We’ve just wrapped on Day 2 since arriving to New Orleans and the city’s week-long Mardi Gras celebrations have been in full effect. At a glance, I can see what the big fuss is all about. From brightly decorated carnival floats, to flashy costumes, to the endless array of party beads, people here do indeed wear their heart on their sleeve and are eager to share their stories of pride and admiration pertaining to their beloved city.
Aside from all the Mardi Gras madness, our group took some time to visit the Lower 9th Ward – a community that’s still feeling the effects from the Hurricane Katrina devastation. Touring the area, one can see why the need for continued effort towards further relief is still needed, as many of the homes that haven’t been torn down are extremely dilapidated and lay abandoned. We had the very fortunate opportunity to learn and partake in some of the local food security initiatives being developed by Nat Turner and his crew at Our School at Blair Grocery (OSBG). Working directly under the hot sun and toiling in the humid green houses made me aware of the sacrifices being made day in and day out by Nat and his crew just to keep their noble cause afloat, but the lack of sufficient homes and interest in the area seems to have driven many businesses to look past the Lower 9th Ward.
My own personal take on the situation is that without a sufficient amount of quality homes, the interest to develop commerce will be almost non-existent due to the lack of people and security, which then leads to a lack of motivation for further investment into resources in the area for people to survive and thrive in. This eventually equates towards complete abandonment of the area. It seems to be a vicious chain of events that has currently gripped the Lower 9th Ward.
The strides currently being undertaken by groups such as OSBG and Make it Right appear to have the right idea in mind but these sorts of advocates are few and far between making only a small splash in a big pond. More advocacy that can promote greater involvement towards reaching self-sustainability seems to be the key in helping these groups achieve their goals!