Recipe for Healing

by Jeanne

"New Orleans has become one of the cities of the mind, and is therefore immortal." —Cleanth Brooks, author

It’s been a while since  I’ve written, mostly due to being overwhelmed by Katrina and a planned vacation to Banff (Canada). So today, in an effort to reconnect with myself, I went looking for hope.  I promise, the next post will be worth the wait–I’ve been working on it for months!

As mentioned many times before my interests in culture include food and also art.  And what I know from personal experience is that art heals as it reveals.  And given the number of creative souls that call this city home–the chefs, restaurateurs, musicians, vocalists, poets, writers, and painters–that have shaped New Orleans into a unique, distinct and as influential a city twice the size, reinvention is second nature. 

So after wading through a lot of articles that were disheartening I was encouraged by a Washington Post article saying that, "Folks are volunteering by the hundreds to conserve the city’s art and architecture, several organizations report, reminiscent of the outpouring of volunteerism that followed the disastrous 1966 flood in Florence." {Note: Those waters receded in one day.}

Another story of an artist in the New York Times, "surviving on water from a neighbor’s pool," as "he spent his days making art from junk he picked up in the street and taking photographs of the destruction so that someday, he said, people will be able to experience Katrina through the eyes of an artist." Or the one of a musician who started Radio Marigny from his balcony post-Katrina so that music could fill the streets once again.

There is spirit and hope. The arts community here is tight-knit.  Right now, most are scattered and are keeping in touch through email. However many artists, on the other hand, have passed over the buttoned-down state capital of Baton Rouge for the laid-back Lafayette.  Speculation is abuzz that this this city may be the "new" New Orleans, or at least temporarily. Many believe that out of this disaster a fusion of Cajun and Creole, New Orleans and Lafayette cultures, striking new combinations of art blends may arise.

A new organization has already formed this past weekend, Project HEAL, (Helping Employ Artists Locally), offering displaced artists employment opportunities in local communities. The organization is headed by Matthew Goldman, a music producer and press and advertising director for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. 

Goldman, interviewed in the Los Angeles Times states it best.  "I think people in New Orleans are going to pair up with people here and make music here that people have never made before."

So when the question arises in the media of "Should New Orleans be rebuilt?"  my response is how could we not?  It’s a jewel in our treasure chest, rich in American cultural heritage from it’s jazz to its cuisine.

Besides not having a place to live or clothes to wear most New Orleans artists have no supplies, instruments or tools to work and sell or to go out on a gig.  Buy their books and CDs.  Or better still make a tax-deductible donation to Project HEAL,

     Acadiana Arts Council
     P.O. Box 53762
     Lafayette, LA 70505
     (337) 233-7060, (337) 233-7062 fax
     A 501(c)3 Non-profit organization
     EIN: 51-0138288
     Visa, MasterCard and Discover accepted

News Articles:

Cultural Survival (Baltimore Sun, September 12)

Sound and Spirit Endure ( Pittsburgh Post Gazette, September 11)

Planning for a New, Improved, New Orleans (Washington Post, September 8)