As of 12:00 a.m. January 1, 2008, this blog became archival.
On February 8th of 2016 I published some of my previously unpublished notes, pardon any repeats.
Thank you for your readership.
One long-term volunteers perceptions of the ongoing suffering in New Orleans
As of 12:00 a.m. January 1, 2008, this blog became archival.
On February 8th of 2016 I published some of my previously unpublished notes, pardon any repeats.
Posted by SoulJAH at 4:35 PM
Posted by SoulJAH at 4:30 PM
Previously Unpublished Notes - October 2007
I guess the universe has decided I am to rest a few weeks longer.
Last Friday I was able to finally place my order for Internet access. Hurrah! Friday night I turned on my laptop and my laptop would not turn on.
On Saturday I took my laptop which is only 4 months old to Circuit City the Toshiba authorized dealer and was told it would be 2 - 4 weeks until it was returned to me. I cancelled the Internet access on Monday....
I make plans....
I have been spending this time, resting, eating really well - my own version of macrobiotic cooking, purifying my body, mind, and spirit and watching a lot of movies.
I haven't been to the movies for years and got myself a Blockbuster movie pass for the month - $30 and I can watch all the movies I want, and I have. I have deeply immersed myself in the alternate realities of films for diversion and I continue to strive to empty my mind and be in the moment. It is working. Just this morning as I was coming into an awakening state I could feel my mind processing thoughts concerning stories waiting to be written and photo's I have wanted to share, without my consciously doing so - they are waiting to be told. Not yet... the universe answers in my waking moments.
I am grateful that I have been sent some wonderful feral kittens (and some older cats) who come and visit me nightly for treats. Three of whom now eat out of my hand and allow me to touch them! They have been spayed and neutered by a neighbor Michelle and another neighbor who pays for the neutering and then they are re-released. My sweet neighbor Mary feeds the neighborhood cats. I am hoping by taming the feral kittens that perhaps someday they could be adopted. Now that they know that humans can be loving and kind, perhaps they will find themselves homes.
That is all for now.
How I miss writing.
But if I am going to serve, then I must remember the rules, and one of them is that I am the vessel and as the vessel, I must wait for the will of the universe. Thy will not mine...
Your Planetary Sister
Posted by SoulJAH at 4:29 PM
Previously Unpublished Notes - 2007
To my dear readers:
I should be hooked up to the Internet by the end of next week - @ October 19th 2007.
I have continued on with some of my volunteer commitments, ended others, and have been resting. I have also begun photographing in the last week and look forward to sharing some beautiful, some profound, and many touching images of New Orleans and the people who are rebuilding their lives, many amongst intense challenges.
My heart and the creative aspects of my self have missed blogging and I know that every moment of resting, recovering and waiting, until the right moment, to begin again, will give me the energy, clarity, and wherewithal I need to be able to share with you my perceptions of what I see happening in New Orleans and the rebuilding processes I encounter.
Thank you for your readership and well wishes.
Your Planetary Sister.
Posted by SoulJAH at 4:26 PM
Posted by SoulJAH at 4:24 PM
Unpublished Notes from 2007
I have been witnessing the craziest thing lately...
It seems that there are people associated with non-profits, .orgs, and other helping agencies who seem to react to my work, to my presence with a "cliquishness" for lack of a better word. It feels as if there is some sort of consciousness of ownership, and even the thought that this is what I am perceiving is very bizarre.
Has anyone else who has been a volunteer worker ever encounter this phenomenon? I would assume Rainbow Family members might have experienced this in the past, before their remarkable service work after the levee failure flooding post-Katrina. (They are my inspiration, I heard about what many family members did last year at a regional gathering - from that moment on I was inspired by the possibility that I too could just be "me" and come and help.)
I had thought, until recently that we were all one big helping community, that we were here to "help" and "serve" the needs of the people of New Orleans. I naively thought that those who were involved with "helping" were not supposed to be competitive, political, and/or ego driven.
I am surprised to become aware of the fact that there seems to be a "clique" of organizations. How do I know? Many have decided to ignore me or oddly yet, 'compete' with my presence.
If I may, there is nothing to "compete" with. My work is to serve anyone in need, usually those who are homeless or those who do not know how to access the available help. I ask for nothing in return. I work alone and have no funding, therefore I am no threat to any 'organization'. I am here to serve the people of New Orleans through my work on this blog and my work in the streets. I didn't realize until recently that there seems to be a secret committee who decides who is "in" and who is "out" when it comes to helping.
