+
Most Shared

These incredible portraits capture the New Orleans many never see.

True
New Orleans Tourism

When Claire Bangser first moved to New Orleans, she lived in a small cupboard under the stairs.

Well, not exactly.

But she actually did live in a closet at her friend’s apartment for six months. Luckily it was a spacious closet (it had a window!), and it only cost a whopping $100 to rent.


Six years later, Bangser still calls New Orleans home. Much to her surprise, what started out as a simple visit to see friends turned into a love affair with a city she simply couldn’t leave — at least, not for long.

Photo via Claire Bangser, used with permission.

After a brief trip abroad, one thing was certain: For Bangser, there was no place quite like New Orleans.

Inspired by the grit and charm of the city, she began diving deeper into the arts when she returned to NOLA.

A "creative wanderer," Bangser had first dabbled in stop-motion videos and graphic design, though she ultimately decided photography was her true calling. After all, she had fallen in love with the medium when she was just a kid after her grandfather showed her how to use his camera when she was about 12. She had even built a darkroom in her house to sustain her passion.

[rebelmouse-image 19532758 dam="1" original_size="750x500" caption=""It was the first time I felt guarded and safe and protected. She just did that without me asking for it." Photo by Claire Bangser/NOLA Beings." expand=1]"It was the first time I felt guarded and safe and protected. She just did that without me asking for it." Photo by Claire Bangser/NOLA Beings.

But it was while she was at a cafe in New Orleans with her friend that she thought of starting an Instagram account for her photography work. She was inspired by the popular series Humans of New York and wanted to create something of her own, something that captured what it was she loved so much about this city she now called home. So, she createdNOLA Beings.

Since then, Bangser has conducted thousands of interviews and captured countless photos of the people she’s met in NOLA.

"I began using my camera as an excuse to talk to people," she says. "There’s just so many characters down here that it’s hard not to be curious."

Then, she'd publish the photos on the Instagram account for NOLA Beings alongside a telling quote from their conversation.

[rebelmouse-image 19532759 dam="1" original_size="750x500" caption=""He opens the door for almost everybody, even men sometimes, which I feel is a little awkward. I guess I taught him too well!" Photo by Claire Bangser/NOLA Beings." expand=1]"He opens the door for almost everybody, even men sometimes, which I feel is a little awkward. I guess I taught him too well!" Photo by Claire Bangser/NOLA Beings.

And from there, NOLA Beings changed Bangser's life. Not only did she become a full-time photographer and storyteller, but it also transformed her relationship to the city.

The more she explored and talked with people one-on-one, the more she realized her original perception of the city was a very stereotypical one.

Like most, she knew about the fun festivals, parades, beignets, and gumbo. But after living in New Orleans and having actual conversations with neighbors, she began to put together a sort of  "patchwork quilt" of the city’s exciting diversity.

[rebelmouse-image 19532760 dam="1" original_size="750x500" caption=""That's why we're here with our family. We love this country. That's all we can say." Photo by Claire Bangser/NOLA Beings." expand=1]"That's why we're here with our family. We love this country. That's all we can say." Photo by Claire Bangser/NOLA Beings.

It’s a city rooted in a colorful history that centers around Africans, Native Americans, and European settlers from France and Spain. That myriad and exposure of cultures has strongly influenced everything from the architecture to the food.

So while working on NOLA Beings, Bangser wanted to make sure she was always working to do justice in telling the authentic narrative of the city and its people.

"I feel like NOLA Beings kind of became my way of doing something for the city that was my little lens into the wild range of wonderful, diverse stories that existed here that were not the mainstream narrative," she said.

"It made me want to stay and be part of it. And it made me want to contribute to it," Bangser adds.

She started setting aside time to focus solely on exploring the city and taking photos. "I really believe that wandering around this city is the most magical way to find your truth here," she explains.

[rebelmouse-image 19532761 dam="1" original_size="750x500" caption=""To come out here ... it took a lot of practice." Photo by Claire Bangser/NOLA Beings." expand=1]"To come out here ... it took a lot of practice." Photo by Claire Bangser/NOLA Beings.

A far cry from the closet where her journey began, she now finds that New Orleans is a city best experienced by sharing.

"I began to just see the wide range of characters and people who are coming from all over the place because something drew them to the city," she explains.

Characters like Dale, the elderly black man and longtime resident of the Ninth Ward who she befriended and now regularly walks with.

"He showed me and told me about what it used to be like there and really painted a picture for me of what that neighborhood was like to him," Bangser says.

"I didn’t have the ability to see that neighborhood in the way that he sees it," she explains, "but he opened himself up to show it to me."

