Update from Colleen

I arrived back in New Orleans yesterday. Even though I’m still trying to figure out which of the four time zones I’ve visited in the past week I left my brain in, I was back to work today. I met my supervisor at her house to take a ride down to Pointe-aux-Chenes for an evening meeting with a representative from the Intertribal Agricultural Council and the Mobile Farmers Market.

While she was getting ready to go, she asked about my time home and my travels. Somehow we got to talking about how I would go about answering relatives when they ask what I am doing in South Louisiana.

FUMBLE! (Sorry, watching the Saints game. I am back in South Louisiana.) (But also, that describes how I generally feel when trying to explain to people what my job is.)

Really, it’s difficult to describe my work. The day to day is always different. Giving presentations, coordinating conservation efforts, planning and taking part in planting projects, connecting different organizations… some days I’m working from home in my pajamas, some days I’m dressed up and sitting in meetings (and some days I’m dressed down—I love working in natural resources conservation), some days I’m covered in mud. I’ll let you guess which days are my favorites!

This meeting tonight was really good. There were about twenty people from the Pointe-aux-Chenes to talk about first people’s agricultural products. The Mobile Farmers Market gathers products from around the country– there was blue corn flour and dried cholla blossoms from the southwest, cranberry syrup and organic corn from Minnesota and Wisconsin, silver and beaded jewlery, wild rice (real wild rice, which is very different from what they call wild rice in the grocery stores), salmon from the Pacific Northwest.

The goals of the program are not just reconnecting tribal trade routes and selling goods, but telling stories. The program has revived food traditions for many tribes, regardless of their federal or state recognition or lack thereof. The IAC works to help tribes gain better access to USDA programs, and seeks market outlets for their goods. Some very cool work going on.

I enjoyed sharing a meal and talking with more members of the community, especially since I’ve been partnering with the First People’s Conservation Council. Tonight I met a man who invited me to work as a deck hand on his shrimping trawler this May. YES PLEASE! I have been able to have the most unique experiences here in South Louisiana. Even as a vegetarian, that sounds awesome. First day back, and I’d say I’m off to a good start!


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