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Neighborhood Voices, Citywide Power September 2007

Issue #8 Volume 1

   

               

What’s Inside:           

           

 

   

NPN provides an inclusive and collaborative city-wide framework to empower neighborhood groups in New Orleans. Find out more at NPNnola.com Musicians Union Hall, 2401 Esplanade Ave. New Orleans, LA 70119 â—? Office 504-940-2207, Fax 504-940-2208 â—? thetrumpet@npnnola.com


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Hello! Welcome to an all-new packed issue of the Trumpet. This month, we’ve got some informative pieces from new contributors and some of the latest works from returning columnists. If you’ve seen the photos or our masthead, you’ve probably noticed our newest team members: Alethia Picciola and Edward Hornick, the magazine’s new managing editors (Alethia works in layout and photography, Ted handles editing and keeps our writers happy). Don’t worry about what happened to the old guy; Travis has been upgraded to our Editorial Board in between his graduate studies at UNO.

Ted Hornick and Alethia Picciola Managing Editors Max Goldstein Assistant to the Editors Ted Hornick and Alethia Picciola

Emily Zeanah Editorial Services Gill Benedek Distribution and Publishing

Since NPN’s inception, we have prided ourselves on helping people by connecting them to each other. The Trumpet has been an invaluable resource for that goal by receiving the writing, art and souls of people and ensuring that they have an audience. Now, with our first ever editorial shift, the newspaper finds itself in the challenging position of adapting to new problems while retaining a distinct spirit for original solutions.

NPN provides an inclusive and collaborative city-wide framework to empower neighborhood groups in New Orleans.

As we grow in the months to come, you may notice some changes in your beloved “new and different monthly neighborhood newspaper.” Regardless of how you feel about them, we want to hear about it! The Trumpet has and always will be written for you and by you, and it’s only by hearing what you do and don’t want to see in it that we can hope to get it right.

Find out more at NPNnola.com EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Timolynn Sams AMERICORPS VISTA

Jules Goins

Write early and write often.

Dear Readers: There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. This is the very phrase that I repeated constantly while temporarily living in Charlotte, NC. Like Dorothy in OZ I knew that my life on the yellow-brick road and the comfort of the ruby red slippers wasn’t the joy of street cars, crawfish, and snowballs. How excited I was June 18th to return to MY beloved city and, to top it all off, enjoy the music and festivities of Audubon Zoo’s Soul Fest.

Timolynn Sams

Mario Perkins

Physical submissions on paper, CD, etc. cannot be returned unless an arrangement is made. Submissions may be edited and may be published or otherwise reused in any medium.

Phil Costa, Board Chair City Park Neighborhood Association

By submitting any notes, information or material, or otherwise providing any material for publication in the newspaper, you are representing that you are the owner of the material, or are making your submission with the consent of the owner of the material, all information you provide is true, accurate, current and complete. Non-Liability Disclaimers

Two years ago, a twister called Katrina hit New Orleans and tore the band-aid off of an awful wound. The sad truth is that, even before that, New Orleans was not the city it was supposed to be. Whether it was increasing crime, damaged roads or decreasing education, the city was not what the citizens who have lived in it and loved it know that it can be. And now, after the storm, we’re getting stronger and healthier, but I know and you know that we cannot heal without more time, love and attention. It is my hope that through NPN and the Trumpet, we can educate, entertain and give y’all a place to not only click your heels and dream about what New Orleans might have been, but to help New Orleans grow bigger and brighter than those dreams.

The Trumpet may contain facts, views, opinions, statements and recommendations of third party individuals and organizations. The Trumpet does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement or other information in the publication and use of or reliance on such advice, opinion, statement or other information is at your own risk. Copyright

There’s no place like home. Timolynn Sams, Executive Director, Neighborhoods Partnership Network Cover: National Guard members lead citizens of the Ninth Ward across the Industrial Canal where only two years ago a barge crashed, causing the Ninth Ward to flood. This was one of the many marches that took place on the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Photo by Alethia Picciola

is online @ NPNnola.com

AMERICORPS VOLUNTEER

Third Party Submission Issues

Copyright 2007 Neighborhoods Partnership Network. All Rights Reserved. Any copying, redistribution or retransmission of any of the contents of this service without the express written consent of Neighborhoods Partnership Network is expressly prohibited.

FOUNDING BOARD MEMBERS

Patricia Jones, Board Treasurer Executive Director, NENA Lower 9th Ward Deborah Langhoff Steering Committee District 5 Lakeview, Lake Vista Neighborhood Association Amy Lafont Mid-City Neighborhood Association Latoya Cantrell President, Broadmoor Improvement Association Lynn Aline Baronne Street Neighborhood Association Dorian Hastings Project Manager, Central City Renaissance Julius Lee Pine Timbers Neighborhood Improvement Association Victor Gordon Pontilly Neighborhood Association Kim Henry Oak Park Neighborhood Association


EDITORIALS

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NPN’S THE TRUMPET

Office Space For Lease – Parkway Partners 1137 Baronne Street, New Orleans, LA 70113

$ (% )) !' * *'$&+ ,*!-To whom it may concern: Last Saturday, and for five more Saturdays at 4 p.m., there was, is and will be so called "music concerts" in Washington Park. Across the street, there is Christopher Inn Apts., where a large amount of senior citizens live and try to live in peace. Some are infirm, some are very old and cannot take the LOUD concerts in Washington Park. I have heard many negative comments on this intrusion in their lives. Also, there is a Catholic Mass at 4 p.m. every Saturday. Which is sacrilegious!! Is there anyone in New Orleans who has the power to bring this to a screeching halt? Thank you, A serious citizen at Christopher Inn Apts.

)  ) )   ). . !   Mr. Sullivan hit the nails on the heads in his recent article “Class, Color, Caste and Culture.� His timing was perfect in regard to boardroom thugs and the past few days’ current announcements regarding city officials. Hope the FBI continues to investigate everyone with power of authority in sustaining the rebuild of Orleans. He [Mr. Sullivan] is correct, street thugs do not care. Boardroom thugs do not care either. The Trumpet is a great publication that truly reflects the truth in freedom of speech. Keep the truth flowing, K. Butler

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504-620-2224 OFFICE

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TOTAL 1,170.00 Common areas include: Kitchen area, conference room, bathroom and alarm service. Tenant is responsible for phone service, internet access, office equipment, and janitorial service of personal office space. Included in the rent is office furniture. PACKAGE DEAL: Suite office space A & B and Receptionist Area: $1,100.00

+. ) *   '  ,/ Public/Private Ventures and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation announce planning grants of up to $50,000 with the possibility of up to $300,000 in additional funds to seed the start-up of alternative staffing organizations in Louisiana’s Gulf Coast Region. The Alternative Staffing Organizations will provide temporary, direct-hire, short-term, long-term and permanent employment to people facing barriers to employment. Non-profit or government organizations with a track record of service of a minimum of four years, including new organizations with roots within an established entity, and a budget of at least $500,000 are encouraged to apply.

Write, Submit, Share Your Story! Event, Poem, Neighborhood Update Opinion, or Advertisement Contact us with submissions or comments Email: thetrumpet@npnnola.com or call 504-940-2207 Write to us at The Trumpet, 2401 Esplanade Ave. New Orleans, LA 70119 Submission Guidelines: An article in doc, txt, html or any other format. Any photos and credits of photographer. Contact information such as name, telephone #, e-mail address, neighborhood/district affiliation, organization.

Please submit a letter of intent by September 24th, 2007 at 5 p.m. Central Time according to the guidelines specified in the RFP at: http://www.ppv.org/ www.ppv.org/ ppv/workforce_development/workforce_development_initiatives.asp? section_id=5&initiative_id=41

      Wednesday, Sept. 19 6 p.m. — 8 p.m. Chapel of the Holy Comforter 2220 Lakeshore Drive Come to the forum to learn more about renters’ rights in New Orleans.


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NeighborhoodVoices NeighborhoodVoices The Trumpet has no responsibility for the views, opinions and information communicated here. Each articles’ contributor(s) is fully responsible for content. In addition, the views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of the The Trumpet.

