|Posted by ny2no on July 19, 2009 at 8:32 PM||comments (0)|
July 19th, 2009
Today was a little different: we took a step back from our usual physical activity and instead watched the documentary "Fresh". "Fresh" is an extensive look at the industrial food chain and the many ways in which it oppresses its workers, its animals and its consumers all for the benefit of a low food cost. It also expresses, on a more positive note, the alternatives embodied by sustainable organic agriculture, such as that employed by Polyface Farm in Virginia. The short film went a long way as it opened our eyes to a world otherwise covered by the demands of our everyday lives. During our cross-talk several different opinions and disscussions arose which lead to a stimulating debate about the food we consume and how (if at all) we can change the way and what we eat. It was an interesting change from the usual morning labor and instead we exercised our brains. We haven't debriefed yet but when we do hopefully it will be as animated as the previous cross-talk.
--A collaborative effort by Augie and Phoebe
|Posted by ny2no on July 3, 2009 at 8:15 PM||comments (0)|
What I experienced here was nothing that I could ever expect.
When Katrina hit New Orleans in the late summer of 2005, my family was on a week-long cruise, visiting places such as St. Marks and the Carribbean Islands. As media covered this disaster, I had heard stories of people trapped on roof tops and gathered at the Superdome, waiting for help to arrive. However, just as the coverage of Katrina's effects diminished, so did my concern for this problem. Back then, I had a larger issue at hand; I was starting freshman year in high school in September.
According to the time zone in New Orleans, the time is 7:28 PM on Friday July 3, 2009. I have spent six days in the Lower Ninth Ward, the neighborhood that received the worst of the worst damage. Throughout this week, I have witnessed the true extent of Katrina. Never did I expect that even after nearly four years, the remains of Katrina still exist. Homes have weeds extending several feet above the average human height. Dead animals and garbage remain untouched. People of the Lower Ninth Ward still need financial and moral support.
In addition, my body and mind has been stretched physically and mentally. Under nearly 100 degree weather, everyone bears the scorching heat to clear out filthy lots or help a neighbor rebuild their home. Living in the Lower Ninth Ward constantly makes me aware of the social problems, such as racism, not just in New Orleans, but also in New York City.
I don't know how to end this because there is just not enough space on the internet to explain in words my adventure.
Summer 2009 Group 1 Participant
|Posted by ny2no on July 2, 2009 at 3:13 PM||comments (0)|
Today my group of 5 girls and 1 boy worked on clearing an overgrown lot. Talk about girl power! The weeds were about 7 feet tall at their highest points. When we were driven there we thought it was a joke. The lot was enormous and filled with thick vegetation. As we made our way through the jungle, we couldn't stop ourselves from singing various songs. A neighbor right in front of the lot, who was working on his own lawn, was kind enough to let us sit on his porch when we rested. Mr.Sims indulged us on stories about fishing and cooking methods. He invited us to his beautiful home and gave us great advice. "Wear long shirts and long pants" he said. While I wasn't too sure about the long shirts, long pants can only be a benefit. I could never imagine anyone ever inviting me to their home in New York City. His warmth and hospitality made working much more enjoyable. Even when he told us we had been clearing the wrong lot. When doing something as difficult as clearing a lot, it means so much more when you actually meet people who are affected by it. When I cleared lots on previous days it seemed I was doing it for no one, just for the heck of it, but to meet a person and see a face is so much better. I would have done the hard work regardless, but the impression of the people here down in the ninth ward is something that will last longer than the aches of my body.
|Posted by ny2no on July 1, 2009 at 3:35 PM||comments (0)|
"No wonder why the statue of Justice has a blind fold over her eyes," Willie Mae said, a 63 year old woman with breast cancer who lives in the Lower Ninth Ward, "How can she see what she's doing? She must get so dizzy!" As I laughed hysterically in her kitchen there was a sense of sadness and anger but hope that the lively human spirit that fills the air in New Orleans would improve the community. She had just been telling stories about how hard it was during Katrina and how she felt trapped and unsupported by the government. Willie Mae pointed to an original painting of Elvis hanging on her wall and explained that that was the only thing left in the house. "There's not a price you can put on the things you lost. No matter how much money the government gives you, you can't get your photo albums, your treasures from lost family members, or your roots back because you've been pulled right from the ground you grew up in," she explained. I had this conversation with this woman while cavassing. I was assigned to a block to record which houses are abandoned, which lots are vacant, and which houses are under construction, while talking to every resident I can. With a simple exchange of names, Willie Mae had invited me and my partner into her house, offered us cold drinks, and sat us down with stories by the bucket load.
Canvassing is one of the most important things I am doing in New Orleans. I think that rebuilding the community and giving residents the opportunities to do the same is the only way the residents in the Lower Ninth Ward will be able to excell. I believe in keeping local people involved in rebuilding their community. When I start talking to strangers who are so eager to tell their stories, I realize that valuing the human connection is extremely important. A lot of the residents' hope is lost and giving that hope back to them and sustaining it the most fulfilling experience for me.
|Posted by ny2no on July 1, 2009 at 3:20 PM||comments (0)|
We made it here safely! We arrived on Saturday and immediately began to sweat. It has been hot but we've been lucky enough to have rain showers and an occasional breeze. The people in our group are amazing! We represent nine NYC highschools and even one from Massachusettes. We have been working in the School At Blair Grocery garden, turning the compost, educating neighborhood children, supporting a local summer camp, renovating a house, clearing overgrown lots, and walking away completely satisfied and grimy. We are physically exausted but it is well worth it. We are learning new skills (herding chickens, hanging sheetrock, and cooking our own food), and learning about the community in the Lower Ninth Ward. We are all healthy and looking forward to the rest of our week.