The Neighborhood Story Project is a nonprofit collaborative publishing organization in partnership with the University of New Orleans. Since 2004, we have produced books, exhibits, events, and courses that share the complex stories of South Louisiana with each other and the world. Visit us at our corner store workshop in the Seventh Ward or our virtual book store here!
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Our collaborative musical ethnography about Creole language and music in Louisiana and in other parts of the Caribbean. Listen to a radio interview on The Reading Life with Susan Larson to hear some of the songs written and arranged by Bruce Sunpie Barnes and Leroy Etienne, and the stories behind the making of the book. A companion exhibit is up at the Arsenal I gallery at the Louisiana Stat Musueum's Cabildo through the spring.
Where is Yakni Chitto? We trace the indigenous Mobilian Trade Language words for "Big Country" to the area between the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers. To learn more, check out out our new book by Monique Michelle Verdin, a collection of photographs and essays about Houma migrations around south Louisiana, with an opening essay by Houma historian and philosopher Michael Dardar. Throughout the book we hear from Houma elders Anesie & Jane Verdin and their granddaughter Allison Rodriguez, as well as poems by Ray Moose Jackson and stories of collborative art-making by ArtSpot Productions director Kathy Randels and Mondo Bizarro co-director Nick Slie.
During trying times, click above to find out more about the power of the mask.
Honoring Our Loved Ones
On March 20, 2020,, we were deeply saddened to lose one of our long term partners, Ronald W. Lewis of the House of Dance & Feathers. Please see his New York Times obituary.
In August, the Big Queen of Fi Yi Yi and the Mandingo Warriors, Kim Boutte, was the unintended victim of gun violence. We were devastated by this loss, and ask for everyone's prayers for her family and our extended Fi Yi Yi community.
On September 11th, Sylvester Francis, the founder and the director of the Backstreet Cultural Museum died of appendicitis. We wrote a story about his jazz funeral here: https://64parishes.org/his-last-ride
Artwork in honor of Kim Boutte, Sylvester Francis, and Ronald W. Lewis by Jonathan Mayers.
"On Remembering" a talk in honor of Indigenous People's Day with Monique Verdin and Rachel Breunlin at Tulane University's Newcomb Art Museum. The discussion was inspired by a passage from "Site of Memory," by Toni Morrison: "'Floods' is the word they use, but in fact it is not flooding; it is remembering. Remembering where it used to be. All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. ... And a rush of imagination is our 'flooding.'"
Our curriculum on teaching about race, culture, and civil rights organizing in New Orleans uses conversations with civil rights leaders and musicians in Talk That Music Talk as a foundation for students to learn about anthropology, photographic archives, active listening, conducting life history interviews, and organizing "moving classrooms" that are inspired by the pedagogy of the youth-based organization Tambourine and Fan. Download the curriculum for free and contact us about reduced prices of books for classroom sets.
How is traditional jazz connected to social justice and education in New Orleans? A six-minute documentary by Elephant Quilt on our book, Talk That Music Talk, features civil rights leader and co-founder of Tambourine & Fan, Jerome Smith, musicians who worked on the book, and the co-editors, Bruce Sunpie Barnes and Rachel Breunlin.
"The Creole Heart: CD Project Celebrates South Louisiana Language, History, ' by Missy Wilkinson from The New Orleans Advocate, December 17, 2017.
WWNO's The Reading Life with Victor Harris, Rachel Breunlin, and Jeffrey David Ehrenreich. Hosted by Susan Larson, the episode is dedicated to the creation of Fire in the Hole.
"The Last Brass Band? Musical Mentorship and Social Justice Organizing," an article by Bruce Sunpie Barnes and Rachel Breunlin about the NSP ethnography Talk That Music Talk published in Smithsonian Folkways Magazine Image from Tambourine & Fan's parading curriculum.
A collection of images from Bruce Sunpie Barnes and other photographers included in the NSP's Talk That Music Talk was featured in "The Beat Goes On: The Ongoing Legacy of Brass Band Music in New Orleans," a photo essay curated by Nicole Crowder for The Washington Post's "In Sight." [Photograph of Benny Jones Sr. by Bruce Sunpie Barnes]
A short film, "Danny Barker On Young People Organizing Bands in New Orleans" produced by Ebony Dumas with the Neighborhood Story Project and Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans
In Memory of Royce Osborn, Way Downtown, a short film the Neighborhood Story Project produced with Spyboy Productions and Nine Times Social and Pleasure Club in 2010 celebrating second line dancing.
The New York Times article, "At the Track: Before the Starting Gate and After the Finish," by Campbell Robertson, tells the story of "Letters from the Backside," the NSP exhibition with letters written home by people who work at the New Orleans Fair Grounds during the horse racing season.
Eve Troeh's beautiful radio documentary of members of Nine Times reading stories from their book, Coming Out the Door for the Ninth Ward, to jazz music on NPR's All Things Considered
"Our Stories Told By Us": The Neighborhood Story Project in New Orleans, a chapter in Telling Stories to Change the World by Rachel Breunlin, Abram Himelstein, and Ashley Nelson.
Neda Ulaby's two-part series on National Public Radio's All Things Considered explores our book with the Tulane City Center, Cornerstones: Celebrating the Everyday Monuments and Gathering Places of New Orleans' Neighborhoods. The first (top image), "Charting New Orleans' Everyday Landmarks takes us to Liuzza's By the Tracks and the Sportsman's Corner in Central City. The second (bottom image), "New Orleans Vacant Lot Brings Neighbors Together," takes place on the corner of N. Roman and Columbus in the Seventh Ward.
Publisher's Weekly article,"Looking Beyond the Hood," about the first year of the Neighborhood Story Project in 2005. Photograph by Rachel Breunlin of Ashley Nelson working on her book, The Combination, about the Lafitte Public Housing Development.