On Thursday, February 1, 2018, Woodlands Conservancy will host a celebration of 17 years of the nonprofit land trust organization’s work to Save Our Sponge, the 800 plus acres of bottomland hardwood forest serving as a protective stormwater and wind barrier for the Greater New Orleans area.
The Patron Party begins at 6 p.m. with gourmet appetizers and spirits while listening to music by Harry Hardin’s Jazz Quartet and perusing an array of Silent Auction items. Patron Party admission includes VIP seating at the Save Our Sponge Concert and complimentary cocktails throughout the evening.
Doors open at 7 p.m. for guests arriving for the Save Our Sponge Concert. The SOS Concert begins at 7:30 p.m. with Tom McDermott on the Steinway Grand Piano in the Concert Hall followed by Lost Bayou Ramblers.
Proceeds benefit Woodlands Conservancy, a nonprofit, 501 (c) (3) land trust organization
Okay. I promised myself I wouldn’t and yet here I am talking about the anniversary of 2005. But I’d like to be clear that I am just talking to my neighbors in New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast. Not that I don’t appreciate you, my fellow Yankees and you Canadians and Westerners and your fierce concern for a fair shake for our city. I do, but I feel like I’ve spent these years talking to you about New Orleans and Louisiana and Mississippi and sharing the secret greatness of it with you and you either get it or you don’t. You either believe we matter or you don’t and there is nothing more I can say right now to help you understand. But I’ve had little time for my neighbors and pals here so this is for them because so many of them are downhearted and angry about the state of their place.
Now that we have the distance of time to raise our eyes and look about, it is very clear that we have lost a tremendous amount that is not going to return. My grandmother died in July of 2006, after returning in January to her remodeled and unfamiliar home. That home that her family had done their best to make right after dozens of trees fell on the property and one on the corner of her house. I am convinced she looked around her town for a bit and just said no thanks. I can understand that as many of my friends have packed up and moved away – for good most of them – because they are bitter or they are sad, so sad- or frightened by the real possibility of it happening again.
I wrote the next paragraph to friends in exile in December of 2005 (kept it in the email folder so named):
I know some of you have heard comments from some New Orleanians about your decision to not come back right now. Some people are acting badly about who is here now and who is not. I (and many others) understand why it is not feasible for some folks to come back right now. I think that it is very clear thinking to make sure that you are taking care of yourself and family, as well as doing what you must do to keep a job or children going.This is a frontier town right now, and not too pretty or easy. The ups and downs are dramatic and ongoing. I tell you, I would not be here either right now if my work did not depend on it. Having said that, I am glad I am here. I am glad because I can help with direct action, which is my thing, but if your thing is keeping the awareness up in other places, cool.I know each of you is doing the good work out therein the “normal” world. Thank you for that and please know all of us- whether on Esplanade Avenue or Main Street- are in this together.
Some of those who received it replied with gratitude and promises to return and some did not reply at all. Some of those who didn’t reply returned soon and some never did. I was wrong a lot about who would stay away longest and who would return. You never can tell.
I don’t know what wind event or infrastructure collapse or political spite is coming for us next, but there is one thing that I do know: the cool and lovely fall IS coming and with it, second lines and festivals and outdoor movies and football and satsuma season and much more. And then it will be Carnival season and we will sit together on neutral grounds and laugh and sing and dance and shake our head in amazement that people work every day and shovel snow when they could be here. I’ll bike to the park and meet friends for a walk around the Big Lake or make plans to meet for drinks for “an hour” and still find we are still there 3 hours later laughing until we cry, wiping tears away with paper napkins. The server will smile and bring us more drinks and napkins, pleased with our fun. I’ll stand on a corner good-naturedly arguing politics with favored friends who I find walking their dog and when done, will go back to my car thinking how amazing they are.Stopping in a store near my house, I’ll have a looong chat with the shopkeeper and find we went to the same high school or that he is related to my next-door neighbor and neither of us will be that surprised by the many connections. Artist friends will touch me with their enthusiasm and talent, so open and loving to a world that rarely honors them. My mother will proudly show me all of the young bananas on her trees and ask me once again if I know of anyone who wants them-if not, can I just put them on the curb, cuz somebody will take them.And in doing all of this, we’ll get through it again. Hopefully without any evacuation scares or more oil spilling and then we’ll have had another season to catch our breath and keep rebuilding even as we watch more of why we want to rebuild slip away or be taken from us. And really, that knowledge of loss past and present and likely in the future does connect us and make the time together sweeter. It doesn’t always make it easier but makes you feel less alone or unsure. So I hope you don’t hide away this week or next; embrace the ragged and the unfinished or shake a fist or raise a finger at the profanely new and shiny. Who cares what the world says about us or about 2005 or the city since; all that matters is what we think, what we do and how we shape it. Take in all of it with the grace and humor that we are awarded at birth or as soon as we kill that first palmetto bug (and keep right on talking) and let’s just go sit at the river and visit and remember.
