Roving Ethnographer Joins Narrative and Visual Voice of Beyond Katrina

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Contributor Retraces Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

Maida Owens, a cultural anthropologist and Louisiana native, is the latest contributor to "Beyond Katrina: The Voice of Hurricane Disaster & Recovery," a blog focused on changing the future with the knowledge gleaned from the past. Her photo essays, "Adventures of a Roving Ethnographer", look at how Hurricanes Katrina and Rita changed not only the physical landscape of south Louisiana but its emotional pulse as well.

"Seeing how they are rebuilding and how historical landmarks, sculptures and plantations withstood the pounding are paramount to understanding the long term impact of these storms on both our physical and cultural landscape," explained Owens. While the utter devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans continues to make international news headlines, Owens essays show how it affected people and areas on the northshore of the city. She also takes "Beyond Katrina" readers into the parishes of south Louisiana where Hurricane Rita caused $10 billion in damage on the Gulf Coast.

"We just had the second holiday season since the onslaught of the devastation, yet the obstacles and the setbacks persist," explained blogger Margaret Saizan, "Beyond Katrina" creator. "Because Maida's stories and personal photos share the resilience of south Louisianans, her perspective and insight are needed now more than ever to keep this journey back on the national radar."

Though the storms hit Louisiana more than 16 months ago, the online community that engages daily with each other via "Beyond Katrina" is growing, not just in number, but in influence. What began as casual observers interested in finding out any information on the storm has become a forum for sociologists, geologists, architects, authors, and photographers hoping to enact cultural change and policy reform. The blog was recently awarded the Society for New Communications Research Professional Award. The award honors innovative professionals who are pioneering the use of social media, individuals like those Time magazine named its 2006 "Person of the Year."

"We've had incredible feedback on the photo essay series we began in early October with landscape photographer Matthew White. We hope to continue adding valuable content to tell the whole story of these storms," added Saizan.

About Maida Owens

A cultural anthropologist and a native Louisianan who cares deeply about her home state, Maida Owens has been director of the Louisiana Folk Life program since 1988. She has curated exhibits and websites, authored and edited books and articles, produced videos, and created educational materials on Louisiana's many traditional cultures. She works with organizations and researchers to identify traditional artists and determine the most appropriate way to present folk musicians, storytellers, craftsmen, and traditional cooks to the public. She has worked with hundreds of folk artists from Louisiana's diverse cultures. Her work takes her throughout the state and in the process, she has photographed Louisiana's people and landscapes. Maida Owens' fine prints are available by contacting her at maidaowens at cox dot net.

About Margaret Saizan

Margaret Saizan is a new media publisher, personal/ organizational coach, and community activist. The Baton Rouge, La. native became a blogger during the largest natural disaster in U.S. history - Hurricane Katrina. A graduate of Newfield Network, one of the best regarded international coach training schools, Margaret focuses on empowering leadership and facilitating action during transition, crisis, and disaster as the pathway to new vision. http://www.hurricane-katrina.org and Big Vision Media aspire to ignite wise action, new vision and positive change through transformational media.

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