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Monday, May 25, 2009

Soil building

Over the weekend we picked up a pickup truck full of green waste and began our soil building project in earnest. Here Bill and Eric mixed together manure, coffee grounds and the green waste to build our first windrow.

The Backyard Gardener's Saturday Morning Tour

On Saturday May 23rd, the Lower Ninth Ward's Backyard Gardeners invited local residents on a tour of community gardens and urban microfarms in the lower and upper Ninth Ward and the Bywater.

Turner and Jenga led the tour, which highlighted NINE gardens, in the blue bus.

About thirty people attended and enjoyed the morning:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Here we go...

Priming the wall for Our School Mural: Road to Self-sufficiency. More pictures as the project develops.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Poetry is Not a Luxury

After a long day at Martin Luther King Elementary, Rodeo came over to draw.

It's hard to understand how art and creativity are relative to the recovery process. What's the first thing that comes to mind when you see the word RECOVERY? Do you picture swinging hammers, growling pick up trucks and latters lifting? It's difficult to explain why making art is as valuable as repairing a roof or re enforcing a levee, but it is.

Recently I read Sister Outsider, a collection of essays and speeches by Black Lesbian Feminist writer Audre Lorde. Her Essay 'Poetry is not a luxury' gave me words I previously did not have.

"The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives. As they become known to and accepted by us, our feelings and the honest exploration of them become sactuaries and spawning grounds for the most radical and daring of ideas. They become a safe house for that difference so necessary to change and the conceptualization of any meaningful action. Right now, I could name at least ten ideas I would have found intolerable or incomprehensible and frightening, except as they came after dreams and poems. This is no idle fantasy, but a disciplined attention to the true meaning of "it feels right to me". We can train ourselves to respect our feelings and to transpose them into a language so they can be shared. And where that language does not yet exist, it is our poetry which helps to fashion it.
Poetry is not only dream and vision; it is the skeletion architecture of our lives. It lays the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before."

In the past few months we've done a lot. We completed our first school sign after many valuable revisions. We silkscreened our first batch of school t-shirts and have already started on the next. We continue to look at how individuals and communities choose to represent themselves through art, whether it be designing a school logo, painting a community mural or writing lyrics to a song. Currently we're drawing designs for our first school mural that will face South towards our flourishing garden. The guys decided they want to paint a 'Road to Success' map for our mural, illustrating all the healthy and unhealthy choices that young adults face in New Orleans. I'm very proud of our students for all we have accomplished, but what's even more impressive is their bravery to share their ideas freely. Making art is an excersise in overcoming our fears of vulnerability. By creating a safe space where kids can express themselves without fear of ridicule is a necessary step for social change.