I once learned that the word compassion comes from the Latin "compassio" and it means to "suffer with".
Aren't we all in this "together"? Isn't the reason many of us are even in New Orleans volunteering is to "be with" those who are suffering and in need?
Posted by SoulJAH at 4:22 PM
Notes From 2007 Previously Unpublished
I met George with a journalist in the early summer of 2007. I was driving the journalist around the 9th Ward and we went into the Desire area, via Piety/Louisa street.
Posted by SoulJAH at 4:16 PM
I am writing this in 2016 to let you know why I stopped after a very long time, helping Mrs. G with the final stages of her rebuild.
As Mrs. G.'s stress induced symptoms of Alzheimer's (undiagnosed) increased, she began accusing me, the only person who ever helped her without trying to hustle her, of stealing papers she needed and could not find. I was the person who originally gathered the paper work that was needed to get her rebuild monies, made sure it was completed so that she received her monies, as well as bringing in volunteers many times, to clean away debris, as well to finish rooms in her house after contractors stole her funds and left her house unfinished.
The accusation would have been tolerated as where many times she went into extreme agitation, as I had been dealing with similar related scenarios since I had been helping Mrs. G.
I stopped helping her because in memory loss induced state she became confused as to where the papers were and called Momma D a local representative of the community, who came with a couple of young men to film me, the accused, "a white person who came to rip off the elderly and poor of New Orleans post Katrina flooding".
No matter what I said, Momma D would not hear that during the many months I had spent helping Mrs. G, in her stressed induced (undiagnosed) Alzheimer's state, which often left her confused and very agitated, that she would often forget where her papers and other belongings were. As the young men with Momma D were filming the entire episode, I am sure there is a copy available of a very angry me, shocked and defensive at being so accused, saying in a more heated version what I am saying now. I found it all extremely ironic as I never saw either Momma D nor any of these young men were ever on site helping Mrs. G, either to do the paperwork or helping in the rebuild. This was the first time I ever saw any of them and how I was treated was off the charts in rudeness and righteous smugness.
I get how frightening it was for Mrs. G, a 75 year old woman to be living in the neighborhood she was, practically alone on her street, trying to organize her rebuild herself. Yet the utter coldness and the way I was treated by Momma D and her 'film crew' and the months of helping someone with memory loss and extreme agitation, made it impossible for me to help Mrs. G any longer. I was depleted. In the end after Mrs. G.'s FEMA trailer burned down, killing her dog whom she loved fiercely, she did move in and I visited Mrs. G a few more times.
Mrs. G was in her home with her family photos all around her, yet the struggles of the rebuilding experience alone at her age, took something out of her. The sparkle and shine I saw in her eyes when I first met her was gone. I will never forget how my heart would feel as Mrs. G would sign Gospel songs to me, the two of us sitting in her FEMA trailer, making plans to get her in home again, those moments of spiritual intimacy are forever marked in my heart.
I loved Mrs. G dearly and am grateful to have been a part of her life. Out of all the elderly I helped, Mrs. G was given most of my time and energy because of the love my heart felt for her.
Posted by SoulJAH at 4:04 PM
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Posted by SoulJAH at 2:08 PM
Previously unpublished notes from 2007 released in 2016
A man rolls up on his bike as I am photographing the close school at Urquhart and Clouet in the upper 9th Ward. I can tell he is not sure whether or how to approach me until I smile and say hello.
His face lights up and he greets me in return.
He asks if the house I am photographing is mine - well aware of his every neighbor, every owner, in this four block radius around the school.
"No," I tell him, "I write a blog and show photo's of the ongoing suffering two years after the levy failure flooding in NOLA."
He, says to me, with apparent joy in his eyes, "were doin better here then they are in the Lower 9th Ward, people are comin back."
AS I drive away the door to his home is open and I look in, he is living in the shell of his home. The people of New Orleans once again teach me the true meaning of humility.
Posted by SoulJAH at 2:00 PM
As of 12:00 a.m. January 1, 2008, this blog will become archival.
The only time I may post here after this date, will be instances where I post photo's/essays relevant to 2007 taken from my notes and photo's.
