600 Trees Planted for Louisiana’s Coastal Wetlands

Lake Maurepas - Port Manchac Louisiana
Lake Maurepas – Port Manchac Louisiana

A football field has become a colloquial frame of reference for spatial comparisons both silly and serious. Unfortunately, on the serious end of those comparisons – Louisiana has been losing its coastal wetlands at an alarming rate; and estimates produced by the U.S. Geological Survey confirm the loss to be about a football field every hour over the last 30 years.

This semester I’m taking a course on environmental ethics which has played a big role in pointing me towards my major in environmental studies and hopefully, a career focused on environmentalism. This course has an elective service-learning component – a core requirement for all Tulane students, to complete two tiers of community service during their four years in New Orleans. There were multiple, wonderful community partnerships to choose from, but a friend of mine and I were really inspired by the mission of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.

The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) is a nonprofit organization that advocates for Louisiana’s coastal wetlands through science-based community action with their Habitat Restoration program. Wetlands are areas where the water level is at or above the top layer of soil, producing prime environments for diverse ecosystems teeming with wildlife, food, nutrients, and habitats for native species. The loss of Louisiana’s wetlands, which make up approximately 11 percent of the state, threatens more than just the species that live there, but also the prominent fishing industry, oil and gas industries.

There are multiple factors, some occurring naturally and others produced by the strain of densely populated societies, that are causing the accelerated erosion of coastal wetlands in Louisiana.  According to CRCL, Louisiana’s wetlands and barrier shorelines have lost more than 1 million acres of land due to human influences on the environment and natural processes. the three main causes are: reduced sediment flow, caused by freshwater diversion and blockages of the Mississippi river’s natural flow; subsidence, refers to the sinking of land; and continual rising sea levels.

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On this past Saturday, Nov. 4th, CRCL hosted an event in Lake Maurepas as part of their ‘Ten Thousand Trees for Louisiana’ initiative, where 60 volunteers, including my friend and myself, came together to plant 600 trees in a marshy tributary. The wetlands and their barrier islands serve as a line of defense against natural disasters, protecting vulnerable coastal communities from the harm of storms and flooding, an issue very pertinent in Louisiana. The trees planted serve a dual purpose by helping to keep the ecosystem alive while also protecting the environment from further erosion.

CRCL, in addition to the tree planting, hosts other wonderful events ranging from panels and talks on advocacy for the Gulf Coast to hands-on volunteer experiences in restoring parts of the coast. Working with them over the course of this semester has been such a wonderful opportunity to learn more about a serious environmental issue that I had never really heard about before coming to college in New Orleans.

Hopefully, the mission of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana resonates with you as much as it did with me! If you want to get involved or read more about the organization – click here!

Voodoo Fest

Halloween festivities are in full swing in New Orleans, with Voodoo Fest happening just this weekend, right before the real deal on Tuesday night. Voodoo transforms City Park into a Halloween themed festival with amazing artists, vendors, food, and attractions.

Some of my favorite artists were performing this weekend, so I went with a group of friends on Friday and Sunday, seeing headliners Kendrick Lamar and the Killers. Some of my favorite moments though were earlier in the day, when the sun was brighter and the crowds were softer.

At 3:30, the Cold War Kids took the Altar Stage and played a few hits from their newest release, and a lot of their old songs too. Nathan Willet, the lead singer, asked the crowd if they could play a cover, before going into Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain”, and the crowd lovingly agreed.

 

 

My absolute favorite band, the Head and the Heart, performed at the same stage two hours later. The six-person, indie-rock band played songs off all three of their albums, beginning the show with the premier single “All We Ever Knew” off their newest release “Signs of Light”, and closing with “Rivers and Roads”, a classic fan-favorite from their debut album “The Head and the Heart”. The sun was setting just as they were finishing up their set, creating the perfect atmosphere to take in the music and energy of the crowd.

 

 

Unfortunately, my phone died shortly after those two performances, so that’s all I can show you. Right after the Head and the Heart finished, we ran to catch Post Malone perform. The crowd was enormous, and the squishing and pushing was all worth it when he performed “Feeling Whitney” – a song that plays on loop in my suite; that my friends and I all agreed he likely wouldn’t play since it is more unplugged and slower than the rest of his music.

The Killers closed the festival on Sunday night, opening with an electrifying performance of “Mr. Brightside”. They paid tribute to the late Fats Domino, an early Rock ‘n Roll singer from New Orleans, by covering “Ain’t That a Shame”, complete with trumpets, saxophones, and trombones.

After always regretting missing the festival my freshman year, I’m so glad I got to spend two incredible days this weekend seeing some of my favorite bands in my favorite city during the best holiday of the year.

 

 

Halloween Over Midterms

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House on Saint Charles and State street

Usually, college students anticipate the ever-dreaded, bi-annual midterm week by staying in, studying, and getting rest. Unfortunately for me, my midterm exams have been strategically placed over three weeks, falling before and after our fall break. Finding the balance between school and social life for me has never been much of an issue, that is until I decided to continue my education in a place that is just begging you to go out and have fun.

Next week is Halloween, which of course for a lot of college students is an even more anticipated and exciting week than midterms. In New Orleans though, we do Halloween bigger and better than anywhere else.

Each year, Halloween in New Orleans, or Nolaween as I lovingly refer to it as, draws tons of visitors, students, and locals to the city, particularly Frenchman Street for one of the biggest Halloween parties in the country. The street is overrun by folks in costume, people selling food, and playing music, but the real excitement is in the bars that are gleaming with energy, music, and dance.