    

   Uma Nagendra NPN Emerita

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hose of us New Orleanians at out-of-state schools sit in a fairly complicated position. With colleges at the forefront of many volunteering efforts, the name of our hometown has a particular taste for our classmates. For them, it’s a good cause, a spring break trip; it’s a faraway disaster, but it isn’t a home. The New Orleans they want to help doesn’t feel like the New Orleans we knew, making conversations awkward. After participating in numerous promotional events, we get tired of having uncomfortable conversations with our classmates and eventually stop going. The profound difference in perspective creates a rift between the volunteers and the New Orleanians at school evident in public portrayals and advertising for Katrina Relief. For instance — In order to encourage classmates to volunteer or donate, the leaders of the Katrina Relief group posted a series of photos of a devastated New Orleans on the main campus walkway. A classmate of mine from New Orleans reported that she had to avoid that area for an entire week because the pictures incited too much emotion. She had been warned about the photo series, so she knew to avoid that part of campus. As she entered an academic building to attend class, however, she was confronted with a flyer at eye-level on the door depicting the rubble of a house moved off its foundation. The surprise was too much for her. Before the day was over, she had emailed the group’s organizers to petition for less graphic signs. The difference in point of view here is astounding. The signs and photo series were created to appeal to the vast majority of the school population—liberal-minded young people from anywhere but the south—for whom the shock of seeing broken buildings and flooded streets can be a valuable persuasive force. Caught in the bubble of exams and term papers, few college s tude nts would pa y a tte ntion to New Orlea ns if it were n’t taped a t

eye-level to their classroom door. The two or three New Orleanians at school saw the pictures in an entirely different light, however. While the shock factor was important for the rest of the students, we didn’t need to be re-acquainted with the destruction. What was necessary for them was excessive for us.

Being proud of them, however, doesn’t mean I feel comfortable in their programs. It’s surprisingly difficult to find a niche that allows me to both volunteer and maintain my identity as a New Orleanian. I tried it once—during my first winter break, I joined my school’s first Katrina Relief trip. Before the group even

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Though it seems we New Orleanians living in the far off lands of out-of-state college should each be engrossed in our schools’ Katrina activism—we know the place, we have a stake in its future—many of us shy away from the volunteer scene. Why? We don’t disagree with sending people to gut houses and we do want people to pay attention to the city and help our neighbors. I can only speak from my own experience, but it seems that regardless of how much we’d like to contribute while still at school, a significant rift in point of view separates us from working closely with our volunteer classmates. This awkwardness can be conquered with time. In my opinion, the largest obstacle is conflicts in perceptions not of our city but o f us a s r e s i de nts , vol unte e r s a nd s t ude nts . I’m privileged to go to a school where Katrina activism is still alive. I’m not complaining. In fact, I’m pretty proud of the winter, spring, and summer break trips, ongoing fundraisers, and informational sessions pulled together by my classmates, many of whom have no connection to New Orleans beyond volunteer work. They’ve worked even harder than I have on rebuilding my own city. In other places, New Orleans never enters the conversation, no one travels to gut houses, and artwork memorializing Katrina is even vandalized.

came down, I was set apart from the others as a resident and seen as a resource instead of a volunteer. I didn’t fly down with the rest of the group, I slept in my own house instead of a tent, and I drove to the site where they woke up each morning. When we first met up in town, no one in the group had considered that I would actually want to work with them any more than welcoming them to New Orleans. Outside of the city, there’s an overpowering perception of New Orleans residents as either victims or homegrown activists who serve as resources to incoming volunteers. Since the gross majority of winter and spring break volunteer workers are from out-of-state, it often appears being a volunteer means that you are an outsider. So while my classmates’ identities are solid as outside volunteers, we New Orleanians at school belong to both New Orleans and the rest of America as half-residents and halfoutsiders. Although I live in the city too short a time to consider myself a resource to others, I am adamantly opposed to the thought of

myself becoming an outsider to the city I’ve lived in my entire life. By associating with the volunteers at school, I feel that I’m aligning myself with the outsiders and losing my already shaky ties to the neighborhood. I could get over feeling awkward with time, but further distancing myself would be stepping too far. This is my story—to assume it applies to other New Orleanians living away from home would be foolish. The possibility that the blessing of out-of-state volunteers could inadvertently exclude another important group of young willing workers, however, is extremely unfortunate. The situation is, in fact, entirely unnecessary. There’s no need for anyone to assume that New Orleans residents can’t volunteer for someone else’s well-being. Why wouldn’t I want to work? Here in the city, New Orleans residents fill a diverse range of roles, volunteering more hours towards their neighborhoods’ recovery in their everyday existence than a whole team of spring breakers from Massachusetts. I wish the families whose houses I worked on that winter break didn’t have to be surprised to find out I was from New Orleans. If a specific niche doesn’t exist for us, we’ll have to make our own, and make it known that out-of-state New Orleanian students are ready to rebuild. Uma Nagendra is entering her sophomore year at Swarthmore University where she is studying comparative literature and biology. Uma spent the summer interning at NPN, and her favorite book is The Little Prince.


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Wasting Wetlands

These trees in Leeville, LA are dying due to saltwater intrusion because of dredging and sediment depletion. Trees are important to the wetlands in that they keep the marsh strong with its webbed root systems. Photo by Alethia Picciola

Aaron Viles Gulf Restoration Network

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rime, schools, healthcare, levees, insurance, corruption. Crescent city citizens have a lot to worry about as we go through our daily lives; at least if we care about the sustainability of the city we love. It's enough to send you into the nearest bar or realtor's office. As we labor through the sweet spot of hurricane season, let me underscore one more worry that may have slipped your mind: our coast. Yeah, you know we are losing our coastal wetlands and you may even know that we lose a football field's worth every 45 minutes. You know wetlands are the reason we've got famous seafood. Did you know we can blame the Corps of Engineers and the oil companies for the loss of the wetlands? Yeah, I thought so. How about this, did you know we lost 217 square miles of wetlands due to

the overactive hurricane season of 2005? And that's about half of what scientists had predicted, before August 2005, would take place over a 50-year period from 2000 to 2050, even though they had factored storms into their model? And how about that every threefour miles of healthy wetlands that a storm travels over knocks down storm surge by a foot? Add all those factoids together, a nd t hat ' s so me ba d mat h fo r New Orl e ans a nd Lo u i si ana' s co ast al co mmu ni t i es. At my organization, the Gulf Restoration Network, we have a saying: "Protect our wetlands, protect ourselves." Unfortunately, protecting and restoring these wetlands is a job that's beyond gutting houses and putting up sheetrock. A few church groups from the Midwest aren't really going to be able to make a dent in this one. We need to put the Mississippi River, and its fresh water and sediment, to work. We need the river to sustain and rebuild our coast. That's big engineering. That's big

expense. That ' s t he federal go vernment and t he U.S. Army Co rps o f E ngi neers (gul p). Louisiana coastal experts and the Corps have developed and are further developing the plans to sustain the coast. But plans are cheap – it's the actual projects and engineering that run to $50 billion. About two billion dollars in projects would be authorized by the current Water Resources Development Act (WRDA, say "WurDuh" if you want to sound like a D.C. insider). The problem dear reader, is that in a “Hail Mary” to recapture the right, President Bush has threatened to veto WRDA, citing its expense. He says pork, we say future of our region. Of course he also once said he would "do whatever it takes" to make New Orl eans and Sou t h Loui si ana ri se agai n. We're faced with a significant political challenge that despite hard work and the best of intentions (let alone federally marked cash in the freezer, a phone number on the DC Madame's speed dial,

and a staggering road home shortfall) Louisiana's congressional delegation won't be able to tackle on their own. We need help from elsewhere. We need your friends and family who think you're crazy for living here (but clamoring for your guest room during Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest) to clue in their members of Congress and remind the President of his pledge. Head on over to our website, www.healthygulf.org, and help us Flood Washington, not our coast. Now's the time to act, as Congress is just getting back from their August recess and will either pass WRDA in the Senate and work to override the President's veto, or will add bright red exclamation points to a big worry on the Crescent City's ever-longer list. Aaron Viles is the campaign director of the Gulf Restoration Network, a New Orleans-based network of groups and individuals dedicated to protecting and restoring the valuable natural resources of the Gulf of Mexico.


