Markets need a boost (again)

Huh, the post at the bottom about the Wednesday farmers market reopening was only from 3 years ago. Seems like longer than that! Sadly, the Wednesday market is tinier than ever and struggling more than ever.
When we all went away in August of 2005, we (meaning those of us at the market organization that ran the Crescent City Farmers Markets) had built the vendor base to a respectable 8-10 faithful (and 2-3 semi-regular doubtful) vendors and had 250-400 regular shoppers attending most weeks. That shopping base was found after much trial and error and realization that many of the assumptions we made about who would attend were wrong and needed to be addressed. (Having the guts to correct our original hypothesis happened at every market we opened while I was there it seemed and what was a big part of what made our tiny organization’s work so relevant to the needs of the area…) Pre-2005, the shoppers we began to attract to this mkt were an interesting mix of seniors arriving via community center shuttles in the first 2 hours and young bike riding service workers coming in the last hour and a half of the market. Not at all what we had originally planned for and expected.Same thing was true each time of the vendor base too.
When it reopened in 2014, I went weekly at first, but I stopped attending it for a few reasons, not the least of which was the shrimp lady and seasonal fruit vendors attendance was intermittent and their absences were without advanced notice. My experience is that those products are crucial to any weekday market in New Orleans. And anchor vendors missing a lot of consecutive market days means they don’t believe in it enough.
And of course, since 2014, the organization has had to focus on finding a new location for its Saturday market, AND deal with the traffic woes of Uptown’s gargantuan street repairs driving so many lunchtime workers and regulars from that market, AND with the rapid exit of the originally enthusiastic French Market ED that I mentioned in the post. Many shoppers (and vendors!) are quickly impatient with any of these issues, much less all of them at once and so I can imagine the quandary that the organization finds itself again: How to make weekly pop-up markets big enough to attract enough shoppers and vendors but not too big that it becomes a nuisance to the neighborhood (like many of the new festivals have become)? And how to manage to have enough unique qualities that people get up early on Saturday, delay the start of the workday til their Tuesday stop, use the Weds time (and free parking offered) to also grab some food at Matassa’s or take a walk about the Quarter for lunch, or head to them when leaving work on Thursday?

Our (pre-2008) take on these markets was, after a lot of trial and error, to build each one based on the demographics of those that were nearby and likely to attend and to only open new ones when we felt the earlier ones had been programmed and filled to capacity enough. And to correct when we were wrong. I think one thing I’d add now that we didn’t do as well then would be to engage the nearby neighborhood associations more and also find more unique partners for each market’s programming of events. And focus more on product development with the existing vendors.
The idea of Festivus, the Holiday Market for the Rest of Us (2003-2007) was to offer our mission-based, producer-supportive approach for non-food items and for 4 of the 5 years, I think we succeeded beyond our own expectations (which were high) and in the 5th, though others still loved it and the attendance was reasonably high, even I could see the idea had been watered down by other pop-ups to the point that our fair trade and handmade non-food revolution was going to take more effort than we could offer in those dark days of post-levee break life. You see, our food producers were still in big trouble and so we needed to focus on those folks, especially since no other New Orleans-based NGO did or does. Our ED and CCFM founder Richard McCarthy saw the trouble with Festivus a year before I did, but let me try it again to see if I could make it work in that environment. I still appreciate that.
I’d like to see our incoming mayor explore the idea of a Director of Markets position again in New Orleans but this time, one that supports all of the markets, not just the historic one and not just food. And focuses on reducing duplicative work, encourages collaboration and innovation within an appropriate cultural context. AND calls out those events that masquerade as markets but are not. Maybe it needs to be within the Office of Resiliency and Sustainability…The French Market ED (who has been a long time supporter of CCFM as a shopper) has her hands full with a job that really is three in one: landlord, event manager and caretaker of the largest amount of historic property owned by the city (includes the Upper Pontalba). I also thought I read some indications that she doesn’t really think the French Market can sustain local food initiatives but am not sure that was reported; may just have been gossip..
In any case, if her point is that the French Market cannot be the main answer to local food and other local cottage industries efforts being ramped up significantly for the entire city’s benefit, she is right.
Maybe I’ll pass this long post to those running for mayor and invite them on a tour of what is going on around town to get them involved. I hope some of you do the same if you care about our farmers and harvesters and creative folks…

My original FB post from May 22, 2014

well. the old footprint of CCFM is restored completely, 9 years after the federal levee breaks took it apart. I certainly wish the new leadership well with this endeavor, and like the FM Director Richard McCall we had back in the day when I worked for CCFM, they have an enthusiastic director at FM to assist. There is no doubt that opening a true farmers market in the old shed market can be very tricky (as we learned in 2002? or 2003? when we opened it originally), but more places for regional producers is a valiant effort to put forth. The work required to find and keep the flow of people coming will be substantial, but finally, it will be up to folks downtown and regional producers to commit in order for it to thrive.


