NolaVie laisse les bons temps rouler

NolaVie is self-described life and culture blog in New Orleans – so the month of Feburary was a busy time for the site. NolaVie implemented a special section of their site to organize their 25+ Mardi Gras stories, ranging from King’s Cake cocktail recipies to photo galleries from some lucky float riders. Other articles like Five tips for making better bad Mardi Gras decisions showed that NolaVie was willing to report on the more debaucherous side of Mardi Gras.


NolaVie co-founder Renee Peck live-tweeted the event, proving that journalism in New Orleans can be one of the most fun jobs around.

Visit their website to see the photo gallery.


Ten Partners and Pop-up Events

After its first full year, has partnership agreements with ten New Orleans cultural and arts groups, a discrete website and a page on The Times Picayune’s

And the newspaper in late 2011 has now agreed to reverse publish some of the stories appearing on NolaVie in its printed editions.

The arts groups provide money and content in exchange for increased visibility. For example, employees at Nola Art House Music contribute pieces about jazz to NolaVie. The two partnered to host a holiday jazz concert in December 2011 and teamed up to host another jazz performance in January 2012.

Other creative events NolaVie has dubbed “pop ups.”


NolaVie, Busy Behind the Scenes

Exciting news: NolaVie, an arts and culture site for New Orleans, will premiere online Feb. 21.  It’s amazing how many meetings, lunches, coffee dates and decisions go into connecting the dots in a project like this. 

As site creators, we have been meeting almost daily with possible contributors and potential partners – everyone from the editor of the local paper to a mover-and-shaker in the marketing world, to a host of 20-somethings who have moved in after Katrina determined to make an impact. We’re even working with fellow New Media Women Entrepreneur awardee Retha Hill on providing content for her black history mobile application. More on that in a moment. 

Pulling together all of these loose threads and weaving them into a compelling tapestry is proving to be part juggling act and part the power of persuasion.

As the site launch approaches, we are collecting names and email addresses at so users can receive word as soon as the site is up and running.  Meanwhile, we have a number of concrete achievements to report behind the scenes.


Looking for A Dance Partner


I’m the type who plans a dinner party, and then obsesses over whether anyone will come. So when a good friend and former colleague, Sharon Litwin, asked me if I would help her start a new web site, my first worry wasn’t the obvious one – My God! Start a WEB SITE? Are you KIDDING? Do you know how much WORK that will be? Rather, it was one based on my own particular neuroses: If we threw a web party, would anyone come?

It’s not, it turns out, a bad thing to ponder. One problem with the Internet is that there is too much of it. Anyone can pitch a tent, and, Google and Yahoo aside, it takes luck and perseverance to find a particular address in the wilderness. At last count, there were more than 650,000 individual art blogs on the Web.

We did not need to start another one.

But the concept of a community cultural web site resonated. New Orleans is a quirky place, where people embrace eccentricity and live their after-work hours with exuberance. There is much to revel in here, much to explore, and the idea took root of an online community peopled by the many and varied voices of the city. We’d offer a sort of digital salon, focusing not only on the arts, but also on local culture (with a lower-case c), a place where New Orleanians could meet, discuss, share ideas, be entertained, exchange views, find out about happenings. Besides, with print journalism becoming an endangered species, the move was on to save investigative reporting through online outlets such as Pro Publica, but a similar trend had not emerged for soft news. Having spent three decades covering TV, food, entertainment, home and garden and other under-appreciated but excessively popular feature subjects, I know their impact and importance. Call me the Queen of Fluff.

Still, the best way to start a web site, we agreed, was to begin with an established audience. And the New Orleans Web site with the strongest audience is The site is by far the dominant e-presence in the city, built around the articles, photos and videos from its print partner The Times-Picayune, but also offering an array of interactive features of its own, from user input to Saints updates to hurricane tracking maps. So we approached Director of Content James O’Byrne with a proposal for a partnership: We would build a community web site, and would serve as the portal to it.

He was intrigued, agreed to consider the idea … and NolaVie was born.


No Small Challenge

Putting a new website together and ensuring its content and financial sustainability is no small challenge. NolaVie founders and early supporters, having been honored with a grant from J-Lab, have met several times over the past weeks to discuss aspects of website design and content subject matter, as well as to put together a realistic business plan.

Receiving a grant has definitely pushed us “off the cliff” and into concerted action which, for us, means really establishing some “rules of the road” for content providers. Recent discussion have included a number of key questions: who are the key providers; how are they to be presented; how often can they be presented; how do we design a benefit package for organizational members; what are the intellectual property issues to be considered, what would be the most attractive benefits for organizational members, among many other issues.

On Thursday, July 15, 2010, a meeting was held of the trustees and members of Partnership for Action, the umbrella not-for-profit agency of NolaVie. While a number were out of town on vacation or business, more than 20 members appeared to hear and discuss the NolaVie project. After a thoughtful and exciting discussion, they endorsed the project and approved the new slate of officers nominated: Sharon Litwin, President (and co-founder of NolaVie); Renee Peck, Vice President (and co-founder of NolaVie); Jackie Sullivan, CPA, recently retired Deputy Director of the New Orleans Museum of Art, Treasurer; and Constance Charles Willems, attorney and honorary consul of the Netherlands in Louisiana, Secretary.