Saturday, February 24, 2007

2/24/2007 Community Gumbo

audio Democracy Now
  • New Iraq Oil Law To Open Iraq's Oil Reserves to Western Companies
  • Jubilee USA Launches Campaign To Stop Vulture Fund Investors From Profiting Off Debtor Nations in Developing World
  • "Illusions of Security: Global Surveillance and Democracy in the Post-9/11 World"
Citizens Weigh in on Citywide Rebuilding Plan
Citizens had their first opportunity on Thursday to weigh in on the citywide rebuilding plan. One of the concerns expressed by residents was that they didn’t have access to the citywide plan, and didn’t have adequate time to review it, before public hearings commenced. Separate from plans for each of the planning districts, the citywide plan alone is hundreds of pages long. While the plan has been available for download at UNIFIEDNEWORLEANSPLAN.ORG, the first print editions for the public were only available just before the public hearing. The cost for printing was estimated at about $200,000.

About fifty residents appeared in City Council chambers to address the City Planning Commission. Other concerns expressed included the lack of an affordable housing strategy, the failure to include some neighborhoods in the proposed final plan, and the omission of community opposition to large infrastructure projects such as levee reconstruction, the Florida Avenue bridge plan, and the Industrial Canal locke.

Mtangulizi Sanyika delivered one of the most detailed criticisms of the plan’s failure to correctly value the importance of revitalizing New Orleans’ cultural value.

Planner William Bora expressed his concern that the citywide plan failed to require new zoning regulations with the force of law to prevent zoning variances fought by residents long before Hurricane Katrina.

The Vietnamese community from far New Orleans East was well represented at the public hearing. Spokeswoman Susan Do stumped the panel with a question about when the plan will be implemented, and how public participation was being included as part of the implementation phase of the citywide plan.

Congressional Hearing on the Pace of Recovery
audio07 0222-roselund-congressional hearing on housing.mp3
audio07 0222 Congressman Green questioning.mp3
audio07 0222 Congressman Sires questioning Babers and Leger.mp3
audio07 0222 Kathleen Blanco.mp3
audio07 0222 Maxine Waters.mp3
audio07 0222 Ray Nagin.mp3
Eighteen months after Hurricane Katrina, just 1200 of 5100 families have returned to public housing units. The New Orleans Housing Authority of New Orleans and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development argue that the cost of renovating flood-damaged units would exceed the cost of cleaning them up. Critics argue the opposite: That the cost of remediating the housing units is far less than the cost of rebuilding, pointing to the example of neighborhood gentrification in the former St. Thomas housing project, now called River Gardens, where 80 percent of the housing stock is now market-rate housing.

Meanwhile, the City of New Orleans at present has no citywide affordable housing plan for a city in which 54 percent of the pre-Katrina population were renters.

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., chairwoman of the subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity called for a hearing to examine why no progress is being made to rebuild New Orleans flood-destroyed housing stock. Also seated on the panel were U.S. Reps. Al Green, D-Texas; Albio Sires, D-N.J.; Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo.; Judy Biggert, R-Ill.; and Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas. U.S. Rep. Bill Jefferson, D-New Orleans.

Testifying before the committee hearing were Governor Kathleen Blanco, Mayor Ray Nagin, Walter Leger, who oversees the Road Home program, and others.

Christian Roselund attended the housing hearing and filed this report for Community Gumbo.

The Opposite Machine

One of the most exciting aspects of Mardi Gras is seeing all of the costumes worn by maskers. One of the more elaborate group costumes this Mardi Gras featured a float called The Opposite Machine created by friends of Paul Gailiunas and Helen Hill, the mother and independent filmmaker slain in January. Visitors to The Opposite Machine could hand in a trouble card in exchange for a prize, a small piece of cloth featuring a chains being broken around a heart. The inspiration for the float was a Gailiunas song by the same name, featured on the Here Come the Troublemakers cd (mp3 sample).

Community Announcements:

"Dig This!"
A daylong seminar hosted by the New Orleans Food & Farm Network showing participants how to grow fruits and vegetables at home. Basic organic growing techniques will be offered as well as hands-on activities and take home information for home gardening. Speakers include local gardening expert, Dan Gill as well as Permaculture designer, Grant Estrade (ess-trahd).

The event takes place at the Trinity Christian Community Center on March 3rd, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reservations are $50 each, scholarships available. Call Anne Baker soon at (504) 864-2009 or visit Spaces are limited!

