Remembering to Remember New Orleans, Six Years Later.


A week ago, there was a lot of talk online about the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  I can't bring myself to commemorate the Hurricane on August 29th. Because a week later, on September 4th the evacuation of the Superdome had just been completed.  People sat, in the heat, hungry, in their own filth...helpless for a week.  In their own country.  I still can't believe that happened.  This time, six years ago, people still sat on their rooftops in the Lower Ninth, hoping to rescued.  It's going to take more than another six years to recover.  That's another sad truth.  But Nola's spirit is strong.  And there are many, many ways we can help.

If you have a few minutes, please read on to learn about my pet project, a hands on approach to providing musical supplies for at risk youth in New Orleans.
This is Liese Dettmer, one of the first residents of The Habitat for Humanity Musicians' Village in New Orleans.

When I first met her she had just finished giving a show on her front porch (she's a great singer / songwriter).

While giving me a tour of her new Post-Katrina home, she told me about the free drum lessons she had been giving, on her front lawn, every Saturday morning, to the kids and teenagers living in and around the Musician's Village in New Orleans 9th Ward. Some of those kids had been getting up to no good, she said, and they needed something positive to focus on.

When I spoke with Leise again, less than a year later, she said there is no more "kid crime" in the Village. The program is working.

This is strictly a volunteer, community building mission for Leise, and she has plans to expand the program. She is hoping to add more teachers, move indoors to the Ellis Marsalis Performance Centre (once construction is complete) and even march her kids in an upcoming Mardi Gras parade.

When I held an exhibition of my New Orleans photos in February of 2010 in Toronto, I knew that I wanted all the proceeds to go towards helping Leise with her mission.  That April I was able to hand-deliver over $500 worth of drumsticks, practice pads and other gear to Leise for her students.  It was Easter Weekend so there were no regular classes being held, but once we hauled some drums out on her front porch a few kids came by to see what all the fuss was about.

It was incredible to see them get so excited about the music...and each of them agreed to come back the next weekend and start taking lessons "for real".

Thanks for taking the time to learn about this project. If you would like to make a donation or purchase one of my New Orleans photographs ALL of the proceeds will go towards helping this wonderful grassroots program. To learn more, please contact me at info [at] misstraceynolan [dot] com.

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