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!   !  0  ' .  "  1 2 Jordan Flaherty Left Turn Magazine

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lmost a year ago, in the small northern Louisiana town of Jena, a group of white students hung three nooses from a tree in front of Jena High School. This set into motion a season of racial tension and incidents that have culminated in six Black youths facing a lifetime in jail for a schoolyard fight. The story that has unfolded since then is one of racism and injustice, but also of resistance and solidarity, as people from around the world have joined together with the families of the accused, lending legal and financial support, adding political pres s ur e, a nd joi ni ng de mons trati ons a nd mar c hes. The nooses were hung after a Black student asked permission to sit under a tree that had been reserved by tradition for white students only. In response to the three nooses, nearly every Black student in the school stood under the tree in a spontaneous and powerful act of nonviolent protest. The town's district attorney quickly arrived, flanked by police officers, and told the Black students to stop making such a big deal over the nooses, which School Superintendent Roy Breithaupt labeled a "harmless prank." The school assembly, like the schoolyard where all of this had begun, was divided by race, with the Black students on one side and the white students on the other. Directing his remarks to the Black students, District Attorney Reed Walters said, "I can make your lives disappear with a stroke of a pen." The white students who confessed to hanging the nooses received no meaningful punishment. Nor did the white students who months later beat up a Black student at a school party, nor did the white former student who threatened two Black students with a shotgun. But, after these incidents, when Black students got into a fight with a white student, six Black youths were charged with attempted murder, and now face a lifetime in prison. The Black students may not have been involved in the fight, but they were known to be organizers of the protest under the tree. The white student was briefly hospitalized, but had no major injuries and was socializing with friends at a school ring ceremony the evening of the fight. The Black students were arrested immediately after the fight, in December of last year. School officials and police officials took statements from at least 44 witnesses to the fight. The statements do not paint a clear picture of who was involved. Statements from white students

refer to "Black boys", but many testimonies are unclear as to the identities of who was involved. Some of the arrested youths are not implicated in the fight by any of the witnesses. Despite this, when seventeen-year-old Mychal Bell, the first youth to go to trial, refused to take a deal in exchange for testifying against his friends, he was quickly convicted by an all-white jury. Bell's public defender Blane Williams, visibly angry at Bell and his parents because the youth did not take the deal, called no witnesses and gave no meaningful defense. This attorney's behavior gives a vivid example of our nation's broken and underfunded public defender system. Some have called Jena a throwback to the past, but in fact Jena presents a clear vision of the current state of our criminal justice system. In Paris Texas, a white teenager burns down her family's home and receives probation. A black one, sixteen-year-old Shaquanda Cotton, shoves a hall monitor and gets seven years in prison. Genarlow Wilson, in Atlanta, is sentenced to ten years in prison for participating in consensual oral sex with a fifteen-year-old when he was seventeen. Like these and many other cases, the case in Jena is textbook proof that there are still two systems of justice functioning in this country: One for Black people, and one for white. No serious observer can doubt that the students of Jena would never have faced charges if a Black student had been beaten instead of a white student. The unpunished incidents in the days and months le adi ng up to the fi ght cle arl y de mons tra te thi s. Local Resistance Immediately after the arrests, parents of the accused began organizing. Their call, "Free the Jena Six," was initially heard by activists from other parts of Louisiana, such as the Lafayette public access TV show, "Community Defender," which was the first media from outside their immediate area to give coverage of the case. Noncorporate and grassroots media has been vital in spreading word of the case, beginning with blogs and YouTube videos, which then led to high profile stories on “Democracy Now� and in “The Final Call.� Lasalle parish, where Jena is located, is 85% white. The town is still mostly segregated - white and Black parts of town are separated by an invisible line. Lasalle is also one of Louisiana's most wealthy parishes, with small oil rigs in many back yards contributing to area wealth. The parish is a major contributor to Republican politicians, and former klansman and Lou-

isiana gubernatorial candidate David Duke received a solid majority of local votes. Jena was also the former site of a notoriously brutal youth prison, which was closed after years of lawsuits and negative media exposure. The prison is now scheduled to be reopened as a private prison for the growth busi ness of i mmi gra nt de te ntions. Three hundred supporters, most from the immediate region, but some from as far away as California, Chicago and New York, descended on Jena on July 31 to protest District Attorney Reed Walters' conduct and call for dismissal of all charges. The largest groups included Millions More Movement delegations from Houston, Monroe and Shreveport and nearly fifty members of Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children from Lake Charles and New Orleans. Other delegations from across Louisiana included members of INCITE Women of Color Against Violence, Critical Resistance, Common Ground and Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. The dem-

petitioners, "The State Constitution provides for three branches of state government - Legislative, Executive, and Judicial - and the Constitution prohibits anyone in one branch from exercising the powers of anyone in another branch." This is the same governor who, as Katrina approached, urged gulf coast residents to "pray the hurricane down" to a level two. When New Orleans was flooded and people were trapped in the New Orleans Superdome and convention center, she informed the nation that she was sending in National Guard troops, and "They have M-16s and they're locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will." More recently, Blanco created a program to bring federal money to homeowners rebuilding after Katrina – the "Road Home" – that has been a dismal failure on every level. Mychal Bell's sentencing is currently scheduled for September 20th. The families are planning another demonstration for that date, and also have assembled a legal

%   3   43 .  %  *  !    5&  3 .       3    5 onstration marched through downtown Jena - reported to be the biggest civil rights march the town of 2,500 residents had ever seen - and delivered a petition with 43,000 signatures to the district attorney's office. In the two weeks since the demonstration, more major allies have begun to come on board. The Congressional Black Caucus, representing 43 members, including Senator Barack Obama, issued a statement calling for charges to be dropped, while the city of Cambridge Massachusetts passed a resolution in support of the families of the Jena Six. Al Sharpton and other national leaders have visited Jena, while Jesse Jackson has called members of the state legislative Black caucus on their behalf. ColorOfChange.org, which has coordinated much of the outside support, has gathered 60,000 signatures on a petition to Louisiana Governor Blanco, calling for her to pardon the accused, and investigate District Attorney Reed Walters. Blanco, a Democratic governor elected with the overwhelming support of Black Louisiana residents, responded with a condescending statement, tersely informing

team for Bell and the other youths. National allies such as Southern Poverty Law Center and NAACP joined initial supporters such as Friends of Justice (from Tulia, Texas) and ACLU of Louisiana. Legal expenses for the youths could be hundreds of thousands of dollars, and funding is still needed. Except for Mychal Bell, who has a bail hearing scheduled for September 4, all of the youths are out on bail. The case of the Jena Six has served as a wake-up call on the state of US justice. It shows vividly the racial bias still inherent to our system. But it has also shown that this group of families refuses to be silent in the face of injustice, and that hundreds of thousands of other people around the world have chosen to stand with them, to s a y tha t we a re drawi ng the li ne i n J e na Louisi a na . Jordan Flaherty is a New Orleansbased journalist and an editor of Left Turn Magazine. His May 9, 2007 article from Jena was one of the first to bring the case to a national audience. Please see www.leftturn.org for more coverage of the Jena case.


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)    $  Ted Hornick NPN

This month sees the Jefferson

Performing Arts Society and the AshĂŠ Cultural Arts Center uniting to present “The Origin of Life on Earth,â€? a combination of dancers, choral singers and vocalists exploring the Yoruba culture of West Africa and the impressions it has left on New Orleans. According to JPAS’ Director of Cultural Crossroads and Stage Without a Theater, Karel Sloane-Boekbinder, JPAS and the AshĂŠ Cultural Arts Center pride themselves on being “the only organizations in our community that . . . [offer] . . . school students and the general public the opportunity to learn about the Yoruba/New Orleans connection.â€? The show is the story of Orunmilla, the god of divination, and Obatala, the creator of earth and humankind in Yoruba tradition. It details how earth and early people were cre-



ated in Yoruba myth. It is the hope of the organizations behind the show that their work may prompt a deeper respect and understanding for Yoruba influences in not only contemporary New

workshops on joining the arts with academic subjects to help students understand the effects Yoruba people have had on New Orleans, as well as student-made responses to the show.

From left to right: Anderson’s book cover courtesy of Amazon.com and a performers interpretation of the story at Jefferson Performing Arts Center courtesy of JPAS.org.

