Friday, September 22, 2006

Marmorino Veneziano on Ursulines Street

You're probably wondering what's going on with my rebuild. I'll post an update on that tedium soon, we're all in the hands of the evil insurance companies and so it's like the whole city is in a coma. If you didn't have to file a claim, you have no idea how frustrating it is and how it makes you want to just walk away from the whole city. So, to fight that feeling, I figure that this is a good time to spend on the neighorbohood organization, writing grants, and to gain inspiration from local artists. Part of the reason I think I haven't been posting here so much is that I have been working in the superior blogware over at Metroblogging and now this Blogger formatting pisses me off because it takes me too long because it has too many glitches.

My neighbor and I have been having this ongoing discussion about superior interior details as she rebuilds her house from the flood. We have been going on and on about this interior paint finish using wax over plaster. It sounded like so much work that I just shrugged it off because I am not big fan of the faux finish except in the historical context found in antebellum plantations and some turn of the century homes in the city. So my friend, MaPo took me over to her friends house on Ursulines in Treme to see the results of this technique which involves a couple thin layers of a plaster with crushed marble in it and then an application of a wax paste that is then buffed to a soft glowing finish. It's really the finish as much as the color/texture that impressed me, a finely buffed wax that is fundamentally a matte finish but with a translucent quality that reflects light. Sandy says that she cheated and used a power buffer and it was fine and saved a lot of time and energy.

In addition to the wall work, I was really happy to be able to see Sandy and Bill's house. It's one of those houses I have always looked at from the outside and wanted to go in, and finally I got to see it. One of my favorite things in New Orleans is getting invited to private parties just to see the inside of people's homes here because you never know what architectural elements you will be treated to once inside. A beautiful courtyard, a carriage house, balconies or galleries you can't see from outside, old fireplaces, beautiful woodwork including some inspiring custom cabinetry and sometimes brick between post walls or the view from above, in this case, St. Augustine's steeple !

For more details:
Stucco Italiano

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Historic Faubourg Treme Association Takes Aim at Blight, Crime and Grime

Adolf Bynum, Beautification Committee Chair, Initiates Treme Cleanup Day

Since Katrina, Naydja and Adolf Bynum have spearheaded a new and more solid neighborhood organization in Treme. Prior to the storm there were a number of factions vying for control of this neighborhood because it stands as an icon to the culture and history of the city. We have the Backstreet Cultural Museum which is dedicated to the history of the Mardi Gras Indians, St. Augustine Church, the African American Museum, and Charbonnet's Funeral Home, and we were also the home of Joe's Cozy Corner, where Kermit Ruffins spent a good deal of his time. We also have Armstrong Park, home of Congo Square and we can claim the old Treme Market as part of our colorful past as well as Storyville. So there has always been a high degree of interest from various groups to steer the neighborhood.

Pre-Katrina, it suffered from a rash of drug violence which has been plaguing the second line scene for the past few years. Joe's Cozy Corner was the site of a few murders. North Robertson street still suffers from some bad elements who persist but we could see that the storm had created a vaccuum of leadership and for a while, crime. We decided this was the time to get start a very solid and very professionally managed neighborhood organization that would welcome all residents, erasing the past bad feelings that existed between old, ineffective groups that had failed to make any real positive impact in the area. After Katrina, the blighted ghetto looks more like a slum. The Historic Faubourg Treme organization is dedicated to the smaller historic area of Treme and focused on our main problems of Crime, Blight and Grime. In order to be successful, we have to keep our mission very focused, we want to make a measurable difference.

Trash is a big problem citywide right now. People can't seem to remember what a trash can is used for, throwing household trash in the street in grocery bags. Debris, which is everywhere was being picked up by the Army Corps of Engineers but we need to get residents back into the habit of renting dumpsters for construction debris.

We cleaned up a couple blocks of N. Robertson in late July preparing for our first ever Night Out Against Crime. This, the day after a quadruple murder on St. Ann and
Claiborne. But we hosted a very nice Night Out event and the media showed the good things happening in our neighborhood. We're a determined group.

On Aug. 20,2006 Adolf hosted a cleanup of most of the neighborhood that included many many residents and the city's sanitation department provided staff and trucks.
It was another great step toward our mission.