Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"That's shameful"...

From the NYTimes:

January 30, 2007
Senators at Louisiana Hearing Criticize Federal Recovery Aid
NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 29 — Three United States senators sounded off on Monday about the slow pace of recovery from Hurricane Katrina at a hearing in the French Quarter, criticizing federal officials for perceived inequities in aid to Louisiana and for imposing rules that are halting government assistance.
With Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois and a presidential candidate, expected to speak at the hearing of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, dozens of residents lined up outside the Louisiana Supreme Court building hoping to be admitted. But only a small fraction were allowed inside, where Mr. Obama jousted with Donald E. Powell, the federal coordinator of Gulf Coast rebuilding, about where the money was, and why more of it was not in Louisiana.
Mr. Obama and Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, focused on why Louisiana, which had far more damage than Mississippi, did not receive a larger proportion of federal aid. Mr. Powell said Congress had put a cap on how much aid money any one state could get.
The senators complained about federal rules requiring a local match for aid after disasters; Mr. Powell said that in some cases, like the removal of the tons of debris that inundated the landscape here, the rules had been waived.
The senators, including the panel’s chairman, Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, voiced little criticism of Mayor C. Ray Nagin or other local officials, and Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana was not on the witness list. Ms. Blanco is responsible for the Road Home, a troubled housing assistance program that has made little progress in getting federal rebuilding aid to thousands of homeowners.
Fewer than 300 homeowners have received aid under the program, Mr. Lieberman said, though more than 100,000 have applied. (A program official said on Monday that 359 had received grants.) The program’s failure is cited as a crucial reason for the faltering repopulation effort.
The senators used the occasion to echo local laments that President Bush did not mention New Orleans in his State of the Union address. They did not disagree when Mr. Nagin, evidently referring to officials outside the city, said, “The tragedy of Katrina has lingered for so long, I just don’t see the will to really fix it.”
While the senators scored the federal response, Mr. Powell gingerly noted the region’s “significant” difficulties before the storm, and suggested the problems of the Road Home were now a state matter.
Undeterred, Mr. Obama warmed to the issue of the Bush administration’s failures in the response to the disaster, now a fixture in the Democrats’ arsenal.
“There’s not a sense of urgency out of this White House to get this done,” Mr. Obama said. He spoke of his hometown of Chicago’s recovery from the great fire of 1871 as an effort of national will, and suggested it could be done again.
Mr. Obama wondered about “whether we’re in danger of actually forgetting New Orleans,” adding, “That’s shameful.”

Yes, it is shameful. Even more shameful, in my view, is that this hearing occurred just yesterday. That it seemed more a stage for political grandstanding--even from my beloved Obama--than for the genuine concern and urgent demands that we so need. That only a handful of beleaguered protesters limply held signs outside. That I felt sorry for the lone protester who made it inside. Poor, poor guy, I thought. He thinks we can make a difference. This feeling of defeat is what it feels like to live here, on a bad day. I am looking forward to Mardi Gras, to some good days.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Helen Hill's husband wrote this op-ed piece that was published in the T-P today. It moved me to tears.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

I found these two videos on a New Orleans blog I've been reading lately. I found the blogger while searching the web for anything related to our future neighborhood, Holy Cross. the author was considering moving there. I don't yet know what she's decided.

Anyway, this short film is spot-on and sticks with you.

And this video--featuring Kanye West and Jamie Foxx--takes me back, in a bad way.

Warning: both are disturbing (in a good way?).

Monday, January 15, 2007

What a long (and yes, strange) week it has been. I have fallen into a major spell of lethargy, which does not go well with anxiety. What I've done with it is a whole lot of nothing but worry about our future, lie around on the couch, eat far too much fried chicken in one sitting (okay--so that was while watching the very exciting Saints-Eagles game and therefore excusable), and sleep badly. None of this is new, but the unstructured time that comes with the big, fat breaks that we college instructors are afforded does not help. I have never had a handle on self-discipline, and so my long list of projects I meant to get to over the break has only added to my anxiety and guilt. The things I could be doing... the things I should be doing...

