“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.

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Vanishing Foodways Campaign

I have been a Slow Food member in the past and have always been a supporter of their innovative food system work. By supporting all aspects of the cultural milieu in which local farmers, foragers, and harvesters create and sustain their livelihoods, Slow Food is a key component in food sovereignty work locally and globally. Campaigns like this one illustrate the inclusive and thoughtful approach of many of their chapters.
Slow Food New Orleans is launching Vanishing Foodways  as an ongoing effort to collect stories from people and regions whose foodways and cultural traditions that are at risk of vanishing.  Please visit our GoFundMe campaign and become part of this initiative.  The GoFundMe campaign features a  fabulous video created by artist Voice Monet, who will be part of our 25-person Louisiana-Vietnam delegation to Terra Madre,  the international gathering of people from 150+ countries in Italy, September 22-26.

The Louisiana-Vietnam delegation to Terra Madre is the beginning of the the cross-cultural connections that the Vanishing Foodways seeks to create.  The Louisiana Coast and Vietnam’s Mekong Delta are two of the most abundant food producing regions in the world, yet are also two of the world’s most rapidly disappearing regions. Vanishing Foodways will video-document the Louisiana-Vietnam delegation’s experience at Terra Madre along with collecting stories from Terra Madre delegates representing regions that are experiencing the disappearance of their traditional and cultural foodways.

By collecting and sharing these stories, Vanishing Foodways aims to; 1) educate people that endangered foodways are not simply someone else’s problem,  2) engage people in the shared plight of all of our foodways & 3) empower people with simple daily choices that each of us can make to move the world towards reclaiming and preserving our vital cultural foodways that sustainably feed the world.

Battle of the Battlefield

Important history from writer Eve Abrams on preservation and home, race and privilege as we celebrate the 200 year anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans:

About 30 families lived in Fazendeville, and all, like the Cagers, went back generations—perhaps to its beginning around 1870, when Jean Pierre Fazende, a free man of color, New Orleans grocer, and opera lover began subdividing the slim tract of land he’d inherited from his father—also named Jean Pierre Fazende—and selling off parcels to recently freed slaves.
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In the mid 1800s, local citizens organized to erect a monument in honor of their ancestors’ sacrifice and Andrew Jackson’s victory. Dwindling funds and the Civil War stalled construction, but by the 1890s, the Louisiana Society of the United States Daughters of 1776 and 1812 passionately took up the cause.

The National Park Service had powerful allies. Among them was the Chalmette Chapter of the U.S. Daughters of 1812, headed by Mrs. Edwin X. de Verges, as well as her dear friend Martha Robinson, New Orleans’ grand dame of preservation, who headed the Louisiana Landmarks Society. –

…Wielding influence and tenacity, she (Robinson) convinced both the railroad and the previously intractable Kaiser Aluminum to donate valuable acreage. Protecting a chapter of history was clearly at the forefront of Robinson’s agenda, yet dispossessing a community was the next, necessary step. “Rather than get tangled up with Martha Robinson,” write Abbye A. Gorin and Wilbur E. Meneray, “politicians considered an alternate course.” Several of these politicians—Congressman F. Edward Hebert, Senators Russell B. Long and Allen J. Ellender—took up Robinson’s cause. They introduced legislation in Congress to purchase land for the park in time for the Battle’s 150th anniversary. The resolution passed, and President Kennedy signed it into law just months before he was assassinated.

“The government did eminent domain on us in 1964,” explains Valerie Lindsey Schxnayder, whose father was the last to leave Fazendeville. He moved his entire home —by trailer—to Reynes Street in the Lower Ninth Ward, where it was flooded the following year in Hurricane Betsy, and swept down the block in Katrina. In the mid-1960s, the market price for a new home in St. Bernard was around $16,000; residents of Fazendeville received around $6,000 per home. With Lindsey and the other citizens of Fazendeville gone, The Village was wiped away.

See more at: http://www.louisianaculturalvistas.org/defeat-fazendeville/#sthash.XAS9Bgam.dpuf
– See more at: http://www.louisianaculturalvistas.org/defeat-fazendeville/#sthash.XAS9Bgam.dpuf

Not seven hills, just seven districts in our history

Another practical history lesson from Richard Campanella, a geographer with the Tulane School of Architecture and a Monroe Fellow with the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South, is the author of “Bienville’s Dilemma,” “Geographies of New Orleans,” and the forthcoming “Bourbon Street: A History” (2014). He may be reached through rcampane@tulane.edu or @nolacampanella on Twitter.

Until just a few years ago, each of the seven districts elected its own assessors, who staffed their own offices and assessed taxes independently — a system unique in the nation. It took civic intervention after Hurricane Katrina to finally consolidate those political redundancies.

Plantations, faubourgs, Creoles, Anglos, competition, expansion, drainage, politics, taxes: embedded in that seemingly mundane map are sundry episodes in the human geography of New Orleans, going back 200 years.

Seven

Gentrification and its Discontents: Notes from New Orleans

I’d like to call attention to this thorough piece by one of my absolute favorite thinkers in New Orleans: Rich Campanella, geographical historian and bike riding New Orleanian.
Gentrification is the opposite of community; it is the warning bugle call from those who used to wear armor and thunder into your town on horses, trampling the less fortunate and sticking their flag on your home. It’s war and those of us who want a city and not fake facades aren’t going quietly.
As you can see, my definition of gentrification is entirely negative and has to do with the imposition of new values and traditions on top of existing ones. It also is entirely tied to the commodity of place, and the dollar value rather than any other.

Love Rich’s analysis of N.O. gentrification in this piece (which sparked a very lively discussion for months around town) even though I don’t necessarily agree with his timeline. Gutter punks as the start of gentrification? I don’t think that group has anything to do with this topic) and then hipsters second? I’d say hipsters come much later in the game, maybe right after the gentry actually. The use of bourgeois bohemians is spot on (as is their attendance at the farmers market on Saturdays!), but where are the up and coming artists (who sometimes become the gentry by the next generation) or the gay urbanists or even the temporary natives who land in gentrifying spaces when they first come?

Gentrification and its Discontents: Notes from New Orleans | Newgeography.com.

Johnny White’s

As someone who had a family member who was associated almost daily with JW’s bar, I have a hard time understanding the confusion over WHICH Johnny White’s were talking about, when people read stories like the current one on the “closing” of the Sports Bar.

Closing Sports Bar
The one on St. Peter is the “real” one for lots of full-time Quarterites, and not just for motorcycle riders. It exists as a home away from home for many, and are treated as family like when the fine folks on St. Peter gave my family member an honored send off when he died last year. Those who frequent the St. Peter one (and probably hung out at Johnny’s Annex too) usually also believe that the “Sports Bar’ on Orleans is pretty bad and not one to hang out in with friends. It, like a lot of things directly on Bourbon, is too full of, well lets just say there’s too much potential for a bad time.

there are 4 places with Johnny White’s name on them in the Quarter and the ones managed by the family of Johnny White are the three BESIDES the Sports Bar. The family is taking control of that space again and probably reopening it slightly altered, which is fine with lots of us.
JW website

There. hope that helps. Now, let’s get a drink.

Dig uncovers burial ground

St. Louis Cathedral recently finished their own historical archaeological dig, finding among other things, a flower market and toys. Now, a storied name in French Quarter history has his own dig discoveries: Vincent Marcello wanted a pool in his backyard on Rampart and has found some older “residents” back there, probably from the time the area was St. Peter Cemetery in the 1700s.. Let’s hope he doesn’t want back rent…

Marcello uncovers old bodies