WWL>Topics>>11-27 2:10pm Angela, From the Front Porch

11-27 2:10pm Angela, From the Front Porch

Nov 27, 2013|

FROM THE FRONT PORCH—this time our focus is Central City. Our guests: Una Anderson, Executive Director of Harmony Neighborhood Development; Carol Bebelle, Executive Director of Ashe Cultural Arts Center & Efforts of Grace

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

-- central city is considered one of the poorest areas in New Orleans. But it is also a place of many dreams. Today in our from the front porch segment we'll talk to people who lived there worked there and believe the future is full of possibilities. You know Anderson executive director of harmony neighborhood development. And Carol the bill executive director of the -- -- cultural arts center I'm so happy to have you both here. Contaminants as we're delighted to be you know every week we do this segment from the front porch where we learn about segments of town. And so first to -- conduct. Draw me the picture of central city what is that what are the parameters. Looking through. Perimeters are. Your heart boulevard. Saint Charles. Com Simon Bolivar. And com. Those so those kind of contain us in Louisiana avenue now there are some that tickets to craven in the and there are some divisions that -- consult with too broad. So it really depends on. Kind of who we are talking to. Dot com and what purpose that we're talking about with central city is but we're really clear that comes from saint Charles. You know over to at least Cleveland. And the other parts sometimes is a little bit are debatable. The you all did not flood. Most of the area did not -- yes some of the areas above on the other side of Cleveland avenue did. But com and much of the neighborhood did not encounter. The flood difficulties that happened in other parts of the city. And and this was of course the blessing because it it it that it made it means less for us to have that to deal with in terms of our recovery. Armed and inform for instance -- we were back up and operating an eight weeks. And and so. We kind of figured out Douglas or the other co-founder and I. Kind of figured out that part of being there was about being able to be of service in the kind of gets started and so we started kind of that whole community of kind of folks who would do in the work. On the ground that the key community developers you know you and I and Bob Barbara -- and -- to the folks started coming back and started trying to figure out what we're gonna do. Com and dom and I think some of what I like to say to people when I'm talking here and also brought -- abroad and in the in the in other parts of the nation. Is that and certainly nor did the prophetic city. And I think in a certain kind of way our central city is the prophetic community. Com. And so I I see that the challenges. Of they introduction you gave us which is still being wanted to poorest communities in the you know in the city. The challenges of what we know is that the matter of the kind of violence that sometimes happens in that community. And also a community that is very much running with open arms into. Kind of a not so that's about community culture. And economics and so inside of that housing education. And all kinds of things are are being attended to by a whole army of folks. Who are working to gather -- in consort to be able to make this community a rising. And I think that is what everybody needs to hear that you know we talk about possible it's all the good things that are happening at some tremendous things happening -- talk about the I remember after the storm. Was maybe six or seven months after the storm I did an interview with the man who was they head of the police district there. And we walked the streets and it was like a dead zone. It was unbelievable. How sad -- wise. You you did lose some people you lost people who moved he. Yeah for sure for -- Yeah I mean you know I'm sure can talk a little bit about how much we lost in terms of people not only that but also housing -- in her life and certainly that redevelopment of the old seat AP. Public housing insight into harmony jokes and the vibrancy that that has really brought. You know before the storm and large number of those units were empty. And having new units there that's fully fully occupied in very vibrant is very important. But when you go out from the important thing is that we create no violence in the neighborhood. And I think that's kind of a theme that runs. In connecting people in connecting organizations. In connecting the very physical environment that is central city we really don't. Believe an island. So going out from harmony jokes. Army neighborhood development has developed 37 homeownership houses that would sold. And almost all of our buyers -- central city residents. So having people who have had to -- it in the neighborhood now able to buy their own piece of the neighborhood it's critically important. To the mission of -- neighborhood now -- tell me about that it's a non profit yes we are nonprofit. We're located on the -- and the 3300 Bryant blocked right before you get to Louisiana avenue. And we started with homeownership we started with housing -- began to the Pentagon to look at rental. -- movement began to look at small scale commercial and I'm not to have a chance to talk a little bit about the market almost. And our starred in the small scale commercial direction really following the leadership at a C nearly. Has created but. But to you all looked down and said you took an apartment you built from scratch or you. Regent CG PC JP's read on only two of the old buildings remain. Mendoza was sort of left to show what was there before they were rehab they were very expensive to rehab. And then there were new units built in very much of a community settings -- part of part of that very housing development is an emphasis on creating community in the physical infrastructure. So it has been. Very much a community building effort and then of course immediately adjacent is dale Davis park and the beautiful new. Kipp school let Woodson. Which has been very successful -- And and yes they Angela. And in terms of the numbers of