Columbia College Chicago

August 2, 2007

New Orleans update

Our intrepid colleague, Shirley Bennett, has sent us a dispatch from New Orleans (see this post for some background on the trip). Here are some excerpts:

"The Mosquitoes are a fact of life here...and they have deadly aim! They are able to target areas along the straps of your sandals or bras as well as the lower half of each finger on one hand.

My NOLA experience is drawing to a close...this morning there is a writing session focused on capturing what two days in the field has wrought. [Yesterday and the day before, we were dispatched to specific houses or field sites where residents had asked for help.] On my first day, I along with four others, worked in the home of Mr. Heyward Jackson, who is is living in a FEMA trailer alongside his badly damaged home. There was a second home handled by another team of 5. Our tasks were basic: remove nails (high and low, to leave the frame of the house ready for drywall, clear the floors of loose debris and nails there. The work, though simple, takes a lot of time when one has to cover every crack and crevice of a place--especially one that has been pummeled as these places have been by such extreme natural elements.

Yesterday, I was all over the place...pulling Chinese tallow(?) in the wetlands area...cutting foot-high grass in a football size field...and ending up at the home base for the organization through whom our efforts for the day had been coordinated--Common Ground. One of the co-founders was on hand to share how the organization had begun and what projects lay in the near future for them. In fact, Mr. Rahim was on his way to Chicago to speak at some function at McCormick Place this weekend.

Ok, there has been some fun. A poetry slam, a crab bake in the parking lot, beignets in Congo Square and a barbecue at the home of the local poet celeb, Shakespear."

All of us here at the Columbia College Chicago Library are looking forward to Shirley's return and to hearing more about her experiences in New Orleans.

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