Life After New Orleans: Existing in the <em>?New?</em> New Orleans
Dec 13 2017

Life After New Orleans: Existing in the "New" New Orleans

By: Kimmie Tubre

It all started with a viral Facebook video that was titled, “Healthy Gumbo.” The title alone was an automatic reason to throw the computer out the window, but as curiosity settled in, one click of the mouse and disaster spilled out before my eyes. What in the non-existing, holy trinity-gentrified roux is this?

Supposedly inspired by Disney’s The Princess and The Frog, the gumbo’s ingredients included bell peppers, okra, onions, parsley, thyme; and then things really started to get weird, as diced tomatoes, olive oil, and kale were added into the mix. Yes, you’ve heard that correctly: kale was added to the gumbo.

Of course, we all know that gumbo is a pot filled with many things, but some things simply don’t belong.

Louisiana natives were not pleased at all. In fact, the video received so much negative attention and feedback that the site eventually took it down.

But, that was just one incident out of many that brings about the question: What happened to New Orleans?

Life After New Orleans: Existing in the <em>“New”</em> New Orleans

For the ones who were raised here and near

New Orleans was a city filled with unique and diverse people. These people had their own lingo and their own types of cuisine. These people understood that they were from a place that prepared them for the world, yet held them back from adapting to any other culture but their own.

New Orleans had always been a place where people from here stayed here, and most of the visitors returned home after their NOLA adventure was done. It was like this secret place where everyone was allowed to live by the beat of their own drum. Natives talked loosely, danced in the streets, drank freely, loved hard, and no one relaxed better than the people of New Orleans. They didn’t call it the Big Easy for nothing.

During the decade after Katrina, things began to change. The slowly evolving city, like the rest of the urban USA, began to gentrify at a rapid speed. As a result, entire neighborhoods previously considered lower-income areas became filled with fresh new business-minded faces—typically, young professionals from other states finding solace in the Crescent City. They came here and discovered what the locals always knew. The secret life of New Orleans was out.

Life After New Orleans: Existing in the <em>“New”</em> New Orleans

The good, the bad and the ugly

For the first time in decades, major chains decided to make their way down to New Orleans, and a city that mostly relied on its own local businesses became a haven for new big chains. But chain restaurants aren’t the only ones infiltrating the city. Hip hotels and skyrise bars and condos have all begun to find their place.

Certainly, there are very good benefits to having access to more restaurants, nice quality apartments, and new trendy hotels, coffee shops, and lounges. But in a city where many of its citizens fall slightly below the poverty line, it leaves us wondering, “Who are these places being built for?”

New Orleans has become Hollywood South. Several major budget and independent films, commercials, and major events take place here. While it seems to be an exciting time for the city from an entertainment and economic standpoint, it’s hard to see where the money is going. Many locals are still destroying their cars on torn-apart streets, making low wages, and struggling with increased rent and insurance, as well as the many eviction notices due to the increasing popularity of Airbnb rentals.

Life After New Orleans: Existing in the <em>“New”</em> New Orleans

Where do we go from here?

Statistics have shown that the transplants can’t hang. Being that New Orleans is a corrupt city that can be progressive yet very backwards at times, many transplants find it hard to build their lives in New Orleans. Natives, on the other hand, have always found ways to adapt to the city.

Many people have used New Orleans as a transition city. It has that sort of summer abroad vibe where you come for a while, let it change your life, and then return to a place more practical when you are finished.

There are many new things about the city that are troubling and frustrating, but much of the Old New Orleans is here to stay.

With a new female mayor in office, one thing we can see is that not all is lost. The city can be flooded over, trampled on, driven through, and torn apart, but the people will keep the city’s traditions, character, and personality alive.

So, where do we go from here? Well, keep talking loosely, dancing in the streets, drinking freely, loving hard, and most importantly, keep relaxing; don’t let them speed us up. We are the Big Easy.

 

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