Navigating New Orleans: A Symphony of Culture and Conservation

Robi Kate Miranda
4 min readMay 24, 2024

The second leg of our YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Environmental Issues took us to New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA). NOLA is famous for its jazz music, Creole cuisine, and vibrant nightlife.

Our flight from Missoula, Montana to NOLA was chaotic since I accidentally left my phone power bank and charger at the hotel in Montana. However, this didn’t kill my excitement for our time in NOLA.

To make the most of our first day, we quickly organized our things and headed out to explore the French Quarter, the historic heart of the city known for its French and Spanish Creole architecture and lively nightlife. The streets were filled with jazz music, and we explored various restaurants, shops, and clubs. We were particularly captivated by Aoleon, a talented singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Before ending the day, we visited the Mississippi River and enjoyed dinner at Oceana Grill, where I had some of the best seafood dishes I’ve ever tasted.

On our second day, we had the privilege of meeting Bob Marshall, an award-winning journalist at the Center for Bioenvironmental Research at Tulane University. We discussed Louisiana’s land subsidence issues caused by human activity, particularly extensive canal dredging for oil and gas production. He highlighted efforts to restore Louisiana’s land, such as conveyance channels, levee improvements, barrier island restoration, and ridge restoration. Marshall emphasized the need for wealthy nations to collaborate with developing nations to subsidize the transition. This session underscored the importance of “Science Communication” in bridging the gap between experts, policymakers, and the public to address climate issues effectively.

After our session with Bob Marshall, we visited the Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development (CSED). We helped add fertilizers to plants and learned about their efforts in coastal rehabilitation, greening the environment, and increasing food security. We ended the day with a stroll around Bucktown Boardwalk, a visit to the Louis Armstrong Museum, and enjoyed French beignets and the famous Willie’s Chicken Shack.

On our last day in the city, we visited the Grow Dat Youth Farm, an organization that employs youth in its programs. I was impressed by their focus on leadership in agriculture, offering cooking classes and competitions, and creating a community space that respects and learns from the earth. They even allow us to harvest some tomatoes while at the farm.

With some free time for lunch, my co-fellows from the Philippines (Leo and Justine) and I decided to visit the French Market. I tried the pizza waffle and crocodile bites, which surprisingly tasted like a mix of chicken and shrimp.

Our final visit was to the New Orleans African American Museum of Arts, History, and Culture (NOAAM), where we learned about African American history in New Orleans and the southern United States. Their mission is to preserve the history and elevate the art, culture, and contributions of African Americans in New Orleans and the African Diaspora.

Before we ended our last day in NOLA, we visited Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub, the oldest operating jazz club in the city. I ordered their non-alcoholic “Bayou Cooler” while enjoying classical jazz music.

Truly, our visit to New Orleans was an enriching experience that went beyond its famous jazz music and Creole cuisine. We delved into significant environmental issues and participated in impactful community projects. From insightful discussions with experts like Bob Marshall to hands-on activities at the Grow Dat Youth Farm, our journey was a blend of education and cultural immersion.

This trip not only broadened our understanding of environmental challenges but also highlighted the power of community and collaboration in addressing these issues. As we move forward, the lessons learned in Louisiana will continue to inspire our efforts in environmental conservation and community development.

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Robi Kate Miranda

Hi, I'm Robi! Welcome to my blog. Read about my advocacies, self-help tips, productivity strategies, and everything in between.