E-mail or call City Council by 5 PM July 26th
We’re almost at the finish line, but we need your help!
Groundbreaking amendments to New Orleans’ Master Plan that would protect musically, historically, and spiritually important cultural sites; allow historic music venues to re-open; and help establish a soundproofing grant program are on the verge of passage, but we need more people to contact City Council by the end of the day Wednesday (the 26th) to ensure they do!
Several preservation organizations have come out in opposition to our amendments, the re-opening of historic music venues in particular. One group, Louisiana Landmarks Society (who twice sued in support of the racist Liberty Place monument), has gone so far as to say New Orleans culture has no place in historic preservation!
Please call and/or e-mail City Council in support of our amendments. If you like, you can use the following message:
I am writing is support of all of the Master Plan amendments submitted by the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans, particularly amendment 1.D. “Protect Important Cultural Sites, Activities, and Traditions” in Chapter 6, Historic Preservation, which has 4 parts:
1. A comprehensive survey of existing musically, historically, and spiritually important cultural sites should be completed, and sites should become eligible for protection.
2. Allow historic music venues to be reestablished at sites where such former use is identified.
3. A grant program for soundproofing businesses, similar to a façade grant program, should be developed and implemented, with an emphasis on music and barrooms.
4. Encourage businesses and facilities that promote New Orleans culture through music, entertainment, dance, art, and oral traditions.
Please vote in favor of MaCCNO’s amendments to preserve and develop the culture of the City, and help the economic well-being of our musicians, artists, and culture bearers.
Contact the City Council here:
Stacy Head, At Large, email@example.com, 504-658-1060
Jason Williams, At Large, firstname.lastname@example.org, 504-658-1070
Susan Guidry, District A, email@example.com, 504-658-1010
LaToya Cantrell, District B, firstname.lastname@example.org, 504-658-1020
Nadine Ramsey, District C, email@example.com, 504-658-1030
Jared Brossett, District D, firstname.lastname@example.org, 504-658-1040
James Gray, District E, email@example.com, 504-658-1050
See what happens when good people get together over music? They come up with something like this, a site dedicated to listing the musical history of our city, place by place.
Jazz, big band, gospel, soul, brass bands, funk, blues, second-lines, hip-hop, bounce, r&b, pop, zydeco, rock, classical all have substantial roots here in the Crescent City. This site will do more than just set tourists to a wandering around; as a visual map, it can help save some of these places and to connect the dots about the development of some of America’s greatest art forms.
The A Closer Walk (ACW) project and site is presented by WWOZ New Orleans and produced by five partners: Bent Media, e/Prime Media, the Ponderosa Stomp Foundation, Randy Fertel and WWOZ.
I saw Bayou Maharajah when it came out: I enjoyed it, was moved by it at moments and remain pleased to have been a Kickstarter backer of this project. Back when I was a teenager in the French Quarter, I had the great luck of making friends with smart and wise older people who said to me, “you gotta hear Booker” and “you gotta hear Lil Queenie” and “you gotta hear the Nevilles” and so on…and took me to places to hear it all, see it all, to explode my Midwestern head apart. Booker in particular personified and played the song of New Orleans to me, which was sophisticated and street at the same time, with every melody and rhythm ever played by man inserted and some nutty talk before and after for good measure. GO see this movie when it comes to your town, buy it online if possible and know why we say he was the “the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced”. Actually, you could just say the best piano genius New Orleans has ever produced, and that’s saying something. As our own Leigh Harris sings it beautifully on the tribute album on “Providence Provides”: “Ray Charles in his left hand, Beethoven in his right…”
Finally some good news in the city! Their annual Scandinavian Festival is a delight; I’m certainly going to try to get to more events here to support this idea.
(The coming year will be an important test of the new concept. If, by mid-2018, it becomes clear that the newly configured church and cultural center isn’t viable, the local board will be released from its commitment and the Church of Norway will put the church up for sale.)
This past summer, it looked like the Norwegian Seamen’s Church would be shuttered for good. If all goes as planned, the New Orleans church will officially become the Scandinavian Jazz Church on Feb. 1.
According to the plan, the church complex will serve as a home base for people of Scandinavian heritage. But it also will reach out to New Orleanians of all heritages by hosting concerts and expanding upon the church’s rich history with the city’s jazz community.