people I think it was somewhere in about my 14151000. In the in the community before of the disaster. And I think we are top off for around nine at 101000. Others that internal demographics have changed its well and one who you know wanted to really great things that's happened is that we have this rising population of Latin American center. Are showing up in in India and central cities who went from under 1% to about 10%. And I'm happy to talk about this because right now we are we have an exhibit that's not the educational panels for the African presence in Mexico. And this is a major. An exhibit that explores the connection between people of African descent. And folks who -- Latin American. And that's the kind of work that we do in like you know things that we trying to figure. Figure out how is it that we community -- where we don't have the same people who -- all the people that went there and we're working really hard to be certain that there's always going to be a place. For the people who -- historic residence com. And that becomes harder as the demographics start shifting. Armed but that being said we are also trying to figure out how to be able to create the bonds of connection with people who are not a culture rated in the central city way. And new ones who are coming and having them to help to understand that part of why it is that we work so well together is that we understand the concept of neighbor. We liked the concept of being able to community built we we are conscious of the whole -- matter that everybody deserves a place. Caught in a nice and beautiful place to be able to lift and they need great schools to be able to go to and and there's that there's a contingent of us. Who are you know just doggedly determined to be able to work on helping to make that. Well we're from the front porch right now and we're looking at central city. And what we're seeing is an area of town that has traditionally been a very in historically been a very poor area. But we're about to see some major glimmering lights in there. And that is done through the efforts of a couple of people sitting right here. Carol but bell who was the founder co-founder of the rushing. Cultural center and you know Anderson who was involved with housing and all kinds of other great things. Now I've always wanted to talk to Carol about the cultural center. You started it was house. Com in 1998. Douglas red and I had down both -- Korea theater community visual artist -- -- human service -- And com. And we really had come to kind of appreciate how under appreciated culture is and how under. Miss understood that people often go to -- immediately when they think of culture. And they really myths this on this rudimentary foundation that we all have to our life. And this is so profiled here in New Orleans where it's really actually apple. You know everybody I mean the culture is there and it's right in your face com. And so we kind of had a dream like you -- about possibility of how it is that we could manage to make culture. Are stronger and more visible. In the service of like our our community. And opportunity presented itself win the renovation was done -- -- Venus garden building and we were offered the opportunity. To get started doing something there and we named our south -- -- because it comes from the the the the vocabulary of the people of West Africa and what it means is it's like a man. It's like the ability to make things happen to divide forth and so that's really our stand in the world we are here trying to. Market ingredient to be added into everything to try to make it better and to make it fit better for people. And our mission is is a simple one this is to use the divisive culture and art. For human personal and economic development. In our workforce is this fabulous group of people call artist culture embarrassed social activist educators. And calm and that is kind of what we do and we work with the whole life cycle from. Babies being breast. Since two taking care families when they attacked and -- loved ones and everything that's in between that and we are also very act. Active in the art area affiliate creator literary arts stance you know and that kind of thing. And dom and so in that regard we've you know we partner or a lot. That's a natural thing human beings -- social. Our social beings and we haven't interdependent often we forget that but we have an interdependent since though. Part of how we managed to to do well in central city is that we're partners. With lots of people in central city doing things and com. And so that's kind of ad that's our story we have to end of the year like I -- -- the African presence in Mexico up now. And we just finished working with -- merchants and business association. On the central city festival and I ended the year festival is the holiday on the boulevard test where -- gonna be featuring DeFeo. Marcellus gas and Hannibal McCormick. Who has who has all but they are secondary citizen here in New Orleans he's done so many. Armed artist residency here and so they're gonna be our our highlighted guest in bunches of by the folks. So fixed in the eighth of December come hang out on the boulevard and check things out. -- And all of the other wonderful things that are there in order possibly go we mentioned Irvin mayfield is bringing the New Orleans jazz orchestra there. The southern food and beverage museum is coming to them but to the boulevard nor has moved itself that with a coffee shop or yoga. Place we've got. Good word network which is helping people wanna be entrepreneurs and business this and so he thriving. -- -- Cultural chord and Tom and we really are looking to have that vitality kind of bubble up -- to -- to lift the the neighbors that we have in the in an area that's around. You know but it always thought of it as this very special jewel. And you're saying what eight days after the storm you were up 808 mark with eight weeks -- we couldn't get any days that I let him but that's eight weeks that's still phenomenal yeah and it just was like a heartbeat I'm sure to the people wanting to -- to combat -- Often that we were always always had -- like that -- -- and now