Wednesday, August 29, 2007

R.I.P. Anger and Sadness ...hello rebirth

Hello Third Coast Citizens all of those here and not here. Today I really miss you.Tomorrow I am going to work harder to make this a better place when you return. Thank you to all of the volunteers, those who have donated and those who care. Muchos beignets to all those who have reached out.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

9th Ward Blues

Visited the lower 9th ward today.

These pictures were taken in an around the MRGO (Mississippi River Gulf Outlet), a shipping channel created to increase commercial traffic and access, primarily for military ship building industries.

While the MRGO has increased industry somewhat, it has also created a gulf that is more vulnerable than the river and more prone to flooding.

It flooded during Hurricanes Betsy and Katrina.

Most of these homes are deserted, or, inhabited by volunteer groups looking to repair and assist.

There are a few trailers though and a Habitat for Humanity enclave going up.

Mostly though, the area is a sad reminder of how many people who will not be coming home anytime soon, or never.

Even churches have born the loss and have not been repaired.

If you are interested in helping, habitat for humanity,common ground relief organization or the red cross are safe bets for assistance that has truly reached folks. Peace and beignets,Kerry
p.s. check out this site

2 years later - keeping a stiff upper lip

It started innocently enough.Nestled under the eave of the computer lab we teachers huddled toether while our students were working away on a survey designed to help them cope better with college life. I asked Tomeka if she had found a new house yet. The last time I saw her the FEMA trailer had been stretching her extended family a bit thin. She said she had - she's in LaPlace now- and went on about the virtues- safety, grocery stores. And then she stopped. There was a bit of lip trembling... "but it's not the same."
The collective pause didnt last long as Crystal starting talking about how nice it was to blast the music while cleaning (she's in Gentilly)the house and no one for blocks around to call and complain.
It wouldnt be so bad if not for the people we all miss.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Freret St. still moving forward 2 Years after Katrina

I have long wanted a shop front in the Freret Street Or Oretha Castle Hailey areas.Both of these neighborhoods have been the domain of the Black community for many decades and the area just has two many empy old shops and great architecture.
I stopped in yesterday afternoon for a buzz around the Bloomin Deals Thrift Shop and to see what was up with new Freret Market, more details on that coming soon.

The Freret neighborhood was abuzz with activity and the thrift store parking lot was full - FULL.It was hard to get a spot.What is so great about this shop is that even though there are no corner stores within about a five block radius (Freret Hardware doesnt count), you can walk to this thrift store or bike very easily. There were plenty of homes being worked on too, so dont let the photos fool you.

However there were quite a few beautiful homes, Like the creole townhouse getting siding (ugh-plastic) and new windows, where they also chose to throw out this cabinet.These are the kind of detials that add values to homes not detract, but keep throwing it out so salvage folks like me can pick it up.

Freret is a hotbed for dumpster diving in the daylight, no yuppie gawkers or competition. Lovely.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Where the streets have no name - Lakeview Neighborhood New Orleans 2 years later

I had to go visit Lakeview today to go by the bank.The closest one open is in Lakeview and the sight of the nieghborhood is still so shocking,especially in light of all of the activity, traffic, people walking around and new businesses starting to open.

I actually think some of the worst looking damage is on Canal Boulevard itself, long occupied by families who have been there for fifty years or so and probably has some of the highest rates of senior citizen homewowners, least likely to be renovating these days.

All in all the majority of the homes in my opinion were boarded up, many with the tell tale water line, spray painted messages from the marines intact, and overgrown grass and weeds.

What is really amazing is that many of the homes had notes and messages from volunteer groups asking if the owners needed help taking care of their yards.Yes get some help with your yard. Please dont leave these abandoned homes here when so many people are really trying.
But once you travel past Canal and actually into some of the neweer neighborhoods, most were a hub of activity. Lots of expensive SUVs driving around, bull dozers, Latino workmen,and oh the contractors. I really dislike they way these contractors drive in the middle of the road (no one is living there yet so they dont care it seems, and drive in the middle of the streets, ignoring stop signs and oncoming traffic - its dangerous)but their presence in the city is sorely needed.
It really is heartening to see so many houses getting renovated - rebuilt - raised - or plain old redux.

What I dont understand is how our citizens are expected to live without street signs. It is sheer madness, trying to figure out where you are with no signs. You know where you are but not where y'at.

New Orleans Mid City Love among the ruins...

The more things change, the more things remain the same around these here parts, and Mid City is no exception.

