To Whom It May Concern:
I first made the acquaintance of Michael Dingler (whom I know as Rex) and his organization NoLARising back in September, 2007, while doing some research for a college course in my own hometown, Tucson, Arizona. Rex had posted a few notices on the website craigslist.org to promote the early work of NoLA Rising, before it became the endearing art movement it is today. Rex had the unassuming belief that if he offered public words of encouragement to those souls striving to eke out a life in post-Katrina New Orleans, that perhaps he could buoy his community and help everyone work towards a happier, and decidedly healthier future.
In my own project, I held the belief that those signs we all see everyday--lost pet posters and announcements for community events among them--had a lasting impact on the community, that the authors of those signs were imparting communiques filled with hope, creativity, honesty and an often unrealized request to connect with other members of their communities. Rex, and NoLARising at large, seemed to prove this very assertion.
Rex and I formed a quick and easy friendship, and I'd like to even call it something more akin to a collaboration. He was instrumental during the early phase of my own project, thoughtfully providing me with all the proof I needed for my coursework but also educating me to the everyday realities faced by a largely forgotten population in the Crescent City. As friendships often do, it led me to a new network of artists (and friends) in a city which has always called to me for no particular reason. New Orleans is certainly a truly American city, where diversity and art and culture mingle and have helped to cement it as a unique outpost unlike any other across this nation.
It would be easy to fly off on a tangent about the recent challenges to pop up in front of Rex and all those involved with NoLARising, but it is my hope (and faith-filled belief) that the actions taken by a certain city-approved contractor will immediately be seen for the ridiculousness and danger-filled idiocy that they are. I cannot imagine any bureaucracy where Mr. Radtke's action will be seen as sanctioned, authorized or welcomed in any sense. I can see where his original intention may have been a step in the right direction, but he long ago wandered off that path and drifted towards a willful destruction of public and private property, and of personal and community spirit.
Even though I have yet to set foot in New Orleans, I feel I have a stake in its future and this is absolutely, 100% because of Rex's efforts to preserve that uniqueness that all Americans hold dear, regardless of where our legal addresses keep us anchored. Rex is nothing less than an ambassador and he has the global support to back up this notion. I encourage you to take a stroll through NoLARising's web/blogsite to get a feel for how extensive this support is, to see for yourself that Rex is doing the impossible: he's building a community of creativity and compassion, one person at a time.
I would be happy to discuss this further should you have any questions for me.
S. E., Owner/Photographer (I have abbreviated her name for this post)
Gracie Shoots Photography
---Thank you! ReX salutes!