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Welcome to Mrs.T’s Plantation: Living and Surviving Domestic Abuse

I couldn’t help but be a nervous pacing wreck, as I heard the list of speakers being called off one by one, knowing at any minute my name would be called next. I told myself to calm down as I gulped down the freshly squeezed lemonade that was given to me by one of the waitresses without me asking. She had to have noticed my state of nervousnes, it wasn’t like I was hiding it either. Her kind gesture was just what I needed. As the bittersweetness danced on my tongue it brought back memories of my Grandmother eating a lil honey with lemon for a pick me up and it was like her spirit was working through the waitress.

I couldn’t believe that I agreed to dig up the painful memories of the past, I had to have been out my sane mind. I was trying to give myself a mental pep talk, reminding myself it all was in effort to save at least one woman’s life from domestic violence, but did I really have to tell my very own story? I enjoyed volunteering, assisting women with their escape from a real life monster, it was my therapy. Speaking to a crowd wasn’t what I had in mind when I signed up to be a volunteer and my emotions had been all over the place when I was asked to speak. The program director said it’s something we all must do as a final release for ourselves. As I dug deep into my mind, heart and soul to unearth the time capsules of horrific files and nightmares of my past, I’m pleasantly reminded of the very day I entered Mrs. T’s. I would find the courage to share my story of survival after taking a trip down memory lane.

I felt the need to freshen up, but the MC told me to stay put, I was on next. Geez. There was antique bronze mirror sitting in the corner from the doorway that lead to patio where the speakers were pouring their lives onto the hearts of the audience. I went to the mirror, noticed that with all the sweating from nervous pacing I wipe off one of my eyebrows, I mentally thanked the thoughtful lady who knew to place this mirror in just the right place brought some joy to my heart. A one eyebrow, sweaty, parched woman would leave the women concerned for me, “she’s a hott mess, poor soul, but she made it to speak” they would whisper amongst themselves crossed my mind. Women can be brutal even under dire circumstances, I told myself as I pulled out a pack of cucumber facial wipes to freshen up my face. I was the only one in the room, so I quickly pulled a few more wipes out of the package, lifted up my blouse and did a quick sweep under my breast. Why do we sweat in the worst places and at the wrong time, but my mocked hoe-bath actually cooled off my body, maybe it was the cucumber. As I placed the lip stick to my top lip, the host entered the room to tell me I was up next. I felt my lips move, but I didn’t hear anything come from my lips, but I told myself, “I wish you would choke up, drop a sweat or tear, you go out there and pay homage to the woman who pushed you into your destiny. Yes, Mrs T, deserved that, she was always so calm, soft spoken, loving and I owe it to her to contribute to her legacy.

I walked out onto the porch with my head held so high, I felt the sun kissed my lips before I spoke. There were rows of white chairs were women of all races and cultures sat with all white attire and a single purple rose pinned on their shoulders, it was beautiful. Once again I was impressed with the genius that planned the event which took place in the front of the house, the speakers sat on the porch, which mimicked a stage, we sat at long tables covered with white linen tablecloths with vases of the same purple roses the ladies had on their chest. The chairs where perfectly lined up under a massive white canopy, on the beautiful short carpet thick green grass that lined up along with the huge old oak and magnolia trees, it was beautiful and the scent of magnolia was pleasant and calming. There were circle and banquet tables topped with shiny silver chafing dishes situated closer to the rose garden off to the side of the front of the house where we would eat at the end of the ceremony. The waitresses and waiters dressed in black and white walked around with huge silver platters of tasty appetizers and crystal stemware held a bubbly concoction of lemonade champagne. A rose garden themed banquet was an excellent idea and I know Mrs.T would be proud, I told myself as I introduced myself to a crowd of standing crowd. I felt honored to be a selected speaker as I looked around at my surroundings, the women in attendance and remembering Mrs. Ts story pushed fear and shame to drown in Lake Ponchatrain.

It was time to finally put an end to my marriage, I told myself after waking up from him choking me to the point of losing conscience. I would wake up to my head on a pillow, laying across my ex husband’s lap as he squirted liquid clothing starch in my face in a cruel attempt to snap me back to consciousness. I wiped what I thought was water off my face as I came to, everything was kinda foggy, faintly making out my surroundings, my eyes followed his hands as he put the bottle down on the nightstand next to the clock. I jumped up from his lap, recollecting all that transpired, I grew worried when I realized 5 hours had passed that I could not account for. It all came to me, he wrapped his hands around my neck as he straddled himself on top of me and would nearly choked the life out of me flooded my mind. “You finally awakened, Sleeping Beauty. My kiss woke you up,” he said with a slyly evil looking grin across his face. I didn’t respond. I made my way to the bathroom to find the vessels in my eyes had been broken, as well as under my eyes was blackened as if he hit me. I let out a deep angry moan as I realized the reflection in the mirror was me. I felt anger so strong well up in me, to the point I felt hot. I wasn’t sure if I was mad at myself, because I was just as guilty for not leaving when he started verbally abusing me.

