the levees near marigny

the levees near marigny

packing with wine…

and whine.

and heavyness in my heart.

Ms. Jessie told me a story about the little boy who “holds her heart”, who has the biggest grin and wide wide teeth. He loves her, adores her…looks longingly at her while she’s teaching, clings to the words she says, watches her while she gives directions. The other day he waited for her until after class and opened his arms, after she gave him the biggest hug he told her “Now my heart is happy”.

So, now New Orleans…(because of you…ahhhh so sappy but—) MY heart is happy! And leaving you will bring quite a sadness that can only be fulfilled by coming back.

Around my room is scattered bits of the past three weeks, (that’s all?!)…”edible new orleans” articles, maps of st. charles streets, disposable photographs, cooking and garden class schedules, the house keys, pecan pralines that havvvee to be at least a year old (present from a friend?), my work boots, glass mardi gras beads, feathered earrings, bars of “freret market homemade” goatsmilk soap, and many memories all wrapped up.

Maybe I came here to be political, maybe I came here to expose myself, to learn and bring back, to eradicate social hierarchies (couldn’t be it.), to be warm, to give. 

I have learned that no matter where I go I like to get to know people like people…not like they are the other, not like they are something I studied, but that those children I taught are children that are lovely. The teachers were all the most beautiful, kind-hearted souls I’ve met in a while, who truly are dedicated and passionate, who care so much and understand that they are living their own dreams doing what they do.

It’s really inspiring! And I’ll be pretty down to see it all go when I leave on Friday. I’m sadder than I thought, than I’ll let on. But I guess it’s all better to be proud, to be happy that I got to connect with so many children and people and that I’ve got a little piece of myself in New Orleans now, so when I graduate….I’ll be back.

by the water

wonderful biking around the city today, found the part of the city that i would live in if i ever did move down here. I want to go everywhere, I want to find the second line. The sculptures made of my grandmothers ashy shined skin, stones in her hands like the varicose veins. The thin twists of california trees. 

The caribbean, the ocean, a dirty industrialized river.

it’s all beauty, really.

0 plays

Lenny Kravitz, Mos Def and Others playing at Preservation Hall, New Orleans, Louisiana.              

The Treasure Hunt

Finishing up my second week at Edible Schoolyard and it’s amazing to think that I’ve only been here for two, and even sadder to think that the next is also my last. I am always amazed at people’s (I think most, I know {my own) ability to adapt to new lifestyles and people, careers and schools. I knew when I was leaving Vermont that it wouldn’t hit me how wonderful New Orleans was until I got here. And now that I am here, I know that this is true. It’s easy, after about three days in, to feel like I have been here forever, or could at least stay for awhile. The sadness about the time frame of three weeks is that it’s long enough to develop some great friendships, meet really amazing people, and fall a little in love with the place, and it’s short enough to leave you always craving more. But maybe that’s a good thing. I know I’ve got a week left and I now need to start doing the frantic hunt to try and see all the things New Orleans offers before I go. Yet while I can try, I know there is always more… so hopefully this city will see me again!

Red Beans and Rice, and Alligator Sausage

What I have decided for myself is to design my own treasure map, an edible, delicious treat where every day I go to work at Green Charter, give my heart to the children and the projects either in the kitchen or the garden and then after school I am going to explore New Orleans with my mouth. :) mmmm mmm mm.  Let’s keep this PG though and continue to discuss the ultimate gumbo of tastes and scents and smells while recognizing what I came here to do. While keeping in mind Ms. Pam Brooks, the class, food justice and education, I want to recognize this cities struggles along with its gems. 

Today I was enjoying the “Edible New Orleans” a local food magazine (http://www.ediblecommunities.com/neworleans/) and every article delivered the most delicious writing and descriptions of New Orleans classics, imports, Pre and Post-Katrina menus and most importantly, the addresses of these locally owned restaurants. While I’ve been treated to probably the most delicious food in the city, made by first through eighth graders are Green Charter with tons of appreciation and energy, I’ve decided to branch out into the bigger New Orleans food network and travel the city by finding urban agriculture mini-farms, side delis and alley way pizza shops, just to broaden my bayou horizons.

Here is the always flexible “Treasure Hunt” map of my up and coming week. 

Saturday- After visiting a family friend, organic Louisiana farmer at Crescent City Farmers Market ( http://www.crescentcityfarmersmarket.org/) in the morning/afternoon I will enjoy a “Po’ Boy” N’awlins classic. Shrimp or Roast Beef? At Parkway Tavern with a distant relative of mine. (Obama ate here!)

                               OR?

