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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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A native of New Orleans, who left her beloved New Orleans to spend twenty years of living in the land of Minnesota Not So Nice. Minnesota was full of opportunities but would learn that the soul of the state and the people who made it was just as icy cold as the temperatures. After the years and my 40th birthday flew by, I decided it was time to pack up my youngest child and come back to my roots, my birthplace the city that not only birthed me but gave me life. I would not be who I am without my New Orleans beginnings. I am all things that would challenge the belief of growing up in New Orleans. I was a 16yr old teen mother of a premature baby born with a severe medical disability. And only With the help of my mother, was it possible for me to BE! I was able to endure and survive the obstacles laid before my child and me. In a city that was built by my family, but did not allow for us to reap the benefits I overcame. Charity Hospital was my second home — a building filled with miracle workers who made it possible for my daughter to have life. I have lived a life of rainy days with peeks of sunshine, that are my children, including those not of my womb. I'm the proud mother of three and a grandmother of three. My dream was to live the life of the nursery rhyme of ”The Old Lady Who lived in a shoe,” and for the most part, I did. I cared for several children over the years as a special needs foster parent. I would learn that my love was not enough for some children, but I loved them through their pain. I'm not sure if I ever had a case of true love or came close to what love looks like on television, but I had my share of men and the mirage of love. I survived two abusive marriages. Though I longed to return to New Orleans on a daily bases, I must admit my move was one of the best decisions made for me. I am a college graduate; I was a successful entrepreneur. I coowned a soul food restaurant and catering company in Minnesota for 12 years. I developed the talent of creating custom cakes after the murder of my beloved cousin Melvin Paul. He survived Katrina only to go to Minneapolis six months later to be murdered over a parking spot dispute. But with the challenge of creating a simple wedding cake, I was able to find healing. I created the House of Cakes in honor of him. Minnesota life had me pretty materialistic. I worked to the point I do not remember much, but work and handing my children love money. I thought by having the big house on the hill, a husband, having a family, the ultimate provider and being involved in all things that matter, plus having the funds to match would cure me of what I was told was a generational curse of lack of everything from money, love to even self-love. But for the most part, that life poisoned my heart and soul. I was blinded by visions fed to me by the media. I was told I wasn't anything unless I was better than the Jones's. I lived being ok with a broken, bleeding heart. Life like this did not exist in my family while living in New Orleans from what I viewed with my eyes and soul. We may not have had all the things I acquired over the years, but we were happy, we were together. Family outside of New Orleans wasn't family anymore. We lived separate lives and had awkward moments when we bumped into each other in public. I hated living in Minnesota even though life their helped me in so many ways. I felt deep down the only way to repair it was to get back to my roots, my soul, my home, myself, my New Orleans. I'm here, and I love it. Even being in the so-called Blighted Area of New Orleans and not having all the financial and material security, I'm happy. I am determined that She, yes, New Orleans is a woman is just like me; together, we will overcome and will rise from all that tried to kill our spirit. Nothing like starting from the bottom and making your way back up!. I just know in my heart that New Orleans will provide for me. There's a bank account with funds in it owed to me by way of back pay for my ancestors. And I will receive my inheritance, and I will continue the traditions and customs of the old to keep the heartbeat of New Orleans beating. I'm down in the boot, living the life that feels right to me awaiting my destiny...

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