Literally, "let the good times roll," this phrase has become the de facto battle cry for the City of New Orleans. Sure, people use it more often around Mardi Gras, which is already three weeks ago. But I'm gonna let Jewish Standard Time rule in this case.
Yes folks, it's time once again to turn Shtetl Fabulous into a road show or travelougue of sorts. Tomorrow I'm heading down to NOLA for the first time and the timing could not be better. The national young leadership contingent of the organization where I work is sponsoring a 4-day conference in the Crescent City. Just imagine 550 Jews, age 25-45, descending on a city with a reputation for unabashed partying and armed with liberal (and consumerist guilt). The blog post fodder is incredible!
Aside from sampling the best Abita Brewery, Cafe duMonde and Creole cuisine has to offer (within the confines of kashrut), I am also looking forward to exploring this mythologized city. From the mansions of the Garden District to the devastation of the Ninth Ward, I fully expect this trip will change me in some way.
To make the process a little easier, the organizers are taking us on a bus tour to some of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina. In grad school, I took a semester-long course about the myriad failures at every level of government and the environmental miasma that went into creating the costliest natural disaster in American history. From a policy perspective (that's what my master's was in), it's easy to sit on the sidelines and make recommendations and distribute blame. I think my opinions could be a little different after I see things first-hand and have a tangible, human face to the tragedy.
We are also taking out some time from the conference to volunteer at a former school. Since I don't have too many vacation days from work, I've never really had a chance to do "ecotourism" so this should be a great opportunity from that perspective as well.
And finally, there's more than 500 people going through the whole experience with me. For an relentless social butterfly like me, what could be a better way to spend a long weekend?