all hands on deck pt.2:, New Orleans

Hi. I’m a DPW / Gate clowngineer who now lives with some other “derelicte” members of D.I.Y. society, building up a Katrina-bombed house in the Holy Cross neighborhood of New Orleans. The Holy Cross is the sliver-by-the-river area of the Lower 9th Ward which didn’t get crushed by a tsunami shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit landfall. All around our neighborhood, during the day, you can hear hammering and sawing and the shouts of construction workers complaining about heat and sun. It sounds like a Deadwood background reel, or Black Rock City being built.

Meanwhile, we’re living with no refrigerator for the moment. Also, zero grocery stores exist within biking distance — reasonable biking distance — so for the past we-don’t-know-how-many days in a row, when we’re not being fed at the fancy-pants restaurants at which we toil, we partake of the HOLY CROSS BREAKFAST: Fried chicken and a pickle.

Yes. We’ve even made up a New Orleans bounce song based on the trials and tribulations of living refrigerator-less in an area lacking so much as a Piggly Wiggly or a produce stand. No hope of any sun-grown vegetable haunts our nightly dreams of dinner — only pickled things and clucky clucky. The de-toxifying, delectably ingestible plant life of the Bay Area raw food eatin’ diet is gone. Now, our idea of “eating” has more to do with giant corporations fleecing people who live and die poor into thinking “red” is a flavor and “cherry” is a type of lip gloss.

This is where comes in again. Hardcore gardener Brennan Dougherty and her merry band of volunteers branched out lowernine’s plan to resuscitate the Lower Ninth Ward and expanded it: Where water-logged houses threaten to fall, fixes them back up. Where Katrina’s tsunami-waters washed away homes and left empty lots full of rich Mississippi silt, sustainable neighborhood gardening can flourish.

well, there’s another food source nearby, if you like three-eyed oil-rig sushi

Dougherty began the “Community Garden Project” with little more than gumption and scrounged materials from the gutted houses in the area. The endgame isn’t only to start a sustainable, earth-friendly business in the Lower Ninth Ward — it’s also to walk the folks of the neighborhood through the process of growing their own food. Teach a man to fish, and all that.

The call has been sounded to the Burning Ham community: New Orleans is still F’d, and we haven’t been practicing building a city out of nothing for the past couple decades for no reason. Plus, you’re unemployed, and besides, what do you want with a real paying job anyway? … So if yall desert dogs are still feeling my original post, and plan on coming out here after cleanup or (ahem) “harvest” … and you don’t feel like sucking in sawdust and sheetrock all day … come dig your fingers in the dirt with Brennan at the Community Garden Project’s Villere Street Farm.

this yard used to be a house, but a garden is almost as good for the hood … or better

$100 a week gets you room and board in the bunkhouse, or you can pull your trailer up to our yard and wake up with the chickens.

Literally. We have chickens next door. They run all over the street and drive the fenced-up dogs crazy. Live chickies which we are hesitant to fry, when there’s delicious Holy Cross Breakfast at the Discount Zone gas station down the street. Fridge to come, as well as Villere St. Garden’s harvest, and gods willing, we’ll eat (mostly) sustainably again after that.

At any rate, come on down. We’re waiting for you. P.S. bring a bushel of kale and some fresh fruit


[UPDATE, LATE 2010: The Deepwater Horizon oilpocalypse made us leave NOLA, personally. *snif*] Volunteers always needed in the Lower 9 tho.

About the author: Summer Burkes

Summer Burkes

Summer Burkes has been rousting about at Burning Man since 1998. She first met her dusty DPW / Cyclecide / Bike Club fam-dambly on the back of The Bucket. A Cacophony Society enthusiast, Summer loves explosions and cake.

2 Comments on “all hands on deck pt.2:, New Orleans

  • salt_phoenix says:

    HI! Fellow burner here traveling through in February. I have a daughter there and will be visiting for potentially several weeks. I was looking for volunteer work and/or burner friendly, kid friendly events I might be interested in? I’d also be glad to help rid your neighbors of any unwanted roosters, if your only hesitancy from eating them is the dirty work. ;-)

    Report comment

  • Anna Swan says:

    Dear Summer,

    What is your mailing address. I would like to send you a care package. I will include everything you need for Pasta Puttanesca.


    Report comment

  • Comments are closed.