Orleans, but all of Mississippi Delta culture. “The Origin of Life on Earthâ€? is only one part of the larger collaborative agenda of JPAS and AshĂŠ. Other elements of the partnership, known as “We-a-Flow: Discovering the Past, Refining the Future,â€? include three

These pieces, taking the form of visual arts or performances, will be displayed with the students’ artistic statements in a public exhibit at the AshÊ Center on October 5th. The show is an original adaptation from the children’s book of the same name, written by David Anderson and

illustrated by Kathleen Atkins Wilson. The text is a winner of both the 1992 African Studies Association Award for Outstanding Children’s Book about African Culture and the 1993 Coretta Scott King for Illustration. Show director Dollie Rivas has helped the show grow from a youth ensemble to a larger collaborative and choreographed effort. “The Origin of Life on Earth� is on display for students September 20th and 21st at 9:45 a.m. The public performance is September 23rd at 2:00 p.m. The show will be performed at the Jefferson Performing Arts Society in Metairie. Curious theatergoers can visit http://www.jpas.org for more information on the performance, including fully illustrated study guides for this and past shows. “The Origin of Life on Earth� is made possible by a grant from the Louisiana State Arts Council through the Louisiana Division of the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

!*'&   4 ( 4 ( ''  ! !*'&

$  ".  &. Shana L. Dukes Broadmoor Poet/Writer

These days, I get a cold and I panic. I worry about where I will go to the doctor. I worry about how I will be treated. I wonder how long I will have to wait in an overcrowded room for my name to be called. I wonder if I called my doctor’s office today for an appointment, when would I actually be scheduled to see a medical professional? What’s the backlog? Three weeks? Two months? Should I try the emergency room in the meantime or ignore the extra cost of treating my cold there? When wi l l we, as a ci t y and as a cou nt ry, make a deci sio n to address our healt hcare cri si s? It is no secret that New Orleans is still losing doctors and nurses at an

alarming rate. We hear about the problem over and over again, but what is the solution? At this rate, it looks as if our medical insurances are failing us. We pay into programs that do not pay back when it comes to collective health. Time and time again, patients are stunned to find that healthcare packages do not cover the most basic doctor’s visits or hospital procedures. Nevertheless, many continue to dole out hard earned dollars on a monthly basis for the illusion of protection through insurance. What are we do i n g wi t h o u r mo n e y? Wi t h o u r he al t h? The healthcare crisis in our community does not hurt only the uninsured. How many times have I heard complaints from the insured, from doctors, or least valid of all, from the insurance company reps themselves who

argue that uninsured patients drive up the cost of healthcare for everyone? We have come to a crisis point and blaming the indigent or the uninsured of our city and country does not get us anywhere but further behind. As we continue to do so, our system will remain an unaccountable failing one, with more sick people on the streets t ryi ng i n vai n to revi ve a o nce healt hy co mmu ni t y. We talk about crime in New Orleans. For weeks our city has held special sessions to discuss solutions to the crime problem. Legislators and public officials must ask, “Where is our system failing us?� Isn’t it time we do the same with our healthcare? Does access to affordable and thorough healthcare help to alleviate the crime problem? One could undoubtedly argue that it does. So as we continue to help our city

become a newer version of its pre-K self, I move to make healthcare for everyone a top priority. We know the problems. It is time to discuss realistic and workable so l u t i o ns fo r al l o f u s he al t h car e pro fe ssi o n al s , t he i nsu red , an d t he u ni nsu re d al i ke.

Share Your Transient Blues with us! Email: thetrumpet@npnnola.com Or write to NPN’s The Trumpet 2401 Esplanade Ave. NOLA, 70119


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT

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!.  ! 6    Camille Mata Environmental Justice Coordinator Mary Queen of Viet Nam Community Development Corporation

O

n Monday August 20th at 10:00 a.m., approximately 150 residents of New Orleans East gathered in front of the Mary Queen of Viet Nam Church, directly across from the FEMA trailers, to protest the Department of Waste Management’s method of closing the Chef Menteur Landfill by leaving debris and toxic matter in the cell rather than clearing it out as mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Waving signs and chanting over a loud speaker, the community r allied to save the area encompassing the Landfill . The campaign to protect and preserve the ecology in the area now known as the “Chef Menteur Landfill� is at least one year old. It follows the city council’s directive to nullify Mayor Nagin’s Executive Order to temporarily create a landfill in the wake of Katrina that facilitated the collection and transportation of debris created in the storm’s aftermath. New Orleans is in the process of re-building however, and after prolonged community pressure from East New Orleans residents to shut down the Chef Menteur Landfill, they are now demanding that the area be returned to prelandfill conditions. The landfill campaign is merely one of many projects that the Mary Queen of Viet Nam Community Development Corporation (CDC) is pursuing. Formed after Hurricane Katrina, the group fulfills needs

brought to the surface by the VietnameseAmerican community, who have been settling in New Orleans East since 1975. Its overarching goal is to improve the quality of life for residents of New Orleans East by meeting job demands, housing needs, and fulfilling the desire for a better educational system. Dan Than (pronounced “zun tun,� meaning “to commit to something�) Fellows, hired and sent by the National Alliance of Vietnamese American Service Agencies (NAVASA) in Iowa, enhance the manpower of the CDC. These Fellows help to empower and build on the capacity of Vietnamese American communities in the Gulf Coast. The CDC has committed to undertaking six simultaneous projects: an urban farm, a senior housing center, environmental justice, a charter school, business revitalization and language access. These projects improve the aesthetics, vitality and ecology of East New Orleans by combining campaigns centered on recycling, landfill remediation, urban farming and the infrastructural facade of Versailles Viet Village and Village de L’Est. The urban revitalization project addresses the need for job creation and livelihood development, and the three civic projects respond to the requests for better schools, an a ffordable se nior residential center, and language access to facilitate living in New Orleans. The CDC works very closely with the Mary Queen of Viet Nam Church, as the latter is the glue that holds the community together and keeps the people energized about involvement. The CDC’s campaigns are relayed through Church pastors and support community cohesion. They are further backed by partner organizations such as the Sierra Club, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN), All Congregations Together (ACT) and the Vietnamese Americans Young Leaders Association (VAYLA). These collaborations keeps the CDC’s programs rooted to other residents in New Orleans and strengthen their vision.

From top to bottom: The nascent Farmers’ Market at Viet Village Versailles takes place every Saturday from 8-11 a.m. Children

rally to save the area currently occupied by the Chef Menteur Landfill. Photos courtesy of MQVN CDC.

Senator Duplessis at the rally on Monday, August 20, 2007 in front of the Mary Queen of Viet Nam Church to pressure Waste Management to properly close and remediate the Chef Menteur Landfill. Photo by MQVN CDC.

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10

NPNâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S THE TRUMPET

SEPTEMBER 2007

Fair Grinds Coffeehouse reopened in June of this year to the greater public. Before then, the Coffeehouse was providing food, hot showers, wi-fi and coffee to relief workers and volunteers helping in the city after Hurricane Katrina. Top photos courtesy of Rachel Leigh Mays. Bottom photo courtesy of Alethia Picciola.

 #  0 * + + , Rachel Leigh Mays Staylocal.org

F

air Grinds Coffeehouse, MidCityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fair trade coffeehouse and community center, has avenged Katrina on its own terms and with the gentle principles that guide it. Owners Robert and Elizabeth Thompson can reel off countless stories of what they consider their real success long before the Ponce de Leon establishment was officially reopened in June of this year. As two of the few people who returned to the city immediately after the storm, the Thompsons recall the dark and still calmafter-the-storm days as those that mean the

most to them. Upon returning to the Big Easy from Houston in the fall of 2005, the Thompsons found their former haven transformed into what it seemed would be a never-ending nightmare of reconstruction and starting over. It wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t long however, before the waterlogged space once again began to form the backdrop for one story after another of goodwill and generosity. Robert gave up on keeping a list of all of the people who volunteered their services from carpentry to clean-up crews after it surpassed four typed pages of names. As Robert recounts, the first few months were intense as Fair Grinds was the only place â&#x20AC;&#x153;openâ&#x20AC;? in Mid-City. The National Guard would visit and bring food, while a few FEMA contractors brought in a BBQ kit to serve up New Orleansstyle BBQ for up to fifty lonel y and abandoned people. Since Fair Grinds had an electric water heater, people also came to the coffeehouse for their hot showers - not to mention free coffee and wi-fi. They also received milk and sugar donations from Verizon and Bell South volunteers. As everyone was on a waiting list for a refrigerator and Fair Grinds has an ice-machine, Robert and Elizabeth also gave out bags of ice. For the Thompsons, Katrina was a lesson in humility. Robert still tears up when he recalls an elderly Italian lady he had always seen pushing her little European-style cart to and from the corner grocery store, unwilling to relinquish her independence and self-reliance to old age. She stayed during the entire storm. He recognized her when she came to him one day begging for ice. She was s o fi ercel y

i ndepe nde nt tha t s he i nsis te d tha t Fair Gri nds ta ke her tw o dollar s. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Taking her two dollars was a matter of respect for her self-reliance,â&#x20AC;? says Robert. â&#x20AC;&#x153;She was an icon of survivability, but ultimately when it came down to the magnitude of the situation, we had to learn the a r t of gr aciousl y ac cepti ng the he lp of others.â&#x20AC;? Fair Grinds served as a referral for people seeking help of many sorts, leading FEMA to designate the coffeehouse-gonegrassroots community center as a daily drop-off for food and otherwise unavailable supplies. Scads of donated goods arrived at the coffeehouse daily. Word got out that people could come to Fair Grinds for just about everything: food, water, clothes, shelter and support. Aware of fragile mental conditions, the Thompsons wasted no time in setting up AA and NA meetings and Holistic healing counseling in the community room upstairs. Musicians began frequenting Fair Grinds to fill the silent nights and provide the rape utic tunes for the ma ny s ee ki ng s olac e a nd s miles i n the tur bule nt a fter ma th. One evening, Loyola professor, uptown resident and singer/songwriter Mark Fernandez arrived with guitar in hand and asked if he could play â&#x20AC;&#x153;until things got better.â&#x20AC;? Mark played through the desolate days to lift spirits and heal through his music. The musicians he brought with him continue to play there today and include Tom Maron, a singer/songwriter with styles ranging from Celtic, country, eclectic fiddle, guitar, harmonica and toeta ppi ng ji gs - a ccompa nie d by a si ngi ng dog.