New Orleans Artists Take on Real Estate’s Loaded Terms

Next City is the best site to learn about truly innovative grassroots work happening in cities. I depend on it almost daily to bring me to new stories and its analysis too. This story, for example, is about something happening in my own city that I knew nothing about…


All these different auctions that are means of trying to inscribe monetary value to a property that has somehow failed,” says Imani Jacqueline Brown, a Blights Out co-founder who grew up in New Orleans. “First as shelter because no one is living in it, it’s not helping anyone. And has failed secondarily in its function as a financial instrument. The New Orleans that I know and that I grew up in values property and values neighborhoods not as an investment, not as an asset class for speculation, not as a starter home that you’ll then abandon and move onto something bigger and better and more prefab, but you value it for its ability as a social asset and cultural asset, as a cultural and community anchor…

….Blights Out found a third house, adjacent to Ooh Poo Pah Doo Bar. Before the whole group could look at the property together, the city demolished it. Four years after starting their search, the collective is now trying to purchase the vacant lot where it once stood, plus another across the street. If the deal goes through, they’ll use the lots to create semipermanent outdoor structures for gathering spaces, perhaps eventually building a house from scratch. It’s not ideal, but they don’t see another option. “The window to get what we wanted is closing,” says Eversley….


How do you keep art from being complicit in gentrification? You make it completely uncommodifiable. You make it completely unpalatable to development. You make it so development won’t even want to associate with it, let alone co-opt it.

There’s no win. It’s a small win,” she concedes. “But ultimately the city is going to be gentrified. We’re just trying to stem the bleeding at this point.

New Orleans Artists Take on Real Estate’s Loaded Terms – Next City

Dyan French Cole, ‘simply Mama D,’ dies at 72: ‘She was the rock of New Orleans’ 

She always gave me a big smile and reached out to touch me when we met. I do not know why she did so, but it may have been that she could feel my respect for her organizing skill and longevity.


We did not lose our ability to fish. Don’t bring the fish to our door, just bring us some fishing poles and some bait. We didn’t lose our minds. I don’t know why we didn’t, but we could have. We lost all of the necessities we need to support our survival. Just give us that. Just give us that, and I promise you, in six months … come back, we’re going to make you some gumbo.


Katy Reckdahl’s wonderful piece about her

“There is no anti-racist certification class”

On his blog, “Scott Woods Makes Lists,” poet Woods posted:

“The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes Black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you.

Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another, and so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe.

It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.”

“the smallest possible gesture”

This is what a friend wrote today, as Lee is removed from his place on our city streets, the last of the 4 main monuments defiling our public streets that were placed to strengthen the white supremacy movement in the decades after the Civil War. (There are, however, 3 more Confederate statues of much less prominence that still need removal. Still, as my pal says beautifully here: we are beginning to approach the truth.)

…Black children can expect and, by every measure, will receive, substantially worse treatment than their white peers within the educational system, the healthcare system, the policing and justice systems, the housing and financial markets, in terms of their prospective employment and earnings. Hell, they will have a harder time on Tinder and Grinder.
Parents of black children already get to explain why this is and try their best to prepare their children to navigate these evidence-based realities.
One less white supremacist being honored in the street is actually the smallest possible gesture available that we can bestow on these children.

One less statue doesn’t change these realities. But it begins to approach the truth. There has never been truth and reconciliation in this country, so we keep recycling white supremacy into different iterations, instead of dismantling it (Jim Crow! Mass Incarceration!).

We can’t begin to face white supremacy without truth telling. And most Americans (of all backgrounds) are not taught the fullness of the truth about the founding of this country or how it prospered. Most aren’t taught what slavery entailed, or how it persists in different forms today. Taking down Lee is simply acknowledging these truths.


Watched these guys move my neighbor very professionally and smoothly. What a great idea for our flat city but especially for the French Quarter !

We transport and move with bike and trailer up to 600 lbs. per load.  MOVE IT! by bike offers eco-friendly, inexpensive and city smart transport by bicycle and trailer in the New Orleans area.



Scandinavian Jazz Church and Cultural Center

Remember the old Norwegian Church on Prytania that almost closed? It was saved at the last moment and reborn as the Scandinavian Jazz Church and Cultural Center. Well here is a great upcoming event to go back and celebrate its new life:
May 21, All Day
Norwegian National Day

10:00 Raising of the flag and sing the Norwegian national anthem –Ja vi elskerdettelandet!
10:15 Parade around the block. Make sure to bring your flag and singing voice.
11:00 Celebration Service with Pastor Torhild Viste from The Seamen’s church in Houston. Lars Edegran will be joining us on the piano for the service.
12:00 Games for children and adults held outside if the weather permits. You can also bring your swimsuit and enjoy the pool. There will also be served hot-dogs and ice cream at this point.
2:00 Dinner will be served
6:00 Concert by Miriam’s Fleur De Lys orchestra

The cost for everything that happens before 2:00 is $ 5.
The dinner will be $ 30 per person, $ 10 for children under 6, and we are serving baked salmon with sides. The price also includes coffee and dessert.

Please RSVP for the dinner: 504 525 3602
Or email: