Thursday, November 23, 2006

11/25/2006 Community Gumbo

audio Democracy Now

audio Participation in New Orleans' planning process encouraged
The latest process underway to plan the rebuilding of New Orleans neighborhoods will be tested again on December 2nd. Residents and observers will be watching to see if the demographic composition of participants at the second citywide Community Congress more closely reflects the actual pre-Katrina population of New Orleans.

Some groups of residents were grossly under-represented at the first Community Congress on October 28th, a fact which could be used to label the process illegitimate in the future if New Orleanians decide they don't agree with the final plans.

A majority of the participants voted to finance rebuilding projects in dry neighborhoods before projects in more flooded neighborhoods. Not only was attendance at the first Congress extremely low - approximately 200 participants - but the demographic makeup of the group was more than three-quarters white, compared to a pre-Katrina population which was 67% black.

In order to raise the level of participation at the second Community Congress, planning organizers will offer a live simulcast of the New Orleans planning presentations to displaced residents in Baton Rouge, Atlanta, Houston, and Dallas. Organizers are also promising to provide child care, meals and transportation.

Making sure all groups are adequately represented was the message conveyed by Dawn Loebig, a Mid-City resident. She was interviewed at an November 11th planning meeting.

audio Citizens more unified around planning issues (re-broadcast)
The Unified New Orleans Plan process became somewhat more unified as neighborhood planning organizations assembled around the city on November 11th for district-level meetings. Participation is still low, but most people felt that the process is starting to make sense. Deborah Davis lived in the Desire public housing development, and still feels like she has to fight for the rights of all citizens who need subsidized housing assistance, including herself, but she felt optimistic about the mood of other citizens involved with her in the planning process.

Unified New Orleans Plan Community Congress #2

Neighborhood planning links

11/4/2006 Community Gumbo

Saturday, November 18, 2006

11/18/2006 Community Gumbo

audio Democracy Now
  • Argentine Torture Survivor Patricia Isasa Returns to Police Station Where She Was Imprisoned and Abused
  • LA Times Editor and Publisher Forced Out For Resisting Job Cuts: A Look at the Effects of Media Consolidation on America's Newsrooms

audio "Stay Local" this holiday season
With half of the New Orleans population still displaced outside of the city, many local businesses are struggling to survive with a reduced customer base. The struggle can be particularly difficult for hardware supply stores which were fast to return to re-open after Hurricane Katrina, but which now have to compete with big box retailers doing a record business as a result of one of the largest urban rebuilding projects in American history.

The Stay Local campaign is asking New Orleans residents to commit to spending at least 25 percent of their holiday shopping in local businesses.

Closing track: “Baby Won’t You Please Come Home,” performed by New Orleans trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, one of a number of New Orleans artists featured on a Basin Street Records release being offered as a premium for Urban Conservancy supporters who pledge during their online fundraiser.

audio Citizens more unified around planning issues
The Unified New Orleans Plan process became somewhat more unified as neighborhood planning organizations assembled around the city on November 11th for district-level meetings. Participation is still low, but most people felt that the process is starting to make sense.

Mid-City resident Laureen Lentz, who blogs at Metroblogging New Orleans, said that what was once a laundry list of infrastructure development in the 4th Planning District is now becoming focused into specific project areas. Citizens are starting to wrap their heads around more targeted anchors of development, like apartment developments and hospitals, and what the infrastructure needs will be to support those areas.

Residents of the 7th District Planning are inspired by infrastructure projects like a return of the Desire streetcar to revitalize neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, Deborah Davis felt that her concern about affordable housing is finally getting some traction. Davis lived in the Desire public housing development, and still feels like she has to fight for the rights of all citizens who need subsidized housing assistance, including herself, but she felt optimistic about the mood of other citizens involved with her in the planning process.