He finally crossed the line of emotional abuse, pushing, restraining me to finally putting his hands around my neck. He actually did do it before, but not in this manner, he cornered me onetime placing one hand around my neck, telling me I will never leave him.

All the fighting before this did not register in my mind as domestic abuse, because he never hit me with his fist and I never had bruises, but all that had changed. I couldn’t stay a moment longer, I waited for him to leave out for work and jumped on the I10 with no plan other than to get away..

I found myself driving to Biloxi beach. I’ve had scary moments, sad moments and wonderful moments at the ocean side. The beach and ocean have always been a part of my life, I return to water for a sense of calm and clarity. As I sat in the sand gazing out into the ocean, watching the wave come in I decided that I needed help, someone to talk to, a professional. I knew I was too intelligent to stay in a toxic marriage and now was the time to get out of it. The beach gave me the answers I needed, I told myself as I headed back toward the city. I would talk to a police officer at gas station in a small town outside of the city. I didn’t think it was best for my gullible oh so forgiving self not to return to the city, because I knew the moment hr found out I was gone and not at any family house he would have his police friends find me. I lucked up, the police was a black woman, she handled all the domestic violence investigations, I would tell her all that I was going through in my marriage. She was one of the first angels I met on my road to being free of my exhusband. She would ask me if I am sure I wanted to be free my abuser, would I go back to him and a few other questions before she made a phone call. She would talk with a huge smile on her facr as if the person on the line was her beloved grandmother, it was awesome to see a hardcore detective soften from something as simple as hearing a voice. After she was done with the conversation she informed me of an opening at a domestic abuse shelter named Mrs.T’s . I would get a personal police escort to a gated community of old plantation homes and would find out why her entire demeanor changed as she spoke on the phone.

As the detective made her way down the long drive way, pulling up to a huge old plantation house turned into a women’s shelter, I would feel slightly nauseated and not for the reasons one would think. I started to worry about the stigma that comes with living in a shelter, but more than anything I was worried about what others would think when they find out my exhusband abused me. I was also, worried about sleeping in a place of pain for my ancestors. A place that was once managed by slaves who prayed to escape from their masters, this very place bothered me a lot. I would learn that my concerns actually led Mrs.T to buy the property, which was now a safe place for abused women and their children to escape from their abusive homes. I stood in awe, looking at the rows of oak trees, while taking in the smell of blooming magnolias in the cool spring air.

The detective waved at someone from a distance at the house as she walked up the long pathway, then turned to look behind her to make sure I was following to come on up with another lady. I wasn’t, I was stuck at the end of the drive as if I was having silent seizure, that I was quickly relieved from as the authoritative voice of the officer called for me. I finally caught up with her and she turned to walk back to her car as she wished me luck and told me to stay strong.

I was greeted on the porch in typical Southern fashion by a tall, lightskinned black chic with a black razor cut bob, that complimented her high cheekbones. Her name was Michelle, a volunteer social worker, she would tell me her story of surviving domestic abuse, her reason for volunteering and how a black woman brought the house for the sole purpose of dedicating it to serve domestic abuse victims. She continue to tell me more about this amazing woman and the purpose of the house as we sat on the porch drinking some of the best lemonade I ever tasted out of tall crystal glasses.

I would learn of the most amazing woman, who survived the horror of domestic abuse in the 50s. Her name was Altia Baptiste, she would be given the nickname Mrs.T, a light skinned beautiful black woman, a second generation missionary, her mother was the first freed slave to get her missionary license in Louisiana. Altia’s mother had a sister that followed in her footsteps as well, followed by generations to come. The missionaries would visit neighborhoods throughout New Orleans assisting those in need.

Mrs.T would marry a self-made wealthy man, who was 17 years her senior. Prior to attaining wealth he worked in the cotton fields until he was 12 years old. He would hop a train to New Orleans after his mother died giving birth to a stillborn baby, leaving him an orphan with no one to care for him. Altia would tell a story of years of abuse by her husbands hands. One story stood out and I would remember it all my life. Mrs.T shared a story of being discharged from the hospital with her new baby and her husband woul punch her in the nose as she held her new baby. She would try to hold her head back in effort to prevent the blood from dropping on her new baby or the baby’s blanket.

Over the course of the 2 year marriage she would attempt to hide the abuse from her family, believing she knew he was a good man, but life had been cruel to him. He was a child slave, loss his mother at a young age and had basically raised himself, she knew this had to be the reason he was so angry with God. He refused to pray or go to church and she was raised in the church as well as worked with her mother as a missionary, which enraged him more. She would continue to lift him up in prayer, believing it would change him, turn him into not only a believer, but heal him of his violent alcoholic ways. She sacrificed her love of helping others, teaching Sunday school in effort to hide the abuse and make her husband happy.