Big Easy Roller Girls’ Try-Outs
The Big Easy Rollergirls, New Orleans’ only women’s flat track derby, are holding try-outs Tuesday, March 6th from 7:00 to 8:30PM at Westbank Skate Country, 1100 Terry Parkway, Gretna. You can rent skates, but you will need to have safety equipment: wrist, ankle, knee, helmet & mouthpiece. You must pre-register by emailing

For more information, visit

Join the New Orleans Rollergirls -- those paragons of virtue -- at a clean-up Saturday morning, 2/24, 9-11 a.m. at the New Orleans Museum of Art Sculpture Garden, City Park. We will do light weeding, light pruning, and some polishing of the sculptures. Bring your daughters! Bring your cameras! Bring gloves and sunscreen! Let's have fun and clean the garden.

Helen Hill jazz funeral
Bart Everson sent this announcement:

There will be a jazz funeral for Helen Hill Saturday, February 24.

Helen Hill had lots of friends here, and most of us couldn't make it to her funeral in South Carolina. So I think tomorrow's event is gonna be huge. There will be brass bands. There will be pig costumes. There will be vegan cupcakes. Ernie K-Doe's hearse will be there. And check the cool poster:

I haven't been involved with the planning but here's what I've gathered as to the details:

It's set for Saturday, February 24. Come meet up at 12:30 p.m at Paul and Helen's old place in Mid-City, 3438 Cleveland Street. That's one block uptown from Canal Street, one block lakeside from Jeff Davis.

The procession rolls at 1:00 p.m. sharp.

Route: Jeff Davis > Orleans > Claiborne.
Here's a map of what I think the route might be:

That’s about two and a half miles, so wear comfortable shoes.

Destination: The Mother-in-Law Lounge at 1500 North Claiborne, where there will be more music and more festivities.

You didn’t have to know Helen personally to attend. Everyone’s invited.

Be there if you can.

Music Played:
Dr. John, "World I Never Made," Our New Orleans 2005, Nonesuch.

Charlie Miller, "Prayer for New Orleans," Our New Orleans 2005, Nonesuch.

The Troublemakers, "The Opposite Machine," Here Come the Troublemakers (mp3 sample).

Friday, February 16, 2007

2/17/2007 Community Gumbo

audio Democracy Now (2/14/07)
  • Vermont Becomes First State to Call for US Troop Withdrawal from Iraq
  • Valentine’s Day: Labor Conditions at US-Owned Plantations Show Hidden Realities of Flower Industry
  • “Diamond Life”: Documentary Examines How Diamonds Funded the Civil War in Sierra Leone
  • Child Labor: The Hidden Ingredient to the Billion-Dollar Chocolate Industry?
  • Global Witness Founder Charmian Gooch: “The Diamond Industry is Failing to Live Up to Its Promises”

audio The Rabouin Marching Band Hits the Parade Routes

Starting Rabouin High School’s first-ever marching band following Hurricane Katrina was the special passion of Hot 8 Brass Band drummer Dinneral Shavers before he became the unintended victim of a shooting in December. His spirit lives on in the Rabouin marching band.


Hot 8 Brass Band mp3's.

Hot 8 Brass Band wiki

Darran Simon, "Strike Up the Band," The Times-Picayune.

Maria Montoya, "Band Marches Back from Tragedy," The Times-Picayune.

Maria Montoya, "A Dream Marches On," The Times-Picayune.

Music Played:
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, "Mardi Gras in New Orleans."

Bo Dollis & The Rebirth Brass Band, "Tipitina."

Al Johnson, "Carnival Time."

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

2/10/2007 Community Gumbo

audio Democracy Now (2/08/07)
  • Court Martial of First Officer to Refuse Iraq Deployment Ends in Mistrial
  • Blackwater USA Takes Congressional Hot-Seat as Landmark Hearing Probes Mercenary Firm’s Role in Iraq
  • The Missing Billions: Ex-Iraq Occupation Chief Paul Bremer Questioned on Oversight, Spending of Iraqi Money
  • Cheering Movers and Art Student Spies: Was Israel Tracking the Hijackers Before the 9/11 Attacks?
audio Civic Activism, Blogging, and Media Democracy in the Rebuilding of New Orleans
In perhaps an unprecedented manner, the internet has become for New Orleanians an essential tool for re-establishing personal connections, for sharing stories, for communicating the will of residents, for organizing residents to rebuild their neighborhoods, and for fighting for desperately-needed answers and resources from every level of government.

New Orleans bloggers Karen Gadbois and Laureen Lentz have become champions of many causes, but their primary focus is preserving New Orleans historic heritage in a blog called “Squandered Heritage.”


Squandered Heritage

The Citizens' Road Home Action Team

Other Local Bloggers

Music played:
Dr. John, "Iko Iko," Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens, The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans, Shout Factory, 2004.

Allen Touissant, "Me and Tipitina," "Yes We Can Can," Our New Orleans 2005, Nonesuch, 2005.