My name is Anne Zbitnew and as a Disability Studies major at Ryerson, I am learning that the person is not disabled. Socially constructed barriers (inaccessible architecture, injustice, prejudice and exclusion) disable and affect not only people with impairments but also all people who are marginalized, discriminated against and ignored because of race, class, sexual orientation, gender and status. I am also a photographer, visual storyteller and educator.
I have been to New Orleans 8 times. My first, and most memorable visit was in April 1993 for the Jazz Festival. My partner, Dave (the most compassionate person I know) and I ate and drank in the culture, music and romance of New Orleans and on April 27th, very impulsively, went to city hall and got married! We celebrate our anniversary in New Orleans as often as we can and our daughter, Hannah, 15, is a seasoned Jazz Fest participant. We usually stay in the French Quarter but have visited the 9th Ward and Algiers. I have captured many images of New Orleans, listened to great music, imbibed and consumed food and drinks, reserved rooms, studied the culture, contemplated social justice issues, experienced Jazz Fest, been charmed by architecture and cemetery tours, reacted to news of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the BP Oil spill and required assistance by locals. All these words have something to do with the word “take”. I have learned and taken so much from New Orleans and now it is time for me to give back, not just with my tourist dollars or with my skills as a storyteller but by working with a group, committed to rebuilding, reworking, reconstructing and helping because we are all in this together.
I am looking forward to working with all of you and experiencing New Orleans from another perspective. That’s me in the image, on the left with my little family.
– Anne Zbitnew