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Beyond Beignets: Exploring Food Culture in New Orleans

Mark Plotz
Aug 8, 2018
Aug 8, 2018

Walk/Bike/Places 2018 will be held in New Orleans this September 16-19 at the downtown Sheraton. Registration is open until August 24. We have more than 80 breakout sessions, two dozen mobile workshops and many deep-dive sessions on placemaking, tactical urbanism, bikeway design, inequality, and sustainability. For more see our full conference program and register here!

New Orleans Crawfish | Photo by Matt J Carbone

Every two years a new city hosts Walk/Bike/Places. In New Orleans, as we have done in other host cities, we asked our local host committee for their suggestions on mobile workshop topics. When we received their responses we noticed something different from previous conferences: many of them revolved around food. Wait, what? Aren’t we a conference about walking, biking and placemaking?

We have to admit, it wasn’t entirely unexpected. Unpack a truly great place and you get a rich mix of history, architecture, group identity, language, ritual, norms, smells, sounds, and food. Everyone who has been to New Orleans knows that it has all of these in great supply — so it should come as no surprise that food will be a feature of this year's conference.

Here are some of the ways we will be celebrating food and using it to tell New Orleans' story:

New Orleans Healthy Food Retail Bike Tour

New Orleans is home to many innovative healthy food retail programs, supported by government, business, and nonprofit investments. Join Market Umbrella and the Tulane Prevention Research Center for a tour of healthy food outlets using creative access models and programs to increase healthy eating. This tour will showcase farmers markets, corner stores, and larger-sized food stores funded through state and local government healthy food initiatives. It will also feature a tour of community gardens along the Lafitte Greenway, highlighting place-based investments supporting better nutrition and more active living. (Presented by Market Umbrella and the Tulane Prevention Research Center)

Trekkin' in Tremé: A Taste of the Historic Tremé Neighborhood Walking Tour

Join GirlTrek for a walk through one of New Orleans' oldest neighborhoods, Tremé. Learn the history behind the creation of St. Augustine Church, the first black Catholic church and the first racially integrated church in New Orleans. Stop by the Backstreet Cultural Museum and continue trekking to the African American Museum while reveling in the unique design of streets and residences in the neighborhood, celebrate jazz at the Louis Armstrong Park, and more. As you walk, learn about the historical importance of GirlTrek in the lives of black women and explore community organizing and storytelling as a way to motivate people to embody change. (Presented by GirlTrek)

A Zest for the Best: Community Health Strategies in Action Bike Tour

Whet your appetite as you learn about a locally based but nationally distinguished "Community Health Hub" called the ReFresh Project. Developed and led by Broad Community Connections, the ReFresh Project houses a grocery store and seven nonprofit organizations, all working to promote health equity in the surrounding neighborhoods. While visiting ReFresh, participants will garden at the onsite teaching garden and cook with their harvest in a teaching kitchen, all while learning about the ReFresh Project's collaborative approach to community programming and engagement. (Presented by Broad Community Connections)

Nurture in Nature Bike Tour

Non-motorized circulation within and access to 150 year-old New Orleans City Park has been mindfully cultivated since Hurricane Katrina, along with numerous planned natural spaces aimed at advancing social equity, learning opportunities, and active transportation. Visit the 1300-acre outdoor gem of New Orleans by bike to see diverse but allied spaces such as Grow Dat Urban Youth Farm, Couturie Forest and an adjacent 90-acre natural area, recently constructed bike, pedestrian, and bridge facilities, the Great Lawn, Botanical Garden, the Children's Museum (under construction) and so much more. (Presented by City Park Improvement Association)

A History of Coffee in New Orleans Bike Tour

From the free women of color who pioneered the "coffee shop" in the early 1800s to today's economic inequalities that affect people in the service industry, the local story of coffee intersects with many facets of New Orleans' complicated history. Explore the historic foodways and coffee culture of New Orleans through a bike tour of local coffee shops lead by Suzanne Cole, a Complete Streets Ambassador and long-time service industry worker. You'll also learn about the people who create your morning cappuccino and how they get around, or struggle to get around, the city by foot, bike, and public transit. Coffee tastings included! (Presented by Bike Easy Complete Streets Ambassador Suzanne Cole)

Or design your own Culinary Tour! Come to New Orleans and we’ll make sure you know how to find the best flavors of the city — whether you are trying to impress your Instagram followers or suppress tomorrow’s hangover. We hope to see you at Walk/Bike/Places this September. Register today!

Mark Plotz
Mark Plotz
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Learn about PPS's Three-pronged Approach to Drive Change