but when the city went dark. Like became like a beacon. And and so and we understood that that was not systematic captain -- and I. But it was about really be there with a sturdy job so that we can manage to be our state. Helping to make things happen and -- all kinds of things we were able to be a part of from giveaways. -- I've been able to post the lieutenant governor. Oh my goodness you know from we were close to the ground it was easy for people to get to us. In all of that and it and we all do that we get that. As the circumstances dictate. And that is what this community has been doing it's been adapting. And using this opportunity to to recover as an opportunity to essentially stepped into. Lots of possibilities and so. People like you. -- -- bar relief the killer as I mentioned keeps you from Robinson. You know you had -- PO earlier. Through lists. Down at the good word network I mean and the list goes on and on we have new people -- next generation leadership you know central city -- feet. You know just got a new leader. An amateur really since the storm Alberto has come -- absolutely -- only because we ask this of every organ is -- every group every neighborhood group is. What are you facing when it comes to like street lights that's always a big issue. Do you do you have a relationship with your council person to say you know what we -- light. Two things. Yes. I would say I definitely. We have a wonderful partnership with. -- -- woman -- -- working with with -- had before. LaToya Cantrell was there. Both have been very responsive and I would say that -- woman control has practically respond Paris and on that in making sure that when we bring concerns they get dressed yet. And quickly. I would say just like any other part of the city we have street challenges. From potholes to -- yes yes I don't know all of -- sure. Yeah -- and I Nene -- I can say that that's definitely shared with other parts of the city and those issues. I exist and crime how I mean clearly there are issues in central city. What -- -- crime level I mean we have poverty and -- atrocity and the thing that essentially fertilized is a crime is poverty. People were locked out of of being able to advance themselves and to have opportunity. Are people who would wind -- becoming desperate you know and so that's not an excuse a system that it's an explanation. And I think that our previous council person and certainly our current console person. Even the mayor mean -- has has distinguished himself and talking a lot about. This whole issue of crime in you know in the city. From what I will say is that. This is a very serious thing to be attended to and because it's so serious that often overshadows. All of the great work that's going on. And we where laughing in the in the meeting about a month ago when when -- -- with -- you know I think I saw an article in the paper when they -- -- that -- -- was -- there was a crime scene that had occurred near central city. And so that meant that it was in some other community. And that they were taken advantage of the fact of calling on name rather than theirs and so I think that com we are constantly negotiating that. Who we see ourselves fans the comfort which we move in the in the community and what people think of and we are aware of that it matters what other people think of you know I view it makes our job harder in some instances that but it does not make it impossible. And com. As long as we've got like a team that work in central city as long as we've got legislator -- it's like you know Karen Petersen hand. And I are consummate LaToya can -- out. Com and our representative. And -- folks like -- -- management all involved to have people who are willing to kind of wrapped their arms around. What we're doing and help to support us and helped to raise up and help to identify resources when they can't support us by helpless to fight the battles that we have to fight. Then we've got a chance down the biggest thing I think that we with me. Is that we just really need people to essentially understand that we are eight Renaissance community. -- -- clearly what you know they. When they walked in handed me the magazine you have your own magazine. I mean that is a statement yet plus these new communities of not just Aretha count Cassel failing but will sell we're gonna talk about that in a minute. But it is. Renaissance is a good word you're balancing keeping up your neighbors who have been there historically. And inviting the new ones in -- yeah without changing too much the culture after the positive culture. Absolutely and I think being able to create opportunity so an -- harmonies earlier days we would occasionally hear from our neighbors that they didn't feel that the houses we were building. We're being built for that. So there's a couple of things we did to really turn that around and and both outreach both making sure that our contractors were talking to neighbors about job possibilities creating opportunity for our neighbors. Is a key to -- making sure that the community feels that what's happening in the neighborhood is happening with them and fourth. Not separate from them and for somebody else. We heard from our neighbors very strongly that what they -- it was income. They needed jobs. -- and that's really what that sort of small scale commercial effort that we're working on grew out of the going back for a second to the home buyers. We've now got 90%. Of our intakes and 90% of the people that walk into our offices. Looking to buy a house with our front -- Which is a big turnaround for a us being able to ensure that the houses we have. All are real opportunities. For the residents of central. I'm and that's really what turned the families economically for yes absolutely. When they are able to see a house built at extremely high quality standards. Architecturally contractual to sort of -- historically New Orleans. But at the same time though they may have a low. Way too low income they're able to get some assistants don't buy that house. Carol blue bell and unit Anderson from central city talking about a changing community. For all the right reasons and part of that is that it. The work of