The last week I have spent my yearly trip into New Orleans learning about changes in the community post –Katrina. I focus on the 9th ward, as that is an area disproportionately hit by the storm and affected by development. Last year, at the sixth anniversary, there was a brilliant opening of the New Orleans Healing Center, a community space with many opportunities for growth. It houses a food co-op, Café Istanbul (opened by the poet Chuck Perkins), a yoga studio, community police station, spiritual shop and much more.
This year, the Healing Center continues to grow and provide a chance for people to come together. One of the “big” issues is redevelopment. The Faubourg Marigny is a neighborhood full of low- to -the -ground shotgun style houses that create livable, walkable atmosphere in which many people have space to grow their own gardens. The latest movement by the neighbors is “size matters”, an awareness building campaign to keep incoming building projects to scale with the tradition of the historical architecture of the neighborhood.
I feel it is inspiring that a community so wracked by devastation has the resiliency and organizing skills to have the foresight and agency to protect their community history, and not just be dazzled by dollar signs of big business. I am hopeful that many communities can learn from their example.