Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: City of New Orleans Office of the Mayor

If I didn’t have so much AmeriCorps work to do, I’d probably start my own People Magazine: New Orleans Edition magazine.

I’m not too fond of a lot of celebrity gossip, but it’s hard to ignore when you’re living in the “Hollywood of the South.” Because of the relatively cheap filming and production costs here, movies are filmed with regularity in the city. Bruce Willis was here (still is here?) filming a car chase scene. Nicolas Cage was (still is? Again, I’m not always on the up-and-up) doing something here, too, and was notably spotted by a friend looking, well, Nicolas Cage-like around St. Patrick’s Day.

Tim Robbins is filming for the new Green Lantern movie, and I had the good fortune of actually seeing him at DBA a couple of Monday nights ago. On that very same night, I saw Ed Helms (of The Office and The Hangover fame) strumming his guitar at HiHo Lounge (note: there is some discrepancy as to whether or not it was really him, but I am 99.99% sure it was. Those who disagreed need to have their eyes checked).

By far and away the biggest celebrity sighting, though, was Hugh Laurie (DR. HOUSE!) at the ReFest Concert put on by The Green Project.

First, kudos to fellow Tulane VISTA Beth for hosting such a great event. Second, and again it needs to be repeated, I saw Dr.-freaking-House.

My love for Dr. House goes back a couple of years ago. Like all television shows, I got hooked on it because a roommate was watching. After a couple of episodes, I quickly picked up on each episode’s storyline arch: patient is sick, House thinks he knows what is wrong, House is wrong in his assumption, patient almost dies, House has an “ah-ha” moment, patient lives. Occasionally a twist will be thrown in: House figures out the medical mystery, patient dies anyway. Throw in a good snarky comment every now and then, and you have a recipe for a show I’ve watched for over two years now.

Sadly, I never really got to say hello to House. I very much freaked out and spent thirty minutes plotting on how to get his attention, including randomly “bleeding” and “fainting” at his feet, but alas, I decided to just let him be and enjoy his evening in New Orleans. For what it’s worth, I did stand really close to him.

On the work side of life, placements for summer internships have just about wrapped up. I have worked to place multiple interns with the Department of Public Works, Office of Homeland Security, Mayor’s Office of Public Advocacy, Capital Projects Administration, and other departments and offices. Now it’s almost time to start thinking about internships for the fall! As I mentioned in a previous blog post, now that I have been at City Hall for a few months, I think I will be better prepared to help place the newest round of interns.

This summer I’m also hopeful that I will have more time to dedicate to really solidifying the VIGOR program. We currently have a handful of long-term volunteers in various departments and offices at City Hall, but I’d really like to begin to organize larger groups of volunteers to tackle the city’s needs. For example, I’d really like to put together a group to participate in a cleanup day or a small construction project at a city facility. I think this summer will be a great opportunity to get out in the community more a meet with other nonprofits, neighborhood groups, universities, etc. and really begin to collaborate on such endeavors. Before that can happen, though, I need to double-down and work on creating materials such as pamphlets, brochures, PowerPoint presentations, etc. that will best represent my office and the work we hope to accomplish. -Nick Solari, AmeriCorps VISTA

To learn more about Nick’s position at City Hall, visit the Volunteers in Government of Responsibility (VIGOR) program page at: http://www.cityofno.com/pg-128-3.aspx. 

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Notes from the field from the AmeriCorps VISTA team at Tulane University.

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