I did make something of myself over the past week. For one, I attended the crime march. It was just this past Thursday, but as with the week before, it feels like ages ago. I parked my car at Canal Place, walked to the meeting spot--the foot of the World Trade Center--and wandered around, reading signs, observing my neighbors, wondering where the minorities were. Later, we were in fact joined by members of the mostly-black Central City neighborhood, but it was once again a mostly-white protest. Many of the posters on the Bywater-Marigny nola.com forum derided folks for discussing the racial makeup of the march. Still, I wish the black community weren't so disenfranchised--and that our organizers (and yes, people like me) had done a better job of rallying minority residents. When I read (or hear) others saying that the issue isn't about race, I can't help but ask how it couldn't be.

But I am not feeling articulate enough to put this together.

At the march, I did see Marna David, a realtor we've met with about a few properties in Holy Cross. She was kind enough to give me a "HOLY CROSS, WE ARE REBUILDING" T-shirt, which I wore happily.

I felt a bit like an imposter, though, and I realized as I wore that shirt that I have very mixed emotions about our future (potential) move to HC. I can understand why the black community would want badly to protect HC and the lower ninth from gentrification by white folks like Simon and me. I am also a little afraid... not of the general criminal-element boogy-man, but of targeted attacks against us (whities) for moving to an area that black New Orleanians would understandably feel fiercely possessive of.

And then I was reading this evening about Holy Cross the school. I don't know what misguided notion I'd had before--somehow I thought it was a historically black boys' school--but that school is whitey-white-white. Evidently, the school's decision to move was not impacted solely by the damage brought by the storm, but instead by the neighborhood's shift in demographics--from middle-class immigrant (white) families (German and Italian) to lower and lower-middle-class black families. Apparently, many of the families whose boys attended the school lived in St. Bernard, a neighborhood whose reputation for white-flight is notorious. (Recently they even instituted an ordinance to force St. Bernard residents to rent only to family or other St. Bernard residents. At least this is what I'd heard. One doesn't need an imagination to realize that this ordinance would prevent the largely-black population from New Orleans that is desperate to return to affordable rentals from moving to St. Bernard.) Still: I am hoping, oh I am hoping that Holy Cross was moving for less dubious reasons. And I hope, too, that all that I heard about St. Bernard is not true.

I just feel so conflicted about our move there. Guilty for gentrifying. Guilty for being afraid. Guilty for threatening the fragile makeup of a neighborhood that is already broken.

Speaking of broken... we drove down to the house last night, and oh, was it dark. Simon was worried about just how poorly lit the street was, but I pointed out to him that it was primarily dark because there are no other occupied homes on the block. Sure enough, when we returned to our 'hood, we noted that the streetlights give off the same, dim and inadequate glow. And because there are three unoccupied homes on our block now, the street is still quite dark.

So we plan to light that house of ours up. And all week I have been browsing designs on HGTV.com and marthastewart.com and lowes.com and whatnot, looking at dream kitchens and dream living rooms--looking for paint colors and at cabinet-stains and lighting fixtures because we got the revised designs for our home... and we are now about to sign a purchase order! (If anyone knows how to attach a pdf. to this post, tell me and I will attach the plans.) I'll write more about this soon (I hope).

I realize that I have not described a strange week, at all. I guess it's just that when I look back these memories come to mind, and they feel weird, all together:
1) driving to the house at night
2) watching the Saints game
3) having a hard time sleeping
4) attending a family-literacy training workshop
5) complaining to my colleagues at happy hour on Friday about my lousy schedule and being perpetually on the bottom of the totem pole at my job
6) drinking margaritas at the Dragon's Den
7) scanning Katrina refrigerator magnets
8) reading Madame Bovary
9) attending a crime march
10) worrying
11) doing laundry
12) watching the season premiere of Rome
13) presenting a humanities-based discussion of Jane Goodall's book, "The Eagle and the Wren"
14) looking for the perfect boots
15) deciding on novels for my fiction course
16) watching the Golden Globes
17) going to choir practice
17) reading other blogs and feeling a) immature and b) unread.

