May I Ask You A Question?--Summer Census New Orleans 2018 / by Hope A


In February, we had multiple houseguests, our floor was littered with fallen glitter from so many costume changes for different Mardi Gras celebrations. I worked at the studio, trying to finish up projects before they were forgotten in the carnival buzz and as I was leaving the shop, Bob strongly suggested again that I apply for a Platforms grant.

I took the information home and, one rainy day, while we recovered between parades, I wrote the first grant I've even written where I felt like I had a solid idea of what I wanted to do.

I'm not saying that glitter and a deadlne makes a good grant application because I doubt it does. I think this idea has been brewing inside me and seems like the next logical step.

A month later, I received an email saying I had been awarded the grant.

The Platforms Fund is a collaborative re-granting effort of Antenna, Ashé Cultural Arts Center and Pelican Bomb with support by the Andy Warhol Foundation. Every year they award $65,000 in grants to a number of community based projects in New Orleans. I am one of many funded projects this year.

This summer I will be letterpress printing and distributing 5,000 postcards as part of the Keep Writing Project.

The June issue of Keep Writing, number 110, will be a mini-census for the city of New Orleans.
Since I moved here in 2002, summers in New Orleans have changed. It used to be the low season for tourists. Anyone who could leave, would. It was quiet.  If you stuck around, it was great. The usual bustle was tampered by heat and you made friends with whoever was left in town.  But not everyone can leave. And the tourist based economy thrives on constant influx of outsiders. 

I want to take a poll of who is here, and why, where they are from and what they consider home.

I will bring these cards with me as I sit at the library, the playground, at summer camps, at the neighborhood bar and wherever anyone will have me. I want to talk to you  about why you are here, how you got here, if you will ever leave. Let's talk about home and home towns, about the changes in this city. 

I am in the process of booking events--casual porch sits and structured talks about letterpress and community.  

If you have a porch on a busy street, can I come and sit and talk to you and your neighbors? Are you a teacher at a summer camp who wants a guest artist-speaker? I am looking for public spaces with a variety of people to interact with to get a good sample of who is here. Get in touch. I am reaching out to my friends, peers and co-workers but maybe you know someone I don't . 

If you are a subscriber you will receive your card as usual. If you are a resident, you can follow me on instagram @gutwrenchpress, and use the hashtag #summercensus to see where I'll be!

In November, in time for the NOCAZ,  I will release a new issue of Where You From? documenting the data I have collected.  

Stay tuned for lots more news about this!

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