Story Mapping

A mash-up of art, history, and adventure…

A colleague of mine showed me the vortex that is the  Knight Lab’s Story Map creator. Although I am not particularly savvy about all things technology, my understanding is that it is a tool which allows you to map out stories using world maps or colossal images. Since I am both a writer and art historian, they had me at “story map.”  It’s also an awesome note-taking/research tool because you can add anecdotes or thoughts to landmarks, streets, or paintings.

Currently, I am using it to trace Viola’s next adventure through Paris but I could not resist returning to Florence. So, more than a few hours later, I now have a story map for Lost in the City of Flowers that gives each traveler a peek into the world of the young Leonardo da Vinci, grand cathedrals, and narrow streets of Renaissance Florence. I will let the Lost in the City of Flowers’ Story Map do the rest of the talking.

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Dreamy days sustained by salt water, samba, and soul sisters.

It’s that giddy feeling somewhere between extreme gratitude and nervous excitement.  You know the one. That’s how I felt, sitting in 34D, getting ready to take off at 6:30 am. As the months turn to years, I have less opportunities to enjoy the company of my favorite people, simultaneously, on this pale blue dot.

For one serendipitous reason after another, a few of the amazing girls I met in grad school, moved to the Big Easy.  Naturally, I am always looking for a reason to visit. Three weeks ago, when I received two unrelated phone calls, one from my younger sister, Teresa, and the second one from my friend Garima, letting me know they were going to NOLA in August, I immediately began my frantic search for a decent ticket. This collection of incredible women came together so naturally, I am not sure if we could have planned it better. Two window-seat-rides and twenty-something days later, I was loading my backpack into a veteran minivan packed with lovely lasses. Elation was the sensation that filled the car as we rolled by swampy landscapes, concrete suburbs, and risky advertisements.

Although this is my third trip to Nola, it surely won’t be the last. The city has a charm that I can only describe as Cajun. It’s an eclectic and savory medley of spices that’s difficult to separate. That said, I don’t return for the pralines, beignets, or spiked ice tea. Nor do I go for the hybrid architecture, creole dishes, or soul music. I go for Cristina, Leah, and Cari, the three magical girls that live there. They are all artists at heart but different manifestations of creativity. I met them, and Garima, in grad school. Our acquaintance has been shorter than others but it was love a first chat. There is something about a woman’s 20’s and 30’s. All that growing and changing makes for a more vulnerable person and more intimate interactions. Instead of that painful physical change of adolescence, this era is somewhat of a mental scavenger hunt for identity.

Despite being in Nola, we didn’t wander from one tipsy encounter to another. Although there was a bit of that, we spent our last steamy summer days cooking, eating, and confessing to the soundtrack of Leah’s records or banjo. We did do some more finite things too which I think is best told through a photo montage.


Iced baileys and cathedral.

Iced Bailey’s and Cathedral

Cristina Molina at Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans

Cristina Molina’s work at Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans











Record Session

Kim and Banjo

Bundi at

Samba Bundi