On Monday, we landed in New Orleans. Some of us have made this journey before, others have not. While we are all here for a common purpose, each of us will take away something unique in addition to the shared experiences. In addition to sharing our stories, this blog will help us reflect on what we see, feel, and do.
In 2007, I was a participant in the inaugural Gracenotes Sponsorship to New Orleans. I was motivated to apply by my own ethic of service and understanding of the importance of civic engagement. The devastation faced by the residents of New Orleans had an impact on me, even though I had never been to the city. Seeing the aftermath of what had happened two years prior was stunning. You can read more about the inaugural trip and my reflections here.
Returning to New Orleans, four years after my first visit, will not only give me the chance to continue to support this vibrant city in rebuilding but also allow me to see the changes that have graced this city. So far, I am soaking in a lot of new experiences. There is more activity in the city. The French Quarter seems alive, rather than in a sleepy anticipation like before. I wish I could compare New Orleans “then” and New Orleans “now” so I could truly feel the changes. Regardless, because of my work with Berklee’s Gracenotes Sponsorship to New Orleans, I find this city close to my heart.
The team will work on 1839 Allen in the 7th Ward. It is only a few miles from the Musicians’ Village and is one of about 50 or so homes actively being built by the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity. Our group leader told us today that the NOAHH built about 2 homes per year prior to Katrina and after, 100 each year. Now, they have about 50 active builds at a time–still much higher than pre-Katrina.
Today, during work, residents came and went from their homes, dogs barked, cars frequented the street. Before, in 2007, there were still FEMA trailers, only a few people were out on the sidewalks or driving in the streets, and the Habitat homes were among a small few under construction. Also different this time: I have not seen one of the infamous “x” markers on a house. Last time, they were inescapable.
Tomorrow, we will drive to the area where I worked in 2007. I am not sure how I will react to seeing a flourishing and vibrant community where I last saw a vast sea of foundations awaiting structures and structures awaiting residents.
For photos of our work, visit the berklee.college photo stream on flickr.
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