On Sunday, I am going to try and make the trip to the Lower Ninth Ward to visit the School at Blair Grocery, I wrote a little about this place before, but this seems like the ultimate Food Justice New Orleans experience, and if I had heard of it before I got here, I would have done this trip differently. Hear is their tumblr. I really really recommend checking it out, this is the description “Our mission is to create a resource rich, safe space for youth empowerment and sustainable community development. We envision a community where empowered youth engage in reflective practice with others to actualize effective, replicable environmental justice based local solutions to globalchallenges.”. http://schoolatblairgrocery.blogspot.com/ 

Monday- I want to get Horchata (South American Rice Drink) at Pupuseria La Macarena (a Salvadoran restaurant)

Tuesday- To visit Hollygrove Market and Farm on Olive St. Self proclaimed “New Orleans Only CSA-Style Market!”

Wednesday- Drink Abita’s Strawberry Lager (a local brewery!) A friend of mine drank this from a keg once and said at the bottom were tons and tons of crushed up strawberries that clogged the pump! YUM!

Thursday- Last night here, while being fed the most delicious homemade food at school all week…this one can be a wild card. Some choices are…

Crescent Pie & Sausage Co., Satsuma, visiting “The Latino Farmer’s Co-op” for chicken, Martinique Bistro (buys produce from Blair Grocery), Westwego Seafood Market (significantly struggling due to BP Oil Spill), Boucherie, St, James Cheese Company, Jack&Jakes Market, or EAT on Dumaine St.

Cool article on ESYNOLA—-

http://www.humanflowerproject.com/index.php/weblog/comments/learning_the_aubergines_beets_carrots/

  • annnnnd other thoughts…

The reason I picked up the Edible New Orleans magazine in the first place was not to become one the snobby foodies that fascinate and annoy me, but because of the children’s face on the cover, a little girl, Serenity, a third grader from Green Charter School biting into a whole grain burrito wrap with wide eyes and a smile. The magazine wrote an article entitled “New Orleans Tackles School Food Reform” and featured Green Charter and ESYNOLA as one of their best examples. They quoted three incredible women I work with everyday, Chef April Neujean, Denise Richters (head garden teacher), and Donna Cavato, the program director. Now, when I read this magazine, I found the most incredible looking menus and pictures, facts and stories, but nothing really gets me like the school aspect. The kids, and the people who teach them. These guys don’t do it because the new trend is to get involved with food and sustainability, they do it for their future which are superbly intertwined with that of the inner city New Orleans child and the rest of the country. I want to act on the fact that this treasure hunt isn’t just about going to restaurants because its what a tourist does in the city that they are traveling in, but because I want to learn about this city and bring things back to the icy red state of Ohio, the steel industry of Cleveland, the Oberlin Early Childhood Center… I want to support New Orleans and the people who have lived here for generations and want their children to be healthy, and the out of staters like myself who try their best to make that happen.

Alright, that’s it. Time to listen to music!

Earthworms+ photosynthesis= michael jackson

When all the first graders can moon walk through a garden while scatting jazz solos on their way to look for earthworms in the soil, you know you are in New Orleans, at Edible Schoolyard, Green Charter.

When I was leaving work today I had a big bag of lettuce, carrots, radishes, mint, parsley, rosemary and broccoli and was strolling home to the sound of a lone trumpet on the porch, a little boy in his green uniform practicing his scales as loud as he could while some girls on the steps were breakin’ it down. Awww Damn I love it N.O.!

The students have testing this week in their regular classes so to blow off steam for the fourth graders we did a relay race in the garden class where three teams of 6 ran to the other end of the playground, answered a question correctly about photosynthesis and then got to run back. When the team finished the question portion, they had to tape key words onto a diagram describing photosynthesis and then write a full, complete sentence definition.

                                                

It was pretty impressive and a really good learning style to have all the children getting out there energy and taking in information at the same time. With the first grade class we decided to dig for worms and did some math, how many big ones? How many little ones? etc.

In the enrichment class we had an amazing discussion after school then made homemade ramen, to give context and a hands on approach to the discussion on environmental racism, environmental justice and racial profiling and inequality. We were talking about the Vietnamese-American community in Versaille, New Orleans, LA. In the documentary “A VIllage Called Versaille” (Highly recommended) we learned about the decision to put a landfill in the Vietnamese American community and then the kids, grades 5-8 lead their own discussion asking questions like…”Well the trash needs to go somewhere?…so where does it go?” “Who gets to decide where that goes?” “Why do you think the Vietnamese-American community was chosen?” Man! Questions that I was just discussing last semester, as a sophomore in college! This is what it is all about! They’re eleven! It was amazing, and the homemade ramen was also fantastic. More later, time to fall asleep to the sound of wind and rain and the warm humidity of a night in the bayou.

                                   

Down here for about a month, lets see some thoughts from the mind.