One day her daddy popped at their house unannounced after church to see his daughter, it had been over a month and he missed her and his granddaughter. Her husband started drinking early that Sunday morning and was drunk, berligetent and full of rage, all but said no to her father as he asked for entry. He stood there in the screendoor with bloodshot drunken eyesa and foul smelling breath and without a word he shut the door in her daddy’s face. He could be heard yelling at Mrs.T, chastising her, because her Daddy came without being invited. Now, this was the 50s and father’s were to be respected and feared, especially by the man he gave his hand in marriage to marry his daughter, but maybe the age difference. The men were actually the same age, give or take a few years. Her husband threw bottles at her and their baby as she retreated to the kitchen screaming out for her Daddy. He heard her, because he retrieved his shotgun from his truck, kicked down the door with little force, her husband sat in his chair in shock that her Daddy. He was 5’7 with a slender muscular frame compared to her husband who stood at 6’4 and muscular as well, life on the plantation and working on the railroad contributed to there solid strong build.

Mrs. Ts Daddy stood in the door way aiming the gun at her husband and called for her to come out of the kitchen. She appeared immediately, with her babygirl in tow and ran to her father’s side, giving him a huge hug & kiss. Her Daddy came to free her from her hell she told herself. Her Daddy laid his eyes on her beautiful face, one of her eyes was swollen, slightly opened as if it was healing. He noticed her pregnant belly had grown big as watermelon, as she walked with a wobbled while holding her baby girl on her hip while limping on a swollen ankle. He told himself saw enough, ordered her to gather their things, get to the truck and wait for him to come out. “Altia you are not to come back in here, we have to have a man to man talk. Do you understand ne, sugar?” She said, yes and excited the house, but not before her husband jumped up and demanded that she stayed, “Altia is my wife now, I have the say, this is my house and you have no right to come in my house waving your rifle like you the sheriff!” He was yelling so loud it felt as if the window panes shook. Altia’s Daddy was quickly reacted to his body movement, as he moved the shotgun did as well, before finally being pointed and shoved directly between her husband’s eyes. He calmly asked, “Did you hurt my daughter, Did you damage my daughter’s beautiful face?” His eyes filled with the pain from his heart, he couldn’t bare it, thinking he failed to keep his daughter safe, he let the tears fall as he kept the shotgun to her husband head. Her husband’s stood there with a cocky evil look in his eyes, which seem to be spanning the room in search of something…and without giving him a moment to say anything or move towards his gun, he shot him.

In an instant he stopped crying, as he picked up the shell from the gun, he stepped on the broken door, walked out and drove off with his daughter and granddaughter. Seeing his daughter’s face again made him cry again, as the tears flowed from his eyes, he asked her why she did not tell him or her mother. He would stop at the nearest police station to report what he had done, Altia gave a statement and her father was never charged for killing her husband.

Altia would go back to her missionary work, sharing her story with other ladies. She would find out that many more were living with domestic abusers and she was committed to helping as many women as she could. She was able to take lessons from her very own experience to construct a way to get into the homes to monitor the abuse and develop an exit plan. She initially used the home she shared with her husband to use as a shelter for victims. Some years later she would receive help to open up a larger center and she found the house. It was divine timing she would say, the plantation house was up for auction, she sold her and with the help of donations she secured the land and the house. People from all over New Orleans donated their time to rehab the house as well as donated all the furniture and appliances.

By the time she finished the story, I finally freed my voice from the being a prisoner of shameful silence with a life sentence. I felt as if the prison bars of my soul broke open and disappeared into thin air. My tears fell from my eyes cooling off my hot flushed skin as I told Michelle my story.

Where are all the Nola Natives??? My walk thru Treme

My Saturday was jammed pack with events within walking distance of each other in the Treme neighborhood and since the weatherman was totally wrong, well lets say the wind blew the storm in another direction. The news had the entire city on alert, but we all said “Lessen Bon Ton Roule” to the grey storm clouds that hung over the city and prayed that the rain will hold until our festivities were over and it did just that.

After I was done with assisting with the party cleanup at The Tricentennial Treme Neighborhood Cleanup, I decided to walk it on out to the Treme/7th Ward Arts and Cultural Festival. An added plus to walking was I would finally get to see entire beautification that took place by what was the Lafitte Project. Actually, it’s now named “The New Faubourg Lafitte,” what is left of the Lafitte is a couple of the old red brick buildings stood surrounded by flimsy fencing as if it wasn’t it was our treasured culture. I honestly think they are only holding onto it to distract us from what is going on in the other buildings.

The New Faubourg Lafitte are luxury
townhomes, apartments, gone are the red prison bricks and concrete of the Lafitte Project, the townhomes are painted in various muted colorful shades. Windows once covered with security bars are replaced with black French shutters, balconies that were used to hang clothing to dry are now dressed with wicker patio sets and potted plants. I was told the head busting slippery linoleum covered concrete floors were donned with the finest of hardwood floors, actual tilework in the bathroom, high end stainless steel appliances and washing machine and dryers in each townhouse. I wonder if HUD would let me in, I could use that type of living. Geez

Unlike, what was once the Lafitte Project housing low-income families, these newly renovated townhomes are mixed income and there’s a credit score you must have in order to qualify to live there.. In addition to renting the units there are some units available for sale, which may lead me to think why it’s a ghost town in just about every former housing development.