Ms. Davis drove in from Houston to attend the 7th Planning District meeting on November 11th.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

11/11/2006 Community Gumbo

audio Democracy Now (11/10/06)
  • Who Voted and Why? A Roundtable Discussion on the Ethnic, Religious and Social Makeup of Voters in the Elections
  • Coalition of Antiwar, Veteran Groups Launching National Movement to Impeach Bush and Cheney

Charles Sheffield, "It's Your Voo Doo Working," Louisiana Gumbo, Putumayo, 2000.

audio Rebuilding New Orleans one volunteer at a time
It's been more than 14 months since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita assaulted south Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. From the perspective of most homeowners, recovery has been largely a private endeavor. Thus far, only 22 Louisiana Road Home applications to rebuild homes have been granted, and many homeowners continue to fight with their insurance companies for fair settlements -- if they had enough insurance in the first place.

Meanwhile, in order to prevent a proliferation of flooded properties from turning into permanently blighted properties, the city's Good Neighbor policy requires homeowners to show a good faith effort that they are caring for their properties by gutting their homes and clearing their yards of overgrowth. For tens of thousands of residents who can't physically or financially comply, scores of volunteers are trying to help -- but the waiting lists are months long.

One of the groups most successful at recruiting volunteers has been the Common Ground Collective, operating in the Lower and Upper Ninth Wards. Hundreds of volunteers arrive every week to drag still-soggy furniture to the street, and to attack moldy sheetrock until nothing is left but studs.

Swarthmore College students Melissa Grigsby and Loretta Gary recently traveled to New Orleans to join a Common Ground Collective housegutting crew.

More information about Common Ground can be obtained by visiting COMMONGROUNDRELIEF.ORG.

A list of organizations helping residents with housegutting can be obtained by visiting CITYOFNO.COM

Carol Fran and Clarence Hollimon, "Door Poppin'," Louisiana Gumbo, Putumayo, 2000.

Eddie Bo, "Piano Roll," Louisiana Gumbo, Putumayo, 2000.

audio Save St. Francis Cabrini Church
The historic Holy Cross School in New Orleans Lower Ninth Ward was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters. Just a month ago, the Archdiocese of New Orleans voted to move the school to develop a more spacious campus on comparatively higher ground in the Gentilly neighborhood. The move was widely celebrated, in particular because the Archdiocese had been talking about moving the school out of New Orleans to neighboring Jefferson Parish. Now, however, Holy Cross School plans to level a church on the Gentilly site, which parishioners and preservationists say should be saved.

Parishioners feel trapped in a delicate balance between wanting to save their church, and wanting to allow the school to move to their neighborhood.

Supporters of St. Francis Cabrini are holding a 1:00 rally today at the church, located at 5500 Paris Avenue (TP photo of St. Francis Cabrini Church).

They will also be seeking a court injunction on Monday to stop the demolition so that the church’s historic status can be considered, and so that negotiations can be held with Holy Cross officials to find a way to incorporate the church into the school’s building plans.

Stephen Verderber is an architect at Tulane University, and a St. Francis Cabrini parishioner. His letter to the editor was printed in The Times-Picayune on Friday.

The complete letter follows:
Dear Editors:

This morning, with little debate, the New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission (HDLC) voted to grant historic landmark status to the exquisite, award winning 1963 church in Gentilly that was designed by the architectural firm of Curtis and Davis. This is the same firm who designed the Rivergate and the Superdome, among other 20th century New Orleans civic landmarks. As an architect, professor at Tulane who has worked and lived here for 22 years, and as a private citizen I find the impending destruction of this important place of worship to be extremely tragic. I could never have imagined that this church, which sustained relatively minor damage from Katrina's floodwaters due to its solid brick construction, could be cast off in such a cavalier manner. This, without any opportunity for parish parishioners and other concerned persons and groups to weigh in on the decision making process. There is no doubt that if the Archdiocese of New Orleans so wished, this church could be saved from the wrecking ball and meaningfully integrated as part of the Holy Cross campus.

The Archdiocese needs to stand up tall and immediately reassess its position -- there would be no better location in the metro area to redesignate St. Francis Cabrini Church as a national shrine to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. In so doing, the church would be preserved and visitors would travel to Gentilly from throughout the United States and indeed the world to visit such a memorial. The walls of the outer chapel, known as the Baptismal, would be an ideal space--covered with the photographs of every single soul who perished. The church's architecture in and of itself is spiritually moving, and these qualities, reinterpreted vis-a-vis the Katrina National Shrine, would be a powerful statement to the entire world of the power of the human spirit to prevail in the face of severe adversity. To underscore this, leave the cross which sits atop its slender spire askew, as rendered by Katrina's ferocious winds.