becoming. A home owner and through your organization the nonprofit group you were building homes and it's about getting central city people to believe that they can. Yes so it's building homes and building people in building their financial futures so. I sometimes have blown away. By the level of commitment and work that are incoming home buyers who wanna be home buyers put into this this effort. We had 11. Mother and daughter who were moving out of the BW Cooper. And knew she needed to save money she cut off herself -- she cut off her cable. And she made it happen. And I remembered the day they moved in -- what she taught her daughter her eleven year old daughter. In doing those things to say the money that she did it with she said we're gonna do we're gonna cut off these things were getting our credit straight. And we're going to be in this house by this so once a day and she did. I'm betting that goal and making personal sacrifices in order to advance something that you see in the future. Is just that that effort that goes into that is truly. Occasionally overwhelming. Absolutely to see those families be able to it to move their family forward really an entire generation. The the sort of the breaks one can get I mean -- Organizations and to help people they still have to meet certain criteria and were courted. But tell us some of those breaks so -- Medina are all this works with the families to get their credit scores where they need to be. She's had quite a few families that have been able to move their credit scores hundred points in a twelve month period -- and we stay with people sometimes two years. Until they're ready to buy that house. Right now there is we have a soft second to the housing authority of New Orleans. And the city has a -- second mortgage so you can get 65 from the city. Or you can get 65 from our partnership with the housing authority in order to buy your new home. On selling many cases families are able to get that assistance and when they move into the house. Win that soft second burns off in usually ten years they have a large amount of equity but financial. The bedrock. In the house that they own. That they didn't have ten years early on and it's really cameras being able to see that future and being able to see what that economic stability. We'll bring for their children. That is it's you know it's. My -- and that the 65000. Is eventually. What you call for forgiveness or your irons off. Every five years. If it's a ten year commitment every five years half of that mortgage burns off. What we find is that our homebuyers really don't sell -- -- -- homebuyers are buying aid in and what they -- to be an intergenerational home they're making a stake in central city. They're saying this is where I wanna live in this is where I see my children living. I'm unlike some other cities where you seem much more mobility what you see here is Stanley -- into the neighborhood buying into the future. I know we're gonna talk about it what's happening on the cell but beyond -- -- is there impetus we asked this of every neighborhood. Is there a grocery store -- is those kinds of things. I'm yeah we have in fact we were a food desert at one time and now we have. Happily we have a lot of things that are happening so. We have. We have some things are happening on -- -- We have I've had Jake and Jack and Jackie. And in a restaurant do -- pull -- right there -- your car. From and and so we -- less of a food desert and we. We're working on linebacker should be helping to build community so we -- working a lot on my healthy food options and that kind of thing. And so on unit now we're just talking we we were we have many places that are working with -- collapse so that we're buying. I'll let -- Wear -- pro -- and that kind of thing. And so the whole notion of like. -- stimulating the culture and helping to manipulated in different ways we are eating city. And because like the eager -- doesn't mean that we don't we we can't eat well. And so we are trying to to work on that we do some of that and -- programming and Ashley. A -- them doing some of that in there programming over at the south site. And so it's just a matter of really making it's something we're working along with the -- partnership also in trying to be able haven't happened. In schools and with young people and now. And the statistics are telling us that com you know things are. Kind of stalling in there -- -- with bad health habits all of these things are working together people are getting it. And they're responding to it -- but we just have to keep working. We're talking about the Renaissance I love that weren't the Renaissance of central city. And the economic development that's going on right now and that's the LaSalle project yes the market on -- sound operates every Saturday. And so we really -- able to operate Friday Saturday Sunday right now we're doing Saturday afternoons. 75 to 80% of our vendors we have about we at fifteen vendors who come on Saturday and the majority of those 75% of those are central city residents. And that's part our focus to make sure that when we open this base it was available to residents of central city that may be cooking in the home. And right now selling plates out of their homes or creating something and this would give them a high traffic low cost place. At the end what they are already making so it's taken the creativity at central city and creating small spaces. Where that creativity can make some money. -- those and this was in in concert with the architecture school to death yes wonderful idea. Say two lane urban built designed the retail pot. Which I gotta tell you when they were being built attracted a lot of attention people would ride -- -- what is. Is that greenhouses that you know that really got people who were commuting a long history to pay attention. -- and then the Saturday market opened and now we're looking at half fresh Friday. Which we have already started. The focus is really produce and fish so bringing a very healthy option that everyone in the neighborhood article. But may go out of their way to buy it really got to the point with the produce when we sold it one Saturday when