Thursday, April 13, 2006

Treme Begins to Recover

The students from Tulane's Dept. of Public Health worked to help the neighborhood recover in October. My neighbor, Jen, in the uptown building is a grad student in the department, so we did a couple of great projects together. We did the Rapid Population Estimate for the city and got St. Augustine church cleaned up so they could open a food pantry with Second Harvesters which was very successful. The students were invaluable to the neighborhood and the church. They also did resident surveys to help assess the needs of the neighborhood. Their presence has been so good for Treme. Recently however, there has been some strife regarding the church and our local Momma D. (there are more than one in the city, I think they are regional matriarchs for large ghetto areas). One day, Momma D. said to one of the students who has worked tirelessly for the food pantry, "I'm sick of you white girls comin' in here thinkin' you gotta help the niggas . .. ". This is the crap that goes on in Treme and makes us the most dysfunctional neighborhood in the city. This made poor Erynn cry. These Momma D. women used to impress me, I thought they were the most functional and visible in the poor black community. Over the years though, I have seen this other side too and in some way reveals how afraid they are because they can't perform the supportive function in their neighborhood that they portray. I think they are counterproductive because they are unwilling to volunteer with the students. They want the credit or they won't do anything at all and they tear down the people who are trying to help. God forbid those people be white.

Recently, the archdiocese was going to cut funding and fold St. Aug parish into Peter Clavier parish. The kids from Common Ground rallied with the parishioners and just last Friday the archdiocese relented and announced that they will support the parish for another 18 months and keep Father LeDoux as priest. During this time, the parish must prove they can be sustainable.

Another great step in the recovery is the French government's announcement that they will help rebuild the Passabonne Cottage which is part of the Villa Meilleure, otherwise known as the African American Museum. My friend Meg is on the new board, so that is finally moving forward from the quicksand of the Morial fraud investigation by the feds.

On the bad side, the gangstah element began to rear its ugly head in the form of a renegade street party on Sunday two weeks back. This began in the front of the Candlelight, one of the few functioning bars left on N. Robertson St. When the cops failed to show up to shut it down, after about five hours, a bunch of us women, both black and white, made an appointment with Jackie Clarkson, our councilwoman and the Supt. of the 1st Dist. of NOPD. It was a good meeting and the following Sunday, the cops had this huge mobile police unit parked in front of the bar. Thank god it's election time for one thing but we do have a good relationship with the police who don't want to see the shoot 'em ups on N. Robertson start again like they were prior to Katrina.

Another great development as of this morning . . . the pile of debris from Mette Skou's property has been cleaned up! God, what a relief. Somethings that were bottlenecks seem to be dissolving. The neighbors across the street landscaped their
easement, it's gorgeous. Looks better than their building.

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