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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…

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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