New York? Yep, that’s what I said. Wetland Tours has given me the opportunity to meet some of the most giving people in the country. Included in that group is a woman named Lori M.
She came down here to help with New Orleans recovery and fell in love with the people, their resilience, and their culture. Our culture. And even though the culture changes slightly from city to bayou, and from bayou to bayou, she found enough to love that she has returned a dozen times in about eighteen months.
Lori found me by way of Bayou Grace Community Services about a year ago. She rode with me on my tour and returned with a bunch of her coeds in tow. Lori and her classmates adopted a woman in the greater New Orleans area and helped her restore her home, which she is now back in, thanks to Lori and others like her.
I’m not sure if she’s done this single handedly, but she has put together an event that I’m attending this weekend. It is a Bayou cross-cultural event which focuses on all things south Louisiana and is being held at Batavia Community College, where Lori is studying communications and media arts.
This event is part of Lori’s ongoing journey to raise awareness all around the Western New York area about the plight of what the fine folks in Louisiana have been dealing with and also to get people excited about coming down and helping with not only the rebuilding efforts but the wetlands restoration process.
Another project Lori and some of her fellow students have been working on during their visits is a documentary of the people down here. I’m not sure of the time frame of the video, but I know it began before the oil spill and continued after that to include this new struggle we are facing on the bayous. She plans to go beyond western New York and take the documentary everywhere she travels and continue to educate folks across the U.S.
Let me quote her:
“I have fallen in love with the people in Louisiana! They are the most resilient, friendly, and caring people that I have met. I think that the average citizen would have given up with one only one of these disasters but not the folks in Louisiana!! I will continue to come back to Louisiana until every person that wants to come back to their homes can come back…and now I have fallen in love with the wetlands so I will continue to come back for the rest of my life. That includes being there in Washington D.C. if needed to drive the point home about what NEEDS to be done in Louisiana!!!”
So, LilSis and I are leaving on a jet plane to the far reaches of frosty New York, where we will hear Zydeco music, eat some beignets, and otherwise pass a good time with some great folks who have cared enough to “come see” for themselves, share with others, and return for more.
To Lori and all the students who have come down and helped out, BW extends a big THANK YOU! I look forward to seeing you again in a couple days, and I’m sure we’re gonna “pass a good time” on Saturday.