In 2011, the first homes were constructed on a 27-acre site between the TreméLafitte and Tulane-Gravier neighborhoods of New Orleans. The project includes the replacement of subsidized housing from the old Lafitte housing project with affordable new homes on a redeveloped site, as well as the addition of 900-1000 units that will be constructed on infill lots in adjacent neighborhoods.[1] The homes range in size and cost, and 600 new units will be for sale for working families and first-time homeowners. The new construction reflects the character of the existing communities, and is a result of the mobilization of a spirited local residential council in response to a HUD mandate that their homes be demolished in the wake of two devastating hurricanes.

Now, does that sound like those sitting up high sent out letters telling the prodigal New Orleans children to come back home so that they could reap the harvest of the renovation?? Can you envision some big time developers with open arms, telling Katrina victims to come on home, look what we have done for you! Here’s a little something to make up for the trauma you endured. The government backing them, offering programs to assist with healing of the mind, body and soul…No, it doesn’t and it seems as if the one’s who didnt return are all, but forgotten, but I bet you they remember.

The flip side of gentrification is everything is so beautiful and of high quality, it’s nothing like before. I’m not sure if it’s the city who’s contributing to ensuring that what was once the project was all but washed away. I think if you lived in any of these projects in New Orleans you would not be able to identify which court you lived in.

The once waterless, trash filled hole of what is a pool is filled to the top with clear blue water that smells of chlorine awaiting the splashes and sounds of happy swimmers. The walls of the building display a colorful mural of people from all cultural backgrounds living in harmony.

The park itself is a greenway, the lush green grass is well manicure and it seems to never end. Native wildflowers of all colors cover the tree-lined pathway like a beautiful bedspread. The air fills your soul and nostrils with what has to be the smell of New Orleans before all the air polluting plants came along.

I must admit that walking in the park, seeing all the care taken to make everything so beautiful, leaving a big group of volunteers committed to keeping the neighborhood clean and seeing the men on the basketball court teaching the younger generation brought cheer to my soul, but then those two old project buildings came to mind and I was reminded that some may never come back home to finally live as they deserve. Katrina put them out the wealthy are paying top dollars to ensure their gentrification project is completed.

As you can see from my pictures, it is beautiful, but there’s something very wrong with my pictures as well, there’s no people. Where are the kids? Where are the grandmother sitting on the steps talking to her neighbor? Where is the coming and going of New Orleanians living in these townhouses? I remember walking, not just in this project, but any I have visited and as I walked I can remember the sounds, voices of my people and around hear you can here a pin drop. The only people I saw or heard along my walk, where the ones on the court and that doesn’t sit well with me.

Although very beautiful not seeing my people in yet another New Orleans neighborhood that was home to so many black families and see not even a fraction of them, hurts my heart. Gentrafication is real in New Orleans…

I saved a NOLA Fig Tree from gentrification

I’m not sure if it’s the fact that I moved away and came back that I appreciate the things some may not realize that are New Orleans treasures.

As you all know, I haven’t drove since my car accident in 2016, so if I’m not in a Lyft or being driven around, my feet get me where I need to be in New Orleans. I have mentioned you wi end up walking in my city even if you have a car especially if you want to live and/or work and play in the city.

I attended the New Orleans Tricentennial Treme Neighborhood Cleanup and the 3rd Annual Treme 7th Ward Arts & Cultural Festival, I live in the 8th Ward so you know I walked it out, well I caught a Lyft there and walked back. I have video and pictures from both events.

On my walk home, I notice this baby fig tree along with a few other of nature’s treasures are sprouting up by an abandoned Post Katrina house that will collapse if the Big Bad Wolf blows softly, as well there was an unkept overgrown lot directly across from the house. I love figs, really love figs, I can taste and feel the juicy texture and flavor bursting in my mouth, so I can spot a fig leaf a mile away. So, you can imagine my excitement as well as anger when I spotted it in the midst of trash and weeds. I risked bugs, lizards, rats, worms attempting to take a picture of it, then I looked at how far I was in the midst of the lot , I decided it needed to be rescued. I also, noticed the lot across from it has been stripped of all New Orleans Vegatation awaiting the next $250k+ build so I pulled it from it’s roots, thinking I knew I wore my boots for a reason.

As I walked through my neighborhood with the tree roots exposed, feeling proud some of my neighbors asked why did you pull the tree? I explained where it was growing like a weed, now thinking it had to have been cut down before to be this small, but they still didnt get it. They do not understand why I had the desire and need to save this tree from gentrification. How can they not see how deep this tree roots grow in relation to our culture.

At first I thought of my two aunties who have huge yards, but I keep forgetting that My Dad left us property in the Maribeau and I’m gonna go plant it there. The house had to be torn down after Katrina, but we have a huge oak tree in the front yard and an area that was a mini playground. I think it will be symbolic of my new start here, but that would me going way over there to eat figs and that’s not gonna work. If only we had the money to build and then there’s the task of splitting the property in 3s. I pray God blesses me with abundance of wealth so I can buy them out and build on my Daddy land, but back to fig trees.

It will get to a point were everything is just regular, we won’t stand out anymore. There’s a house that’s occupied by who has to be transplants and there’s a huge Misbelief tree in their yard with so many dried up or rotten fruit on it and the ground.

