Wednesday, January 16, 2008
i'm back (and forth)
As it's a new year, I've resolved not to feel badly about posting so sporadically to the old blog. Things are what they are and my life is crazy these days, but crazy in a good way, I guess.
Since my last post, I've been back and forth to New Orleans twice, maybe three times, and spent a little over a week out of the country visiting family over the holidays. In the Lower Nine, here's what's happening:
As of the first of the year, Emergency Communities has officially ceased operations in the Lower Nine, which brings a feeling of sadness to see the former community center closed and empty, while at the same time we've inherited a great group of long-term volunteers and lots of tools and equipment which will make our work easier to do. Our headquarters building on El Dorado Street is in the final stages of getting re-wired and we're working on the plumbing right now, with the help of local contractor Bill Caron. We got our logo painted on the side of the tool shed with help of happy volunteers Genevieve, Jaclyn and Jennifer, and we put up street signs so that now resident can finally find us!
In addition to Matt Grigsby, our project manager since last October, we now have Matt Sheard working with us in the same capacity. Matt S. is the former site manager of the E.C. center in the Lower Nine, with almost 2 years of experience working in post-Katrina New Orleans, so we're lucky to have his help and expertise. Our old friend Darren McKinney is also pitching in to continue offering the help and guidance he's been expending in our behalf for the last year, and perseveres in his quest to single-handedly rebuild the neighborhood. And, he looks good in those funky sunglasses!
Darren is a true Lower Nine superhero, and everyone involved with lowernine.org thanks his or her lucky stars every day that he's on our side.
Right now we've got three houses awaiting electrical inspections, one of which is almost finished, the others waiting for us to get in and insulate and put up sheetrock. Our list of residents asking for our help gets longer by the week, and we are hoping to be able to finish 20 homes this year to the point where families can return. Of course, this means we need money, and while fundraising has been proceeding at a modest pace, we are still waiting for the IRS to grant us our 501(c)(3) status so we can begin fundraising and grant-writing with a vengeance. Our application has finally landed on the desk of someone with a name, and if the three pages of clarifications, emendations and questions we received last week is any indication, it may be a while before we are deemed worthy. If you have perused this blog in the past, you may notice that there are certain links missing, which I had to delete to satisfy the IRS case manager's fear that traffic might be directed from this blog to for-profit businesses, which, as they were links to sites of people who have donated their time and efforts to creating our web site, I figured was only good form. So, there's a learning curve here, is what I'm saying.
With any luck, some of our long-term volunteers may be talked in to adding their two cents worth here in the near future, so we should be able to keep pictures and posts more up to date, which would be a good thing.
Life goes on, the work goes on, and everyone is invited to come down and help us out, which is about all I have to say for this cold winter's evening...