Thursday, April 26, 2007

Faith and Misery

I'm back in New Orleans again. I can't believe I let several weeks go by without blogging. Then again, most of my life doesn't happen on the Internet. Showing evidence of the city's local recovery varies has been on my mind on the whole time, and I've been working to share with Gentilly residents the evidence of recovery that I have. Sometimes progress is happening even if you personally can't see it. FAITH.

I had two tours of New Orleans last weekend. In some ways, they were very different. One tour did not bring us into contact with residents, for instance. The other made a point of having residents tell their story before the tour began. The tours became alike in the Lower Ninth Ward. Both tours took us through the same section, right next to the Industrial Canal breech. Empty plots where homes once stood. Very devasted homes in the blocks moving away from the canal. MISERY.

I've seen the entire Lower Ninth Ward though. Most of it isn't as bad as what was shown us. There's the school being opened. There's the historic Holy Cross neighborhood within the Lower Ninth, and the beautiful houses that one can see there. Why is it that many NOLA residents don't seem to know there's a lot of the Lower Ninth Ward above sea level?

I've been here enough to know there's real misery in New Orleans. And there's real faith here too. In a way, there's a lot of spiritual warfare going on in the city. Most of what I do here is provide evidence that it's not all misery. There's evidence for faith and misery all round the city, and each of us makes a choice. What are we going to do about it?

The group from the Cal-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism has arrived today. Tomorrow, they're going to start interviewing Gentilly residents as part of a citizen journalist project. I'm delighted, and can't wait to get started. On the other hand, there's a part of me inside that's miserable. I heard Jill Scott is here for Jazzfest, and I think I'm going to be missing her. There might be volunteers to map Gert Town on Sunday.