Posted by SoulJAH at 11:59 AM
Posted by SoulJAH at 3:02 PM
http://postkatrina2007.blogspot.com/2007/04/sunday-april-22-2007-end-of-day.html http://postkatrina2007.blogspot.com/2007/06/ceophus-fence.html http://postkatrina2007.blogspot.com/2007/05/to-be-in-relationship-with-suffering.html
Feel free to use any of these images, quotes and images, or stories. All that I ask is that you source the blog http://www.postkatrina2007.blogspot.comIf there are those who would ever want to do some type of exhibit, I have more photo's that can be used in an exhibit. I would need assistance to compile the photo's. Again all that I ask is that the blog gets the credit. As for me, I am a planetary sister who wishes to remain anonymous.
Posted by SoulJAH at 2:17 PM
This is what I was able to capture today as I gave Penny who is going to spend some time helping me with a photo project, the 'tour' from Metairie to the Lower 9th Ward. When we met Daniel and Wethanna, well we stayed for quite awhile and I am really glad we did. He has been shouldering a lot or responsibility and seem to need to just talk about what has been going on, what he trying to accomplish, what it is like for his wide and children, what it is like for him, everything he wanted or needed to say almost got said (except when I interrupted as he was a wonderfully insightful and kind man to 'converse' with.)
I was making a lot of noise in the car when I crossed over the Claiborne bridge and saw all the pink tarping and the solar panels in the Lower 9th. I never knew the name of the area - I never associated the many photo's I have taken over the summer months with the "Holy Cross" area of the lower 9th. I thought it was on the other side of Claiborne. (If I wasn't so tired I would link some of the many posts with photo's from this area, but "the kettle's on the boil, and were so easily called away...") Imagine my incredible joy when the area I have found poignancy and beauty in is the area where the pink tarps are!!!!!
I am so excited to see more and photograph what is going on. I am going in the morning and if not too tired by evening will download the photo's of the 'Green' community Brad Pitt has put his celebrity behind and it seems by the beautiful pink color - his heart - into.
Here are some meanings associated with the color pink that I am going to publicly 'project' onto those awesome pink packages in the lower 9th:
PINK: Loving - Compassionate - Tolerant - Universal Love - Approachable
I especially relate the following qualities of the color PINK to the experience I had seeing all those wonderful pink bundles and the solar panels...
Pink is said to reduce aggression, irritation and anger.
Subtle hints of pink are beneficial in areas where self-love & self-worth are needed.
Calms agitated states
Releases aggression & anger
Creates a loving environment
If you have ever been to this area of the 9th Ward then you would understand how perfect the color PINK is for the area.
Bravo to everyone involved in this worthy project.
Posted by SoulJAH at 9:14 PM
Posted by SoulJAH at 7:24 PM
Today I got very good news through Jeff Meyers from Meyers Supply, he told me that he has an overnight shipment coming to me by tomorrow so I have 1 case on hand and then he sent out another 240 pairs and 50 mylar blankets from his CA supply so I would be set. I just met Jeff on the phone over a week ago when I tried and failed at getting the HotHands here before we had those 2 bouts of really cold days/nights, and before Christmas. I was really sad on Christmas eve when I realized that none of the HotHands I had ordered were coming before Christmas. Jeff after witnessing the unbelievable events that were occurring in my endeavors, got even more involved in helping me personally and he has made it possible to get many more HOTHANDS with the $300 I am able to give to him, and he has included 50 mylar blankets and I have to wait until I see the sales receipt, but I think he also covered some of the shipping.* His generosity will never be known to the people I am helping - but the energy of the intention behind his actions - I am very sure, will touch their hearts. Gratitude and thanks Jeff and to my beloved spiritual family for their initial donations that sparked the actions that followed which is going to bring 480 instances of warmth in the upcoming cold nights to come and 50 blankets to help the homeless people of post-Katrina and the levee failures, through the raw weather.
*I just got the receipt from Meyers Supply and Jeff Meyers has put in the 50 mylar blankets and not charged me, he has doubled in HotHands what I had available through financial gifts in offer for payment, and he did not charge me for the overnight shipping. Are you feeling all warm and tingly inside, just as I am, reading this? The whole HotHands phenomena for the homeless came out of manyhands and manyhearts who care. And I get to do what I love, meet with the homeless, speak with them, offer a few hours of kindness in their otherwise difficult existences. And my hand in giving will represent in intention and love, the hands of many. When life is good, it is so very good.
