Building Neighborhood Places (Ari King)

The Neighborhood Story Project (NSP) is a nonprofit collaborative ethnography organization, which uses the strategies of storytelling, knowledge-sharing, and the joy of co-creativity to produce books, events, exhibits, and curriculum with New Orleans artists, musicians, and cultural performers. In collaboration with the NSP this Mellon Community Engaged project utilizes the knowledge and skills of the NSP network of co-creators to consider the power of people to transform the spaces they occupy. Through a series of cultural events—an altar-making workshop, beading workshops lead by Mardi Gras Indian elders, concerts, art exhibits, and open workshop hours—this on-going project strives to collaboratively reflect on the ways in which those who inhabit the NSP workshop, located in the 7th Ward of New Orleans, dynamically transform the space. This project uses ethnographic methodology to document the process by which the blank canvas of NSP’s workshop comes to be shaped by and eventually reflect those involved in each event. This on-going reflection will contribute to the production of an NSP poster (or series) that celebrates the dynamism of the NSP community and their collective power to shape space in the community. This community engaged ethnographic research will also serve as the basis for a co-authored journal article reflecting on the intersection of space and co-creativity in community settings.