Friday, October 1, 2010

Last Day of September

After nearly missing my connection out of D.C., I had the privilege of sitting next to Ignacia Moreno on the flight into NOLA and learning about her work and career in environmental law. I sure hope she and the people she's working with in the Obama administration are able to have a positive impact on the BP disaster.

I was out on the street by noon and started looking for the families I owed pictures to.  I always worry that they will have moved and I'll be left wondering what happened and a pile of undeliverable pictures.

I was sad to see that the lower 9th ward clinic is still closed for clinical services. I talked with Alice, the director, who remains hopeful that the will be able to reopen. While I was there a young mother stopped in looking for someone to examine her kids who'd been sent home with colds and needed to be seen before they could go back.

Mac was where he always is, the lower 9th ward village, this time playing a bang up game of Dominos with an old rival.  I also found Cosmo who said Ronald Lewis was in at the House of Dance and Feathers, so I headed over to Tupelo and talked with the King.  They have both promised to talk to me more about community and the building of it.

I got thirsty and got a snow cone from this road side stand, run by a woman from the area. Her grandson hangs out there with her after school.  The man blowing kisses was sitting apart from a larger crowd that likes to hang out by the corner store up the street. He was friendly enough, but wanted to keep his distance from the crowd.
These two murals are in the neighborhood before you cross over the canal into the lower 9th ward.

The median is a popular place to hangout in New Orleans. Sometimes people are looking for shade, and sometimes for the last dribble of sun at the end of the day. Top picture is St. Claude.
The man on the left is chef at the Gumbo pot and the woman and the man to the right are new in town. So far they like it. Made me laugh that they thought I was a social worker. I should keep of list because people come up with come good theories about why I'm out taking pictures. In this case, a social worker had been around earlier looking for truant kids, so the idea had been planted for them.
This morning I stopped outside the Home Depot and talked to the day workers there. They are from nearly every country in Latin American from Mexico to El Salvador, Guatemala to Nicaragua.  One man was from Israel.   There were locals too, who had plenty to say about the Latinos in their midst. When I asked the locals what is a community and whether the Latinos were part of it, they said no, because they send their money back home and they stick to their own rather than mingling.

The men from Latin American thought I was with the FBI, but eventually lightened up when I reassured them that I wasn't with the feds or immigration, or the city.   They said they knew each other only from here and went their separate ways after work. When I asked if they ever gave up a day's work for someone who'd not had any luck for a while, they said, "Never."  They sometimes share food, but when it comes to getting the work, it's every man for himself, whoever gets on the truck first, gets the money to pay the bills here and send something home to build a house for the family.
They all said they want to go home as soon as possible. The work that was so abundant after Katrina is more sparse and sometimes at the end of the day they get stiffed.

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