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Tag: Leigh McLaren

Leigh McLaren

Letter from New Orleans: Leigh McLaren Featured on

Day One at Habitat for Humanity, and one of the many things I learned today, is that New Orleans is HOT. Not just like the New England summer heat that we complain about in July, but really, really hot.

Despite the heavy heat, we had an amazing first day. We were not sure of our location until we arrived in New Orleans, and we ended up being placed in the 7th Ward, on Allen Street. Berklee College of Music has been a volunteer group to New Orleans every year since 2007.

Read Leigh’s full dispatch on!

Read more blogs from the Gracenotes New Orleans 2011 Trip.

Berklee NOLA: Day 2 and 3

Lady from Allen Street (sarcastic and with a smile): “What are you going to do when the rivers of the Mississippi floods us again?!”

Michael Heyman: “We’ll come back and build some more!”

This is the spirit that my team has been clenching onto this week. It’s been two days … we’re tired yet jovial, exhausted yet determined. I think it’s safe to say that we are facing one of the biggest challenges in our lives. For me, I’ve done mostly everything in my life for my own survival … for my own pursuit of knowledge, enrichment, and growth. But standing on the grounds where people have died for much less, and driving through the Ninth Ward by the levees, has really made me rethink everything I’ve done for myself up until this week.

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Berklee NOLA: concrete poetry

Corinto is seriously into concrete.  See his steely stare.  Witness his protective stance over our concrete form.  Let him stand as a metonym for us, the crew of NOLA 2011, now, also, seriously into concrete.  The other bloggers have mentioned the wonders of our work today, from painting to near-fainting, but I shall mention things otherly.

Here are some things we have learned.

All the new houses are up on blocks—at the exact height of Katrina’s standing water (about 4 feet here in the 7th Ward).  The storm surge was more than double that.

The blocks are bolted to the foundation.  The rods are bolted into the blocks.  The frame is bolted into the rods.  This is so our house does not, at some point in the future, decide to unmoor and roam the inland sea.

In this part of town, the 7th Ward, the housing is mixed.  The community has returned, and, though most people were at work while we were around, we saw some friendly faces in the surrounding homes, a smile and wave from drivers by.  Many have returned the to community, but many have not.  Some houses stand as they did just after Katrina, blasted and beat.

More to come from the whole crew… stay tuned!

Michael Heyman

The Week Begins

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. 

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Introducing 2011 Gracenotes Sponsorship Recipients

This year marks the fifth anniversary of Berklee’s Gracenotes Sponsorship to New Orleans.   Thanks to the generous support of the college, the Gracenotes Volunteer Committee is able to send a group of staff and faculty members to New Orleans to contribute to the rebuilding efforts, which continue even today–six years after floods resulting from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the city.

I am delighted to join my colleague, Leigh McLaren, in leading this year’s team. We leave Boston on Monday, May 9 and will be on-site with  New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity from Tuesday, May 10 through Saturday, May 14.  Over the course of next week, members of the team will post photos and more about our experience.

Recipients of the 2011 Berklee Gracenotes Sponsorship
Gilly Cantor
Corinto Cevallos
Joe Chinni
Michael Heyman
Magen Tracy
Marian Wilson

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