Sunday, February 05, 2006

Renew Orleans

For those of you still looking for ways to help the city New Orleans rebuild after Hurricaine Katrina, considering giving to the New Orleans Musicians Hurracaine Relief Fund. The NOMHF is committed to aiding the city's musicians in rebuilding and perserving the city's rich musical history.

Members of Rebirth Brass Band

Last month, my friends Bill and Katie were married in New Orleans. While I was there, I saw inspiring signs of life amid the devestation. The French Quarter and the Garden District are in tact and businesses were open although with shortened hours and staff. The Rebirth Brass Band played at Bill and Katie's reception. For those of you not familiar with brass bands, this is the equivalent of coming home and saying, "Oh, Sufjan Stevens played at my friend's wedding." The night was amazing with everyone second lining around the reception hall and dancing until the wee hours of the morning. It was also great to see these musicians back at what they love: making music. Rebirth will be playing this summer at the Bonnaroo Arts & Music Festival in Tennessee. Rebirth will be playing with the likes of Radiohead, Death Cab for Cutie, Bright Eyes, and Cat Power, to name a few. Make sure you check out Rebirth if you have the chance.

Photograph from the Ninth Ward

However, there is still a long way to go, and the city's residents still need support. The amount of debris and refuse that still remains to be hauled away is staggering, and some of the neighborhoods resemble ghost towns. I went with friends to visit the Ninth Ward, one of the hardest hit areas in the city. The level of destruction there is staggering, and literally leaves you speechless.

I also had the chance to visit Fisk-Howard Elementary, where I began my teaching career. Most of the schools are unlocked, and some have people who are squatting inside the buildings. However, the amount of toxic mold and water damage makes it unhealthy to be inside for too long. I was inside of Fisk-Howard for less than five minutes before breathing became difficult. The most unsettling part of touring my school was the feeling that time had stopped. Classrooms were obviously left with the intention of students and teachers returing on Monday morning. Chalkboards still showed weekend homework assignments, pencils were waiting to be sharpened, and textbooks were open on tables.

A hallway at Fisk-Howard Elementary

A classroom in Fisk-Howard Elementary
Notice the mold taking over the classroom

I have tremendous hopes for New Orleans and know that it can be renewed to be an even stronger and amazing city. I also know that part of the rebuilding involves perserving New Orleans' rich music history. Do what you can.

Other music relief organizations:
New Orleans Music Resources
Musicians are encouraged to post their contact information to stay connected to the New Orleans music community. Links to other available resources

Katrina's Piano Fund
A network of New Orleans music industry professionals working one-on-one to deliver instruments to musicians who need them

Offers assistance to musicians and links to other available services

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage radio with internet broadcasts, a list of safe New Orleans musicians, and community news

Tipitina's Foundation
Finding housing, instruments, and gigs for New Orleans musicians


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That poor poor chocolate city.

12:24 PM  
Blogger James said...

There is information here on Black Toxic Mold.

4:35 PM  

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