Monday, February 8, 2016

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On February 8th of 2016 I published some of my previously unpublished notes, pardon any repeats.




A second blog in regards to the ongoing recovery process can be found at postkatrina2008.blogspot.com.



Thank you for your readership.


Jah Bless.
PEACE.

your PlanetarySister

NEW ORLEANS INNER SPACES

Previously Unpublished Notes


In my experience....


In New Orleans, inner spaces hold you differently. 

They are designed to offer a respite from the sun, 
they are cooling, 
dark without being somber
 - mysterious - 
comforting whilst offering sensory feelings of safety.

AND THE UNIVERSE LAUGHED... Notes from New Orleans

Previously Unpublished Notes -  October 2007


Hmm....

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...

In Peace.

Your Planetary Sister

MODEM AND INTERNET ON THE WAY

 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.

IN PEACE.

Your Planetary Sister.

 Previously Unpublished Notes from 2007


What will you be doing on August 29th 2007?



Let's get out into the streets and let the nation and the world know, "everything is not okay in New Orleans!


"When was the last time you drove through the 9th Ward? Through Desire? Through the areas where "affordable" housing sits empty? How about St. Bernard's parish and further south? The gulf coast?


Don't let the media and public relations firms that are designed to "enhance" the tourist experience frame what the nation and the world sees going on!


Let yourself be seen!


On August 29th - photograph and video what your neighborhood looks like!


Organize your friends, family members, co-workers - fellow volunteers and get into the streets!





Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'


--Martin Luther King. Jr.

"SEEN" - DAUPHINE STREET


NOTES FROM THE STREET FROM YOUR PLANETARY SISTER

 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?

IN PEACE.

OVERHEARD in the 9th Ward



"Those of us who cannot dream have nightmares."

CATASTROPHIC STRUCTURAL FAILURE



Report Card from http://Levees.org




LIFE IN "DESIRE" FOR ONE 83 YEAR OLD RESIDENT POST KATRINA LEVY FAILURE FLOODING

 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.


The heat and heat index this summer was mind numbing in New Orleans. We met George as we were driving down the street and we saw him outside of his boarded up house pulling up weeds with the back end of a hammer, whilst leaning on a cane.


Something intuitively told me that we were to get out of the car and meet this man. I was in a state of disbelief as I watched this elderly man try to pull up the weeds with the back end of a hammer, something about this act hit my heart particularly hard.


We got out, and introduced ourselves and began talking with George, he began talking about his life and suddenly broke down emotionally, both I and the journalist moved closer to him and gave him a hug as he tried to regain his composure.


Somehow my heart intuitively and emphatically understood that the suffering this man I had just met had been through, and going through. It was extraordinary, for a man to cry in this way with strangers, for a man who was strong enough in his pride for home that he would get out there in the sweltering heat and humidity, with a cane and a hammer to weed his property, well I knew this was no ordinary event.

 One of my greatest regrets is that I have not been able to help George more. My second regret is that I brought someone to him to help him cut his lawn, which is very important to George, the person I brought was a local whom I thought I knew. They negotiated a price and what needed to be done, I went over the details as I had learned that George likes things a particular way, like the grass being bagged and the bags being put by the curb. The man told George he would be back the next day to finish the work and George not only paid him but gave him and extra $20. This man not only took George's money but never came back even after I spoke with him and he made false promises to me that he would. George took it in stride, he has had experiences of people not being truthful with him. I took it hard. I brought someone to this kind, trusting man who trusted my word and the person I brought to him lied to him and ripped him off. Yes this is my greatest regret regarding my hopes to help George.  I will try to find volunteers until I can find someone trustworthy enough with a good work ethic who will take on George's lawn cutting for him.



VISONS OF SUFFERING



A person can live in many large areas of the city
 of New Orleans and be insulated 
against visions of suffering.

- SoulJAH postkatrina2007




Unpublished Notes 2007

What Ever Happened to Mrs. G?



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.






DID YOU HEAR WHAT I HEARD? Housing Conservation District Review Committee Meeting, City Hall, New Orleans 2007

Previously unpublished notes from 2007



This issue is so core to our humanity, and the vitriolic hate for the people who once lived in the housing slated to be demolished by HUD/HANO makes it even more of an imperative for those who do care to help those who cannot help or speak for themselves.

The following are my perception's of what was being asked of the Housing Conservation District Review Committee. I'm not very politically plugged in so I don't know everyone's name, as such, I will not be able to credit each thought individually - it will be a collective of inspired thoughts expressed at the meeting.


"Let us remember the dignity of every human being".

"We are fighting to let people know that we are human beings."

"We are the people that helped build this city."

"We are United States Citizens, human beings, and we are trying to get home."

"Housing is a human right. Affordable housing is a human right. On Human Rights Day join with people struggling for housing and the right to return."


"Give us time to work out a solution."


These buildings should be protected historically.


