Over the past 7 months, the Lower 9th Ward Village (Mack McClendon, ED; Rebecca Fisher-McGinty and Chika Kondo (volunteer staff)) have been organizing around 3 main projects and continue to support current issues that are brought to the forefront for the Lower 9th Ward community.
The first is organizing around food access and we have partnered with an urban farm, SUA (suanola.com) to develop a community driven outdoor market that will provide access to healthy and fresh produce. Currently we are working with a new local business that opened, Galvez Goodies under the leadership of Burnell Cotlon to create a mutual partnership in working towards building up a permanent grocery store.
The Village is also developing a job training curriculum around lot cutting. The Lower 9th Ward has over 600 blighted properties that need to be maintained before further plans of development are pushed forward. We have already initialized a soft launch and have cut over 4 lots in the past 2 months and have created contracts to continue maintaining those lots.
Lastly, we have been pushing forward in our development of a disaster blueprint concentrating on the narrative of the Lower 9th Ward to ensure that no other community faces what this community has faced after a disaster. This blueprint aims to advocate on the issues this community has faced through individual interviews and concrete documentation of evidence and research. See Kick Starter update on our Bringing Back our Community Project (BBOC) for more information.
In January, the Lower 9th Ward Village participated in the organizing of candidate forums to invite local election candidates to speak on the issues pertinent to the Lower 9th Ward and New Orleans East. We are currently members of the East of the Industrial Canal coalition as the Lower 9th Ward and New Orleans East are part of the same District, District E. The 2 forums we held were widely attended and gave the opportunity for residents to directly ask questions to the potential election candidates. We are using the responses that came from those forums as a strategy to hold those who did win seats accountable to what they promised.