I guess they think it’s for the birds. Most of the younger kids do not know what a fig, misbelief, kumquat, mirliton or any the native fruit and vegetables are. There was a time when you could count on an afterschool snack off a tree. The fruit trees and vines bore fruit without anyone even planting a seed, but it’s slim to none now and you have to go on a hunt for seed. I remember jumping fences to get my hands on some juicy figs and etc even risking getting attacked by a dog, cuz they just that good.

I just wanna do some guerilla mirliton-vine planting along random chain link fences so that maybe in a decade or so it’ll be like when i was a kid and people just had them everywhere without even trying

I’ll keep on pulling trees and everything else that’s native of New Orleans, I can’t sit by and let gentrification happened right in front of my eyes. If it takes for me just to do something to keep the legacy for my family as my ancestors did for me I’m gonna do it.

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New Orleans Council Votes To Halt Some Short-Term Rentals – Biz New Orleans – May 2018

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The city council in tourist-friendly New Orleans voted Thursday to halt the proliferation of one type of tourist housing: short-term rentals such as those facilitated by Airbnb and Homeaway.

Council member Kristin Palmer’s measure affects those who rent out entire homes for short-term visitors for as much as 90 days a year. It imposes a nine-month moratorium on licenses for such rentals — including renewals of existing annual licenses— while a study is made of the effects of short-term rentals.

Backers of the measure, which passed unanimously, said large investors have bought up properties to turn them into vacation spots — driving up New Orleans housing costs, driving out residents and threatening the historic character that draws tourists in the first place.

“We were sold a bill of goods when this thing first passed — that it was going to be mom and pop,” Palmer said, referring to the council’s earlier attempt to regulate short-term rentals in 2016. Her measure does not apply to commercially zoned areas and is aimed at the city’s numerous historic neighborhoods.

Supporting the measure, Samuel Taggart said that of 18 buildings on his block in the Treme neighborhood of the city, 12 are short-term rentals with a total of 28 units. He said two of the units are “nothing but fraternity parties on the weekend. They bring in kegs of beer and crawfish. If they do go out to the French Quarter, they come in at 2:30 in the morning and party to 4 or 5 in the morning.”

Opponents said Palmer’s measure will hurt small investors, too, particularly those whose licenses will lapse during the nine months.

“It will punish the people who are playing by the rules,” said Eric Bay, president of a group of short-term rental supporters.

Some warned of a ripple effect in the city’s economy, also hurting people who renovate and clean rental properties.

The measure does not affect permits for people who turn over part of their existing residences to short-term renters — those who rent out bedrooms or half of their duplexes.

HomeAway issued a statement Thursday disputing some of the claims by backers of Palmer’s measure, including the contention that short-term rentals have driven up prices and rents. It said it would work with short-term rental opponents to address their concerns.

“Average home values in New Orleans have been rising steadily post-Katrina, and the rate of growth has not accelerated since the legalization of STRs,” the company said in reference to short-term rentals.

Laura Spanjian, Airbnb Public Policy Director, said the vote was disappointing.

“We have worked closely with the City for more than two years to develop and implement fair rules, which provide the City data and tools to enforce the law and millions in tax revenue, and today’s vote flies in the face of the collaborative spirit with which we’ve approached our work with the City,” she said in an emailed statement.

– by Kevin McGill, AP reporter

 

Source: New Orleans Council Votes To Halt Some Short-Term Rentals – Biz New Orleans – May 2018

  Treme/7th Ward Arts & Culture Festival  May 25-27

Treme/7th Ward Arts & Culture Festival
When: May 25-27
There are neighborhood tours, a Baby Doll bar crawl, community art projects, youth activities, food and music by Shannon Powell, Treme Brass Band, Kermit Ruffins and others at the fest under the Claiborne Avenue overpass. Visit www.treme7thwardcd.org for details. 9:30 a.m. Friday, noon Saturday-Sunday.
 About

Long known as bedrocks of indigenous art, culture, and history, the Tremé and 7th Ward neighborhoods will be celebrated for their immeasurable contributions—to the City of New Orleans, the United States, and the world—at the 3rd Annual Tremé/7th Ward Arts & Culture Festival this Memorial Day Weekend, May 25 – 27, 2018.

We, the people of Tremé and 7th Ward have survived and thrived by knowing our History, living our Traditions, and forever innovating our Culture, while creating Music, Dance, Food, Art, Architecture, and Scholarship to inspire all humanity.

The first of many new activities to activate the Tremé/7th Ward Cultural District, our T7 Fest will spotlight our neighborhoods, together and individually, for our rich historical sites, our unique cultural products, and the quality, character, and proud ancestry of our residents.

Join us as we Take It to the Streets…

We will kick off Friday, May 25 with high-spirited tours of historic sites in both the Tremé and 7th Ward neighborhoods exploring the traditions, history, and culture of both neighborhoods in a global context.

The history continues into the night with the T7 Baby Doll Bar Crawl, as we explore another community tradition of “bar hopping” to 5 historic bars and taverns in the Tremé and 7th Ward neighborhoods. These are the places where born and bred New Orleans musicians hone their talents, where performing artists perfect their vocals, masking Indians practice their chants, and community cooks and craftspeople hawk their wares.

