Thursday, October 11, 2007

New Orleans ~ its a complicated place

Today, my first in New Orleans, was a very busy and intense day. I came away from the day with a lot of confusion. This is an incredibly complicated situation down here that didn't start with the hurricane--the hurricane added another layer.

Many here, volunteers and residents, feel the city used the hurricane to evict an undesirable population.

what's been left behind remind me of grave sites

stairs and paths that lead nowhere anymore.

Common Ground Relief in L9

Zeraph (aka Brandon) my escort and wetlands
project coordinator at Common Ground.

On visiting the Lower Ninth Ward one can only stare and wonder what is going on here. Vast flat fields resembling long neglected graveyards, driveways that go nowhere and slabs of cement with steps for no one. There is a strange beauty. The large trees that have survived dominate the landscape.

A wildwest quality vibrates in the energy there. One can feel a tension and law-less-ness and an anything could happen feeling. This has attracted scores of mostly young people to volunteer in the lower 9th for what appears to be a loosely organized agency called Common Ground Relief. I got to hang with a couple of the volunteers today while working on a water collection system. Of the group I met, all have been on and off, long term, volunteers and were not into living any kind of mainstream lifestyle.

The Common Ground ar
ea in the Lower 9th is comprised of about 7 or so buildings that are leased by the agency and house the volunteers, as well as a dining area, a donated clothing area, a small tree farm and plant nursery. There are numerous projects going on at any given time.

One of the wierd-er things is seeing the tour buses go through the area. Some stop, people get off and briefly look around while others just roll slowly through.

Volunteers at Common Ground getting
ready to assemble a rainwater collection system

Three completely destroyed houses that are inexplicably
left standing while perfectly good homes have been demolished.

Its hard to describe all the destruction here. In the Holy Cross neighborhood which is also a part of the lower 9th, there are more houses still left standing whereas on the other side of the lower 9th there are very very few.

Holy cross is also the site of the Global Green Housing development. We stopped by and had a visit with one of the workers who was a friend of Brandon's. I was under the impression that this was a great project but now I am not so certain. He pointed out that while it sounded good, the up keep on the house was so beyond what anyone from that area would be able to keep afford. He also pointed out this is a million dollar home going up in the most dangerous area of any place in the US. It started to seem like less of a good idea to me. I will try to follow-up on this latter.

Finishing construction on the Global Green House
in the
Holy Cross neighborhood .


School children listen to a wetlands presentation

Today we also visited the John Dibert school in mid-city. Brandon assisted while Colleen made a presentation to groups of 2nd, 3rd and 4 th graders on what a wetlands is and the importance of the wetlands. The kids LOVED IT! It was so fun and I loved it too! The kids were really funny. Its so important that the wetlands are preserved.

Thats all for now folks.

I will try to have some stuff posted here tomorrow from paintings sites.

Best always, Suzanne


Anonymous said...

beautiful & touching. I wish everyone could read your blog.

Suzanne Campbell Anderson said...

Thanks--tell everyone you know and maybe more will.

zeraph said...

what a great blog post. good job! i love you.