Worst damn planning

 

 

BDR-HALF-NO-MAPThe latest road race has completely surrounded the Quarter so that no one can leave or arrive safely and on time for work. One opening business owner is still hoping his baked goods can arrive sometime soon, as he had no idea of this road closure and so could not alert his baker ahead of time. I have watched workers walk in all a.m. who are normally dropped off in front of their workplace, with one housekeeper tiredly telling me she has already “walked a few extra miles before going in to do some more.”

When locals and workers are pushed out, the Quarter suffers. I know our exiting mayor doesn’t understand this fact nor does he have a plan beyond soaking  visitors for as much money as he can, but this sort of event “planning” is a recipe for disaster for our neighborhood and the city as a whole in more ways than one.

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Only 2 garbage cans for the trash means that runners throw the rest to the ground. In case anyone feels this picture shows very little trash, it is because most of it is a block down where there were no cans. I just wanted to show the organizer’s “best effort”very early in the race.

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Props to a seed carrier

….In the heart of the feminine nature of Seed Carriers lives the instinctual calling to be intentionally aware of the essence and influence of every thought and emotion, of each spoken word and action taken. Our personal and collective future – all that comes to be – grows out of our here and now choice-making.

So what do you want to be seeding…
…in your life?
…on the earth?
…for the generations to come?

Copyright © 2011 JoAnne Dodgson


A friend left us this week. True to her life, the news was quietly passed from friend to friend with everyone wishing they had seen her just once more and could smile at her, thereby passing joy back to her. We were flabbergasted that she was the one who was taken, as she was a healer with a very strong life force.  But as she said recently in her gentle way:

We’re all going to get something.

I don’t have to be the impervious, always healthy Tai Chi teacher.

I am simply a human being.

That illness should not define her – even her passing –  so I won’t focus on it except to say she handled it with courage and grace and love and used it to share her very personal but teachable moment to us all.

Marilyn Yank. That is her name. I always liked her name. It suited her: a bit formal yet graceful with a strong old-world finish.

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Photo by Cheryl Gerber for Gambit

I met Marilyn when she moved to New Orleans with her partner, Anna Maria Signorelli. Anna Maria was a New Orleanian and they moved here partly because all New Orleanians are unhappy when away from here and partly because Marilyn had taken over the care of her ailing father  and the Signorelli family was here to depend on. And the weather was warm and sunny and moist most of the time and the two of them were deeply dedicated to farming the land. Maybe there were other reasons too that I am unaware of that mattered. They had come from Austin where Anna Maria had taken the helm of the Sustainable Food Center after its dynamic founder had moved to bigger work. Marilyn was working on the La Cochina Alegre project there; a team was born. I remember Marilyn told me they lived in a tent together while learning sustainable farming in Santa Cruz and once they made it through that, she knew they were partners for life.

Once back here, Anna Maria was immediately in her element.  I assume that she was like that when they were in Austin too cuz she is a powerhouse especially (as Marilyn always observed) when Anna Maria has a team around her. Marilyn took it slow, marveling as only she could about the intricacies of life here and her partner’s large Sicilian family’s wonderful togetherness. We met because a mutual friend, the thoughtful Max Elliot for those of you in urban agriculture here, in Austin, or in Shreveport, helped them put together a small group of activists to talk about building a network for food and farming in New Orleans.

We had a few meetings in Marilyn and Anna Maria’s meditation center, AMMA, so named partly for their combined names and the word for nurse or spiritual mother. We sat cross-legged in a circle and talked about our visions and beliefs and then after a few meetings, a few of us got a little antsy and asked if we could meet in a more active space. I remember Marilyn being fascinated and bemused by the request. Her activism was rooted in her quietness and centeredness, in moving the water’s surface as little as possible when making ones way through it. Her idea of activism was also illustrated by a story she told me of the people in an Asian country who had firmly and publicly set the goal that they would become a society totally absent of violence – in 1000 years. So every tiny and personal step they made towards that goal now  was meaningful, and to expect total success in one’s lifetime laughable.

I also remember  when Marilyn asked me to coffee at the fair trade coffeehouse after those first few meetings and said to me with what I came to know was her very direct but gentle way of asking a question: “I have been wondering about you since we met. Do you mind?”

I did not mind and we bonded. Turns out she was originally from Detroit.  I thought I recognized the steel backbone of a fellow rust belter under her beloved Southeastern desert style.  It didn’t really matter where she was from as much as it did for others, as her presence came from her embrace and sharing of the small shared whatever- moment, garden, food item, gesture, idea, right in front of her and  linking it to the gigantic: her quiet assessment and acceptance of humanity’s and the natural world’s pace.

