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Mass Communication professor rediscovers Detroit

March 9, 2012

Andrew Nelson, Loyola University New Orleans visiting professor of mass communication, is not only a teacher and a publicist for the National WWII Museum, he's also an accomplished travel writer, penning stories for Copley News Service, The New York Times, San Francisco Magazine and Ready Made for the last 12 years. He’s trekked through Europe, explored Washington’s Olympic Peninsula and slept on the edge of an active volcano in New Guinea.

Nelson got his start following the September 11 terrorist attacks, when the fear of flying on commercial airlines forced Americans to look for other modes of transportation for their travel needs. Nelson was hired by National Geographic Traveler to crisscross the country by riding the rails on Amtrak, reintroducing many Americans to the exploration of rail travel.

Nelson chronicled his latest adventure in a feature article for National Geographic Traveler, and was sent to a not-so-exotic locale, which many people would never think to visit – Detroit.

"I'm originally from Detroit, so writing this piece had a special resonance for me,” Nelson said. “My memories then were a child's: a busy city of big adults, the smell of water from the Detroit River and the coolness of tree-shaded grass. Rediscovering my hometown through the eyes of an adult made me appreciate it all the more."

"Contributing writer Andrew Nelson found the Motor City's new spirit," says Traveler Editor-in-Chief Keith Bellows. "He's a talented reporter and writer who always captures the essence of the places he covers for us. 'Rise and Shine Detroit' is no exception. His is an insightful look at a troubled city's first green shoots of renewal."

According to the article, after decades of steady and noticeable decline, Detroit is turning things around. In many ways, Nelson says the Motor City and the Crescent City are traveling a similar, although challenging, road back to respectability.

“There's a spirit in Detroit that's both tough and soulful. Like New Orleans, the Motor City experienced its own 'hurricane' (in Detroit's case, the collapse of the domestic auto industry) and like New Orleans, it proved too tough to just roll over and die,” Nelson said. “I think New Orleans can teach Detroit many things – how to believe in your homegrown culture, how to celebrate it, embrace your art and music and finally, how to root for your home team. Eventually they'll be champions.”

His next assignment will focus on exploring the American heartland, from big cities to small towns, finding out what makes people tick and documenting the diversity that makes the country so unique. According to Nelson, there’s no better place to start than right here in Louisiana.

“It's unlike any other state in the Union. Why is that? Why is Louisiana so popular now? Who would have ever thought New Orleans would be attracting computer gaming companies or that Shreveport would be the fictional setting for a hit TV show on vampires? The film industry has a lot to do with it, but there's something more happening here – a combination of both tradition and technology.”

For more information, contact Nelson at andrew.nelson.traveler@gmail.com or 504- 865-2333.

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Loyola at a Glance is written and distributed for the faculty, staff, students and friends of Loyola University New Orleans. It is published by the Office of Public Affairs, Greenville Hall, Box 909, 7214 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118. (504) 861-5888.

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