I need to go to bed if I am going to start getting up--as I will have to--at 6:15.
So goodnight.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Please check out my other blog: www.nolafridge.blogspot.com. I've started to add the scanned-in magnets, and I'll be continually updating the blog until it's done (I hope it won't take longer than a week).

Nolafridge is a blog devoted to images of refrigerators discarded after Hurricane Katrina, and the magnets those refrigerators once wore. I'll present a paper about the project (its impetus, my struggles with collecting, archiving, and giving it a "purpose") at the Popular Culture Association's annual conference in Boston in April. I'd hoped to publish the project in book form, but couldn't find a publisher (full-color books are evidently very expensive), so I'm going with the blog, instead. I won't make any money, but the project was never about that, anyway.

The next phase will be to turn the magnets into a Mardi Grase costume--The Frigidaire Queen--using my wedding dress. More to come!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

It's hard for me to believe that it was just Thursday morning that Helen Hill was killed. Somehow this city feels so different to me now. As if weeks and weeks have gone by.

First, a clarification. I don't know if I mentioned this previously, but the early news reports seemed to imply that Paul Gailiunas (Helen's husband) opened the door that morning. Paul was a doctor known for his devotion to those living in poverty, and somehow I--and many others--began to imagine that Paul and Helen's generosity was taken advantage of. I've read a different account, posted on the nola.com Marigny/Bywater forum:

"If you are disturbed about no info on how the crime took place and who was the perpetrator, (like me)- I just ran into a friend of theirs who told me that Helen got up at 5:30a.m. to let the pet pig, Rosie, out of the back door, because she thought she needed to go-- that was when the guy came in and attacked her. She started screaming and he shot her, which roused Paul who came to her rescue-- getting shot 3 times himself. The guy was African-American in his young 20's. But, Paul didn't have his glasses on and couldn't tell much more. The guy fled, and evidently, Paul made it to the front door with Francis to try to get rescued.Paul is apparently back in Canada with Francis, and no thoughts of ever returning here. He is completely devastated."

Obviously, I can't rely on a grapevine account, either, and neither account makes me feel better or able to make sense of the murder (if anything, the nola.com account makes me more worried. If Helen was attacked, and if the perp was in the back yard, what was his motive?) For some reason, though, I have been consumed with the details of the murder, with the story of their lives together, and with the way in which the loss of Helen has drawn our community together even as it sends many running from New Orleans for what may, in fact, be safer ground.

Since the murder, the nola.com forum has been abuzz with plans for a march against crime that will take place next Thursday. When I read author Ken Foster's first suggestion that we march, I cringed:

"does anyone know if there is a march planned on city hall regarding the lack of response on crime and these recent murders.
Or, would anyone like to help coordinate one? I know too many people who are ready to leave town--and probably still will--yet it seems it is time to demand something in response rather than just the usual sit and wait which seems the status quo for the city's leaders. "

I have attended a few New Orleans protests "in my day," but I quit a while ago because the New Orleans tendency to make everything into a parade made me feel as if we were accomplishing nothing. Maybe I sound fatalistic when I assume that we are taken less-than-seriously when we tote bongo drums, ride wacky bicycles, or "second line" when we protest something as serious as was--I say I'm being a realist.

Anyway, I worried that this "march on city hall" would become another pointless parade. We'd feel good about ourselves, we'd have a grand ol' time, but what would we actually accomplish? I also worried that the group would be nothing but rich, alarmist whiteys--and that rallying together would only further polarize the city on racial lines.