But don’t stay out too late! Because after you’ve visited the historic sites and survived the bar crawl, now it’s time to experience what all the talk is about, when we Take It to the Streets…

All day Saturday, May 26 we meet Under the Bridge between the Saints Streets, Saint Ann to Saint Phillip at our free arts and culture festival. The world’s best musicians will take the stage, the world’s best culinary artists will cook, the world’s best fine artists and craftspeople will create, the world’s best community organizations will educate and engage.

It all leads back to our life-sustaining, spirit fulfilling culture, began before the founding of America, by communities of enslaved Africans and Free People of Color.  We’ll be celebrating on Sunday, May 27 with more back to back music ending with a traditional New Orleans Secondline.

And when it’s all said and done, it’ll have been said and done by people who live and love the art and culture…it’s on!

Tremé / 7th Ward Cultural District

COPYRIGHT © 2015 TREMÉ / 7TH WARD CULTURAL DISTRICT ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Allegations of sexual harassment at New Orleans jail

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Allegations of sexual harassment at the long-troubled New Orleans jail are being aired in a joint investigation by two New Orleans media outlets.

WWL-TV and The New Orleans Advocate , in stories aired and published Tuesday and Wednesday, reported that the allegations come from six current and former employees of the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Former Deputy Christine Conner said male deputies treat female deputies “like they’re candy.” She said she was harassed by a male deputy after ending a consensual relationship with him.

“I let them know that I wasn’t comfortable working with him on the same shift and they did nothing about it,” she said. “They were all trying to make excuses for him.”

Another deputy whose name wasn’t made public said promotions were often linked to sexual favors.

Darnley Hodge Sr., the current jail administrator, responded to the allegations by telling the news outlets: “We’re not going to respond to this gossip.”

In a lawsuit filed May 1, a former nurse for the jail’s health contractor, Correct Care Solutions, says she and other nurses were “physically and psychologically sexually assaulted on numerous occasions by inmates” between November and February.

Complaints to the company and jail staffers were ignored, nurse Natalie Henderson alleges. She says that she was suspended and then fired after making complaints and hiring a lawyer.

The company has declined comment on that lawsuit, citing a policy of not commenting on litigation.

The allegations are the latest problems for a jail where reform efforts are under way in accordance with a court-supervised agreement to settle a lawsuit by inmate advocates and the U.S. Justice Department over conditions at the jail, including suicide attempts and inmate violence.

 

 https://www.apnews.com/deddebad1ede456fb605a413766aa9a4

New Orleans service workers push for free health clinic

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Restaurant and hotel employees in New Orleans are pushing for a free health clinic for workers in their industry.

The workers are demanding that the city dedicate resources to create the full-service clinic for their industry, WDSU-TV reported .

There are more than 88,000 people who work in the city’s restaurants, hotels and attractions, the station reported. Many say they don’t have access to affordable health care.

“A lot of us make $2 an hour, $4 an hour, plus tips. You don’t know if those tips are coming. We have no guaranteed income. We can’t keep track of our income so we can’t commit to paying a few hundred dollars in medical insurance,” said Meg Maloney, who is a waitress, line cook, barista and caterer.

Maloney and other workers protested at Tuesday’s New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp. board meeting. They say they want the city’s hotel occupancy tax to go toward creating the health clinic specifically for hospitality workers.

That tax currently helps to fund the Louisiana Superdome Commission and the Morial Convention Center.

“They gave us a lot to think about today and I’m sure the board of the tourism and marketing corporation will take that into consideration and want to be part of the conversation. So I’m looking forward to more dialogue,” said Mark Romig, president of the tourism group.

https://www.apnews.com/49e9cb661fc840039ec1883e19d1ac5d

Hott Haute NOLA Fashion Show

28795568_10211823224843865_7636763194467287040_nThis past March I attended a fashion show and I must apologize for blogging so late on it, but that does not mean I was not “Wow’d” by the designers or the event coordinator.

The Louisiana Fashion Expo was the product of the amazing Melanie Pichon & Single Sister Entertainment. Melanie’s and Single Sister Entertainment’s goal was to showcase the creative fashion collections of Louisiana’s independent (and beyond) finest fashion talents “Our goal is to generate revenue for local independent clothing designers and heighten the awareness of the importance of targeting our spending dollars in our communities,” Pichon explained. “We want to showcase Louisiana’s finest talents.” They did just that, giving all in attendance a peek at the hottest designers in the fashion world without digging deep in their own pocketbooks to attend as well as creating a direct pathway for the designers to generate income from those in their community.. For only$10.00 a ticket, you not only viewed the beautiful models sashay down the runway, you had hours of entertainment. There was a live DJ; playing the hottest New Orleans music, a delicious catered meal provided by, vendors on-site if you felt like shopping during intermission. The gu did a great job at keeping the crowd entertained with his great sense of humor.

