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December 21, 2005

Christmas Presents for New Orleans

Dear Friends - Earlier this month, I posted a note from my friend John Pope in New Orleans about the very real needs that his city is facing. I just received the note below from pope and his wife Diana Pinckley, containing some concrete suggestions for people who might want to support New Orleans. I hope you will take it to heart. - HG

New Orleans has many needs, and there are many very specific things you can do right now to help preserve our culture and our people. Here are just a few that we can wholeheartedly recommend. We’ve even included a New Orleans shopping site that you’ll love. Your investment in us will pay off – in our music, our food, our history, our architecture and all the other parts of New Orleans you have come to enjoy.

Thanks to all of you for your amazing love and support!

New Orleans Public Library Foundation
Only three of 13 libraries are open, on a severely truncated schedule. You can see damage to some of the buildings on the library’s Web site – www.nutrias.org. Floodwater and carpets of mold have ruined the collections in the eight destroyed branches, and books were seen floating down the street. More than 90 percent of the staff has been laid off , and the entire system is now operating with only 19 employees. Amazingly, most of the Louisiana Division’s irreplaceable documents and artifacts survived undamaged, despite being housed below ground. The loss of these collections would have been devastating to scholars across the nation and the world.

More than 1,000 people a week are using the library and its resources – books, Internet access and staff expertise. The New Orleans Public Library has always served a high number of reference users, but the nature of their inquiries has changed. A librarian has reported: For every patron asking for directions or the phone book, there are three more trying to locate loved ones or seeking recourse from rent-gouging landlords. …We have found that during these times, the public’s need for information about community and government relief services is great. It is gratifying to fill this vital need.

The library desperately needs money, though donations of books are also accepted. The books will likely be sold at a weekly Wednesday book sale in the portico of the closed Latter Library, with revenues going to help support staff and rebuilding needs.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana
Since Katrina made landfall, Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana has distributed more than 27 million pounds of food and supplies to people in need in the hurricane-affected areas. This distribution is already 46 percent more than the entire distribution all last year, and this figure is a few weeks old. The demand will only grow as individuals exhaust other government-sponsored resources early in the year.

Stephen Ministry
Stephen Ministry is a program that trains members of congregations, crossing denominational lines, to provide one-to-one Christian care to those in personal stress or crisis – people who are bereaved, hospitalized, terminally ill, unemployed, relocated, or facing another life challenge. In short, it has never been needed more desperately by more people than now, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. For information about New Orleans activities and how to support them, contact Leila Schumacher, leilasch@bellsouth.net

New Orleans City Park
City Park, at 1,300 acres, is the largest park in New Orleans and one of the 10 largest in the U.S. It lost 1,000 of its 14,000 trees; all but 11 of is 260 employees were laid off in budget cuts. About 90 percent of the park was under as much as 10 feet of water, often for several weeks. The salt water killed the grass on the golf courses and many of the plants in the Botanical Garden. Nevertheless, the park has mounted a brief version of Celebration in the Oaks, a tradition of lights and joy for New Orleans families. And, yes, Mr. Bingle is part of it!

Crescent City Farmers Market
We love going to the market - for wonderful Meyer lemons and the marmalade that Jeanette makes from them, for Jim Core’s fabulous produce, for Kay’s shrimp and Jeannie’s catfish and Mary’s pastries and Mrs. Chauvin’s pies. And Mr. Clarence’s plants, of course. It’s a meeting place, a mentor and a model. The farmers and fishers of the area have taken a blow, and now the market is mobilizing its community and its resources to help them. You can, too. To get involved in our new “crop circles� giving program, and to find out about how the market can help in the rebuilding of our community, contact Richard McCarthy IV, Executive Director, mccarthy@loyno.edu

Louisiana SPCA
The organization evacuated hundreds of animals safely to Texas before the storm. Its Lower Ninth Ward building was destroyed, so staff is operating from temporary quarters in Algiers. Just after the storm, staff and dedicated volunteers did an amazing job of rescuing animals and reuniting them with their owners, while taking undeserved heat for the over-the-top actions of rogue “rescuers.� The work continues. For those of you who know her, our calico cat Emma was an SPCA resident before she came to Wilow Street

Best Friends Animal Society
This group has worked diligently to reunite pets with their owners, wherever either might be across the nation. It worked with other groups on a reunion web search this weekend that – by the number of cars parked on the neutral ground outside the Garden District Hotel – attracted hundreds of pet owners.

WWOZ is the voice of New Orleans music – a listener-supported, volunteer-operated radio station that just returned from exile – first in New Jersey and then in Baton Rouge – back to studio space in the French Market. The station says it best itself: “ Playing blues, jazz, Cajun, zydeco, gospel, Latin, Brazilian, Caribbean and a whole lot more, WWOZ keeps the music and heritage of the Crescent City alive and loud.�

Tipitina’s Foundation
The legendary music club’s foundation provides the music community with the resources its members need to survive, including clothes, gigs, instruments and housing. A great many options for support are available.

Preservation Resource Center
The Center promotes the preservation and renewal of New Orleans neighborhoods through its architecture. Its staff and specialists have been especially active in offering seminars on navigating the bureaucracy, mitigating the mold, and leqrning general issues of dealing with all aspects of bringing back damaged houses, not tearing them down. They’ve also been handing out buckets and mops and clean-up kits – very handy in the circumstances.

I-10 Witness Project
The project collects oral histories of Hurricane Katrina from citizens, public officials, soldiers, health workers, shelter residents and at least one reporter that you all know well (though his interview isn’t posted on the site yet). The recorded interviews are available on the Web site and will be archived at local universities and public libraries for widespread public access.

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation
The Greater New Orleans Foundation

Foundations for Recovery provides resources for immediate needs of evacuees in the Baton Rouge area, and it will contribute to the rebuilding of human services in Greater New Orleans. The Greater New Orleans Foundation offers the Rebuild New Orleans Fund focused on excellence in education, economic expansion, job training, affordable housing, neighborhood development, race and equity, and sustaining and developing nonprofit capacity.

And finally, just for fun…and for ways to get a little retail therapy for those post- (or mid-) holiday blues…


A Web link to New Orleans shopping. We can especially recommend Blue Frog Chocolates and Louisiania Music Factory, among many, many others.

Love, cheer and gratitude!

Pinckley and pope

Posted by hgroteva at December 21, 2005 6:39 AM | Life | Society