the prevalent southern hospitality that we've been experiencing all week. Everybody has been extremely welcoming and have gone out of their ways to learn about who we are and what we're doing. We talked as a group about how New Orleans seems to be a family. Each person we've met has expressed a deep love for the city and we've been told a couple times that once you to go New Orleans a piece of it lives in you.

We can feel this already. Some of us are already planning trips back. The city is rich with history, beauty, and genuine, soulful people.

The latter part of the day was spent with Hamline alumni Tony Wilson. Tony actually first ventured to New Orleans through Hamline's Catalyst trip and loved it so much he proceeded to move down here right after graduation. He now is a spoken word artist and hip hop lyricist. He invited us into his home, his girlfriend cooked us delicious Mexican food, and we had a night filled with the presence and talents of five incredible spoken word artists. This was definitely the highlight of my day, maybe even week so far.

The artists were full of eloquence, wisdom, and passion. They performed pieces that addressed racism, body image, feminism, and social justice. Each performer's style was distinct and impressive in a unique way. It was a truly one of a kind experience and we were lucky and grateful for Tony who invited us into his studio and planned such a cool evening for us.

Overall it was a fun, eye-opening day in the city! By the end we were all ready for bed and excited for the other adventures to come.



  1. I can just imagine those kids' faces when they saw the transformation of their home's facade. And it's quite a testimonial to Catalyst to hear the catalytic effect (sorry) it had on Tony Wilson. Michael Darger

  2. Hi Ella,

    Glad you are doing good works and checking out new parts of our amazing nation. My New Orleans trip was during college as well...but it was long ago and it was during mardi gras. What a hoot! Love you, Aunt Mary