Welcome to the LiveWell Spotlight! Each month, we’ll showcase businesses, restaurants and people who are helping New Orleans live well.
Hit the Road: This community organization hosts run/walk events for fun and fitness.
Want to register for New Orleans’ next road race? NOLARunning.com makes it easy. Chuck George, a 30-year veteran of the road race industry and the founder of New Orleans Running Systems, started the website about three years ago. “What we do primarily is produce run/walk events open to the public for health, fitness, fun and enjoyment,” George says.
In addition to offering New Orleanians lots of opportunities to get outside and get fit, New Orleans Running Systems partners with charities and other organizations to benefit both local and national causes. Races that George directs, or with which he’s affiliated, have raised more than $1 million annually for charities, including Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Children’s Hospital and the New Orleans Mission.
It’s never too late to start running — and, George points out, all you need is a pair of shoes. If you’re looking for a social fitness event this month, consider signing up for one of New Orleans Running Systems’ three April races. The United Way of St. Charles’ Bridge Run/Walk takes place on April 5 and offers both 5K and 10K options for interested participants, while Metairie Cemetery’s “A Run Through History” occurs completely within the bounds of the historic cemetery. The race benefits Save Our Cemeteries, and offers one-mile and 5K options. “It’s just such a historic and nationally recognized landmark, and people love to run [the race] because it’s so unique,” George says. “The benefit is just so extremely important.” In addition, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. co-sponsors the April 27 “Run, Forrest, Run” event in the French Quarter, which benefits Children’s Hospital.
This year, George will reach a milestone: 1,000 road races directed. Why not come out and be a part of one of them? nolarunning.com
The More You Grow: Help build our local food economy — and eat healthier in the process.
The New Orleans Food & Farm Network wants you to know what it’s working on — and since the nonprofit has been supporting urban agriculture projects in the city since 2002, it’s high time to learn a little more. NOFFN serves to fill in the gap between New Orleans’ existing farmers market system and a lack of “food security,” or access to fresh food, in lower-income neighborhoods.
“Growing food close to home is probably the most direct way of having increased food access for people with limited means,” explains NOFF executive director Sanjay Kharod. To that end, the organization tackles local food systems from the top down, supporting the growth of farms, orchards and neighborhood initiatives, along with training and educating farmers. One of NOFFN’s first post-Katrina projects was creating a “food map” so that residents returning after the storm could find food sources. “It became the first ‘food desert’ map,” Kharod says, referring to the large swathes of New Orleans where there is no fresh food easily available for purchase — though he sees the now-popular “desert” term as a misnomer, since it refers mainly to supermarkets and overlooks many of the projects NOFFN supports.
In addition, NOFFN’s “Living Lots NOLA” map pinpoints local sites where farmers may have the opportunity to grow produce. Especially since Katrina, there is an incredible amount of land sitting idle in the city; the owners of these blighted or vacant lots may not be aware of the spaces’ potential use as food-production resources. “The reality right now is that we have this abundance of land,” says Kharod, who is a planner and geographer by training. “We want [landowners] to consider leasing their land to a farmer for a short period of time.”
NOFFN is working on tracking the output of the many urban farming projects it works with, to show local landowners just how valuable their properties could be to New Orleans’ food economy. In addition, it’s recruiting farmers. “Right now, we don’t have enough production,” Kharod says. “Markets come to us all the time, saying, ‘We need farmers.’”
NOFFN takes cues from and works with a range of local-economy-focused organizations, including 596 Acres, Beacon of Hope Resource Center and the University of New Orleans’ Planning and Urban Studies department. “So much needs to be done in this city, and we need to try to learn from it and see if it works,” Kharod says. “And if it does, we need to see what else we can do.” noffn.org
Caring Touch: Massage therapist Leslie Mayer gets to the root of clients’ issues.
Originally from New Orleans, Leslie Mayer took a hiatus from her hometown to attend the Shiatsu Massage School of California in Santa Monica, where she learned massage techniques from “some of the best, top teachers,” she says.
After five years on the West Coast, Mayer felt it was time to return home. She began her massage therapy career focusing on shiatsu massage, and she has expanded her knowledge to several other modalities, including Swedish, deep tissue/myofascial release, hot stone massage and reflexology. Now, she works with massage clients at Salon Senoj Day Spa in Metairie.
Mayer’s approach to massage therapy is holistic. Along with encouraging clients to pay attention to nutrition and other aspects of whole-body health, she takes a customized approach to each session, gauging a client’s needs and relying on her knowledge of different modalities to create an effective hands-on treatment. “A typical massage for me is a combination of Swedish and deep tissue,” she says.
She also uses aromatherapy and teaches clients breathing techniques to ease them into deeper relaxation and muscle release. Through her roster of repeat clients, Mayer’s gift speaks for itself. salonsenojdayspa.com