There is something to learn with every corner and page you turn. Many of these books are just that– experiencing through listening and interacting. You can learn about New Orleans’ past or participate in her present using these resources.
The Accidental City, Improvising New Orleans by Lawrence N Powell. This is the story of a city that shouldn’t exist. In the seventeenth century, what is now America’s most beguiling metropolis was nothing more than a swamp: prone to flooding, infested with snakes, battered by hurricanes. But through the intense imperial rivalries of Spain, France, and England, and the ambitious, entrepreneurial merchants and settlers from four continents who risked their lives to succeed in colonial America, this unpromising site became a crossroads for the whole Atlantic world.
Bayou St. John, a Brief History by Cassie Pruyn, a comprehensive narrative history of the most beloved waterway in New Orleans.
Can Everybody Swim? A Survival Story from Katrina’s Superdome, by Bruce S. Snow is an adventure of family devotion, a romance with the City, fear and anticipation of the unknown, and the capability of humankind, both enlightening and frightening.
Chocktaw Tales, collected and annotated by Tom Mould showcases oral traditions and history of the Mississippi Band of Chocktaw Indians.
Finding Common Ground, a Louisiana Documentary, directed by Kevin McCaffrey and written by Kevin McCaffrey, Robert A. Thomas Ph.D., Lenny Delbert, Emma Reid. Louisiana’s struggle to restore Louisiana’s Mississippi River Delta has resulted in a new Master Plan that embraces new advances in scientific knowledge— new tools for rebuilding the coast. Local, traditional ecological knowledge can also be a tool for cost saving planning. Finding Common Ground uses documentary film techniques to show how all those impacted by coastal erosion can cross over out of their silos, overcome long term psychological barriers, and achieve new understanding that may fast track restoration projects to build much needed new ground.
Gateway to New Orleans: Bayou St. John 1708-2018, edited by Christovich, Jumonville, and Veneziano; written by Irvin, Bruno, Veneziano, and Starr; photography by Brantley and White Brantley. Created by the Louisiana Landmarks Society, this book traces the history and architecture of historic Faubourg St John from pre-colonial days through its evolution from semi-rural village into a popular suburban neighborhood.
Gumbo Ya-Ya, Folktales of Louisiana by Saxon, Dreyer and Tallant was written as part of the WPA’s Louisiana Writers’ Program. This is a wonderful collection of New Orleans and Louisiana history, traditions, culture, habits and stories as documented based on interviews of the locals in the late 1930’s
The House of Dance and Feathers by Ronald W. Lewis is presented by UNO’s awesome Neighborhood Story Project. Mr. Lewis has a Mardi Gras Indian museum in his backyard in the Lower 9th Ward. We can learn about his collection of artifacts, memories and experiences before, during and after Katrina.
Louisiana Rambles, Exploring America’s Cajun and Creole Heartland by Ian McNulty breaks down all the fun adventures to be had in our fine state outside of The City. Ian is a well-known writer in NOLA with a beautiful and articulate way of drawing you into his experiences.
Louisiana’s Comprehensive Plan for a Sustainable Coast published by the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana. A master plan updated in 2017 from the 2012 plan to save Louisiana’s coast from the sea.
Locked, a documentary written and directed by Daneeta Loretta Jackson and Patrick Jackson. Local Urban Ecologist Dr. Josh Lewis tells the one hundred year tumultuous history of the Industrial Canal and Lock that dissect the infamous 9th Ward of New Orleans. He describes the wide reaching effects of how Louisiana does water borne transportation and succinctly outlines how business elites, the Port of New Orleans and the Army Corps of Engineers used irresponsible urban planning that caused repeated catastrophic flooding in the Greater New Orleans region for over a century. The film includes dramatic hundred-year-old historical moving pictures depicting events unfold as citizens experienced them at the time of happening and lays out how the various effected communities have been resisting the destruction of life and land for decades. This history and Call to Action is aimed at mobilizing our city and our country around the intersection of climate change mitigation at our coastal communities and our national borders and environmental justice.
New Orleans, The Underground Guide, A Music and Art focused Guidebook… (and the title goes on and on)by Michael Patrick Welch is not only jam packed with great advice on where to go and what to do, but is a fun-tastic, quirky read all on its own. You just need to see this one for yourself!
Patriotic Fire, Andrew Jackson and Jean Laffite at the Battle of New Orleans by Winston Groom. Recommended by a lovely guest that joined us for a paddle, this is one of the most fun non-fiction books ever! Even though we know what happens next, it’s impossible to put down!
Time and Place in New Orleans, Past Geographies in the Present Day by Richard Campanella. Tulane professor, brilliant writer and lecturer, Campenella helps us understand exactly how New Orleans landed in this seemingly unlikely location and how it has developed throughout the years. Though plenty of data is presented in this book, his smooth writing and illustrations through maps and charts make for an enjoyable and informative read. There are lots more where that came from!
Up Front and Center, New Orleans Music at the End of the 20th Century by Jay Mazza was released during our spring festival season. How appropriate considering its content! Jay gives us all kinds of good history and stories of Jazz Fest, music venues that have come, gone, and still exist, musicians that have influenced our music scene and the nation’s.
“This is Your Brain on Nature: When we get Close to Nature–be it Untouched Wilderness or a Backyard Tree–we do our Overstressed Brains a Favor.”
Story by Florence Williams, Photographs by Lucas Foglia
Published December 8, 2015 by National Geographic Magazine
“Why Paddle the Mississippi River?”
Three Part Series written by Chris Wolf E. Staudinger. Photos by John Ruskey.
November, 2013 by Canoe & Kayak Magazine