New Orleans: a youth-led rebuilding project

At CIRCLE, we plan to fund some young New Orleanians who were displaced by Katrina to conduct research on the experience of the disaster. The youth we’re working with happen to have been homeless before the storm, so their perspective will be interesting. Meanwhile, I have received the following appeal by email. Knowing some of the people involved, I believe I can disseminate it in confidence:

Amid all the confusion in New Orleans, inspiring grassroots projects are taking shape. One inspiring example is the work of students at Frederick Douglass High School who are rebuilding the social fabric of their community in the low-income 9th Ward. A group called Students at the Center, originally a creative writing program based at Frederick Douglass High, a predominately African American school, has dedicated itself to rebuilding their inner-city school and neighborhood.

A core group of these Frederick Douglass students, teachers, artists, and parents currently displaced across the country has stayed in communication, and wants to meet face to face in New Orleans so they can assess the damage and plan their next steps to save their community. It is our goal to raise $10,000 to enable 15 to 20 of them to reconnect November 11-13.

“The people of New Orleans will make the decision” of which schools to rebuild or abandon, according to Education Superintendent Cecil Picard (“New Orleans Public School Enrollment May Be Halved,” Times-Picayune, 10/13/05). If the families at Douglass High are to have a voice in these decisions, they need your support now. This is a poor neighborhoods without political clout or the resources to travel.

Please contribute $25, $50, $1,000, whatever you can, either by check (see below) or by PayPal on the New Village Press website One hundred percent of your donation (we will pay for PayPal processing) will go directly to airfare, ground transportation, food and lodging for the 3-day gathering. Make checks payable to New Village and designate it for Rebuilding New Orleans Community. We’ll keep donors informed about the progress of this project.