Yesterday I drove to Mona's on Banks Street to pick up some dinner and was bewitched by all of the renovations and the brightly painted shotguns all around.

Similarly, just one block over,the same homes that were in a state of disrepair before Katrina are fetchingly falling apart. I love the one home that says to do not Demo and had a sweet black cat sleeping on the porch. All that remained of that home was the facade and nothing else.Oh there was a chimney but no walls, roof or foundation left. Not even the piers to hold it up. This is so reminiscent of the politics around here.

This week I was invited to the Rising Tide conference for New Orleans bloggers. As much fun as that sounds,the thought of listening to political broughaha about how change is gonna come yadda yadda just doesnt sound like the blast of fun it should be.

After living in New Orleans for almost 20 years, I've seen Corner Stores turn into Delis, Police Officers turn into crooks, and freshly painted homes slide into blight within a year's time.No amount of gentrification can sustain itself unless we all get on board.

I was delighted when we were able to elect new tax assessors, but it was politics as usual when everyone declared foul.No one wants to pay taxes? It takes time, energy & money to re-create our infrastructure-politically,socially,economically.I think it is time to say get on board or dont let the warped, chipped, board hit you on the other side....

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Broken Heart-ed...

This morning I am off to get a stress test.It seems my EKG has indicated a bit of a problem.My heart may be broken. I can name any number of occasions where that may have happened. 8/29/05 comes to mind.I am pretty sure my heart broke that day...

At any rate, I'll be wearing a monitor for the next 24 hours. I'm going to test it out by visiting two thrift stores, Red, White and Blue and LAst Chance Thrift on Barataria right afterwards. Heaven help us if they have those super slow cashiers.I have to teach all day and there is a Saints game tonight where my beautiful sisters will be there cheering for Deuce instead of Kansas City.Geaux Saints!
I dont think we'll need a cardiologist to tell me my pulse will be up.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Post Katrina ... hurricane season ...

It struck me walking with Sheba yesterday, almost 2 years after Katrina and on the footsteps of Dean approaching, about how much change has occured in the narrow confines of our neighborhood in these past 24 months.

Immediately after Katrina, the Perry Street wharf became a waystation for charity groups and AID barges, full of building materials and bottled water. A FEMA trailer park was constructed directly across the driveway. Now it is silent and abandoned.

There was also a huge crevice in the middle of the levee path. Like a crooked smile, it was a reminder of how close we were to having the river levee fail.No doubt now it has been filled, and the trucks full of levee inspectors (again, another strain on our levee) were checking to see if we will be safe against Dean and anything else that might come our way this season.

The other thing is that it is so quiet now. No more dump trucks shoveling garbage up or eighteen wheelers mowing you down as they haul stuff. Just the sound of what may come to be, this season or next.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Back to School Shopping in Ruston, Louisiana

Back to school shopping is expensive enough with all of the supplies that parents are required to buy but with the season's change and new styles kids always want to buy something stylish so how do you do it without breaking the budget? Go thrifting, young parents and a chain retail thriftstore like Goodwill is always a good option.

One thing I like about Goodwill industries is that they give people with disabilities, both physical and mental, jobs- often at a living wage. They also provide learning and training in job skills for the homeless and underemployed. Some of the money they get for these endeavors comes from a thrift store, so it is a good way to puchase goods and do something good for the world.

Also, Goodwill is often the recipient of factory seconds, odd lots, and irregulars like they have at stores like TJ MAXX or Marshalls. The Goodwill store in Ruston, Louisiana is no exception. On a recent visit I found three racks of new clothing for children, juniors and women's sizes, which were probably factory donations to the store.They had jeans, tees, and some nice cotton sweaters in neutral colors, perfect for back to school.

What this Goodwill did not have was any type of vintage clothing, linens or even dishware.Either the pickers or dealers have gotten there first, or folks there just do not donate much to that Goodwill. Either way, it is worth a visit if you are in the area and are interested in new clothing at discount prices. Also, there is a decent Mexican restaurant, El Guadelajara, a few doors down.

215 N Service Rd E
Ruston, LA 71270
(318) 251-9162

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Heading Back to School...

These serene mountain views helped me say goodbye to summer and hello fall and back to school...

I try to spend at least one week every summer as I used to back in summer camp, recharging the batteries and getting a fresh perspective.

This summer it has been such a blessing to go see Heather's family, and the Grand Canyon, and the ice caves of New Mexico.