Thursday, February 23, 2006

Community change

You are trying to develop a thorough understanding of YOUR CHOSEN COMMUNITY.Use your research to help you answer the following questions.

1. Community – the New Orleans community

2. My role – Having spent j-term gutting houses my role was helping families get their lives a little bit back in order.

3. Geography – New Orleans, Louisiana. I will be focusing on the neighborhoods in low lying areas like New Orleans East and the Lower Ninth Ward

4. Age – The families involved are of all ages.

5. Interests – The New Orleans community is interested in figuring out ways to rebuild their city.

6. Ethnicity – The people that live in these neighborhoods are of all races but primarily are african american which is a big issue in the news of whether in not rebuilding the neighborhoods the government is trying to get rid of some of the culture that is there and some even call it “ethnic cleansing”

7. How did it come into being? – A breif overview is that immigrants came and settled in the area because it was very cheap land that they could cultivate. A system of levees and canals were built around the area totally seperating it which led to why there is such heavy culture in the area, it never spread out or faded away. It is home to many jazz artists and to Mardi Gras. The people that live in this community are very close and many live there because it is so cheap for them. There are others, however, that choose to live there because they couldn’t imagine anywhere else being home.

8. How did you gain membership to this community? Can anyone join? – I gained membership through volunteering to help with Katrina relief during J-term. After actually meeting and talking with the homeowners and hearing their stories really made me feel as though I was part of the community after a few days. We hope to stay in touch with the people that we met and I plan to help the community for many years to come.

9. What characteristics of patterns of sameness characterize community members? – Most of them are african american, I would say lower to middle classes. The majority has very high spirits considering what they have gone through and consider themselves blessed because they were alive.

10. What tensions/controversies/ areas of disagreement exist within the community? How are these represented to the public or outsiders? – There are many controversies in the New Olreans community at the present moment but I will be focusing on whether or not the lower lying areas of New Orleans should be rebuilt. There is one side saying that it is a waste of money to rebuild because if they did, it would not support a hurricane stronger than a category 3 and therefore we would just be asking for another tragedy like this to occur again. The other side is that of those who want to rebuild. This side wants to move back into their neighborhoods despite any possible problems in the future. New Orleans is their home and they don’t want to live anywhere else.

11. How might definitions of this community differ if they were told by insiders and outsiders respectively? – I think that the definition of the community would vary greatly if told by both insiders and outsiders. New Olreans to those that live there is a place of much culture and strong ties. It is a place where everyone helps one another. Gumbo and king cake are served at Thanksgiving and jazz played on Christmas. They say “where ya at” when walking down the street and when its someones 12th birthday for example they are “making 12”. The area is completed seperated from the rest of the state and the people are as well, and they wouldn’t want it any other way. To an outsider, the community could be seen as totally different. I had a totally different image of what it was going to be like and what the people were going to be like. Many people think that the people that live there are just poor and even lazy which is why they didn’t have the means to leave or why they live in these neighborhoods that aren’t the best looking, but they fail to realize that these people want to live there and they love it. Many of them are teachers, police officers, and other blue collar workers. Outsiders to the community I think see New Orleans only for Mardi Gras and miss out on the great culture it holds.

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