Ironwork: 921 Dauphine

One of my favorite wrought iron gates.




Maintain Cabrini Park

(Sent to NORD and City Council)
To whom it may concern:
I am writing concerning the online debate by those in favor of single-use of the park only for Homer A. Plessy students when they take over the McDonogh 15 school on St. Philip.
I am very pleased that Homer A. Plessy School is coming to the Quarter as our next charter and cannot think of a better fit, due to the historic name attached to it, the goals of the school and the engaged parents, some of whom I know personally. I sincerely wish this to be a great success so that is also why I am against cordoning off Cabrini Park entirely, held only for the school’s use for a few hours per week. That will only create a barrier between the school and the neighborhood.
I live in the French Quarter and and have done so on and off for decades since high school, when I attended L.E. Rabouin and walked through the Quarter and CBD each morning. That daily trip gained me many protectors and friends who would look out for me and greet me as I made my way to Carondelet.
The opportunity to live in a gracious, social city like New Orleans is amazing enough; to be here during one’s formative years is another gift. Children should be able to feel comfortable on their city streets and in their public spaces, not to be cordoned off from them as if all other people (neighbors!) are something to be frightened by. One of the wonderful things about our French Quarter and the little Red Schoolhouse as realized by Lucianne Carmichael is that it allows the children to be members of the neighborhood, as we see in the regular, happy use – by their parents and kids – of the coffeehouse across the street, when they line up to walk down Bourbon to the park or going on field trips to the French Market among other outings. We shouldn’t want any it any different in our public park.
And as someone who uses and has used the few green spaces for decades in the Quarter for play and at one time for my little dog’s exercise, I know how much community happens at the park, sharing notes and meeting new neighbors. For all of these reasons, I ask that the off-leash dog site and public use of Cabrini park be maintained. Not only does the school have 2 play areas of their own, the new park layout allows for multiple uses at once. Every neighborly eye on our park helps to maintain it as a safe and neighborly place; locking the doors will bring the negative activity back; it indicates to those looking for hidden corners to engage in illegal activity that this is an ideal space for that.
 The dog park will also allow for a controlled area for our many 4-legged friends. That activity also likely reduces the crime in that area and adds happy playful sounds, sounds that we all sorely need in our stressful life.
Let’s work together to build a world-class park for everyone.

Proposed sale of park worries residents

Cabrini Park is for sale. The one shared green space for residents, happy dogs and schoolkids alike is now waiting for a developer. Clearly, the neighborhood associations in the surrounding areas need a Martha Robinson-level activist with time and access to fight for this. How wonderful if the outcome of this is that we could have a first-rate green space led by the citizens much like Dufferin Grove Park in Toronto or People’s Park in Berkeley, both that I have made pilgrimage to during my organizing work. Proposed sale of park worries F.Q. residents.

Murder on Canal Street

Recently, there was a murder on Dauphine and Canal that is one of those moments teetering between high emotion and civic anger. A bartender from Pat O’Brien’s was killed while confronting someone who had hit a car with their fist or hand or something as they crossed in front of it. He got out of the car and things seem to escalate from there.
The tragedies here are numerous.
Not only is the bartender dead and murderers being hunted, there are those who saw this happen, those who knew the people involved, those who live near there or work near there, those who have loved ones who leave that night job to travel home and so on.
There are many tragedies because no man is an island.
And when crime happens, the bad part of “no man being an island” occurs to us. That we come in contact with dozens or hundreds of people a day and some maybe closer to the edge that we know. That so much of it is truly random. And we never know when it is our time or when that time is thrust upon us by someone who has hate or boiling anger at the ready.
There is much talk about why was this guy around there at that time of night. Those who ask why he got out of the car. Why the person or persons who did this got away so easily. Or how does someone hitting an automobile escalate into a life ending. There will be accusations thrown at French Quarter police or City Council or someone else. And there will be people who point out that another senseless crime just happened in the French Quarter. And there will be general talk of the people who hang out on Canal” or of “kids” or “groups of kids” or whatever shorthand is used. But truly, as many of us have come to know personally, tragedy is often without a purpose or a clear line of reasoning to explain the moment in reflection.
Crime happens where there are too many people, not enough people, family members only, one bored person, groups of evil people-really just about any combination. It happens in lovely suburbs, city corners, million dollar homes and trailers. And it happens to kids and adults of every ethnicity.
It does not just happen to white people in the French Quarter. And it does not happen only at the hands of young African-Americans, far from it. Don’t fill that well.
People become unhinged from being a victim and in turn prey on others. People grow up with every chance and throw them all away from mental unbalance. Or a moment just becomes uncontrollable. It happens everywhere where anger or apathy live. Which, sadly is a lot of places.
So the best way to repel crime is to watch for anger or apathy. Be vigilant for signs of them and do your best to gently steer the situation away those. If a situation is already too far gone, than step away and call authorities. If you recognize apathy or anger in yourself, then you might be able to spot it correctly in others. There are so many people in the world now, we need to look at each other in every instance and take stock. Be wary when in times and places that high levels of unbalance might be lurking. Be courteous and give way when you can, when it does not cost you safety. Move carefully through a world that is teetering on the brink of something.
And stop blaming any one group for all the world’s ills.