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.


“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:


Turtle Parade

This Saturday (5.13) the turtles that live in the Brennan’s courtyard on Royal street will parade through the Vieux Carré to mark the start of spring.
The ten turtles that live at Brennan’s have become something of local celebrities (complete with their own Twitter account, @BrennansTurtles). They are named “The Muthas and the Othas.” The former references the five reptiles named after classic, French mother sauces like Béchamel, Espagnole, Hollandaise, Tomate, Velouté, while the “others” refer to the turtles named for NOLA’s own classics like Remoulade, Ravigote, Bordelaise, Mignonette, and Cocktail.

The parade begins at 10:30AM at 550 Bienville Street, continuing down Chartres Street to St. Peter Street, then onto Royal Street to bring the krewe to Brennan’s (417 Royal Street) for the reception, which starts at 11AM. The route map is below. f2ab04e6-1409-4b30-8721-56e4d0fb253c.png

Don’t underestimate our resolve to change and don’t excuse yourself either.


NOLa may be “Confederacy Statue Central” right now but it is now and has long been a public hotbed around ensuring the civil rights of people of color. If you know the why of the streets names of A.P. Tureaud or Oretha Castle Haley among others, or remember the fight by Dorothy Mae Taylor who was the first African-American woman to serve in the Louisiana House of Representatives who (when serving as on N.O. City Council) insisted that those using public amenities for their parades had to sign a pledge that they did not discriminate on grounds of “race, gender, handicap or sexual orientation.” then you know what has been done here. (Believe it or not, a few century-old krewes stopped parading instead of affirming their belief in equality which showed the need for her pledge.)  Or if you have talked to those who have been on the front lines since at least  Father Twomey was around, you know the subject is lit and has been for generations here.

If you doubt that, here are some signs of it. This is a collection of different things people here have done or said, so choose the stories that are helpful to you:


• Go to Treme and view the cross made of shackles put up in 2004 at the church of St. Augustine built in the 1840s by free people of color. Read about the 19th century War of the Pews where whites and FPOC duked it out to see who would have prominence in this church. The FPOC won by purchasing 3 pews for every one a white person bought and even bought pews so slaves could attend services.


The grim, rusting monument standing outside the church honors those countless slaves who perished uncounted and unnamed. As the bronze plaque affixed to the wall behind the shrine explains, the monument was primarily inspired by the number of unmarked graves that have been unearthed in the city over the years, but is also dedicated to all of those who died ignominious fates during the American slave trade.


• Or read the piece in Playboy  which includes my favorite new image of these statues from someone I already admired: a local writer who is described by the author of the Playboy piece as “Maurice Ruffin, a native son who’s a lawyer, restaurateur, and novelist rolled into one—a NOLA combo for the ages. He scoffed at the idea that there could be any doubt about the preponderant local sentiment, and not only among his fellow African Americans. “Does anyone think that most people in this city want to keep those horcruxes up? “ he asks. “Of course not. That’s why the pro-monuments people are mostly out-of-towners.”



• If you still doubt our resolve to find and share the truth, search out the telling of the real history now happening on social media, in person and in close quarters in family homes. This quote below was in response to one of those posts by someone who thinks of themselves as the keeper of the history but who was just quoting fake propaganda taught in our schools circa 1880s-1950s:

Actually, 143 years ago a minority calling itself the White League, whose primary goal was sustaining white political power in Louisiana, overthrew the local government, and forcibly disarmed and disbanded the black state militia. The monument, erected in 1891 and honored with wreath-laying ceremonies by children of White League veterans until the 1930’s, went up at the time Jim Crow laws were widely passed (for example, the 1890 law barring black and white Louisianians from riding together in railroad cars.) Today the monuments are being defended, with threats of violence, largely by white supremacists.
Which long-ago time did you wish to honor here?

Dozens and dozens of these calm explanations from New Orleanians to other misguided Southerners and adherents to the White Cause movement exist.


• I also like this comment below by a friend of a friend on FB, that mirrors my experience up north too. I remember the neighbors of my parents’ generation laughing about how there was a code used on police scanners to indicate a person of color had crossed into my lily-white suburb. The car would be stopped, likely ticketed for some minor or non-existent traffic offense, and turned around to the Cleveland border. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Lakewood Ohio.

As to the underlying racism of “just between us” moments, in the nearly 30 years since I moved here, I have always found my hometown of Chicago to be much more racist than New Orleans, if for no other reason than that, in Chicago, black culture is considered sub-culture and in New Orleans, it is the culture. Growing up in Chicago, you could, as a white person, go your whole life not encountering black people in social settings, if you wanted to live that way (yuck!). Here, that would be next to impossible, except in the highest economic brackets.

What’s also important about that one is it is been my experience that those without family ties to this place, or more correctly, those with some family ties and time away someplace else- are often the ones who have a hard time with the removals and who favor some unlikely “middle ground” of the statues remaining but with a plaque. That has always seemed to me the definition of the old phrase about putting lipstick on a pig. These folks are often very forgiving of all of the oddities of the place and become expert in telling stories about New Orleans to outsiders in a way that shows the charm of it all and hides the shame. Yet, it is time that they also confront the statues of Jim Crow and like the lady above, truly become a local by saying it is time for some of that shit to go.


