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THE

Defender Picks

 

MERCREDI

May 24th

Jazz Pilates

New Orleans Jazz Museum, 12PM

Led by renowned jazz vocalist Stephanie Jordan

 

Happy Hour Sessions

The Foundation Room, 5PM

Featuring the raw blues and smokey femininity of Hedijo

 

Shake It Break It Band

21st Amendment, 5PM

Step back in time and enjoy some tunes

 

Lighting from a Theatrical Perspective

NOLA Community Printshop, 6PM

Hosted by veteran Lighting Designer, Andrew J. Merkel

 

Free Spirited Yoga

The Tchoup Yard, 6:30PM

Free yoga, optional beer and food

 

Big Easy Playboys

Bank Street Bar, 7PM

Mixing roots, rock, and blues

 

Think Less, Hear More

Hi-Ho Lounge, 9PM

Spontaneous compositions to projected movies

 

 

JEUDI

May 25th

Soft Opening

Royal Brewery, 11AM

Come celebrate the opening of NOLA’s newest brewery

 

Doreen’s Jazz New Orleans

Royal Street, FQ, 11AM

Doreen Ketchens and her band

 

Jazz in the Park

New Orleans Armstrong Park, 4PM

Music by Honey Island Swamp Band + Hot 8 Brass Band

 

Ogden After Hours

Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 6PM

Featuring the funky sounds of Margie Perez

 

Conversation: On Cecilia Vicuña

Contemporary Arts Center, 7PM

Discussion on the “About to Happen” exhibition

 

JD Hill & The Jammers

Bar Redux, 8PM

R&B, rock blues, and everything in between

 

Luke Winslow King

Tipitina’s, 9PM

Support by The Washboard Rodeo

 

Dave Easley

Neutral Ground Coffeehouse, 10PM

Witness one of the city’s best guitarists

 

VENDREDI

May 26th

Bayou Country Superfest

Mercedes Benz Superdome, 11AM

Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Rascal Flatts and many more

 

Magazine St. Art Market

Dat Dog, 4PM

Happy hour + local art

 

Royal Street Stroll

200-900 Blocks of Royal St, 530PM

Led by the Krewe of Cork

 

YP Family Game Night

Urban League of Greater New Orleans, 6PM

Game night for young professionals and their families

 

Toonces and Friends

Marigny Opera House, 7PM

An orchestral journey through time

 

Spektrum Fridays

Techno Club, 10PM

Featuring J.DUB’L and residents Erica and Rye

 

New Thousand + Adrian

Balcony Music Club, 11PM

Violin centered hip hop

 

Free Music Series

Fulton Ally, 10PM

Featuring Bubl Trubl


Desert Campaign

Lower 9 Food Access Coalition Identifies Obstacles to Food Desert, Names Goals



The Lower Ninth Ward has been a hot topic since Katrina devastated the area, but smatterings of new homes and nonprofits can only do so much for the neighborhood’s long-term revitalization. People need to eat, and the closest thing Lower Ninth residents have to a grocery store is a Wal Mart in Chalmette, three miles from their homes. 

 

 

The Lower 9th Food Access Coalition emerged from within the community, and they’re not interested in quick fixes. The area has been classified as a “food desert” since before the federal flood. The U.S.D.A. defines a food desert as any population of 500 or more that does not have a grocery store within a one-mile radius. The last time residents had a mid-sized grocery store in their neighborhood was 1987.

 

The coalition aims to identify the specific forces that stand in the way of food equality, eliminate those barriers, and attract sustainable commerce to the area.

 

Founder Jenga Mwendo was born in the Lower Ninth Ward and raised between there and New Orleans East. Mwendo said one of the most critical components of her team’s initiative was reaching the members of the community and taking their specific needs into account.

 

Rather than taking to the tweetosphere, Mwendo and her team began handing out fliers door-to-door in April of 2012.

 

“We really tried hard to make sure we reached as many Lower Ninth Ward residents as possible. We were aware that email and internet are not always the best ways to reach a lot of folks down here, so we made a very conscious choice not to advertise meetings that way,” Mwendo said. “We purposefully didn’t include the locations of the meeting [on the fliers]. Instead, we instructed people to contact us first to explain to them what it was about.”

 

The coalition also spoke at monthly Neighborhood Network Empowerment Association meetings, and they dropped off fliers at businesses up and down St. Claude and Claiborne. According to Mwendo, residents are battling preconceived notions of what low-income, African-American neighborhoods mean for business.

 

“[The Lower Ninth is] a primarily low-income, African-American neighborhood with very poor access to food. Grocery store operators will say the neighborhood is risky, and they make assumptions about the potential of crime and theft from the stores,” said Mwendo.  

 

However, the Lower 9 Food Access Coalition tells a different story. According to projections from a study conducted by DePaul University, LSU, and UNO, a grocery store could be a highly lucrative endeavor. Based on data from the 2010 U.S. Census which indicates the Lower Ninth holds 3,775 households, an estimated 2,000 of those would spend over $5,000,000 a year on food consumption.

 

Currently, 61 percent of the neighborhood’s residents are homeowners. Since over 30 percent do not own cars, the grocery store would need to be located on the St. Claude commercial corridor or on Claiborne Avenue.

 

“We’re still human beings, and we still need to eat. Everybody has the right to have access to quality food,” said Mwendo. The community leader asked rhetorically, “How do you rebuild a neighborhood that’s so devastated?” The activist also noted the catch 22 in play. “People won’t come back if certain amenities aren’t there, but business owners won’t come back if there aren’t a number of people back in the neighborhood,” she said.

 

There are currently ten businesses selling any kind of food in the Lower Ninth. Out of these, only four are black-owned, seven sell junk food, three sell limited fresh meat, and only two sell limited fresh produce.

 

Access to high quality food becomes a human rights issue when one considers the health implications of corner store dining. African-American communities experience a disproportionate rate of hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. All of these illnesses are diet-related.

 

Mwendo said the community discussed and determined three primary solutions for their lack of food access. Lower Ninth residents would like a mobile grocery store, a healthy corner store, and a school-based grocery store.

 

“Overall, these are things that the [coalition] is committed to working towards,” said Mwendo. “Having our money stay within our community is a positive thing, and several people mentioned that there has to be ‘Mom n’ Pop,’ businesses owned by residents,” said Mwendo.

 

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Contributors

Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Dead Huey, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via

Photographers


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.

Editor

Alexis Manrodt

Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

B. E. Mintz

Editor Emeritus

Stephen Babcock

Published Daily