Okay, it is 10:29 p.m., I'm pretty weary. Even so, it is Thursday night - the night I go out to dance with Jah - Reggae night. So I am going to sign off.
Posted by SoulJAH at 10:29 PM
TRUTH-FORCE ('SATYAGRAHA') AND THE FUTURE OF THE EARTH
The root meaning of 'Satyagraha', according to Mahatma Gandhi, was the force of truth or the soul-force that underlay the philosophy and practice of non-violent resistance. This force could move mountains and set men free.
Today, the challenges of life ask us to more firmly hold onto the force of truth within us so that we may stand aligned with the peoples of the world who are suffering, and with the earth itself that is in great need.
We're getting people into homes. There is no reason why 'we", I mean America, can't get it all done."
A LONG WAY HOME - FIVE STORIES IN THE MIDST OF HUNDREDS OF ELDERLY RESIDENTS IN KATRINA-TORN NEW ORLEANS
PHOTOGRAPHS AND AUDIO FROM GENARO MOLINA OF THE LA TIMES:
Charles TaylorIn the Lower Ninth Ward, 81-year-old Charles Taylor has taken matters into his own hands and is rebuilding his home. After going through chemotherapy and radiation for stomach cancer in Mississippi, he felt well enough to make his way back to New Orleans to fix up his home. Narrated gallery
Joyce Boudousquie and Tommy Bilich Though some of the elderly are forced to go it alone, others have banded together. Joyce Boudousquie, 73, and Tommy Bilich, 75, struck up a friendship that Katrina could not tear apart. “Some neighbor of mine who is very close to me introduced me to Tommy and we became friends,” Joyce said. Narrated gallery
Joyce Simms Woods Joyce Simms Wood, 77, is surrounded by the few possessions that Hurricane Katrina did not steal from her. She’s been living in a FEMA trailer with dogs Ricky and Spreckles as her only companions, along with a TV that’s never turned off. “Everybody wants to go home, but I’m not home,” she said. Narrated gallery
Andrew Frick An ailing Andrew Frick, 84, bides his time in a FEMA trailer park while waiting for construction on his home in St. Bernard Parish to wrap up. Memories of his beloved wife, who passed away last year after 46 years of marriage, have sustained him through the rough patches. Narrated gallery
Juliette and John Allen Juliette Allen, 64, visits the area where her house once stood in the Lower Ninth, now a wide patch of dirt. She and husband John, 74, plan to return. Although they live in a small, roach-infested home in the Lower Garden District, Juliette counts her blessings to be in New Orleans. Narrated gallery
Each of the following ads seek much needed help and are not asking for a lot of commitment. A 'burst' of help is needed...
Desperately Seeking Donations
We are a community advocacy non-profit 501(c)3 agency assisting individuals with disabilities. We desperately need donations (cars...running, household items, or other things of value) to help fund our community-based program.
Your donations will help individuals with disabilities find and develop income producing ventures to enhance their lives.
Tax donation forms available.
Call Christopher or Sue at (504)366-8801.
...so I'm just a regular guy who heard a very sad thing on the radio. A soldier stationed in Baghdad said, "This is not America's war, this in only a soldiers war on TV some place far far away."
He's right. What sacrifices have I made...not many. Regardless of whether you agree or don't agree (and I don't, vehemently), the fact is those guys and gals are doing it and dying for it under the flag of our United States.
So this holiday season, my organization, Grass Matts, is going to find homes in New Orleans of active duty military personnel and go cut their grass, trim a hedge, or paint a mail box.
Whatever chore they may need for half a day or so. If anyone is interested in joining me to say thank you with deeds and not just words, please send me an email or give me a call.
Matt - 845-416-0218, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reply to: email@example.com
"KAMP KATRINA" NEEDS HELP:CAN YOU CREATE A BLOG FOR THEM?
From MS. Pearl:
I don't have a staff - I can send pictures. We need a blog desparetly.
Help is slow we aren't a non-profit and we aren't asking for money.
Lots happening - the Bio Tour came and did Thanksgiving with us.
If I had a printer, I would print this out and post it on area bulletin boards. Will you post it on your blog?
or call: 504 948 0166
FROM YOUR PLANETARY SISTER:
Helping, I have found is not always about doing the big, grand things, often helping can be at it's most meaningful when we are helping another planetary brother and sister in meaningful ways for them.