Are these buildings (brick housing structures) so far gone (70% structural damage in each building) that they should be demolished? Has each building been inspected according to the 2610 ordinance? Review committee answer:"No."



"This is about taking a moral stand for what is right."


"Sometimes, the will of the masses (many in the city are strongly for the demolition of the public housing structures), can't prevail." "We have working poor people living in tents, cleaning up in the morning and going to the hotels to work."


"We must do what is morally right. These are human rights that no one should question."


HUD stated while people were on the rooftops that we are going to shut public housing down."



"You are not only destroying our houses, you are destroying our lives. People are dying everyday."


"Open up your hearts, we want to come home."


"Such buildings should be preserved where ever possible."


"The buildings were made in a way you cannot afford to build today."


"HUD is tearing down buildings that look like Lafitte."



"HUD has a track record of demolishing without rebuilding. They are planing to demolish these buildings without a master plan to rebuild."


"When you demolish everything it creates a larger problem for the homeless and the displaced."


"217 buildings with 4000 apartments. Which have not been inspected for 70 percentile of damage according to ordinance 2610, and no signed contacts of anyone who will fix up the buildings."


"The historical significance - we could bull doze the French Quarter and put in a mall, but we don't. These are some of the most structurally sound buildings in the city. These brick structures are in better conduit than the wood homes surrounding them."

"Estimated 12 thousand homeless in New Orleans."

5o thousand families living in 240 square feet FEMA trailers.


100,000 homeowners who haven't gotten any Road Home monies."


"This is neither moral nor legal according to the National Historic Act of 1966.




"We went through why we feel demolishment is necessary."


"This is about the 'revitalization' of New Orleans."






"Don't do this on the backs of the poor..."


"It’s easy to take a moral view when things are easy. But we find out who we are when no one else is looking. With each step we are removed from the cruelty, we remove some of our humanity."




In the end... the historic brick buildings were demolished and put up in their places were less public housing units which the locals called "blow away" houses.

oneLOVE







WHILE YOU WERE OUT HOLIDAY SHOPPING: THE GOVERNMENT FENCED OUT THE HOMELESS FOR CHRISTMAS


Previously unpublished notes from 2007




Holiday Inn New Orleans:
"A stones-throw from the French Quarter"











This is the visual experience Holiday Inn has created of your initial view from the Super-dome. The Holiday in owns command of space and place in New Orleans.







This has been the "view" from the lobby and street of the Holiday Inn New Orleans.


The view will be changed on December 21 when the fence is completed and the homeless are fenced out."




What I have been trying to figure out is why the City and State feels compelled to fence off this area where the homeless has been staying. They haven't awarded any contracts, they are going to store equipment there that is sitting somewhere else until March.


And why couldn't they wait until January 2, 2008?



Why at Christmas?








"After the fence is built, the state plans to prepare the site for the first phase of demolition: the removal of lead, asbestos and other hazardous materials. That contract, which has not been awarded, will cost an estimated $1.5 million; the work should begin in February. "



"Work under the $2.8 million demolition contract, which also has yet to be awarded, is slated to commence in March"

"State officials said the fence is needed to secure the heavy equipment that will be moved onto the construction site..."nola.com











The Redevelopment of New Orleans and the African American Families Who Helped Make New Orleans Internationally Famous

 Previously Unpublished Notes from 2007


Just because the former residents no longer live in the neighborhood I am now living in doesn't make them strangers. Many were her long before the levy flooding post- Katrina, have strong ties to this area and Mt. Moriah Church.



URBAN INSTITUTE

Affordable housing needs are even more severe today, particularly for renters. More than half the city's rental housing stock was damaged or destroyed, and rents for the remaining units have risen substantially. Many low-income families who were struggling before they were displaced by the storm have been unable to return to the city because they cannot find an affordable place to live. And those who do return are likely to face severe hardship. (Popkin, Turner, and Burt 2006).



Federal, state, and local officials have all expressed a commitment to the safe return and a better future for displaced residents. But without affordable housing options, these commitments cannot be fulfilled, and the redevelopment of New Orleans will be stunted and inequitable. It will exclude a substantial share of the city's long-time residents, many of whom are African American. The absence of a major segment of the workforce will undermine the recovery of the region's economy. Key workers, including those involved in providing health care, child care, and public education may not be able to return, limiting the availability of services that everyone depends upon for a decent quality of life. And the vitality of New Orleans will be eroded by the absence of families and individuals who played key roles in creating and sustaining the region's unique music, art, and cultural traditions

Jonathon Lockett School

 Previously unpublished notes from 2007



They want to demolish Jonathon Lockett School.



People are rebuilding their homes around the school.



The school is an historic site. Only African American school children in the 9th Ward could go to from 1929 due to integration laws.



The argument against demolishing this school - children will come to Jonathon Lockett School - Habitat for Humanity is building homes around it.