But I've got to give it to Ken Foster and my 'hood. Today a meeting was held to plan the march, and more than 200 people attended. Racial diversity and a broad representation of all New Orleans neighborhoods is a concern for others, too. AND we've all agreed to keep the silly stuff at home. We want to act and look as serious as we want to be taken. So, I will make a proud return to my protesting roots this Thursday. More soon...

Today Simon and I walked to Helen and Paul's house. The walk reminded me just how close, close, close we lived. I am sad that I didn't know them, my neighbors. Jackie told me last night that she remembers introducing me to Paul, and I do seem to remember him (I recognise him in photos), and saying to someone I met, "That's my brother's name!" (yes: brilliant.)

When we arrived at their house, the pile of flowers and letters had gotten soggy from last night's rain. Someone had crafted an angel wing from a piece of gold spray painted cardboard. In Sharpie, they'd written, "It rained so hard last night, it was almost like God was expressing all of our sorrow."

The front door to their home was open, and we didn't know what to do. It was almost as if we were scared to cross the threshold, and I found myself very morbidly looking at the hardwood flooring for traces of blood.

Inside, friends of theirs were boxing up their things, and thankfully, one of them spoke to us. He asked if we knew them, and we said we didn't, but that we were neighbors. The man (named Brad Ott, I think) said something along the lines of oh good, neighbors, and said how much they loved the neighborhood and everyone in it. He told us he'd pass along the card, and asked us to write down our contact info. We walked home. Simon and I hugged. We've hugged a lot in these past four days. I'd like to hug more to make up for all of the crying I've been doing.

Later, I went to the Riverwalk Mall for mindless shopping with one of my girlfriends. There can't possibly be a more beautiful view from a Banana Republic in all the world: steamboats going down the mighty Mississippi. I bought a sweater that was on sale. I came home and made stir fry and watched TV. I felt not at all like Helen Hill.

Maybe that's what has made these past few days seem like forever. It's not just that the neighborhood all of a sudden seems energized--that all of New Orleans now seems energized--it's that I have been reflecting a lot on my own life, and comparing it to that of Helen Hill. Helen Hill, with her thrift store clothes and her community activism, with her creativity and spirit. She was who I would like to be, and I think I have been feeling heavy-hearted because I am realizing that not only did we lose her, but I missed out on getting to meet her, on getting that wonderfulness to rub off on me. Oh, poo.

So tonight I sent an email to the owners of the B&B where the suspect first broke in before attacking Helen. One of the owners said to Adam Nossiter of the NY Times, “You know, there are people in this neighborhood trying to bring it back[...]I’m tired of this. I’m ready to torch the whole neighborhood.”

My email:

"Dear David and Dale,

I am your neighbor. In May, my husband and I were married at Bacchanal. My parents stayed at Sweet Olive (as they had before and will again). Having them just a short walk away and in a place they loved meant a lot to both them and us. Since then, we have continued to spread the word about your wonderful place.

The Sweet Olive is a wonderful place because of you and the love you've filled the house with. I hate to think that an intruder could threaten that.

Still, I can understand how frustrated you must be (Dave, I read of your frustration in the NY Times.) As longtime residents of the Marigny, we can relate to the fear and anger you've expressed. Nevertheless, I feel strongly that this city needs the love and commitment of people like you.

We hope you'll stay. If there's anything we can do for you, please let us know.

Your neighbors,

Sarah and Simon"

So maybe Helen has rubbed off on me. At least I'd like to think so...

Good (peaceful) night, all.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

On the way to see “Dreamgirls,” I heard a segment on NPR about the drummer for the Hot 8 Brass Band, who was shot and killed last week. The bullet was intended for his 15-year-old stepson. The Hot 8 are now considering leaving New Orleans.

