Farewell Lens and, soon, farewell New Orleans

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I recently finalized plans to leave New Orleans to continue my education. I will be attending the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University to pursue a master’s degree in public administration.

Classes will begin in August, and I will be leaving New Orleans sometime in June to spend some quality time with the family in Philadelphia while I look for the cheapest place I can live in New York.

I love this city and will be sad to leave it. That’s one of the reasons I’ve decided to relinquish my space at the Lens. I want to spend the last couple of weeks I have enjoying the people and places I’ve grown to adore. I want unwind before I have to pack up my apartment to reflect on my experiences here – my successes, my failures, how I’ve grown, and how much more growing up I still have to do.

I have grown absolutely certain that I need to add more tools to my utility belt if I’m ever going to be effective as an advocate for the causes I believe in.

That two of the major public issues I’ve been most concerned with over the last few years – the failed criminal justice system and the misguided plan to demolish Lower Mid-City for the LSU/VA – have reached important nexuses makes this seem like a good time to declare some sort of proverbial full-circle. In one area, the NOPD, there is about to be an all-hands-on-deck reform effort. In the other, Lower Mid-City, city and state officials are following through with the complete destruction of a community I worked hard to preserve.

And so I embark on my quarter-life memoirs in miniature, but where it all began, at my personal blog, We Could Be Famous. I don’t plan to continue that forum once I leave for school, but during my last few weeks in New Orleans, I may occasionally describe some of the feelings and ideas I have as I reconsider what I’ve done and consider where I’d like to go. I want to do my best to try to leave my readers with as much of my perspective on what I’ve experienced as they’re interested in learning. And I want to be able to express my gratitude, either there or individually, to the hundreds of New Orleanians who have taught me so much.

It has been genuinely gratifying to help launch The Lens, which has, I think, the potential to be absolutely integral to the local journalism collage. Obviously, the whole practice of journalism is in flux, and it has been an exciting honor to add to experimental startups like The Lens. I hope that New Orleanians continue to contribute their ideas and tips to it because The Lens cannot survive without the grassroots energy that has helped create what has grown to become an incredibly vibrant and increasingly powerful local online community.

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