Welcome to the NOLA DIASPORA.
The journal has been a long time coming. When I returned to New Orleans in December 2005, I made joke about the resilience of one water-soaked stuffed doll, Dora the Explorer, which I found while cleaning out my house. She was intrepid, and water-stained or not, would carry on. I tried to see myself in her shoes. The origins of the journal’s name lie there, in a half-rhyme between Dora the Explorer and diaspora.
Thinking of the journal and naming it were easy. What was difficult—painful—was recognizing and calling out, the reasons I wanted and needed to put it together.
The dislocations, dislodgments, disorder, and disarray of the three 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes and the levee break were extensive: immeasurable. I believe the extent of the damage is still unacknowledged. Scores of people had to move because of job or home losses, and those who did stay lost friends and family members because of such moves. Everyone also lost stability and security in ways that citizens of the United States had never expected--could never have even imagined.
I didn’t lose my job and my house could be repaired, but I found myself discouraged and disconsolate. I joined the tide of émigrés leaving the city and still found myself inconsolable.
However, the move to Virginia proved fortuitous in many ways. During this time of grieving, I found myself unable to write; and in the less fertile, less forgiving clay soil of the state’s central piedmont, I started a gardening program designed consciously to restore the riparian buffer and unconsciously to restore myself.
I became reacquainted with my father’s side of the family who live in the Mid-Atlantic States and got closer to my sister. She, in fact, built the site and designed the journal’s logo. Using the glyphs for Mercury and Venus, communication and women, she created the background palette and incorporated the sun and butterfly. She chose Mardi Gras colors and a papyrus font, which further underscore our mission.
In 2006 I visited Maryland’s Brookside Gardens, where my octogenarian aunt volunteers. She invited me to their special butterfly exhibit, and it was there that I saw for the first time how the butterfly’s metamorphosis is not a neat and tidy metaphor. It is neither neat nor tidy. Nor safe. It is dangerous and brave. I watched butterflies die unable to complete the transformation, and I saw others emerge damaged or maimed from the struggle to escape the once-hospitable, but now-limiting, cocoon. Wings were bent; legs broken.
I embrace the butterfly’s daring, and I invite our readers to trust in the promise of and participate in the process of just such a re-creation.