You will be shocked to hear that all of this fabulous fun took place inside of a church, yes a church, but not just a church, a historically black church on St.Charle Ave, a rarity. I actually walked back and forth looking for a another building to pop out from behind it, as I quadruple checked my Mapquest, until someone came out of the beautiful church and told me the event was taking place inside. I must admit I was surprised to find out that it was a black owned church, especially in this part of rich people only New Orleans. If you know anything about St.Charles Ave, you would know that it’s known for the millionaire white people. I never knew of black person living on St.Charles Ave and to hear that for some years now, that the beautiful grand building is the home of a black congregation, had me singing Amen. I had a moment of watery eyed proudness.

Watson Memorial on St. Charles in New Orleans

The Watson Memorial Teaching Ministries gospel choir on the steps of their church on St. Charles Avenue.

By the time I made it there, the show was going into intermission. I missed half of the event and I was worried I would have nothing to tell my followers, because I pumped the event myself and that would be a good look to not attend or go live while there. But as the saying goes “they saved the best for last” and I arrived just in time to partake on some delicious New Orleans cusine. During the intermission Catering served up fried catfish, fried or baked chicken, seafood pasta, jambalaya, finger sandwiches, and other delicacies. That food was so good. I actually have them on my list to contact for an event I’m hosting this summer.

The food was so good, that I was tempted to sin God’s house, I questioned ethics and why I have to be so considerate for a moment though. Why, you may be thinking?? Because, prior to going to the dining area to get our plates of food, the host announced that the older people would be served first, they were to remain seated, because someone would bring them a plate. The line hadn’t formed yet, so there I sat with a few other older ladies, who had their plates and were eating when a young lady greeted me with a heavy handed plate of food, which I declined by stating, “Oh, no I’m not older, give it to an older person” as I eyed the plate, licking my lips in my mind, thinking “ooh that’s enough to bring home to have for dinner lol. She mentioned that all the older people had been served and it was an extra plate.. But, if you know me, you know I sent her off and even pointed out a woman who was there before me for her to give it to. Seriuously, I was late, I couldn’t eat before anyone. I could read it now, “Nola Chic, known foodie, no only does she loves food, but she’s greedy, taking food from the elderly” nope, I couldn’t let it go down like that, but I did in my mind.. lol

The Louisiana Fashion Showcase ended with a fireworks display of fashion kouture, by the designer Keno Kouture. I’m not sure what designer showed before him, but Keno Kouture, slayed the run and the red carpet was rolled up and given to him, because there was no one who could come after. I would find out after the show i speaking with him, that he wasn’t this Famous New York designer who volunteered his time to Melanie Pichon’s event. I was nervous speaking to him, trying to find the right words to ask if he could design me anything at a regular chic price without embarrassing myself was not working for me. I felt like I was in the presence of one of the world’s greatest, in actuality he is. I recall him, telling me, he was honored that I thought so highly of him.

Keno shared his life story with us and it left me wanting to wear whatever he could create, because I knew it would come from his soul and made with passion. He started designing after an alteration disaster, that prompted him to learn how to sew late in the game. When he began, he didn’t know how to thread a needle, but he knew and loved fashion. Love for anything has no choice, but to produce something magnificent. Now, Keno is showing his works all over the county.

As with many other designers the debut of the Black Panther birthed pieces that represented Africa with a futuristic edge. I believe it’s called African-futurism or Afro-futurism, whatever the name, he brought it to the runway. His works were glamour, bold, fun, creative, powerful, beautiful, sexy, fun and forward thinking.

Keno Kouture was a walking peice himself, doned in a textured ziped up vest, sateen slacks, oxfords, handmade African jewerly, carrying a gold embossed studde black back with a funky hot asmeticcal mohwak

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1990429704544253&id=1807523676168191
EvangelistMeloniePichon

EvangelistMeloniePichon

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Tamika Falls revealed her NEW ORLEANS FINEST magazine at the LOUISIANA FASHION EXPO.

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Enter aWellSpring Real Estate was on mission at the Louisiana Fashion Expo. Our company is all about building better communities. Need a presentation at your event? Contact Tara Alexander, Owner/Broker at 504.344.7334 caption

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Sinder Coleman Miller March 21

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Nola Chic wearing items brought from Louisiana Fashion Expo

The deep in of the pool

My 2yr old Gson jumped into the pool earlier and I have to say God is good and never fails to be by your side. I’m proud of myself for responding and not reacting, panicking, panic can lead to dire consequences. Although, my intentions was to not let or myself swim , I still put a life vest on him; which I need to write a review. It did work effectively in my eyes, it did float him, but he was on his stomach, face down and you would think with the straps going under his legs and the foam on the back was more prominent, it would have pulled him to his back…

It all happened in a matter of seconds as I bent over to remove my boots so we could sit on the edge with our feet in the water, well that was the plan, off he ran with his short fast toddler legs and did a big boy jump in 6 feet of water like the rest of the kids. Actually, the big kids were jumping in at 4 feet, the two of us were by the loungers which was closer to the deep end. I didn’t have time to think as I followed right behind fully clothed, grabbing the vest as I came up to turn him over to his back as I accessed him, his eyes were red and he was a shaken up, but he wasn’t crying. I remember seeing him close his mouth as he splashed and turned in the water as if he was attempting to get his balance. He coughed out a little water as he held on to me as I made my way to the stairs, still not crying, only saying “Nana, Nana water.”