Her Little Sparrow urban farm was a turning point in the city, both in its description of the vision she had for it right there on the board on front and its urban market box program, the first of its kind around town.  There was an open invitation for people to carefully pluck food from its constant profusion of well-tended food and beauty although she encouraged some wildness to flourish on its edges too. The tropical climate got the best of her at times as a farmer and she was justly impressed by her dear friend Macon’s skill in growing food in this brutal climate, constantly championing  his patience and knowledge as a grower to anyone who would listen. Many growers directly owe their experience to her willingness to share hers as she would always credit her teachers like Macon’s willingness to share theirs.

With a group of around a dozen others, she and Anna Maria built a lasting network of food and farming leaders, myself and Macon included. The work to grow this network of activists took years and could take pages here to recount my personal observations of her and Anna Maria’s resolve to see it happen. Sooner or later, just about everyone else involved in the founding either gave up or moved on to other work, except for Marilyn. She stayed in it as long as she was needed and as long as she thought she had something to offer. She made a few mistakes while doing it (fewer than anyone else I know) and yet, even those mistakes turned out to be mostly beneficial to the people involved.  In some form, that entire group owes most of its interconnectedness to Marilyn directly. Most of those founders are still honored colleagues of mine and some are also close friends, but all of us certainly remain fellow travelers who gladly remember those days  whenever we meet up again. I’d like to thank her again for her dedication to the group and the idea.

Even after I moved away from assisting directly with the work of the New Orleans Food and Farming Network, she and I reconnected regularly and when we did, her stories were always of a lesson learned or a description of the path of a karmic connection that had been experienced since I had seen her last. Some were very personal and painful. I found that I easily shared more of my deepest thoughts and fears than I did with most others, maybe because of her reciprocity or because of her abilities to see without judgement, or at least to recognize the judgement and to self-correct. Or maybe because she expected kernels of truth and revelation as the unspoken agreement of friendship.

One of the best times I had with her and Anna Maria was recent: during the Louisiana floods of 2016, I wrote them because I knew they had moved to that farming area affected. She immediately wrote me back, telling me their house and property were indeed in the path of the rising water, so they were in the city until they heard. Would I have dinner with them? I did and we laughed and shared updates and drank glasses of wine and laughed some more. As we parted, the text came from their neighbors that the water had stopped rising only a few inches from the top step of their raised home so they were going to be okay. After sharing their relief, I thought about how they had been totally present and joyful all evening, never seeming to worry about their looming crisis.

As soon as I heard the news this week, I had a sudden impulse to find a dandelion clock and blow its blossoms to the wind. It struck me as I explored that thought that the dandelion is a flower, but a tough little one at that.  It has healing properties and is carried by the wind to the most unlikely and forbidding places. Marilyn, you went far and wide and added much nourishment. Carry on.

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Time for Tennessee

Every year, I find time in my busy spring work schedule to get to the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival, which is my favorite festival of the year. It offers a healthy slice of tidbits for working writers, for lovers of New Orleans  readers of good books and performances for theatergoers.

Their digital schedule is handy, but just go to the Monteleone Hotel today thru Sunday to get a paper schedule, buy tickets, purchase books or concessions (you may find me there volunteering on Friday) and soak up the vibe.

TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW!

Tickets are ON SALE NOW!

We know you might have your favorite way of viewing our 5-day schedule of events, so here are some options so you can check out all of our panels, master classes, theater, and special events and plan your Festival experience.

  1. Hover over FESTIVAL on the menu bar at the top of our website and you’ll see dropdowns to view the events by category, see all the speakers (whose pages list their events), and a schedule that shows you the daily version.
  2. Or you can view and download our full color program.
  3. Or maybe you’d just like a printer-friendly descriptive program that you can peruse at your leisure.
  4. Or peruse our full color program with digital links.

Check out 2tender4house: an indie lit fest in New Orleans also happening this week.

St. Joseph’s Day altars

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St. Judes/Our Lady of Guadalupe on Rampart Street

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Went through the St. Jude’s shrine to get to the altar and, as always, stopped for a minute to view the sum of a community’s gratitude

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Followed a group of kids to the OLOG altar

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OLOG has a lively group of parishioners on hand and a large yet simple altar.

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After my first altar, I stopped in Congo Square to see the African Drum Circle. It was joyous and diverse.

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My favorite church view in the city: St. Augustine, the Treme church built by free people of color and still anchoring the area today.

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Many altars are set up in private homes and in stores. This one by Lost Love Lounge owner Nick Scramuzza is at Dauphine and Franklin.

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Nick does an altar at the Jazz Fest every year too.

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LLL’s altar

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1000 Bourbon Street, a private altar that is built today, ready to go at pm when they will hand out cookies, food and fava beans

St. Joseph’s Day Parade, March 18 6 p.m.

