Katrina: An Unnatural Disaster

I’m so happy Leisa posted the link to this in her Twitter stream. I think I had heard of this project through the Open Society Institute, but never got a chance to read more or watch the student-produced videos until now.

The Katrina Media Fellows’ mission is stated as follows:

Through stories and images, the fellows aim to deepen public understanding of the government’s long-term response to Katrina; failures of public policy; use or misuse of public funds; the role of private contractors; the effectiveness of clean-up and rebuilding efforts; the psychological impact on residents, now more than two years after the storm; and lessons that should inform the handling of future disasters.

One of the most powerful videos, considering the subject of my dissertation research, is the one entitled “Not As Seen on TV.” Not only does it let locals speak for themselves, it shows the pain that permeates the city still today. (However, I actually wish less edits were made because I think some interviewees were on the verge of sharing more and, while that may be uncomfortable to watch, how else can their grief be honestly represented and understood?) Still, heavy emphasis is also made on the music, culture, and humor of New Orleanians, with one interview subject stating it quite plainly, “New Orleans is not just a place, it’s our soul.”

I’m in the midst of revising my own narrative which deals with my denial during the week of August 29, 2005, and watching this only reminds me of how my parents could have also been part of those people left behind had the storm not hit the magic number 5. I truly think that’s the only thing that convinced them to evacuate at the last minute. While they were lucky and never had to live in a FEMA trailer, I know we are all still trying to deal with the loss, the gutting & buy-out of our home, and the feeling of “not knowing when this was going to end.”

Even though I blog about this quite often, it’s not something I voice out loud much, probably because I’m still suffering from the pain and anger of things being forever changed by the levee breaches. Because I’m not living in NOLA now, and because when I visit I see friends who seem genuinely happy with the way their lives are going, it’s easy for me to purposefully forget how traumatic it must be to cope with the many changes that have occurred the past three years.

All I can do though is write my story, share the blogs of those living there now, and try to remain as involved in the city’s recovery as possible.

In fact, next week when I am there for the Conference on College Composition and Communication I’ll have a chance to meet again with fellow New Orleans bloggers and have my first ever “tweetup” with eve11 who I’ve connected with through Twitter. Her blog is wonderfully written and I’m looking forward to both talking to her about a term she introduced me to called “naked blogging,” and donating my OLPC XO laptop to her proposed children’s social media project!

Watch this space for updates on this next week. Til then, go watch the videos at the Soros site.



Berkman at 10

I really wish I had the time to get up to Harvard for “The Future of the Internet” conference May 15-16, 2008, but now that I’m 80 days away from my anticipated defense date, I have to focus on things like producing pages, making edits, and figuring out where I’ll be living in July!

The planned breakout sessions described here sound amazing, so I can’t wait to read the liveblogging, wiki edits, and Twitter streams that come out of them! 🙂


and the award goes to…

It’s that time of year again when the department gives out its Graduate Awards. I couldn’t be more honored! Now that I’m dissertating and have a job lined up, it kinda feels like senior year for me, and this tops it off quite nicely. 🙂

Joseph Bentley Teaching Fellowship: Taylor Joy Mitchell

Estelle J. Zbar Award for Teaching & Academic Excellence in English: Patrick McGowan

Harry S. Newman Award for Academic Promise: Ginna Wilkerson

Dorothy Newman Linton Award for Academic Promise: Bob Batchelor

Irving H. Rubin and Mollie M. Rubin Award for Outstanding Graduate Student: Ann Basso

Alice Hearne Scholarship for Outstanding Doctoral Candidate: Daisy Pignetti

Jack B. Moore Memorial Scholarship: Taylor Joy Mitchell

Irving Deer Memorial Scholarship: Patrick McGowan

John Iorio Award for Outstanding Graduate Student: Cameron Hunt-Logan

Alma Bryant Award for Outstanding Graduate Student: Daisy Pignetti

The Awards Ceremony will be held in a few weeks, so I’ll post pics then. If I get a nice chunk of change from my tax returns, I may even provide video. FYI: Thanks to IJustine’s SXSW coverage, my latest tech-object of desire is this FlipVideo.



and for once, it’s not me doing the venting!

