Long Live the Neighborhood Story Project

The Neighborhood Story Project, a collaborative community publishing endeavor that uses oral histories, photography, and storytelling to create books that document facets of New Orleans’ civic and cultural tapestry, was recently awarded a $240,000 grant from the Surdna Foundation to continue its wonderful projects.

The grant will be awarded over a period of three years to the University of New Orleans Center for the Book, of which the NSP has been a part since 2008, for use on NSP projects. As UNO has grown increasingly strapped for cash in recent years, the future of its publishing operation has become increasingly uncertain. This grant is a game-changing, life-saving development for the NSP.

Upcoming NSP projects that will benefit from the grant include books about the “backside” of the Fair Grounds Race Course, the process of passing brass band traditions down through generations, and the Spirit of Fi Yi Yi and the Mandingo Warriors Mardi Gras Indians.

The Neighborhood Story Project’s first books, by students at John McDonogh High School, were released in 2005 to great acclaim and local enthusiasm. After Katrina, the project took on a different tenor, and functioned for those involved a means by which to repair and remember the city’s social fabric that had been torn apart by the disaster.

Room 220 editor Nathan C. Martin recently wrote a brief history of the Neighborhood Story Project for Next City:

In a city where many residents have generations-deep roots in their neighborhoods, and those roots form a large part of many people’s identities, it made sense to launch a neighborhood-centric publishing project. But after the storm, with tens of thousands of people unable to return, and with many of those who could forced to live in unfamiliar parts of the city, the project’s objective transformed from documenting the city’s rich social tapestry into trying to reconstruct it and save what could be lost.

Read the rest of that article here.