According to Robert and Elizabeth, the real success after the storm was in the relationships born and a flux of a thousand friends maintaining mental health, creating a nexus for people to come meet, rehabilitate, network, and simply be with people. The idea of reopening only seemed important upon seeing the renovation and thus feeling obligated to get the business off the ground as a show of thanks for the level of community participation that brought everyone so far. Through hell and high water, Fair Grinds has remained true to its vision, to borrow sociologist Ray Oldenburgâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s term, of creating a â&#x20AC;&#x153;great good placeâ&#x20AC;? that â&#x20AC;&#x153;allows people to relax and unwind, encourage sociability instead of isolation, and make life more colorful and enriched.â&#x20AC;? Today, Fair Grinds has a revolving door of loyal customers and newcomers alike who canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t help but want to be regulars. Lawrence Gobble, one of the fortunate few who has worked at Fair Grinds since Katrina, stated, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I love working here; the people are always different, always changing and always the same.â&#x20AC;? Fair Grinds is located at 3133 Ponce de Leon, New Orleans, LA It is open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Call (504)-9139072 or e-mail info@fairgrinds.com for more information. Stay Local! is a city-wide initiative for creating a strong economy based on locally owned and operated businesses in New Orleans. They encourage consumers to shop locally and help independent businesses operate more effectively.


New Orleans Stayinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Local

NPNâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S THE TRUMPET

11

"  #$% #&&' Above: The Bywater Church of Christ Christian Oatreach Ministry received one of five awards for community service at the Bywater Awards Night . Below: Also at the Bywater Awards Night, a 95th birthday is celebrated. Photos by Max Goldstein.

Top Center, Right and Directly Below: Lower Ninth Ward Residents march across the Industrial Canal during the Great Flood Commemoration March.

New Orleans has always prided itself on its complex and exciting his-

Photos by Alethia Picciola

tory. In many ways, the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s residents and their personal stories help them define New Orleans just as much as it defines them. During all of the last week of August, numerous diverse forums throughout the city allowed people to do all they could to heal. It was as though the city itself provided people the chance to speak, march, pray, listen and heal together. NPN and the Trumpet were able to send representatives to cover events throughout the city. These photos are just a few selections of what we saw and where we were. The writer James Baldwin once said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.â&#x20AC;? New Orleanians do not only know their city â&#x20AC;&#x201C; these photos prove that they love it. - Ted Hornick, September 4, 2007

Below: The Hands Around The Dome ceremony was held on August 31st outside The Superdome. Photo by Max Goldstein.

Above: Rogers Youngblood of The Fyre Youth Squad delivers a strong speech to the crowd at the candlelight vigil, a part of A Day of Presence. Below: Participants hold up their candles at the vigil that took place in Jackson Square on Wednesday night. Photos by Max Goldstein.


12

NPNâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S THE TRUMPET

SEPTEMBER 2007

The People in your Neighborhood

! 4(& % $ * $ $# ' $(%! %' &  ! *' $*8

Trainer Penny Johnson conducts a Rebuild Healthy Houses workshop on July 14th. Photo by Crystal Celestine.

HUD Sponsored Training Program on Safe Rehabilitation of HurricaneDamaged Homes Protects Homeowners, Contractors and Volunteers Kathleen Canedo Marketing Director at Consolidated Safety Services, Inc.

A

lmost 600 people have partici-

pated in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Developmentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (HUDâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s) Rebuild Healthy Homes program since it was introduced to New Orleans in late April. This free training program was developed to instruct homeowners, contractors and volunteers in the New Orleans area how to safely rehabilitate properties damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The workshops help ensure that workers protect themselves from potentially hazardous materials and situations and are designed to significantly reduce the number of work-related injuries and illnesses. â&#x20AC;&#x153;As we work to help families rebuild their homes, we want to make certain that everyone rebuilds in the safest way possible so nobody gets hurt,â&#x20AC;? says HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This free training program will offer step-by-step instructions to rehabilitate homes safely so homeowners and other volunteers can protect themselves as they rebuild their lives.â&#x20AC;? With a goal of training several thousand participants, HUD Rebuild Healthy Homes workshops are available throughout the city to anyone who is rehabilitating or renovating a hurricane-damaged home. Teaching people to properly protect themselves while helping to rebuild New Orleans is especially helpful

now that New Orleans is entering another hurricane season. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have over 25 local trainers who are part of this program that would be thrilled to present the workshop to your community group, organization, PTA meeting, group of neighbors or business â&#x20AC;&#x201C; anywhere you know there is a group of people who can benefit from learning how to safely and properly rehabilitate hurricane-damaged homes â&#x20AC;&#x201C; weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll bring the training to them,â&#x20AC;? says Crystal Celestine, Site Manager for the Rebuild Healthy Homes program. Celestine owns three properties in New Orleans that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina, so she has first-hand knowledge of just how beneficial these workshops are. Local Trainer, Erika Wimby May, has been with the Rebuild Healthy Homes program since it began and has conducted a number of workshops. â&#x20AC;&#x153;These workshops are great because they are interactive,â&#x20AC;? May says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is not a lecture or a seminar â&#x20AC;&#x201C; but a dynamic session that includes activities and an open dialogue. Participants really enjoy the demonstrations and appreciate having a venue where they can talk about their problems with renovations. People need someone to talk to who has been through the same challenges and the participants really benefit from and like the training.â&#x20AC;? Those who participate in the training receive step-by-step instructions demonstrating safe and proper mold and lead-based paint removal; safe work habits that can prevent accidents such as heat exhaustion, electric shock, and carbon monoxide poisoning; and practical tips to identify and avoid fraudulent contractors. This guide is written in both English and Spanish and features detailed illustrations that make it simple for those rehabilitating homes to follow along as they work. HUD met with many New Orleans homeowners to determine how best to support their rebuilding efforts and developed this

*! % $

training program to address the high priority issues that came from these conversations. Homeowners who have returned to New Orleans cited many different reasons as to why they have not yet begun to rehabilitate their homes: some people may not have the resources to hire someone to do the work, some may be waiting for volunteers or laborers to begin work on their property, and some may want to do the work themselves, but do not know how to start the process or do it safely. The training also helps homeowners comply with local requirements as they remediate their homes. This timely training program addresses all of the most significant safety issues confronting anyone rehabilitating hurricanedamaged homes. In addition, it empowers homeowners to accelerate the rebuilding process by providing them with information on the steps needed to get started or to hire a credible contractor. The workshops increase safety awareness and help prevent illnessesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;including lead poisoning, respiratory ailments, and allergic reactionsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;as well as accidents and injuries that can occur when rehabilitation is done without proper safety.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;I found the workshop to be very educational for the homeowner who is choosing to tackle the task of preparing a house for remodeling,â&#x20AC;? said Jed Fisher, a New-Orleans area contractor with KatFish Home Improvements LLC. Fisher attended a workshop conducted by Trainer Penny Johnson on July 14th. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Not only does this workshop stress the safety aspects of how to prepare for such an undertaking, it also provides the basic knowledge of what to look for regarding structural, electrical, plumbing and mechanical (HVAC and gas) hazards that might be present in a hurricane-damaged home. This workshop also gives the homeowner important information that could help them from being taken advantage of by dishonest contractors. I recommend this workshop to every homeo wner in New Orleans who is going through this challenging process.â&#x20AC;? HUD works to increase homeownership, support community development and improve access to affordable housing free from discrimination.


THE PEOPLE IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD

NPN’S THE TRUMPET

13


14

NPN’S THE TRUMPET

SEPTEMBER 2007

Artist Michael Dingler has a simple and accessible style of art that he posts throughout the city. If you see a piece and you like it, feel free to take it home. Photo courtesy of Angela Pate.

