The Neighborhood Story Project
ContactNew Orleans, LA70179
In 2004, the Neighborhood Story Project (NSP) was founded by Rachel Breunlin and Abram Himelstein as a book-making project based in the neighborhoods where they live and work. Following its mission, “Our stories told by us,” the NSP work with writers in neighborhoods around New Orleans to create books about their communities. The NSP is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization in partnership with the University of New Orleans.
Since 2004, the NSP has run a book-making program at John McDonogh Senior High where the NSP staff members teach high school students creative nonfiction, photography, and in-depth interviewing, and then work with them to write books about their lives and communities. In June of 2005, the NSP published five books with block parties around the city to celebrate.
In June of 2005, members of Nine Times Social and Pleasure Club began writing a book about growing up in the Desire Public Housing Development and the creation of one of the first second line clubs in the Ninth Ward. After the turmoil of Katrina, with the help of a Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities grant, they reunited with the NSP to finish their book while also rebuilding their lives and club. The November 2006 release of Coming Out the Door for the Ninth Ward was a historic event—Nine Times is the first club to write a book about the second line community and the first to organize a parade in the Ninth Ward after Katrina. In 2007, the book was chosen as the One Book One New Orleans citywide reading selection.
In partnership with the Porch 7th Ward Cultural Organization and cultural anthropologist Helen Regis, the “Seventh Ward Speaks” oral history project encourages neighbors to share the stories of their lives with each other. Every interview is turned into a poster, which is displayed in the neighborhood.
Through a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the NSP is working on creating a catalogue and memoir of the House of Dance and Feathers, a museum in the Lower Ninth Ward dedicated to the culture of the neighborhood and the parading and masking traditions of the African American community in New Orleans. The museum director and archivist, Ronald W. Lewis, is the president of the Big Nine Social and Pleasure Club, and was the former Council Chief for the Chocktaw Hunters Mardi Gras Indian Tribe.