As a frequent visitor to the Academic Careers Comp/Rhet wiki, I noticed a week or so ago when all of its content disappeared. I mostly referred to this site before and just after MLA to see who had scheduled interviews and campus visits. Once I got my job offer at the beginning of this month, I didn’t really feel the urge to visit the site as much. Sure, that sounds smarmy, but I also hadn’t seen all that much updating beyond January.

Anyway, now that word has spread about the wiki being hacked, there is a “scratchpad” wikia site serving as a backup. At the main page of this one, however, one can find the “venting” area and all I can say is “WHOA! Am I glad I don’t have to even think about this stuff anymore!” Yeah, I’m still kind of annoyed that some schools haven’t bothered sending rejection letters and that some of the rejection letters I did receive gave me way too much information about who they DID hire, but overall I had a positive experience. Committee members had actually read my CV and expressed interest in my work, so what more could I ask for? I know if I had to go out again next year that I’d be better prepared, but thankfully I won’t be in that position!

I signed my official contract earlier this week and have already started a countdown to moving day calendar!

Now back to the dissertation 😉


Twitter tweets

I just noticed that my category for Twitter bookmarks in has grown to nearly surpass my teaching and dissertation tags, and I only started with Twitter in January!

The buzz on the NOLA blogger listserv is to get more locals tweeting, and this video offers a nice primer. I wish this had come out 2 days sooner as I used Twitter in my teaching demo up at UW-Stout last week and it would have offered a perfectly succinct overview rather than my hurried explanation.

More on Twitter and my addiction to its coverage of SXSW later. I’m trying to finish a dissertation-related freewrite before heading to the gym.


I survived Job Search 2007-2008!

As soon as I get the contract in the mail, it will be both the end of a trying time and the beginning of a wonderful adventure! Ever since Andy and I returned from eloping last August, it’s been nothing but stress related to establishing FL residency status in order to save my tuition waiver, teaching way too many classes at once, and writing up tons of job search materials, not to mention the jumping through the hoops of prospectus writing and IRB paperwork-ing.

In fact, only a few weeks ago my dissertation director and I started planning out my taking another year to finish up and focus on publishing. Then phone calls started coming in, quite out of the blue, and I learned the most important lesson of all–the job search isn’t over until you say it is! In December, I had over a dozen phone and MLA interviews–heard back from some then never another word from others. I was honestly relieved at getting some of the rejection letters. Sometimes you just know when something isn’t a good fit.

But then there are times you instantly hit if off with a place [and its search committee] and you don’t even think about being nervous…and that’s how it was for me this week at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Without gushing too much, I just loved the laid back meeting and greeting, interviewing and teaching demonstrating, and overall feel of the campus. It truly is a school that my previous teaching and tutoring experiences have prepared me for.

Now back to the dissertation!


academic zodiac

I think I’m a much nicer person than this Chronicle Careers essay describes; still, it is accurate in many ways, namely the organizing and my academic future in rhetoric and composition 🙂

Virgo: (August 22-September 23) You are probably a disagreeable person who likes to find minor things wrong with other people’s work or ideas, while not having any ideas of your own. You don’t like people, and they don’t like you, either, but that’s OK because you are better than they are, obviously. You are drawn to organizing, labeling, and categorizing. You are obsessively clean and fastidious about diet, and you have a cold, precise way of talking. You frequently wear the same clothes, with only minor color variations. You always get the job done in an impersonal, antiseptic way. Your academic future may include accounting, moral philosophy, rhetoric and composition, and physics. Otherwise, you should consider a career as a laboratory technician, sanitation worker, computer-support staffer, or textbook editor.


fleur de lis fashions

Ever since Katrina hit, the fleur de lis has become a symbol of rebirth in NOLA and you can see them everywhere. In my previous blog post about the Katrina Warriors, I included their symbol which, in case you couldn’t figure it out, is a fleur de lis/heart/vagina hybrid created in time for the 10th anniversary of V-day.

That item aside, I seem to be finding more and more fleur de lis fashions outside of New Orleans, including bags by Gianni Bini and now Kimora Simmons for Baby Phat. We hardly ever go to the mall, but keep these fashions coming and I’ll talk my Visa for a walk!