NoLA Rising Angela Pate Freelance Writer Bringing it to the Streets

T

here's a new face springing up around town and you might recognize him by a sketch. His name is Rex and his message is simple: “Nola Rising.” Rex doesn't claim this expression as his own, as it is felt by all New Orleanians. His alter-ego, Michael Dingler, has turned it into an art form. The NOLA Rising Project is an art campaign to encourage people in all neighborhoods of New Orleans to display public free works of art regardless of how untutored or simple the

work may appear. New Orleans is a unique and beautiful city that has historically embraced the spirit of personal freedom that supports the individual growth of the artist, musician and writer ... the goal of the NOLA Ris ing Proje ct is to s howcas e tha t s pirit. From the lower Ninth Ward to the Orleans/Jefferson line, if you haven't seen Rex’s art on your street or near where you shop or work, it's likely bec aus e it has be e n ta ke n by a "pha ntom c olle ctor" in the dead of night. "At first, I thought people were ripping them down and throwing them away because of the pedestrian style I was using and perhaps some

did. Then, as I continued to post the art, I kept meeting people and discovered that much of that being taken was being collected. Now, I find it a little rewarding when a piece or two come up missing." But why this form of art? Street art is most commonly associated with graffiti and often misunderstood as gang tagging, but that's not the way Michael sees it. “I see street art as a contemporary form of art that can be found all over the world. The level of sophistication varies with the training and experience of the artist. Sure, there are gang tags, but when … you take a look around, there are other pieces out there." The other pieces that he speaks of


THE PEOPLE IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD

can be found around New Orleans on the very same telephone poles he uses to post. The city also inspires other street sign posters and stencils, but most distinguishably the crushed cans with various skeletons painted separately by Ducken and Chris of the Skeleton Krewe. Their work often helped inspire Rex when he questioned whether or not to continue the Nola Rising Project. When the Project began, it was a random shot to get people to start creating public works of art that, by nature, would be accessible. "I wanted to start a campaign that would get people feeling better about the city... [and] coming back to the city. I hope it might brighten someone's day and perhaps encourage them to make a sketch or painting to share." Michael describes himself as an "artist, amateur photographer, average writer, sometimes boat captain, and a masterful student of life." His oil paintings, photographs, and pen and ink drawings can be seen in small galleries from the Westbank to the Northshore. Rex, a nickname given to him by friends in the crazy days after the storm, has become his symbol of self and one can find that name on much of his Nola Rising Collection. "Last year I had left New Orleans for several weeks, thinking perhaps that I wouldn't ever return. I traveled in the western states, and then made the big discovery that many have made before me. There is no better food anywhere in the country than in New Orleans. If it hadn't been for Mexicans, I would have starved in the west Texas desert." Over the next several months, Michael Dingler developed his Nola Rising Project through hundreds of sketches and numerous paintings. After finding a cache of drawings he had done as a child, he began to believe that the better way to approach art is as seen through the eyes of children,

where there is no right or wrong with what you produce. "People can say what they want about the art of a child, but it's such an invigorating thing to see a big yellow blob on a piece of paper and be told that it's a school bus, or the leaf of a flower. When I paint with my daughters, I never tell them that they are doing anything right or wrong. I use it as a focus for discussion to see what's in their young minds." In that belief, there evolved a carefree sketch-style that is rough, though sometimes poignant. He sometimes mixes in personal quotes and the quotes that strike him as profound, along with others that border on absurd. "Monty Python is a great source, but I'd have to say I prefer Arthur Rimbaud," he explains. Other personal favorites include Walt Whitman's "I celebrate myself," Allen Ginsberg's "Will we walk all night through solitary streets?" and his own "Re-Invent your soul." "I came up with 'Re-invent your soul' as I was driving across the Causeway. It seemed to fit me. A year ago, my life was a train wreck. Now, life is good. You get over the hard times and move on knowing that you have survived and come out whole. When the words came into my mind, it was like a much needed peace was finally mine." It's a peace that can be seen when you come across one of his signs that re ads , "Smile , Live , La ugh, Da nce , Le a p, Hop, Skip, Jump & Rise - NOLA Ris e." Angela Pate is a New Orleans resident who is currently in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the first stop in a round the world tour, where she is collecting stories and pictures for a travel book, as well as a working as a freelance travel writer.

NPNâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S THE TRUMPET

15 5

Poetry $(+$'  *!&*

% *% '( ' * &+

by John A. Barber

by John A. Barber

High waters, high winds Attacking the beach The coast, not prepared Giant-like waves Crushing buildings and souls Sounds of weeping, of terror. Sounds of a world war Humans, running like ants For shelter For inept shelter Cries for help Powers that be, stunned Weeping and gnashing of teeth "Where is the aid?" The folks roar. The look of Hiroshima and Nagasaki And warriors from far away arrive with chariots with food But, the Bushmen from far away are weak. The flood waters rise Broken are the levees Waters rush down streets of broken lives of broken dreams People rush, like confused blind cockroaches over a bridge Self centered barbarians with guns, ready to fire "No one else, in our town!" Only a few heroes see their duty. Soon, Marshal Dillon comes and gives help to the homeless and, at Johnny White's, we drink soberly to the future. Let us pray! 5/5/06

Lord, protect us from the violence in our town. Lord, protect us from the blood in our streets. Lord, hear our prayers. Dead souls walking. Jimmy Skelton, fourteen years old. sitting on his porch. Momma at work. Three in the afternoon. Drive by shooting. A scream in the air. Jimmy took a bike for fun. Revenge shooting. Blood in our streets. Lord, protect us! Lord, hear our prayers. Sally Delvecchio, thirty seven years old. with two jobs. "Gotta feed the kids!" Two in the morning. Walking down Tchoupitoulas Street. Two men approaching. "Woman, we want some fun!" Sally, found dead, in a ditch. Next morning. Covered in blood, half naked. Blood in our streets. Lord, protect us! Lord, hear our prayers. Irving Miller, sixty three years old. Owner of a convenience store. In the Marigny area. Ten in the morning. Three men entered. All in their twenties. "Hey, Pop! Open your cash drawer!" Irving pulled his gun. The sound of thunder. The police arrive. No clues. Irving left a widow, in debt. And no children. Blood in our streets. Lord, protect us. Lord, hear our prayers.. Manuel Sanchez, homeless, in the streets. Forty two years old. No job. An illegal from Mexico. A gang of four kids, walking, At two in the morning. "Hey, let's have some kicks!" So, they kicked him to death. He was in the morgue for a week. Blood in our streets. Lord, protect us. Lord, hear our prayers. Dead Souls Walking. 7/28/07


16

NPNâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S THE TRUMPET

SEPTEMBER 2007

Green Orleans +  =

,3 ,      Anne Atkinson Parkway Partners

I

tâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all part of Parkway Partnersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; plan to â&#x20AC;&#x153;ReLeaf New Orleans,â&#x20AC;? which lost about 70% of its urban canopy to Katrina and the subsequent floods. Neighbors who band together with plans to put at least ten trees between the sidewalk and the street in their neighborhoods can receive free trees, planting oversight and maintenance instructions from the non-profit organization, which is working in partnership with the New Orleans Department of Parks and Parkways to reforest the area. Katrina and the flooding killed about 50,000 trees on public lands and an additional 200,000 in private landscapes. The ReLeaf New Orleans effort focuses on replacing neutral ground trees on major traffic corridors with the assistance of volunteers under the direction of professional arborists, and on replacing street trees in surrounding neighborhoods by working t hrough neighborhood associations and organizing residents. A group of volunteers called â&#x20AC;&#x153;Tree Troopersâ&#x20AC;? will guide many of the plant-

ings. These volunteers received 12 hours of training from the State Urban Forester, Dan Gill and New Orleans arbori st s. Tree Troo pers are act i ve i n t ree-pl anti ng proj ect s t hrou ghout t he cit y. Tree-planting season in southeast Louisiana runs from mid-October through March, and this year, Parkway Partners is stepping up its Neighborhood ReLeaf efforts by promoting the free trees program early. Residents who want to plant trees between the sidewalk and street in front of their homes or businesses are urged to contact their neighborhood associations, who can work with Parkway Partners to secure the trees and schedule plantings, or to contact Parkway Partners directly. Residents who receive the trees are instructed by trained volunteers during the planting and are provided with tree care instructions. In return, they must commit to watering, mulching and weeding the trees until they are established. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We want to plant as many trees as quickly as possible in the right season,â&#x20AC;? said Parkway Partnersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Executive Director, Jean Fahr. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are providing moti-

Neighborhood volunteers of all ages joined in for this Central City tree planting effort, encouraging creation of a landscaped area. The planting is on the Neutral Ground in front of the Berean Community Center on Felicity Street as guided by Parkway Partners. One of the neighbors regularly waters the trees by pulling a hose across the street. Photos courtesy of Parkway Partners.