[rebelmouse-image 19532762 dam="1" original_size="750x1125" caption=""I have to be here... it just feels right." Photo by Claire Bangser/NOLA Beings." expand=1]"I have to be here... it just feels right." Photo by Claire Bangser/NOLA Beings.

And that's what NOLA Beings is all about — offering glimpses into a city and the everyday people who make it so remarkable.

New Orleans may be best known for the food, the lively celebrations, the music, and the architecture. But for Bangser, it's the people she meets that make New Orleans unforgettable.

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

Keep ReadingShow less
Architectural Digest/Youtube

This house was made with love.

Celebrity home tours are usually a divisive topic. Some find them fun and inspirational. Others find them tacky or out of touch. But this home tour has seemingly brought unanimous joy to all.

“Stranger Things” actor David Harbour and British singer-songwriter Lily Allen, whose Vegas wedding in 2020 came with an Elvis impersonator, gave a tour of their delightfully quirky Brooklyn townhouse for Architectural Digest, and people were absolutely loving it.

For one thing, the house just looks cool. There’s nothing monotone or minimalist about it. No beige to be seen.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Buffy Sainte-Marie shares what led to her openly breastfeeding on 'Sesame Street' in 1977

The way she explained to Big Bird what she was doing is still an all-time great example.

"Sesame Street" taught kids about life in addition to letters and numbers.

In 1977, singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie did something revolutionary: She fed her baby on Sesame Street.

The Indigenous Canadian-Ameican singer-songwriter wasn't doing anything millions of other mothers hadn't done—she was simply feeding her baby. But the fact that she was breastfeeding him was significant since breastfeeding in the United States hit an all-time low in 1971 and was just starting to make a comeback. The fact that she did it openly on a children's television program was even more notable, since "What if children see?" has been a key pearl clutch for people who criticize breastfeeding in public.

But the most remarkable thing about the "Sesame Street" segment was the lovely interchange between Big Bird and Sainte-Marie when he asked her what she was doing.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to run their YouthLine teen crisis hotline

“Each volunteer gets more than 60 hours of training, and master’s level supervisors are constantly on standby in the room.”

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to man YouthLine teen crisis hotline

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Mental health is a top-of-mind issue for a lot of people. Thanks to social media and people being more open about their struggles, the stigma surrounding seeking mental health treatment appears to be diminishing. But after the social and emotional interruption of teens due the pandemic, the mental health crises among adolescents seem to have jumped to record numbers.

PBS reports that Oregon is "ranked as the worst state for youth mental illness and access to care." But they're attempting to do something about it with a program that trains teenagers to answer crisis calls from other teens. They aren't alone though, as there's a master's level supervisor at the ready to jump in if the call requires a mental health professional.

The calls coming into the Oregon YouthLine can vary drastically, anywhere from relationship problems to family struggles, all the way to thoughts of self-harm and suicide. Teens manning the phones are provided with 60 hours of training and are taught to recognize when the call needs to be taken over by the adult supervisor.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Mom shares her brutal experience with 'hyperemesis gravidarum' and other moms can relate

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a severe case of morning sickness that can last up until the baby is born and might require medical attention.

@emilyboazman/TikTok

Hyperemesis gravidarum isn't as common as regular morning sickness, but it's much more severe.

Morning sickness is one of the most commonly known and most joked about pregnancy symptoms, second only to peculiar food cravings. While unpleasant, it can often be alleviated to a certain extent with plain foods, plenty of fluids, maybe some ginger—your typical nausea remedies. And usually, it clears up on its own by the 20-week mark. Usually.

But sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes moms experience stomach sickness and vomiting, right up until the baby is born, on a much more severe level.

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), isn’t as widely talked about as regular morning sickness, but those who go through it are likely to never forget it. Persistent, extreme nausea and vomiting lead to other symptoms like dehydration, fainting, low blood pressure and even jaundice, to name a few.

Emily Boazman, a mom who had HG while pregnant with her third child, showed just how big of an impact it can make in a viral TikTok.

Keep ReadingShow less

The cast of TLC's "Sister Wives."

Dating is hard for just about anyone. But it gets harder as people age because the dating pool shrinks and older people are more selective. Plus, changes in dating trends, online etiquette and fashion can complicate things as well.

“Sister Wives” star Christine Brown is back in the dating pool after ending her “spiritual union” with polygamist Kody Brown and she needs a little help to get back in the swing of things. Christine and Kody were together for more than 25 years and she shared him with three other women, Janelle, Meri and Robyn.

Janelle and Meri have recently announced they’ve separated from Kody. Christine publicly admitted that things were over with Kody in November 2021.

Keep ReadingShow less