After the movie (which was nothing remarkable, ‘though the music felt good), I turned on WWOZ and heard DJ Brice Nice (who DJ’d our wedding reception) playing a tribute show to both Dinerral and Helen Hill, the young mother who was murdered two days ago. The songs ranged from brass band music to protest songs, to funny ditties her husband played, including “Opposite Machine,” and “Accidental Attraction.” I felt as if I’d heard the band before, and I was so, so, sad all of a sudden.

I’d not driven by Helen and Paul’s home, though they live just four blocks from us. When I was without a car, I would ride my bike by their house on my way home from bartending. I would never do that now. Is it that I am older, and do we really get more conservative? Or is it just that I am wiser and not so naïve?

I am scared by the aftermath of these murders. On nola.com, people are posting that these killings are the last straw, and that they plan to move away now. Others hang on defiantly. I watch and worry. One poster repeatedly writes, “Tear down the projects!” and I feel sick and scared.

One has to imagine that the people who killed Dinerral and Helen were desperate, and I think the environment here is fueling that desperation. The landscape is horrible, and the message we hear from our “leaders”—through stagnation and no evidence of progress—is that they don’t care about us. It is difficult, when no one cares for you, to care about or for yourself. And as someone on NPR said this evening, “Poverty is a form of violence, itself.” New Orleans has, and continues to breed poverty.

So how willing are we—am I—to stay put? To fight both for those who have less—as Dinerral, as Helen, and as her husband (who was cradling their 2-year-old, Francis Pop, in his arms, kneeling over his dying wife)—fought? Is it worth the risk?

In line for popcorn at the movies, I told Brandi that I’d been crying over this in the car, and a woman in front of me in line asked if there were any leads. No. No leads. Evidently the shooter may be the same person who broke into Sweet Olive (the B&B where my parents always stay). The police were responding to a call there when they hear four or five shots and ran just two houses down to find Helen dead. It could have been the same person. No description has been given. I don’t know why.

But here, it is almost a foregone conclusion. The man is black. A drug addict. He has no regard for anyone’s life, much less his own. And this assumption is fueling the kind of anger that scares me so much. I imagine Helen Hill would have felt the same concern.

How do we deal with our fear? How do we address it, and at the same time, address our need for security and safety in this volatile and right now frightening place? I am almost as afraid of the polarization I see coming out of the response to Helen’s murder as I am of the killer, himself.

And there is something at the heart of my mourning that is even more complicated. I feel so resolutely sure that I am meant to stay here precisely because of people like Dinerral and Helen. The fact is, they (educators, creative forces, givers) are not exceptions in New Orleans. In fact, there are many, many, many more like them. It’s one of the things that drew me here, in the first place.

When I drove past Helen and Paul's house, I realized just how close it is to our own. A carpet of candles and flowers covered the stoop. I cried. Hard.

But, as I mourn the loss of these two amazing souls, I am sure, somehow, that they would want us—that they would want me—to stay and lay claim to this city. It might seem naïve, but now, here, I prefer to see it as wise.

Friday, January 05, 2007

In an effort to get mind off of the horrible murder down the street, I've focused my efforts this morning on coming up with a pitch for an NBC TV show that's holding a casting call today in New Orleans. The show, called "Fortune" will give money to participants to fulfill some sort of dream. Now, of course New Orleans is filled with folks lacking the funds to fulfill even the most basic of dreams (dreams which arguably shouldn't have to be dreams, even--like rebuilding a home or a park that's been ravaged by the storm). Like those "dreams," my own has TV written all over it. I want to build a bridge.

In 1912, when the by-now notorious Industrial Canal was built between the lower ninth ward (including the Holy Cross neighborhood, where Simon and I plan to move next summer), it effectively isolated the Lower 9 from the rest of the city, which resulted in disinvestment (if that's a word) in the area, and a general downturn in the area's value and viability as a historic community. The two bridges which connect the Lower 9 with the rest of the city lie at Claiborne Avenue and St. Claude. Both drawbridges, they are hulking and unsightly structures--neither of which is pedestrian or cyclist-friendly. In a city where only 40% of the residents own cars, and where public transportation has become increasingly sporadic and inaccessible, post-K, these bridges further isolate the Lower 9, making an already-difficult revitalization of the neighborhood even more difficult.