Bands stocked to the brim with horn and string instruments rock the night away while pirates, vampires, and cowboys drink and dance. The Blue Nile, and the Maison are personal favorites that never disappoint and always have a great band playing.

Halloween also draws one of New Orlean’s biggest music festivals to the city – Voodoo Fest. From October 27th-29th big artists like Kendrick Lamar, Post Malone, and The Killers will take the stage at City Park, and bring New Orleans a little extra Halloween charm.

A personal favorite band of mine, The Head and the Heart, will be wrapping up their fall tour at Voodoo Fest on Sunday. Their excitement and energy during their set will instantly put the band on your radar and make it a live performance you won’t want to miss and will definitely never forget.

These treats of the Halloween season are keeping all Tulane students motivated, myself included, until the weekend when we can relax and enjoy some wonderful music all while masquerading in costume.

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Band Performing at The Blue Nile, September 19th

 

Would you believe me if I told you the name of the band was Rainbow Kitten Surprise?

Last Thursday night I checked something off of my Tulane bucket list that was regretfully long overdue – I went to a show at Tipitina’s. Tipitina’s is a famous venue for live music that has been around since 1977 hosting popular New Orleans artists such as Professor Long Hair. The venue pays tribute to him by naming the venue after his song “Tipitina” and the poster of his face that remains center stage. Now Tipitina’s is a home to artists big and small looking to find their place in the New Orleans music scene.

I was walking to class, listening to “Devil Like Me” a song by the band Rainbow Kitten Surprise, when a little banner popped up on my phone, announcing that the band was playing in my area. With a flutter of excitement, I opened the link to find that Rainbow Kitten Suprise would be hitting the stage of Tipitina’s the following day.

Who would I possibly get to accompany me to this random show? My one friend who even knows of the band’s existence lives in New York, and so I knew I would have to persuade my friends to come with me. “Tickets are only $15”, I emphasized.

After a few stressful hours of texting everyone I knew with a moderately good taste in music, and after getting a series of “What Band?” and “Who?” I was ready to go to the show solo. Until two of my suitemates texted me that they wanted to vibe to the live music, regardless of knowing the band or not.

So, we went. The venue was as cool and intimate as I imagined, and the sound of the opening act as we walked in made me only more excited to hear the band we came to see.I knew this act would only sound better live and was so impressed by the energy they carried on stage.

During the encore, the lead singer, Sam Melo, leaped into the crowd, and crowd surfed back for the last song. It was the closest I’ve ever come to being in the action of a performance, and the excitement and vitality rattled my entire body.

Heres a clip of that insane moment in time. If you’re ever in New Orleans, go to Tipitina’s. Even if it’s a band you don’t know, the excitement of the venue and the energy that it inspires will make it a show you won’t forget.

Longing for Another Adventure

Walking around the streets of a new city I always find my neck craned upwards, taking in the architecture and air around me. Completely enamored by the new landscapes and buildings of Paris this summer, I spent hours walking aimlessly taking it all in. This summer, I lived in the 14th arrondissement of Paris for four weeks, taking classes through a program with Tulane University. The 14th arrondissement is a little bit more removed from the center of Paris; nine stops on the 6 line of the metro to put things in perspective.

After my classes ended, my family joined me in Paris to continue my travels. We made a quick stop in beautiful Amsterdam before setting off for Portugal. We started in Porto, traveled through Lisbon to the Algarve Coast.

We stationed ourselves in Sagres, right on the tip of the southern coast, or as the Tallest Man on Earth puts it in his song that shares the same name, we “went to where the world did end”.

This collection of live photos and videos attempts to capture glimpses of my summer in Paris, Normandy, Brussels, Amsterdam, Porto, Lisbon, Sagres, Lagos, and moments along the way.

I hope watching it makes you want to get away and be in a new place as much as me.

Hello! Who’s Listening?

Hello! My name is Annabelle and I’m 19 years old, and a student at Tulane University,  in New Orleans, Louisiana. Last summer I was at a concert in Central Park, and I was chatting with a man involved in putting the event together. He asked me who I was, and why I was at the concert. I explained to him that I was interning for a woman working with the festival and I was here to help her in any way I could. He then asked me if I wanted to work in the music industry, to which I told him that while I love music, and would love to write about music someday, what I really wanted was to be a writer. He looked at me and said, “So, where can I read your blog?”

I thought about his question for a while, and at my sheer inability to give him some content of mine to read. I felt so silly in that moment for not marketing myself in the best light possible. I’ve wanted to write for the longest time, and my career aspirations have ranged from novelist to journalist and everything in between. I also have a huge passion for travel, and this summer while taking classes in Paris, I realized the ability to write was everywhere, all around me. I didn’t need to wait for a job or to be the right age to start expressing myself and my ideas.

So this is where that conversation that day in the park led me, to create a blog for the third and hopefully last time. In the past, writing projects I’ve taken on have withered away with the coming responsibilities of my school work and social life, but with this blog, I hope that these parts of my life only serve to further inspire and fuel my writing. I want to share with whoever will listen to the things that I think make life extra special and my perspective on ideas big and small, on world issues that concern us all, and any other things I find worth sharing. I hope what I have to say finds the right eyes, and always brings light and positivity to those who read it. Thank you!