The Fundamentals of Letter Writing | Hermann-Grima + Gallier Historic Houses

Do you miss the art of the handwritten letter?  Hermann-Grima/Gallier Historic Houses are hosting a workshop just for you!

In this two-hour class, Nancy Sharon Collins will instruct, discuss, and encourage participants to practice hand-writing personal notes and letters. Collins is the country’s leading expert on engraved social stationery and authored The Complete Engraver, a guide to monograms, crests, ciphers, seals, and the etiquette and history of social stationery. She’s a frequent subject of popular media such as Town & Country, Garden & Gun, Martha Stewart Wedding, Vogue, Veranda, The New York Times, and the WWNO/NPR show “Out to Lunch.”

The workshop is July 23 at 10 AM. Bring your own stationery and favorite writing instrument, be it gel pen or quill feather and ink bottle! Gallier House is located at 1132 Royal Street in the French Quarter.

Source: The Fundamentals of Letter Writing | Hermann-Grima + Gallier Historic Houses


For a French Quarter blog, this is a subject that must be covered. Anyone who watches the news or lives in or near the fancier areas of town has noted the outright racism shown by authorities to groups or individuals of color as they walk through these streets. And, we residents should also note the juxtaposition of all white faces of residents behind the gates as people of color walk in from Rampart at 6 am in kitchenwear, maid outfits and maintenance shirts to service our community. How many executive chefs are Creole anymore? How many of our gallery managers or front desk managers are anything but overwhelmingly white? How long do heroic statues of those who fought (and lost) a civil war to enslave their neighbors stand?

It matters because institutional racism limits access without thinking, discourages incentive and punishes those with the “wrong” color with bullets and beatings for simply walking, or driving with a broken tail light or for a million mundane activities that those of us with white faces do without thinking. As for the response of “just do what the cop says and you won’t get hurt” I hope Sandra Bland or Michael Brown are at least examples of how that is a lie, and now as of this week, our most recent neighbor Alton Sterling as seen in the horrifying videos shot by witnesses.

I promise my neighbors to always be a witness too.


Two local women talk about this issue below, both cut and pasted from their FB page.

 From local photographer Cheryl Gerber:

That awesome conversation that always goes south. That joke that makes you cringe. That Obama comment that goes way too far. As a white person growing up in the south, these things are all too common. If you grew up here, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I’ve had to examine my own prejudices and reprogram my thinking over a lifetime. I’m still learning. To my dear black friends, I’m sorry. I sorry for every time I didn’t speak up in the face of ignorance. I’m sorry I didn’t bring my black boyfriend to the company Christmas party because I was afraid of the backlash. And I’m sorry I didn’t feel more outrage when this continually happened before cellphone videos captured what you’ve been saying for years. I was young and programmed to be racist. I never hated anyone. But I didn’t understand white privilege and what my black friends were up against. But I can’t go back in time. I can only move forward. I’m teaching Kid G the complexities of racism and how to check himself. How to stand up and never be afraid to speak up in the face of racism. So far, I think I’ve done a good job. I have hope for the future. But right now I feel a sadness to the depths I’ve never known before. I was sad for Michael Brown and Freddy Gray and Eric Garner and all the others. But this time
It was in our backyard. Where racist policies are made. Where football fans fly purple and gold confederate flags. Where people publish hateful comments after a disaster. Where other mothers at the skate park feel so comfortable in our mutual whiteness that they can express their racist vitriol to me. I’m so glad I checked myself and my fears as a young woman. But it doesn’t seem like enough. I’m digging deep. I can’t stop hearing the cries of the woman who videotaped the shooting. Or the image of Alton’s 15-year-old son standing next to his crying mother at the press conference. Let justice be swift.


Tricia Boutté-Langlo Langevåg, Norway ·

 People always ask me, “Why did you move to Norway?” My initial response was, “It’s a beautiful country with a great social system, a fertile arts environment with great musicians and a stable future.” It’s become so much more than that over the past few years. One of the #1 reasons now, I FEEL, SAFE.Last year a lady in New Orleans asked me the same question and I gave her my standard response. She still didn’t get it. She said, “But it gets so cold there!” “Yea, but we have good winter clothes, warm, well insulated homes, oh, and the chances of a cop killing me for no reason, are basically nonexistent.” She was white. My statement made her uncomfortable. Good.
Norway isn’t perfect. No place is perfect, but I choose to be in a place where I have NEVER had a police officer follow me around in shops thinking I might be stealing something. I have NEVER been trailed by a police car waiting or hoping I forget to use a turn signal or make a full stop to have a “reason” to pull me over and kill me. I have NEVER been randomly targeted by law enforcement in any form in the country that I now call home. I FEEL, SAFE.
People, as a right of being human, deserve to FEEL SAFE. Especially from those who swore to protect and serve ALL CITIZENS EQUALLY.
Why does my hue make me expendable? Why is my brown a target?
My mother always told me, don’t stay in a place where you don’t feel welcome. I didn’t.

Pulse felt during Pride

13418929_811801882284763_8972675025183234397_n“Remembering that we only have this moment. Remembering that brothers and sisters sacrificed their lives for the freedoms we have today. Most of all to the souls who were taken away from us in Orlando we remember and honor you this weekend at 1239 Royal St.”

On “An Open Letter to the Tales of the Cocktail® Community”

I love this balanced letter linked at the end of this post from a true New Orleans visionary asking her event visitors to use conforming guest lodging. This is a very important letter to send out to as many folks as possible.
I do believe however, (and my unscientific poll of my neighbors seems to correspond with this) that there are two versions of unregulated STR scenarios and they need to be dealt with differently: those who offer extra rooms for rent while living there and the other of absentee owners kicking out long time residents and turning their hastily purchased properties into cash cows, not really caring who their users are and how they act while they are in town.