My idea was to "pitch" the rebuilding of the St. Claude Avenue bridge. The St. Claude bridge is the smaller of the two bridges, and the one that connects the historic Bywater with hictoric Holy Cross. The bridge is narrow and far too scary for any pedestrian to safely cross. As the Preservation Resource Center's Operation Comeback steps up its focus on the revitalization of Holy Cross, and as other factors begin to bring life back to Holy Cross (Brad Pitt's Global Green Project; the rebuilding of the Jackson Barracks), a new bridge would aid the comeback of the Lower 9, including Holy Cross.

But there are more selfish reasons that I want this bridge to be improved. When I talked to Terrence about our moving across the Canal, he was sad because he said he wouldn't be able to see us anymore. I told him that of course he would, but really, he's right. He can't drive, and without a passable pedestrian bridge, he'll not be able to come see us. Jackie won't be able to ride her bike to our house as she now does. And in general, that narrow and uninviting bridge will discourage our friends from coming over to visit us.

So I'm getting my "pitch" together, and I start doing research, only to discover that of course, the notorious Corps of Engineers in in charge of the fate of the bridge. They do, in fact, have plans to rebuild it--in 2015. Their plans, though, focus on industry and improving the flow of maritime traffic, not on aiding the neighborhoods (which shouldn't surprise me, I suppose). There's a clause that suggests that two weeks before the destruction of the current bridge, an "advertising period" will occur, allowing for private entities to vie for possession of the bridge, but who, I ask you, would want to own and maintain a bridge when they know the government will foot the bill? Anyways, my little dream was squashed by the reality of bureaucracy. I suppose this is what so many homeowners with their own "dreams" are experiencing right now.

My dream effectively killed, I turn, then, to my next project: scanning months' worth of refrigerator magnets for my upcoming Nolafridge presentation at the American Popular Culture Association. (See my other blog.)

Sigh... I guess it's better than having the morbid thoughts that have possessed me for the past 24 hours. Again: sigh.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Not good. This young couple opened their door to a stranger at 5:30 am. We would have done the same. I am spooked, and most definitely sad for the husband and son of the talented mother who's responsible for the wonderful little animated film you can see by clicking on day 9 at this site.

Also, it appears that the perpetrator did, in fact, break into Sweet Olive B&B--either before or after the murder.
This morning a woman was murdered four blocks east of our house. I don't know the details--the info released on WWL-TV's site is sketchy--but the speculations on the Bywater/Marigny forum scare me.

Now, I am NOT an alarmist, but I must admit that this has me shaken. I am home alone today, and I think that maybe I'll run some errands away from home until I know more. I may also drive by Sweet Olive B&B to find out what I can do (if anything) to help.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

An article in today's Times-Picayune addresses roadblocks to the Musicians' Village for many of its intended inhabitants (musicians). Back in October I wrote a piece for nolafugees.com about learning that I was ineligible for the Village (for different reasons) and bemoaning the out-of-town bongo-drum-chick's ability to cruise right on in to her 20 year, no-interest mortgage.

Oh, and those damn mortgages!

Simon and I met with staff at the Preservation Resource Center today. It appears our meagre budget might, in fact, not be enough for the house at 717 Deslonde. The architect was in attendance, and she was very amenable to our suggestions for improvements to the plans, but we are learning just how expensive these things can be. The house will have 1300 square feet of living space, and we have no sense of just how much a total renovation of house with said square-footage should be, but we both get the impression that if we went it alone, we could make it happen, for sure, within our budget... sigh. If only we knew what we were doing.

