Sunday, March 23, 2008

Generating Hope

Over the last two weeks, over the course of spring break, a project has been going on in New Orleans to enlist college students to rebuild the lower 9th Ward. The project had several goals -- affordability, preservation and greening up the place.

"In the Holy Cross Neighborhood of the city's Lower Ninth Ward, the Historic Green project is helping a New Orleans neighborhood become the nation's first zero-carbon community.

"In the short-term, the project will be a success if it gives the neighborhood a sense that they matter. After all the post-trauma, lack of support and other issues they've dealt with, bringing teams of volunteers to show their support is a key element in generating hope for their desperate situation."

--Ryan Evans, Co-founder, Historic Green

For the past two weeks, hundreds of volunteers have been working in New Orleans, bringing their energy and ideas to help revitalize the Lower Ninth neighborhood. They are architects, engineers, city planners, landscapers, interior designers and contractors who are working hand in hand with neighborhood residents to sustainably rebuild their historic houses, parks, playgrounds and community centers."

Story Here. First spotted Here.

Brad Pitt's website Here.

Smart, right -- put it back together better -- the houses will cost less to maintain and be easier on the future. Easier in the future for the people and the earth.

I wrote a few months back that part of the reason that New Orleans was hit so hard by Katrina had to do with erosion because of the states oil industry. There is also talk that global warming is to blame for some of the extreme weather we are getting these days -- though that statement seems to be more controversial.

I love the idea of those kids going down there to work. Spending their money there and doing something good for the people of this country who need it.

Sometimes people ask me if I really do this project everyday -- or are amazed to see that I do it everyday -- or wonder why on earth I would. I love the things I learn.

I think about a drawing assignment I had in college. The prof assigned us a 10 hour still-life. No one did it -- everyone laughed. But I did. I wanted to see what would happen. What it would teach me about drawing. So much -- about depth and growth and seeing. It taught me about time, and dealing with the changes that took place -- in the still life (If I remember right the assignment took place in an unlocked studio over a weekend).

I am intrigued by the life this project takes on on its own. I imagine it will be a book -- though I don't have any idea of what the finished project will look like. Some weeks I'm bored or hate the whole thing -- but it's the continuing through that that matters. I'm also interested in the changes of mood. Sometimes in my poems i feel like there is one emotional place I write from -- my photographs, too -- and this project has forced me to break that open; there are days I need to laugh or scream or be quiet, and solving the problem of how to do that inside of the framework is really interesting to me.

This week I'm looking for hope.

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