• What a favorite writer with one of the keenest eyes for modern American farce, Joan Didion  said almost 50 years ago about why she came to the South:

…that for some years the South and particularly the Gulf Coast had been for America what people were still saying California was, and what California seemed to me not to be: the future, the secret source of malevolent and benevolent energy, the psychic center.”    (2017). South and West. Alfred A. Knopf

Malevolent and benevolent energy. I think I’ll steal that forthwith. But sadly she was right- the South’s lack of self-awareness about it’s own energy was this country’s future in 2016+. Writer Nathaniel Rich wrote in the foreword to Didion’s book:

How could the hidebound South, with its perpetual disintegration and defiant decadence, at the same time represent the future? Didion admits the idea seems oxymoronic, but she is onto something. Part of the answer, she suspects, lies in the bluntness with which Southerners confront race, class, and heritage–“distinctions which the frontier ethic teaches western children to deny, and to leave deliberately unmentioned.” In the South, such distinctions are visible, rigid, and the subject of frank conversations.


• A drum roll, please. The next two worthy statements about what is happening here (good and bad), one from a native New Orleanian and the other from a decades-long resident who has extended the culture through his contributions:

CW Cannon: Memo to liberal media: New Orleans hasn’t just ‘joined’ movement against white supremacy

Michael Tisserand: In New Orleans racism is harder than stone

So come on. Learn along with us and explore YOUR own area’s history of inequity and confront your own privilege. Because it is there.

I do that daily in a city with a majority African-American population who have given the world so much culture and indigenous knowledge and community that is hilariously and evidentially so wrong when those with pointy heads here say they are superior. Still, the subjugation of the majority of people (or in those areas where they are a minority, it doesn’t matter) continues and it is time for us to truthfully see our country as not entirely made by Daniel Boone or John Wayne but also by millions of hard-working and creative people who are not identified by monuments and are not white and not men. America was not made only by white people and yet remains a place where going to the better schools in any town or the nicest suburb, or the corporate meeting will offer mostly whiteness. And going to the prison or the changing room in the hotel employee area will show the opposite.

This does not ask whites to hate themselves or their own history but instead asks them to see themselves as part of a larger humanitarian future where the color of skin should not offer any advantage. To see the evidence of institutional racism that we benefit from in a thousand tiny ways and too often don’t spend any energy to rid our places of it.


As I wrote that last part,  I stopped to read this post by native Cheryl Gerber, which is a thoughtful and heartfelt outpouring:


Photo by Cheryl Gerber 2017

This particular photo haunts me.

There have been a handful of events in my life that have really shaken my complacency. Like the time in my early 20s when I did jury duty in a murder case and I was the only white juror and the only juror who believed the policeman’s testimony. That really opened my eyes. I didn’t know better, but I do now.

And when the planes struck the towers. I convinced myself that no one could have seen that coming but the signs were there.

And when the levees broke. For my entire life I had been told that our city could drown, but I didn’t believe it. Not even when the cat five storm was barreling straight toward us. I should’ve known. I do now.

And when we elected you-know-who. Didn’t see that coming, but I should have.

And now I am equally, if not more perplexed by my community who wants to keep the Confederate monuments up. Even while they have drawn hate groups from across the country. Even while our African-American neighbors have been complaining and marching for decades.

This photo of Pastor Marie Galatas, who ran for mayor in 2006, really shook me out of my complacency. I have seen her march and preach for decades. And while I never thought she was a joke, I never really took her as seriously as I should have — not until I saw her holding up her cross and bravely marching past KKK members hurling the N-word toward her. I can’t believe she still has to march! She and others have been trying to tell us for years that racism is our city’s biggest issue. While I haven’t been blind to racism in our fair city, I have been guilty of wearing rose-colored glasses. Now I see clearly.

Yeah Cheryl.

It is also important for all of us here to remember that we do this work on our own biases in a city that can have an impressive history of different races and ethnicities respecting and honoring each other. The Italians and Creoles living together in the Quarter for 100 years; the Vietnamese being cheered as heroes when they stood up to City Hall post-Katrina; the black and white faces of ACORN/A Community Voice fighting for minimum wage hikes, to stop the sell off of the public water system, the intrusion of a industrial truck corridor in their shared neighborhood in 2017; and last but not least, the multi-generational sea supporting the city’s takedown of these concrete nooses held tight by our ancestors’ post-Reconstruction Jim Crow attitudes.


Latest: Wynton Marsalis weighs in on the takedown and the racism of his hometown.

Jazz in the Park

Today’s Schedule:

4:00 to 5:00 DJ 9th Ward Wonder

5:00 to 5:30 Second Line Parade

5:30 to 6:45 Joe Krown Trio featuring Walter Wolfman Washington & Russell Batiste

6:45 to 7:00 Intermission

7:00 to 8:15 Russell Batiste & Friends


Armstrong Park Jazz

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