This could be something you can do, if you want to help, by setting the blog for Kamp Katrina and showing them how to upload future articles and pictures. Once it has been started and organized, MS Pearl could take it from there. Or, she could find someone else who would be willing to help in the next phase.
Here's the thing I have found out about "helping" - it can feel like a small thing to you, whilst at the same time, feel like a very big thing to the recipient. PEACE.
Volunteers needed Jan 1 - Mar 31 for any length of time firstname.lastname@example.org
OnSite Relief Inc. will be in New Orleans from Jan 1 - Mar 31 to work on various projects.
Projects will include sheet rocking homes, lawn mowing, helping with construction on a community center...etc.
No experience is nessecary but we are looking for a few experienced plumbers and electricians. We also have need for an office volunteer to greet volunteers, answer phones and respond to emails.
We can also provide info on housing and transportation.
Please visit http://www.onsiterelief.com/ for more info or email email@example.com or call 1-800-370-2420
Looking for a way to thank the thousands of volunteers from all over the world who have come to New Orleans to offer their support?
New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity is seeking volunteers to help renovate Camp Hope, our volunteer housing in Saint Bernard.
Help us make Camp Hope a comfortable, affordable, place to house our volunteers who have travelled from afar to help rebuild our city!
For more information please contact Melissa Manuselis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a challenging blog to read... it is a difficult blog to write.
The challenges and difficulties are even greater for those living the reality I that I document and photograph.
After I have finished with a day of volunteering and photographing, I have the opportunity to walk away from the worst of the suffering. Not so for the families, the children, and the elderly, living in the toxic FEMA trailers, the abandoned houses, violence prone and devastated neighborhoods. Their suffering is ongoing and profound. I have never met stronger people of faith.
In our modern society I have noticed that many people spend an awful lot of time avoiding suffering and pain. That's what makes this blog so challenging to read and to "be with". I am sure there will be those who come to this site and wonder "why doesn't she post more positive things?" I am photographing and writing about the reality that I am witnessing and I understand that after a long day at work or trying to get through your own lives, how you would want to push the painful photo's and experiences I write about, away.
Here's the thing, if there weren't so many instances and experiences of suffering in New Orleans, I would have nothing to document or photograph. Yet there are far too many. And so, I write, I photograph, I pray, I cry, and I feel my profound helplessness as I witness the suffering and the hardships endured by local New Orleanians daily - many seeking to overcome (and overcoming) incredible difficulties and sufferation, whilst others succumb to fates of hopelessness, poverty, crime, and illiteracy.
This blog is my contribution to the beautiful people of New Orleans. When I have finished my work in New Orleans, I plan donate all the photo’s I have taken to an archive, as many of the photo‘s are anthropological in nature.
Everything on this site is meant to be shared, to inspire, and to help educate the millions in this country and elsewhere on this planet who believe that 2 years after Katrina and the levee breaks, that "everything must be okay now".
2 years after Katrina and the levee breaks, for thousands of New Orleanians, everything “is not okay“.
Volunteers are still needed. Especially people who can help rebuild. Even more so, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, and spiritual counselors who are willing to come down and volunteer.
Your help is still needed. Your financial donations are needed. Your love is needed. Your prayers and blessings are needed.
Spread the word. Feel free to use anything on this website. All I ask is that you credit what you use to this web-site so that people will be able to read more about what I have witnessed occurring to thousands still suffering in New Orleans.
In Peace. Your Planetary Sister
"This moment in history is our generation’s lunch-counter moment - Iraq is our Vietnam and New Orleans is our Birmingham. Our generation could be the generation to defeat racism, poverty and war, but only if we come together as people of conscience."
An Open Letter to America: Now Is The Time For Us To Stand Up and Stand Together
-- Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr.
"Do you ever see the rainbow in the sky? Do the colors fight amongst themselves? Then why should mankind fight amongst themselves trough their different colors? The whole world is a garden and all the people in it are his flowers and we all beautify this garden with all our different colors. As the rainbow is in the heavens so are we, as rainbow people in his earth. Jah made all colors so all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful he made them all. Each little flower that opens, and each little bird that sings he made their glowing colors and he made their tiny wings. So remember: What does it profit a man to gain the whole word and lose his soul."
The 'sacred human' emanating light from their body and love from their heart for the purpose of blessing and uplifting mankind. It is what human beings are in the process of becoming.