We feel so in the dark about all of this house-buying stuff, and with Simon returning to teaching tomorrow, and my return to teaching soon, we will not be able to devote ourselves to the kind of research and legwork that feels necessary in such a huge undertaking. Because Simon is a Brit, he's wary of realtors and wants us to act as much as possible on our own behalf. I'm all for it, but right now I'm feeling pretty adrift and confused. Should we buy the PRC house--with its solid restoration (down the the nails), even though it appears it will be more expensive than doing the work ourselves? How the heck does one teach full-time (and live a life, maintain a new marriage, etc., etc.,) and renovate a flooded home? And even if we did have the time, how could we pay rent in our current house AND pay for the renovation? What is it that makes us feel we should be buying, anyhow? We've got a great rental in a fine location. Or is it that we are looking for something more? (Something more like Home.)

I guess I should just console myself with the dream of finally being in that new home. Of having a bedroom with a door we can close (in our single, L-shaped shotgun, our doorless bedroom is stuck between the living room and kitchen, and therefore gets more traffic than any of the four other rooms). Of having neighbors who stay. Of being away, away, from the darn train. Of walking a couple of blocks to the levee, where we'd watch another of those sunsets... Ah, that's more like it. (See: I am trying to end my typically-bleak posts on a lighter note!)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Best wishes, all for a happy and healthy 2007.

We spent our eve at the Mid-City bonfires--one of those very "local" events that makes one happy, happy, happy, to be back in New Orleans. Families and friends pile their Christmas trees on the neutral ground of Orleans Avenue, and at midnight the trees are lit, for a spectacular bonfire. Everyone's shooting off fireworks (perhaps dangerously, yes), and a few folks get naked and run rings around the fire. It's not a city-sanctioned event, but the cops and the fire department are there. Last night I watched one cop wait in his car for someone's firecrackers to go off before he drove on. It just feels so good to have the powers that be actually there to protect you... rare. We all glowed and drank champagne and rang in the New Year happily.

Today we drove down to Holy Cross for the umpteenth time. What we love most about the neighborhood is its access to the river. All this time we've lived in the Bywater/Marigny, we've lived just blocks from the river, but we've never been able to see it unless we drive into the Quarter--massive concrete "locks" block us from the view and from access to the space. In Holy Cross, there's a beautiful footpath and benches along the river, and a spectacular view of the city. Yesterday we saw our first sunset there. I hope there will be many more.
Tomorrow we meet with the Preservation Resource Center to discuss 717 Deslonde, the home we may (we hope) buy. If I've not mentioned the PRC's work before: their Operation Comeback program is designed to revive historic homes in historic neighborhoods.
717 Deslonde was slated for demolition. It's been in the same family for the past 85 years, and before the storm, two sisters lived there--the daughters of German immigrants. The house really feels wonderful--like it's been loved--and there's a big yard, to boot. While our primary reason for moving out of the Marigny-Bywater is being unable to afford the area, we are excited, too, about the larger land parcels. The neighborhood has a long way to go--as most of the city does--in terms of recovery, but we are hopeful.

Yesterday I read the post of a blogger who is also entertaining the idea of moving to Holy Cross. She wrote that friends cautioned her against that move because of the crime. Having spent many days in the area, and having driven there at night, I don't have the sense of its being a crime-ridden area, at all, but because it is part of the Lower Ninth Ward, it seems that most people assume the worst of it, as they do all of the Lower Ninth.

But when I am in Holy Cross, I feel like I am in an actual neighborhood--a place where people live in their homes for a long time, where they have families and lives, as opposed to a place like the Bywater-Marigny, where so many of us are simply "stopping" for a while. In our neighborhood, everyone seems young and in transition--or they are real estate investors who own property upon property and rent them out. I look forward to feeling at home in Holy Cross. Now, if we could only be sure that they'd close the MR-GO (I'll write about the research I've done into the nature of the flooding in Holy Cross soon. Right now I've got to make black-eyed peas and greens for good luck.)

Here's to a productive new year--and one that finds us all at home, wherever we are.