Stage 2: 3 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Panel Discussion: Mardi Gras Moms and Who Dat Dads —
A Discussion on Parenting in New Orleans
Known around the world for its debauchery, hurricanes, and crime, New Orleans seems an unlikely place to raise a child. So why would you stay here, or even move here, to do so?
Mardi Gras Moms and Who Dat Dads will explore the strong cultural and familial bonds that make New Orleans hard to resist, but also those dark moments that make us second-guess ourselves. While some of the issues parents face here are typical of urban America, others are distinctively Nola, and the intersection of these can lead to unfathomable obstacles. But the benefits cannot be denied. New Orleans provides one of the most genuine and unique urban upbringings you can have in America today. On a good day, it’s like raising your child in the Land of Oz after living in Kansas; the senses endlessly overstimulated, the passion for life cranked up to maximum. But on a bad day it’s like raising your child in an unstable foreign country – without an embassy to run to.
Parenting here is for those who like great challenges, and curious rewards.
Moderator: Bart Everson
Bart Everson (a.k.a. Editor B) is a writer, a photographer, a baker of bread, a husband and a father. An award-winning videographer, he is co-creator of ROX , the first TV show on the internet. As a media artist and an advocate for faculty development in higher education, he is interested in current and emerging trends in social media, blogging, podcasting, et cetera, as well as non-technological subjects such as contemplative pedagogy and integrative learning. He is a founding member of the Green Party of Louisiana , past president of Friends of Lafitte Corridor, sometime contributor to Rising Tide, and a participant in New Orleans Lamplight Circle. (Twitter) (G+) (Facebook) (Flickr)
- Keith Spera – A New Orleans native, Keith Spera has written about music at The Times-Picayune since 1996. He was a member of the newspaper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Hurricane Katrina coverage team. St. Martin’s Press published his first book, Groove Interrupted: Loss, Renewal and the Music of New Orleans, in 2011. The father of three children age five and under, including a son with Down syndrome, he chronicles his parenting adventures – and misadventures – in a popular Picayune column called The Paternity Test. (Twitter)
- Ashley Bond – Ashley is the founder of NolaParent.com, a lifestyle journal and forum on raising children in the Big Easy. NolaParent is a practical, anecdotal, first-person guide about bringing up babies, toddlers, and ‘tweens. Her blog features trends, inventions, innovations, inspirations and absurdities as they relate to parenting. Having grown up in Texas as what some indignantly call an “Air Force brat”, Ashley now lives in New Orleans with with her husband, a Black Belt wearing PR czar and her three equally dangerous little girls – all under the age of five. (Twitter) (Facebook)
- Andrea Dewenter – A freelance writer and blogger with a background in public relations, foreign policy, and broadcast news, Andrea is a contributor to various local publications including NolaFemmes.com, The Gambit, NolaParent.com, NolaFrancaise.com, New Orleans Adventure, and her own blog, Pistolette.net. She focuses on issues regarding parenting, education, fitness, and culture in Louisiana, and is a strong advocate for foreign language immersion education in the state. Andrea is a New Orleans native and grew up in St. Bernard Parish. She currently lives Uptown with her husband and two preschoolers whom she’s racing to the French fluency finish line. (Twitter) (G+) (Facebook)
So that should be fun. I can’t take credit for any of it, as I didn’t organize the panel or even write the description. (Thanks, Katy and Pistolette.) I’m just coming in at the tail end to soak up the glory.
I feel like I’m well situated to bring some nuance to the discussion. People sometimes regard me as a booster or advocate for the city of New Orleans, and yet Xy often bemoans the difficulties of living here. So even in our house there is a deep ambivalence on this topic. And that’s always fodder for good discussion.
As for the other discussion I mentioned, it was organized through Lamplight Circle and the topic was Pagan parenting. We met on the Sunday after Isaac. Things were quite chaotic, as half the participants were still without power and our regular venue (Sacred Grinds coffeehouse) was closed; then our backup venue closed earlier than expected and we had to move to the house of one of the participants. (Thanks, Ash.) Nevertheless we managed to talk about a number of topics in some depth, yet when it was time for me to leave, I felt we’d barely scratched the surface.