vation for citizens to connect with their neighbors in planning for tree replacement. Funding for this project is pro vi ded u nder a grant , so t ho se who appl y after t he grant i s exhau st ed wil l be wait -li st ed.â&#x20AC;? Most â&#x20AC;&#x153;street to sidewalkâ&#x20AC;? areas are relatively small and cannot accommodate trees that grow much taller than 20 feet. The New Orleans Department of Parks and Parkways has approved a list of trees for street to sidewalk planting that includes redbud, fringe, holly (deciduous and evergreen), yaupon, silver bell, iron wood (beech), spruce, japanese magnolia and sweet bay magnolia. Availability and price will determine which trees will be available for gi veaway. The treesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; t ru nks wi ll be o neand-a-half-i nches i n di amet er o r l arger. So far the ReLeaf New Orleans initiative

has resulted in the planting of more than 2000 trees, mainly within four major corridors: Elysian Fields Avenue, Martin Luther King Boulevard, Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard and Maple Street, as well as surrounding streets. The next corridors for which Parkway Partners seeks funding include: Broad Street, St. Claude Avenue and Claiborne Avenue and surrounding neighborhoods. Other ways to support the ReLeaf New Orleans initiative include volunteering to help plant neutral grounds or to â&#x20AC;&#x153;sponsorâ&#x20AC;? a tree in honor of up to ten people. For more information about how to get started ReLeafing your neighborhood, sponsoring trees or volunteering for ReLeaf New Orleans plantings, contact Jo Ann Al brecht, Parkway Partnersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; ReLeaf New Orleans Program Director, at jalbrecht@parkwaypartnersnola.org or call 504-620-2224. Parkway Partners works to improve green space for all New Orleanians as it has for the past 25 years.


Green Orleans

NPNâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S THE TRUMPET

17

$  ,   Jean Fahr Executive Director Parkway Partners Program

N

ow is an ideal time to plan for planting a tree. Taking care to appropriately select the right tree will save time and headac hes later on in the year. T he b est dates for tree p lanting are later October as we head into the wetter winter and trees are up ward ly dormant. However, a tree can b e p lanted in late September if the ho meo wner is stro ngly committed to proper watering. In selecting a site, be sure yo ur tree has enough roo m to gro w properly. Select a tree with a height of 25 feet o r less for und er utility lines. Plant trees 20 feet away fro m street lights to avo id creating dark spots at night, p lant ten feet away fro m fire hydrants, and p lant five feet away fro m driveways to avo id blocking vis ib ility. If p lanting between the sid ewalk and the street, approval is

required fro m the C ity of New O rleans Department of Parks and Parkways. Parkway Partners can help with the approval process and special guidelines. Large d ec iduous trees should b e planted o n the South and West to shad e roofs and s ave o n utility costs. Consider native trees in your selection, as they are hard y to the area and support local wild life. A great resource on tree selection is â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Native Tree Growing Guide for Louisianaâ&#x20AC;? with planting instructions, tree selection guide, and even a centerfold with canopy illustrations (including height, advantages and problems of each species) It is provided free of charge from the LA Department of Agriculture and Forestry. Call Orleans Parish extension service office at (504) 838-1170 for a copy. Before planting call Louisiana One Call at 800-272-3020 to assure there are no public utilities that you will dig into. Response is faster than youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d expect.

    

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18

NPNâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S THE TRUMPET

SEPTEMBER 2007

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A se ri e s of mo nt hl y se gme nt s wi t h Ki d s Re t hi nki ng N e w O rl e a ns â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Sc h ool s, o r Re t hi nk.

' . #3 ' '  Orissa Arend New Orleans Writer

D

udley Grady, a 16-year-old

refugee from the government-created flood which temporarily ruined his beloved New Orleans at the end of summer â&#x20AC;&#x2122;05, wound up in Shreveport at C. E. Byrd High School missing his friends and wondering, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Why are Shreveportâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bathrooms so clean and ours are so not?â&#x20AC;? It was the beginning of his transformation into a social scientist. Back in New Orleans the following summer, Dudley and 19 public school children, ages 1017, staged a brave news conference outside a storm-ravaged school. They called themselves Rethink, short for Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools. Their message to administrators: We want a voice in rebuilding the school syste m. After all, who deserves a voice more than the cons umers who use the schools? The children didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t stop with this protest. They garnered allies, such as Ya/ Ya, an inner city guild for young artists, New Orleans Outreach, Concordia Planners and Architects, Global Green USA, Esopus Creek Communications, Tin Foil Media, Spirit in Action, the Fyre Youth Squad, research consultants from UNO and Loyola, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen, a 20year-old architecture student born in the Magnolia projects in New Orleans and raised in California. They attracted â&#x20AC;&#x153;prethinkers,â&#x20AC;? including 8-year-old George Dixie Carter III, a photographer with a high-tec h professional camera, and some tee nage i nterns. During the school year Rethinkers documented conditions in nine public schools, a randomly selected sample of locations that included schools from each of the current public school systems operating in New Orleans today. In their meticulously executed report, they explain that this is â&#x20AC;&#x153;stratified random sampling.â&#x20AC;? The young people distributed 554 surveys measuring eight key factors: school safety, school cleanliness and bathrooms, school supplies and books, nurses and counselors,

cafeteria and food, teachers, extracurricular activities, and handicap access. Rethinkers also visited schools and documented their personal observations, being careful to use all their five senses rather than their prior expectations. They became adept at both qualitative and qua ntitative research. But these are no ordinary social scientists. Not only do they document; they also dream and act. As they worked through the data, the Rethinkers talked about the meaning of their information. They decided that the results of the student surveys on many school dimensions were more favorable to the school system than they expected. But they wondered why the

community should work to bring all schools up to the highest standard so that all students would know their education is important. You can read their whole report in a few weeks by visiting their updated website: rethinknola.com. Courtney French, a Rethinker entering eighth grade, has to go through a metal detector and pass roughly a dozen security guards in the halls of her elementary school. There were no guards before Katrina. The Rethink survey found that the more security guards a school has, the less safe the students feel. They recommended spending less money on school security and more on hiring counselors. â&#x20AC;&#x153;My school has no kitchen,â&#x20AC;? says Courtney, â&#x20AC;&#x153;and the

Rethinkers pose after participating in a march in Atlanta, Ga. at the US Social Forum where they met where they lead a workshop on the state of public schools in Post-Kartina New Orleans. Photo courtesy of Rethink New Orleans.

conditions and available resources appear to be so different among public schools in New Orleans. They examined factors such as type of school, neighborhood, and the various cultural connections that affect how students feel about their schools. In addition, they talked about the challenges students who attend schools that lack many resources face and how they must struggle to overcome these obstacles in order to succeed. The Rethinkers decided that the

edges of the meat in sandwiches are purple ... My school has many problems, but I love it.â&#x20AC;? Perhaps itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s this love and innocence that propel the young organizers to dream and act. First, they picked a focus: bathrooms. Josephine Bingler, 14, and Victor Carter, 15, noted in the second Rethink news conference held July 20, 2007, that â&#x20AC;&#x153;bathrooms represent everything that stinks in our schools.â&#x20AC;?

â&#x20AC;&#x153;We decided not just to solve a problem, but also to distinguish ourselves nationally,â&#x20AC;? said Dudley Grady. The students worked all summer to design a â&#x20AC;&#x153;greenâ&#x20AC;? bathroom, one that works with nature instead of against it, saving energy, water, and other natural resources. There are flow reducers for the faucets, low energy windows that let in natural light, but keep out the heat and cold, a water cistern on the roof that collects water to flush toilets, bamboo instead of wood, and recycled materials for counter tops. They hope their green bathroom will lead to green schools and to the greening of all of New Orleans. The children see this as a way to protect the environment and put an end to global warming. Oliver Thomas, former Councilmember At Large, agrees in a letter he wrote for the press conference. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Starting public school change right there in the bathroom â&#x20AC;&#x201C; then working our way out â&#x20AC;&#x201C; makes a great deal of sense. You Rethinkers are onto something ... You are showing the way for all of us. Green the belly of the beast â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the school bathroom â&#x20AC;&#x201C; then green the school and the whole community ... I am proud of you for your forward-looking approach and your creative genius. New Orleans kids design the first green public school bathroom ... bravo! Go Rethinkers!â&#x20AC;? Global Green USA is willing to help. The American affiliate of Green Cross International is offering a handful of grants - up to $75,000 each - to public schools that want to go green. Bigger grants will be available later. Beth Galante, director of Global Green New Orleans referenced a study of 2,000 classrooms in three school districts that found that â&#x20AC;&#x153;children performed 26 percent better on reading tests in classrooms with maximum natural daylight versus those in rooms with the least amount of natural light ... Green schools use an average of 33 percent less energy than conventionally designed schools. Studies find an average asthma reduction of 38.5 percent in buildings with improved air quality.â&#x20AC;? The Rethinkers have given a good bit of thought to maintenance as well as design. Hoang Hoang, 15, said at the news conference, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The truth of the matter is this:


THE PEOPLE IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD No matter how much you repair a bathroom and no matter how green you make it, [it] needs to be maintained. If not, it will return to c-r-a-p.” In addition to janitors and supplies, he points out, “Maintaining a bathroom is something the whole school has to do. That means students have to play a role, too.” The kids suggest trash cans that look like basketball goals or targets, a committee of students and community members to act as monitors, smoke detectors in the bathrooms and a graffiti wall for student expression with a rapid response to obscene language or forms of vandalism. Students want to decorate their bathrooms, noting that “Kids will take much better care of bathrooms that are personal to them. Kids can not be expected to maintain bathrooms that are impersonal, smell bad and have holes in the walls.” Aaron Danielson, 12, concluded this section of the conference by addressing Paul Vallas, superintendent of the Recovery School District and Darryl Kilbert,

Acting Superintendent of the New Orleans Public Schools: “Mr. Vallas, we heard you say at a community meeting that you would welcome community members to go to the RSD schools and examine the repairs you have done in bathrooms this summer. We volunteer for that job and would be happy to bring students from other groups along with us. We make the same offer to you, too, Mr. Kilbert, and to all the charter schools in this city. We hope this plan proves to you that we students are experts on our schools and are more than willing to help. Thank you.” Vallas, in turn, welcomed the information and support. He called the group’s report, “very fair, very objective, very honest and very direct. . . I agree with you 100 percent. There’s not a single proposal I disagree with.” He looked straight at the Rethink students as he promised that this year they would get hot lunches and up-to-code buildings and bathrooms, adequately supplied. Vallas believes that education is

the unfinished business of the civil rights movement and that Rethinkers are acting as good global citizens and not just on their own needs. He wants to institutionalize what they are doing with elected student councils in every school who will report to him about the quality of schools and learning. He also wants a city-wide student council. He promised less money on police and more on support services for which he plans to contract with community groups and faith based organizations. By October Vallas envisions student conservation corps, clubs in schools to decorate and take care of the facility. For these beautification projects, the school board will provide materials, guidance and in some cases stipends. “You can take it to the bank,” Vallas assures those present. He wants to meet with Rethink soon to plan the conservation corps. They can play a leadership role in getting it started, he says. He prefers working with middle school consultants because it’s hard to keep adults focused these days in New

NPN’S THE TRUMPET

19

Orleans, he finds. One thing is sure, all the way from school in the Diaspora, through homecoming, research, visioning, and action, these kids stay focused. They have written a regular column in a community newspaper and put on a workshop at the recent U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta. They have attracted media attention in New Orleans and nationally. They have done their homework and generously offered their expertise. Perhaps it is time for the students to give a monthly report card to their administrators and elected bodies they report to about promises made and progress toward fulfillment. In these areas, we could all celebrate a LEAP to success. Orissa Arend is a mediator, psychotherapist, and community organizer in New Orleans. You can reach her at arendsaxer@bellsouth.net. 1333 Lowerline St, New Orleans, La. 70118 (504) 865-1619

).   Neighborhood Meetings Bywater Neighborhood Association Meetings

Downtown Neighborhood Improvement Association

Lake Bullard Homeowners Association

2nd Tuesday of the month 7 p.m., Musician’s Union Hall 2401 Esplanade Ave., Upstairs

Saturdays, 3 p.m. Cornerstone United Methodist Church 5276 Bullard Ave.

2nd Tuesday of the month, 7 p.m. Holy Angels Concert Hall 3500 St. Claude Ave.

Faubourg St. John Monday, Sept 10, 7 p.m. Fair Grinds Coffee House

Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association

Bunny Friends

Gentilly

2nd Saturday of the month 12 noon, Greater Mt Carmel 3721 N Claiborne Ave.

Tuesdays, 6 p.m., at Sav-ACenter, second floor, 6600 Franklin Ave. The group holds a meeting to discuss community issues in Gentilly. Call Crystal at (504) 943-0044, ext. 112.

3rd Monday of the month 6:45 p.m. St. Paul Lutheran Church 2624 Burgundy St.

Carrollton United Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. Greater St. John Missionary Baptist Church 8616 Hickory St.

Central City Renaissance Alliance Saturdays, 2 p.m. Ashe Cultural Arts Center 1712 O.C. Haley Blvd.

Central City Partnership Last Friday of the month, 1 p.m. 2020 Jackson Avenue Second floor

Pontilly General Meeting Saturday, Sept 8, 11 a.m. St. Gabriel's Catholic Church

Gentilly Terrace and Gardens Wednesday, 7 p.m. Kirschman Hall, Room 137, University of New Orleans. Call Norm Whitley at (504) 280-7120 or e-mail president@gentillyterrace.org

Hollygrove

Saturdays, 12 noon Claiborne/University Neighborhood Association St. Peter AME Church Last Thursday of the month, 7 p.m., Jewish Community Center, 5342 Saint Charles Ave.

District 6 Community Council Meets every other Tuesday 6:30 p.m. UNO old Business Admin Bldg Room 211

3424 Eagle St.

Mid-City Recovery Planning Committees First Monday of every month, 6:30 p.m., in the chapel of Grace Episcopal Church 3700 Canal St. Call (504) 905-9713.

Mid City Neighborhood Organization Monday September 10th Grace Episcopal Church 6:30 p.m.

Zion City Neighborhood Improvement Association Monday, July 9, 7-8:30 p.m. St. Matthias Catholic Church 4230 Broad St.

Holy Cross Thursdays, 5-7 p.m. Greater Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 5130 Chartres St.

Events

Sistas Making a Change Monday & Thursday 5-7 p.m. Ashe Cultural Center 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. An Inner-city Wellness & Health Project Using Culture to Promote Wellness & Healthier Lifestyle. All age groups are welcome! (504)-569-9070

Upper Ninth Ward Farmers Market Saturdays, 1-4 p.m.,Holy Angels Convent (St. Claude at Gallier)

Lower Ninth Ward Farmers Market Sundays, 12-3 p.m., St. David Church St. Claude at Lamanche

Freret Market First Saturday of every month, 12-5 p.m., Freret St. and Napolean Ave., For more information, visit www.freretmarket.com

Vietnamese Farmers’ Market Every Saturday from 7-9 a.m. Viet Village Versailles Business Corridor in New Orleans East

Eracism Discussion Group September 7, Friday Saturdays, 9-10 a.m. Trumpet Release Party 3606 Magazine St., Call 866-1163

5:30-7 p.m. Fair Grinds Coffeehouse

September 8, Saturday Free the Jena 6 Benefit 8 p.m.-until ? Craig Cultural Center 1800 Newton St. (Westbank) Come out to experience Live music, spoken-word, food, and drinks to support the efforts to free the Jena 6. All proceeds go to the Jena 6 legal defense fund. For more information visit www.freejena6.org or email neworleans@leftturn.org

September 13, Thursday Jeremiah Fall Summit Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church 1490 Fourth Street Westwego, LA

September 19, Wednesday Homeowners and Renters:

Treated with the Same Respect Held to the Same Standard Chapel of the Holy Comforter 2220 Lakeshore Drive call 940-2207 or email emily@npnnola.com with any questions.

Find more Community Events @ NPNnola.com


The Trumpet Survey 1. What area of town are you from?

Also available online at www.npnnola.com/the-trumpet-survey Please return to Neighborhoods Partnership Network at 2401 Esplanade Avenue, New Orleans LA 70119 Or fax to 504-940-2208

2. What neighborhood organizations and/or non-profit groups do you work with (if any)? 6. What articles do you want to read? Rate each item

3. How often do you read The Trumpet?

fewer articles 1

2

same amount 3

4

more articles 5

opinions 4. Why do you read The Trumpet? Rate the importance

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3

4

most 5

facts and graphs investigative reporting

find tools and resources

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hear about events

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read civic news and opinions other:

5. What topics interest you? Rate the importance

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3

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7. Are you aware that anyone from the community can submit an article to The Trumpet?  Yes  No

political decisions and information

8. Are you interested in being contacted about writing Trumpet articles or finding writers for The Trumpet in your area?  No  Yes if yes, how should we contact you? _________________________________________

housing development

____________________________________________________________________________

environmental concerns levees, wetlands and flood prevention

safety and crime health

9. What would make it easier for you and other community members to provide Trumpet articles?

education culture, music and art other (please write here):

10. Any other comments or suggestions?


Two Years Later