Other Related Notes - Promise of Vouchers

Milton Freeman. The Promise of Vouchers. Wall Street Journal 12-05-05

Big Easy Money: Disaster Profiteering on the American Gulf Coast. 9/06
 http://www.corpwatch.org

Jeff Duncan "The Unkindest Cut" Times-Picayune 3/28/06

A Mogul Who Would Rebuild NOLA, Gary Rivela, NY TIMES 9/29/05

"His determination to exploit the crisis in New Orleans to advance a fundamentalist version of capitalism" - on Milton Freeman

For more than 3 decades,  Freeman was waiting - selling off perceives of the state to private whilst citizens were still reeling. pg 6

The Ideological Privatization and Ethnic 'Purification' of New Orleans

 Previously Unpublished Notes From 12/2007


Many of us were first introduced to the suffering of the people who are now being affected by the Bush Administrations ideological "privatization and ethnic purification" of New Orleans as we watched residents suffer on roof tops for days without food and water, begging to be rescued.

When "We the People," saw how our government treated those who were caught up in the flooding due to the levee failures, we literally got up off our couches and came down, (and continue to come down in the thousands), to New Orleans to help, with great compassion.

What the nation has not witnessed since the levy failure flooding post- Katrina, is how two years later 'certain' areas of the city have been left to "rot", where in most cases the people who live there have and continue to live in poverty - i.e. the working poor and the poor, whose population is primarily "African American."

Do my statements sound dramatic? Too 'liberal'? What I am witnessing has nothing to do with politics or drama. It has to do with 'human dignity" and the the rights promised to all of us as "We the People" regardless of our race, creed, or wealth distribution.

I continue to be "shocked" (yes shocked, as I have not yet been de-sensitized to ideological and racist cruelty which flourishes around me), as I photograph the neighborhoods where the inhabitants have all but been left to "fend for their own", their schools left boarded up, few stores opened, no local hardware stores to help rebuild, no local medical, as Charity Hospital has been closed.

At the same time in this city lovely blue flags announcing the "Louisiana Rebirth" fly from picturesque Victorian shotguns in the Garden District as inordinate amounts* of Latino and Hispanic workers, very few who speak English, and very, very, few Black New Orleanian's, make repairs, renovate, landscape and beautify the homes of the middle class and the wealthier inhabitants of the city New Orleans.

*(There seems to be an inordinate amount of Latino/Hispanic workers in the city after the levy failure flooding - this city for all intents and purposes, has a majority African American - Black population. Yet in my daily travels through the streets, especially 'Uptown' and the 'Garden District" the workers/crews I see painting, sanding, remolding homes, landscaping, etc., are 90% Latino/Hispanic, often with a "Caucasian" crew boss or contractor on site.)

THERE... ALL BETTER NOW. Housing the Homeless.

 Previously unpublished notes from 12/2007 - Published 2016



I haven't said anything about the homeless as I can't compete with with the surreal reality of local T.V. News - everything is going to be okay for the homeless after tomorrow.


They are going to hotel rooms - for how long?


They will be going to shelters and missions? Many people can't take another nigh at the homeless shelters, that is why living in a tent in the center of the city was better than those alternatives that were there all the time.


Without psychiatric beds, where do you think the mentally ill, the drug addicted, the chronic alcoholics, the broken of our society are going?


Yeah, everybody is feeling all touchy feel-y good about the homeless.


I am stocking up on hand warmers. Cause not that everyone believes the Christmas fairy tale that the homeless have all been helped, they are still out there.


And I will still be helping them.






I'm sure brand New Orleans will have the homeless cleared away in time for the Sugar Bowl.

BRAND NEW ORLEAN$: PHASE ONE COMPLETE - PUBLIC HOUSING




Public Housing DEMOLITION.



Previously unreleased notes from 2007.

SHE IS REBUILDING AND ALMOST IN HER HOME - MRS. G

"I am tired now all the time."

Mrs. Gaines, 76, on rebuilding on her own in the 9th Ward.




Previously unpublished, released February 2016


YOUR RACISM 101 TUTORIAL: THIS COURSE IS MORE COMPLICATED THEN ONE WOULD THINK

Previously unpublished notes released February of 2016


I received this video in an e-mail from Bill Quiqley's mailing list. I was so deeply affected by what I saw,  perceived, and heard in this video, that I found I needed to stop everything I was working on as "all systems" overload within my brain and my heart impeded my moving forward until I processed the energies I had just taken in.

I got on my bike and pedaled as if I was in a big hurry to get somewhere for about an hour. After an hour of manic pedaling, it came to me that it was now time to get quiet and pray. 

I questioned the leashing out of the forces of darkness which can work through the minds, mouths, and hearts of human beings who are not fully conscious and aware of who they are as embodied souls. Human beings in this embodied unconscious state, I have learned, can become tools and mouthpieces for the foulest of words and the darkest of deeds.





Racist LSU fans @ BCS Bowl, 2008

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hVvMfgvocE

New Orleans Post-Katrina - Recovery is Relative

 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.



RECOVERY IS RELATIVE

POVERTY IS RELATIVE