 

This parade involves a whole lot of Italian-American guys dressed in Tuxedos. If that is not enough, there will also be 16 floats, nine marching bands, beautiful maids. Vanessa Ferlito is the 2017 Grand Marshal and John M. Viola, Joseph Zolfo, Bryan Del Bondio, and David Greco will be the 2017 Parade Marshals and Armando Anthoy Asaro, Jr. is the 2017 IASJS caesar. The queen this year is Aubrie Ann St. Germain.Screen Shot 2017-03-18 at 10.38.18 AM.png

 

 

St. Mary’s Academy, founded by the Sisters of the Holy Family, celebrates 150 years

 

So many amazing women leaders that I know here turn out to have been educated by the Sisters.

 

Defying expectations is part of the fabric of St. Mary’s, which this year celebrates the 150th anniversary of its founding by the Sisters of the Holy Family, the pioneering order of Roman Catholic black nuns founded by Mother Henriette Delille. St. Mary’s Academy for Young Ladies of Color, the city’s first Catholic secondary school for African American girls, began in the French Quarter in 1867, then relocated to its own campus on Chef Menteur Highway in 1965.

 

An historic photo from the 1930s of the original campus in the French Quarter. The Bourbon Orleans Hotel stands there now. Courtesy of the Historic New Orleans Collection. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. L. Kent Nelson. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY Charles L. Franck Studio Collection at the Historic New Orleans Collection

 

St. Mary’s Academy, founded in 1867 by the Sisters of the Holy Family, celebrates 150 years | Education | theadvocate.com

St. Paddy’s Parades 2017, St. Joseph’s Day Parades too

Saturday, March 11 & Friday, March 17, 2017

Tracey’s St. Paddy’s Day Party – 11 a.m. til
Annual celebration in the Irish Channel – 2604 Magazine Street. Lots of green beer, corned beef and cabbage and more fun. They are the party at the end of the Irish Channel Parade.
See party location.

Saturday, March 11 & Friday, March 17, 2017

Parasol’s Block Party Celebration – 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
3rd and Constance 10am to 8pm. Music, green beer, food and surprises. The start of the block parties on the day of the Irish Channel Parade. The fun runs from 10 am to 8 pm, both days.
See party location.

Saturday, March 11

Irish Channel Parade – 12:30 p.m.
The Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Club will hold its Annual Mass and Parade celebration at St. Mary’s Assumption Church (corner of Constance and Josephine Streets) followed by the parade (corner of Felicity and Magazine)
See parade route.

Sunday March 12

St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Metairie Road – 12 Noon
The annual Metairie Road St. Patrick’s Day parade will take place at noon in front of Rummel High School on Severn Avenue, goes down Severn to Metairie Road, then Metairie Road to the parish line.
See parade route.

Friday, March 17

Molly’s at the Market & Jim Monaghan’s Parade – 6:00 p.m.
In the French Quarter, riders in carriages and marching groups. Begins and ends at 1107 Decatur St.
See parade route.

Friday, March 17

Downtown Irish Club Parade – 6:00 p.m.
The annual downtown St. Patrick’s Day parade begins on the corner of Burgundy and Piety in the Bywater, proceeds roughly up Royal, across Esplanade to Decatur, up Canal to Bourbon. The parade makes several “pit stops” on its way to Bourbon St.
See parade route.

Friday, March 17

Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Club block party – 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
This block party takes place on St. Patrick’s Day and is located at Annunciation Square on the 1500 block of Chippewa. This block party has Irish music, food, drinks, and dancers, and proceeds benefit St. Michael’s Special School.
See on map.

Saturday, March 18

Italian-American St. Joseph’s Parade in the French Quarter – 6:00 p.m.
The Italian American Club celebrates St. Joseph with a parade through the French Quarter. The parade kicks off at 6 p.m. at the intersection of Convention Center Blvd. and Girod Street. It includes 16 floats, nine marching bands and a whole lot of guys dressed in tuxedos.
See parade route.

Sunday March 19

Louisiana Irish-Italian Parade (Metairie) – 12 Noon
The Louisiana Irish-Italian Parade will roll at 12:00 noon, on the traditional Veternas Highway route in Metairie.
See parade route.

Saturday, April 1

St. Bernard Irish Italian Islenos Parade – 12 noon
The St. Bernard Irish Italian Islenos Community Parade is one of the largest events in nearby St. Bernard parish. The parade starts at 12noon along the W. Judge Perez route in Chalmette – from Meraux Dr. down to Ventura and back! It consists of 53+ floats, 35+marching groups 1,500+ members and 350,000 pounds of produce!
See parade route.

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