June 11th, 2012
Huffington Post Black Voices
By Gia Hamilton (Gris Gris Lab, New Orleans)
Applied & Visual Anthropologist Gia M. Hamilton IS The Off The Grid Socialite
The Off the Grid Socialite, is a socially and ecologically conscious individual, she is a mother who cares about her children’s environment, health and wellbeing, she also enjoys intellectual sparring, arts and cultural events, a good medicinal cocktail while dressing up and taking advantage of all the city life as an urbanite has to offer. She loves to garden, sew, design, write, paint, ponder, create, study human nature and culture, do it yourself and believes that having an off the grid house in the middle of the city would be her safe haven.
It is not enough that I am bold enough to bring a child into this chaotic world, but three, well now that’s just downright obscene. I will add that more than eyebrows raise when I talk about possibly having more… “Children?” I am asked. My response is always the same, “Why yes, of course, I love being a parent… it’s the hardest most rewarding job I’ve ever had and I do it for free!”
So while my sarcasm annoys most, there are those few, and only a few who seem interested enough to engage in further conversation about this particular subject. I could go on for days about how we live in one of the most “child un-friendly” places in the world, or how single mothers are scrutinized and judged but I have lots of time to do that, especially if they keep publishing this blog.
In the United States more people are looking for alternative options and choices to creating family structures and lifestyles that fit their own needs. I own and run a business that is all about lifestyle design called Gris Gris Lab — ( pronounced gree gree). Gris Gris Lab is a Holistic Consulting Group & Creativity Lab that develops lifestyle design services and products to support sustainable communities. We use a process called Social Magic that I developed over a ten year period to coach our clients into alignment, We consult, coach, curate and connect our clients we say …“New Orleans style”. We are based in the Big Easy, the city that care forgot, the city where your houses can be as colorful as your personality and nobody blinks, where originality is applauded and culture is honored. It is unlike any other American city. My work is focused in three areas food and wellness, education and arts and culture, our business model states that when these 3 areas are valued that we as a community have the opportunity to create a sustainable cities. There are children in those communities and that is where the informant becomes the subject, where my own life becomes an example to be analyzed, thought about, written about. I have a live work space, a shotgun double as they say in New Orleans, two houses side by side, conjoined in a way that allow a single shot from a shot gun to go into the front door and clear out of the back.
Gia M. Hamilton is an applied anthropologist and native of New Orleans, Louisiana. She is the founding director of Gris Gris Lab, Inc., a holistic consulting group and creativity lab that explores issues of community building and sustainability through art and culture, education, urban agriculture, urban planning and the intersection of these industries in areas across the United States. For the past thirteen years Hamilton has applied her training by re-organizing niche community groups using Social Magic, a process developed to assess, engage and facilitate change. “Social Magic, put simply is the ability of the community to effectively utilize and leverage the resources and assets already present.”
Hamilton’s most recent projects as the ethnographer and curator of The Black Boy Experiment include an in depth cross cultural and multidisciplinary study and visual analysis of the childhood differences of black male youth. Hamilton studied cultural anthropology at New York University and Applied Anthropology at CUNY Graduate Center. She and her Social Magicians can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on twitter @grisgrislab