The bottom line: How did the situation deteriorate to this very low point, truly the eleventh hour, without any serious thought accorded to restoring this civic landmark to its pre-Katrina grandeur? This entire affair has had the tainted appearance of a "done deal" from the start, unfortunately. I simply cannot believe that otherwise logical minds would insist that the Holy Cross deal is "off" if the church remains. With careful site planning there is no question that the school and the church can co-exist side by side. Surely there is enough land to do so. Perhaps it is not too late for the Archdiocese and Holy Cross to put their heads together and do the right thing. CALL OFF THE WRECKING BALL.

Stephen Verderber
Tulane University
New Orleans

audio In the Brown Zone with Mother Cabrini
A reading by Mark Folse, from a Wet Bank Guide post authored in June.

Stay Local: The Urban Conservancy Campaign to Support New Orleans Businesses -- postponed until next Saturday. Sorry :-(

Saturday, November 04, 2006

11/4/2006 Community Gumbo

audio Democracy Now (11/2/06)
  • Suspects in Murder of Indymedia Journalist Brad Will On Loose inOaxaca
  • Casualties Mount in New Israeli Attack on Gaza
  • Running Against Sodom and Osama: The Christian Right, Values Voters and the Culture Wars in 2006
  • Karl’s Rove Secret: Bush’s “Architect” Launched Anti-Gay Marriage Campaign After Burying Gay Father

Mississippi John Hurt, "Coffee Blues."

audio Who should decide which New Orleans rebuilding projects get funding priority?
One of the most controversial conclusions reached by participants in the first Unified New Orleans Community Congress was that dry neighborhoods should receive funding before severely-flooded neighborhoods. That view may not be popular, however, with the majority of New Orleans residents who weren’t in attendance.

Through keypads supplied by AmericaSpeaks, the Community Congress participants were revealed to be predominantly white and wealthy. Three-quarters of the roughly 200 participants were white, in contrast to a pre-Katrina New Orleans population that was 67 percent black. Meanwhile, forty percent of the participants had incomes of more than $75,000, but the pre-Katrina average income was less than $29,000.

Why more participants weren't at the Congress was on the minds of two Treme residents.


Michelle Krupa, "NO Meeting Tackles Infrastructure Needs," The Times-Picayune, 10/28/06.

Becky Houtman, "The Ballroom Speaks."

ThinkNewOrleans, "ConcordiaSpeaks."

People Get Ready, "We have more than that at the 400 mass on Saturday."

Vera Triplett, Letter to the Editor, The Times-Picayune (unpublished).

Unified New Orleans Plan

UNOP, Community Congress #2 Information


Taj Mahal, "Lonely Avenue."

audio Musicians Bringing Musicians Home
Bill Taylor, Executive Director for the Tipitina's Foundation, talks about the importance of getting musicians back into their homes and their neighborhoods. Tipitina's is hosting a benefit concert on Monday, Nov. 6, for the Tipitina's Foundation, the Arabi Wrecking Krewe, and the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic. Al “Carnival Time” Johnson will make a rare appearance on stage, along with Steve Earle and a host of other musicians.


Tipitina's Foundation

New Orleans Musicians Clinic

Arabi Wrecking Krewe

Al Johnson, "Carnival Time."

Donald Harrison & Dr. John, "Shallow Water."

Bonerama, "Crosstown Traffic."

Global warming block party and film festival
Saturday, Nov. 4 & Nov. 6-10
(audio probably won't be posted for a couple of days)


The Alliance for Affordable Energy

The Gulf Restoration Network

The Louisiana Sierra Club

Arctic Sea Ice Declines Again in 2006, Say University of Colorado Researchers

Expect a warmer, wetter world this century, computer models agree

Greenland Ice Sheet Losing Mass

United States Population Density

Ozone Hole Reaches Record Size

Carbon Monoxide, Fires, and Air Pollution