I was more upset than him afterwards and even scolded him for jumping in the pool, but he wasn’t fazed, because no sooner than I wiped his face that he wiggled his way off my hip, pushed my hands off him after I grabbed his under his arms to pick him back up, so his little daredevil axx could attempt to jump back in the pool. I ran after him and caught him, telling him, “Nana gonna swim since She wet already ” and it worked, he waited.

So, I ended up getting all the way in the pool to keep him happy and safe. I thought we would sit on the steps in the water at least, because he just had this big scare right?? NO… He made me bring him around the entire pool, he even tricked me, had me thinking he was ready to get out, but No, he pointed for me to stay in the pool so he could jump to me… My 2 year old grandson was able to analyze and problem solve to get the results he wanted and that was to do the same thing the rest of the kids were doing. Just FYI, the other kids had 5+yrs on him.. He really thinks he’s a big boy..

This incident has me thinking about safety in our community, especially living in New Orleans being surrounded by water. Recently, I posted bout hosting a First Aid & CPR class, now I’m wondering how many of us know how to swim??? Growing up in New Orleans I recall 4 of my friends drowning at the lake or the Dome pool in Gert Town. I hope that “Black people don’t swim” stereotype does not exist anymore…even if they do my hope is to use my platform to encourage parents to at least have their children in a swimming class as well as the training.

What if I wasn’t there??? My daughter & sister doesn’t swim and never worked in the nursing field, there was no life guard on duty. What if I didn’t put the life vest on him?? He would have went all the way to the bottom of 6 feet and who knows how I would have responded trying to find my baby in the water, thinking of it hurts my heart..Im not sure how it would have played out, but God makes our schedules.

We have to learn the life skills needed for emergencies as in the past. I’m wondering how many lives would have been saved if we knew to do something as simple as apply pressure to a gun shot wound, to educate kids on seat belt safety, my daughter was placing the seat belt chest strap behind her back and had it not for a French Quarter traffic trap and me getting a $500 ticket I would have never known. We also, live in post Katrina land and it takes more than buying bottle water to be ready for an emergency.

I’ll be good and ready to kick off the safety classes in my neighborhood when I get back and hopefully I can get some backers…

I’m Gonna Live ‘Til I Die

I’m Gonna Live ‘Til I Die

Sarah Vaughan

 

Dear Dee,

I dedicate this song to you and hope you use it as your life song, your theme song, alarm clock and pick me up, because you no choice, but to live until you die, so why not enjoy everything in the middle. Nola Chic

Tonight I realized I have to live up until the very moment of lifelessness leaves my body. We say that some things in life are predestined to happen to us, some say it’s God’s will for us, we were chosen, we aren’t given too much we can’t bear and so on. In my 40+ years I have had my share of love and heartache, had my share of happy and sad tears, dived in passion and pain, witness life come and leave, but what I realize tonight while I go through the good and bad I am gonna make for certain that I enjoy those in my life.

I often think, why is this, this way, why this person doesn’t change, when is enough, enough??  There has to be a point of if not acceptance of the other person or circumstance changes, why not make a change in it yourself, live it out to achieve your happiness. I felt myself tonight, wondering why has this situation not changed and I decided it would be me, because I want my happiness, I want to live happily within it until I die. I actually have no choice or see it any other way.

There are times I look at people and wonder how did it come to be that they are in my life and I in there’s, our lives intertwined to live our lives knowing each other in some form. There are days when we can not be one loved one, not even hearing their voice over the phone, but they are still apart of our lives. The tall, dark and handsome who swept you off your feet, is now the man you hate and there is no unknowing of anyone. Now, with social media your very life is filled with the knowing of others lives who you only know in the virtual world, but their very being, soul matters to yours.

Yes, that has o be it living til you die even if it’s good or bad, so why not live through the bad to show the good that you possess.. That’s it I’m gonna live until I die to thank God for all of it, hoping life’s lessons brought me closer to my purpose.

 

 

 

I’m gonna live till I die
I’m gonna laugh ‘stead of cry
I’m gonna take the town and turn it upside down
I’m gonna live, live, live till I die

They’re gonna say “What a guy!”
I’m gonna play for the sky
Ain’t gonna miss a thing I’m gonna have my fling
I’m gonna live, live, live till I die

The blues ‘ll lay low I’ll make ’em stay low
They’ll never trail over my head
I’ll be a devil till I’m an angel
But until then, Halelujah! Gonna dance, gonna fly
I’ll take a chance ridin’ high
Before my number’s up I’m gonna fill my cup
I’m gonna live, live, live, live, live until I die

I’m gonna live till I die
I’m gonna laugh ‘stead of cry
I’m gonna take the town and turn it upside down
I’m gonna live, live, live till I die

They’re gonna say “What a guy!”
I’m gonna play for the sky
Ain’t gonna miss a thing I’m gonna have my fling
I’m gonna live, live, live till I die