The second STR situation needs to be done away with and the only way it can be is through detailed regulations, fines levied because the neighbors are able to register real complaints that result in action and includes penalties that jeopardize homestead exemptions.The first type should have light regulations but high fines for  anyone skirting the rules of on-site owner STRs. Looks to me that small tweaks of existing STR rules in the city can be updated to add onsite single STRS, as long as they are maxed out at a certain number of days per year.

So, as usual my post is about how I want to urge that we stop lumping in all STRs in one no-no.

It is true that most STRS are currently illegal as they are not permitted. It is not criminal, but instead, a violation of city code or of zoning, just as the illegal use of a home for a pop up snowball stand or neighborhood tire repair or those side windows where folks sell poboys would be dealt with. I think this is important as some of the conversation has become slightly overwrought and angrily denounces the neighbor who offers a single room in their home.  A couple of other examples of illegal activity commonly seen in the city that few people know about: it was illegal for fishermen to sell seafood off their truck in Orleans Parish for many, many years. Every other parish allowed it (meaning they did not pass laws against it) but Orleans went through a time when seafood houses lobbied that they should be the ones selling seafood and shrimpers standing in the hot sun should not. This ordinance was passed for food safety reasons, but hurt occasional fishers and our ability to access really fresh shrimp and bycatch. It is also true that someone growing food under a few acres in New Orleans is not allowed to sell that produce on site. It is also true that farmers market vendors are not permitted by City Hall if they do not live in the parish. In most of these cases, the city has worked out some sort of agreement to allow it, but it is still non-conforming or illegal use.

And if it seems odd to think of some of that as not allowed, I like to think it will one day to seem odd that my neighbor or friend was not allowed to let her extra room out a few times per year.

Of course, when I bring up shrimpers selling off their truck, or poboy windows as examples of illegal behavior, there are those who go positively frothy at the mouth at the comparison. I do understand that there is a much larger danger in the unchecked nature of STRs that has never been equalled with shrimpers or cooler beer sales at a second line, but I think any of these ordinances can often have unintended consequences on entrepreneurial activity and so we need to consider all of it carefully as well as the ability of our city hall to enforce what is passed.

(I’d like to comment on the argument often heard that STRs don’t pay taxes when in fact they do receive a 1099 and must pay income tax. Of course, they also pay their property tax on their property as well, so let’s just not overstate that issue. It is true they don’t pay hotel tax, but the city website seems to indicate that many smaller b&bs don’t have to pay hotel privilege or sales tax if under a certain number of rooms or without private baths. Yes those b&bs pay many fees, taxes and have other costs, but collecting added taxes for a room or two over a few nights is a nonstarter of an argument in my book.)

Another topic that also makes some look at me as if I announced a ban on go cups and/or king cake: it is that I believe while we must examine STRs openly and critically, we should also look at the effect of hotel zones too and see if we can discourage the addition of more massive development of these and instead encourage more small hotels, b&bs and boarding houses across the city, owned by locals. I get that some people think this will become a giant loophole to drive STRs in to, but I believe that incentivizing small hotels and b&bs will have the opposite effect. The massive skyscraper hotels are detrimental to neighborhood life and offer very low numbers of good jobs. I myself worked in a few of those behemoths and was glad for the work, but to do so, I went to an area devoid of street life and locals and made a very low wage.  Let’s face it: most of these large places are owned by far-off corporations that take as many opportunities to reduce their costs as they can, including low pay and few taxes and offering less for their buck.
So one reason that many of these visitors are choosing STRs is because the hotel industry has not evolved to include the type of layout or amenities that visitors increasingly want. Whether it is for pleasure or for business, people travel differently than they did two decades ago and want to be able to avail themselves of more types of experiences. More people travel with their friends or extended family and need shared space for cooking or lounging that hotels do not yet provide. Or they would rather not be at the mercy of lowest denominator tourist traps or beholden to a small group of taxi services who, if you have ever tried to register a serious complain against one, often have little regard for their customers comfort.
My point is when we get rid of the majority of STRs, an action that I fully support, we also need to reconsider what hospitality means in the 21st century and how New Orleans can offer it without losing our neighborhoods. I want more locals making a little money off tourism as long as it is managed so as not to drive our residents away.

The rental market also needs incentives to reboot itself, such as one time tax credits for adding decent long term rentals, technical assistance to homeowners to become good landlords and fair sublet regulations for students and residents who travel for part of the year. The best kind of housing advocacy is being done by folks around town like Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative. This is the statement they added today:

JPNSI is concerned that thousands of housing units are being removed from residential use, particularly in our service area of Mid-City, which has seen a jump from 73 STRs in 2015 to 276 STRs in 2016- an increase of 278%. While we spoke out about how whole-house rentals are contributing to the housing crisis and displacement of residents, we also called for a strengthening of New Orleans’ notorious weak tenant laws that make it easy for landlords to evict tenants from housing, and recommend that a percentage of the monies generated by the permitting and regulation of STRs to be directed to the Neighborhood Housing Improvement Fund to support the development of affordable housing.

So I vigorously applaud the above and TOTC’s statement in favor of our gorgeous Monteleones, Roosevelts and Valentino-owned small Quarter hotels, but let’s try to get some balance and fair play to those neighbors who have the ability to offer a room or in wanting to legally add a small property for visitors along the Canal Streetcar line or out by the lakefront and legislate these uses for a small responsible number.

Source: An Open Letter to the Tales of the Cocktail® Community | Tales of the Cocktail