the people knocking on the two more. Of our office saying -- you so produce this Saturday. -- think the question really wise to go try to find it somewhere else or can I count on the market and account on the market -- To supply me with the producer I'm looking for so -- it was eagerness in the neighborhood to by the produce there's there's an eagerness really to have that healthy food. I'm and ultimately the ponds and architectural -- In the hope is that sometime that might be permanent and a -- somebody who has is one of your vendors might. Got their own space yes as you know really got. Yes so those pods move on tracks they sort of rearrange them up themselves -- we kept pushed them. But we rearrange them on the site to change the way the market looks we built some additional cabana asked as we head more demand for the spaces that we could meet. But on that corner -- -- in -- the idea and we party designed to -- but the idea is to build a permanent building. Where the first vendor who sort of grows out of the -- those temporary spaces. Becomes stable enough would move into the retail space at the bottom of the permanent bill. Then they'd be residential upstairs so it's starting to create a model for neighborhood based. Mixed use retail and residential. Construction on a -- record. And remember this is central city. The guys and gals out there. -- also you have and I love this because I think all of us went through some sort of an emotional thing when the archdiocese had to close some of the the church's -- But this is a fabulous than Saint Francis de sales partnership and. Yes so. It's a partnership between harmony neighborhood development and I Shane. And in that partnership. I'm like Carol introduce it she knows the history of the church fare so and so what happened in them is. You accomplish -- account. If we were gonna do something with the difference with the fear of what will be a good big idea. You know and so offense thought about it for me and I feel welcome when all of this film stuff happen around here having space. To be able to kind of bring some of that closeness of some of the smaller jobs could wind up going to people in our neighborhood. I fit in and in what we're doing is we're calling artists and culture embarrassed to fantasy because. The other ones that really stay in the community everybody else when they can do better they move out of the neighborhood and they move to better communities sort of speak. So these are folks who gonna stay in Iraq helped to fertilized and to be able to -- things that's it the more places for artist and culture embarrassed to -- live. And may go. Office space so that if you were able to get you know film. But what is it they call it to pre work for films. Or the staging or any of that kind of stuff when they do craft and all that kind of stuff -- Then maybe we could do some of that and then we could have a big place to do concerts and community events and you know and that kind of thing. And one of ironic things is that when the church closed. The choir which could -- could become a rather international choir. Other golden voice as continued decided to stay together and have been rehearsing and -- since the church clothes and a third kind of way it is kind of a full circle. Are kind of opportunity and so that's the idea so have some departments. Different departments and directory there be some apartments also in the convent. There was some offices in the convent and then they'll be the big church the church would be this big gathering space. Spectacular. Again I hope everybody who's listening here's what's going on. It is and all the bad stuff it's phenomenal good stuff without a great power with that Carol LaBelle and unit Anderson. I'm feeling so much better about an area of town but I think all of -- that sort of agonized over because there has been sadness there but what you're saying is. Come by because you're gonna see a new central sent -- and some very concrete things -- and housing. And an economic development which is. Phenomenal team and many other things -- flush your beautiful cultural center thank you for bunt on December 6 to the AQ have your holiday on the boulevard. And talk about that. The holiday boulevard is yet another opportunity for people to gather which is one of the primary devices of culture of gathering. And down we can have a lot of talent that you know in the bid now big headliners are Hannibal call me -- coming back. Again to to perform and also don't fail -- sailors. But along with -- fail and Hannibal we're going to have a lot of great local talent Michaela Harrison the strong word of science trinity. Bombed several of our performing units and I share going to be there this is making a change. -- with kids again be there so we've got a long list of folks that are going to be out they're gonna be about thirty -- So come -- stormy shopping with people where your money's gonna make a difference in their lives you know exchange more with you know without local vendors and that kind of thing. Com and it's a great opportunity to begin the process to. Slow things down and to start really really connecting. Which is what we do a lot of at the end of the year and that that cultural demand that we need particularly in the fast paced lives that we NASA officials are hoping that sometime between rim and open house on that Friday. I'm by far for a free lunch and get to hear about the great things we've been doing all year and then Saturday starting at noon and then Sunday starting anew. The festival will be rolling arm on the boulevard and I say cultural arts and warm and cozy. Get ready for the hypocrite here is that it has of these here pray I am. You make everybody want to be -- I want to talk to come out yet and I know I can just feel the hope and both of you. Yeah that good things are are happening happening and will continue to happen for -- and I think both of you for spending your afternoon here. Very very much and I'm with her hand and we'll stay in touch yes we'll get updates on all of this. Thank you very much and I hope that you'll stay with this because our next hour we're going to be talking to archbishop Gregory --