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The Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum celebrates this unique neighborhood through interactive exhibits and oral histories, free of charge.

Project Description:

Seven years ago, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city of New Orleans. While other parts of the city have largely recovered, only one-in-five residents of the Lower Ninth Ward have been able to return because the federal, state, and local governments have failed to provide adequate resources for rebuilding (see Caroline Heldman’s blog post “The Truths of Katrina” for more information).  The Living Museum will ensure that the unique culture and history of this neighborhood is not forgotten.

The mission of the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum is to promote community empowerment through remembering the past, sharing stories of the present, and planning for the future. The “living” part of the Museum refers to the space as a hub of creativity where residents share their stories through poetry, spoken word, music, painting, sculpture, and other artistic means. Residents will also come together to work on collaborative art projects (e.g., public murals).

To date, we have completed over 50 oral histories with residents that will be featured throughout the museum. Exhibits range from the 1770s when the area was a runaway slave colony, to 1960 when the Lower Ninth Ward became the first site of desegregation in the Deep South, not to mention current efforts to fight callous proposals to make the neighborhood a green space. The Living Museum also celebrates famous Lower Ninth Ward residents, including Antoine “Fats” Domino, the second highest selling rock and roll artist of all time (behind Elvis Presley), gospel powerhouse singer Mahalia Jackson, trumpet player and composer Kermit Ruffins, actor John Larroquette, and Cash Money Records founder “Birdman.”

For more information, please visit our website at www.l9livingmuseum.org

How We Will Use the Money:

We have 42 exhibits planned that will cost an average of $97 each ($4,074). We also need four flat screen televisions ($2,400) for our interactive exhibits and four laptops ($1,500) to run them. Lastly, we plan to install professional lighting throughout the facility to properly highlight each exhibit ($1,400).

Grand Total: $9,374

The Living Museum is free; we will never charge admission. Over 50 volunteers have worked to create the project, and it is run by an all-volunteer staff of professionals and interns.

Rewards Ladder:

To thank you for your support, we are offering a number of what we think are fantastic rewards.  Each step in the ladder is cumulative, so the more you give, the more you get!

$10         Postcard with Living Museum logo

$25         Handwritten thank you from Living Museum volunteer staff + Postcard

$50         T-shirt with Living Museum logo + Your Name on Our Website + Handwritten Thank You + Postcard (please add $10 for international orders)

$100       Tote bag with Living Museum logo + T-shirt + Name on Website + Handwritten Thank You + Postcard  (please add $15 for international orders)

$250       Handmade Living Museum Mardi Gras Mask + Tote + T-shirt + Name on Website + Handwritten Thank You + Postcard (please add $15 for international orders)

$500       Signed Living Museum edition photograph print (16”X22”) by Living Museum’s featured artist Ryan Brandenberg, photographer and author of Roots Run Deep Here+ Mardi Gras Mask + Tote + T-shirt + Name on Website + Handwritten Thank You + Postcard (please add $15 for international orders)

$1,000   Your name on Donor Brick featured on Living Museum walkway patio + Signed Ryan Brandenberg photograph + Mardi Gras Mask + Tote + T-shirt + Name on Website + Handwritten Thank You + Postcard (please add $50 for international orders)

$2,500   - Professional photoshoot of you to be featured on Living Museum website along with your biography + Your Name on Donor Brick + Signed Ryan Brandenberg photograph + Mardi Gras Mask + Tote + Name on Website + T-shirt + Handwritten Thank You + Postcard (please add $50 for international orders)

$5,000   Guided tour of the Lower Ninth Ward and English tea at the historic Steamboat House+ Donor Photoshoot + Your Name on Donor Brick + Signed Ryan Brandenberg photograph + Mardi Gras Mask + Tote + Name on Website + T-shirt + Handwritten Thank You + Postcard (please add $50 for international orders)

About Us:

The Living Museum was co-founded by Caroline Heldman and Ian Breckenridge-Jackson in 2011 in response to the painfully slow rebuilding of the Lower Ninth Ward. They have engaged in rebuilding efforts in the Lower Ninth Ward since Katrina, and are now turning their efforts to celebrating the vibrant history and culture of this neighborhood. Ken Routon joined the team in 2012 as Curator.

Caroline Heldman, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Dr. Heldman is the Chair of the Politics Department at Occidental College, and is also a political commentator for MSNBC, Fox News, and Fox Business News. She earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from Rutgers University and specializes in the American presidency and systems of power (class, race, gender). Her work has been featured in the top journals in her field, and she co-edited the popular book, Rethinking Madame President: Is the US Ready for a Woman in the White House? (2007). Dr. Heldman’s work has also been featured in popular publications, including the New York Times, U.S. News and World Report, Ms. Magazine, The Huffington Post, and The Daily Beast. She has also been active in “real world” politics as a congressional staffer, campaign manager, and campaign consultant. Dr. Heldman drove to New Orleans the week after Hurricane Katrina to assist with rescue and relief efforts and co-founded the New Orleans Women’s Shelter. For more information on Dr. Heldman, please visit her blog at carolineheldman.wordpress.com

Ian Breckenridge-Jackson

Executive Director

Having recently received his Master’s Degree, Ian is completing his Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of California, Riverside. He specializes in race, gender, and class inequality with an emphasis in social movements. Ian was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and a grant from the University of California Center for New Racial Studies for his work studying activism and volunteerism in post-Katrina New Orleans.  His work has appeared in Policy Matters, the Routledge International Handbook of World-Systems Analysis, and will be featured in the second edition of Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex, and Power (2013). Prior to returning to graduate school, Ian taught mathematics at Eagle Rock High School in Los Angeles and worked in the political department of Brave New Films. Ian and Caroline live with their three kitties – Shredder, Puffin, and Zora, and split their time between New Orleans and Los Angeles.

Kenneth Routon, Ph.D.

Curator

Dr. Routon is a cultural anthropologist whose work focuses on culture, power, and history in the African diaspora. He authored the book Hidden Powers of State in the Cuban Imagination (2010), an on-the-ground look at the relationship between the Cuban government and the Afro-creole religious community. His work has also appeared in the Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, and American Ethnologist. Dr. Routon is also a contributing writer at Afropop Worldwide, an internationally syndicated radio series and online magazine dedicated to the music of Africa and the African diaspora.  Beyond his academic work, he is strongly committed to social justice issues in New Orleans and is a huge fan of New Orleans music and culture. Dr. Routon lives in the Lower Ninth Ward with his wife, Lisbeth, and son, Beny.

Stretch Goals:

Raise over $20,000 – Provide stipends to Lower Ninth Ward residents to give tours and talks at the Living Museum.

Raise over $21,000 – Install Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant ramp for wheel chair access.

Raise over $29,000 – Install an ADA accessible bathroom.

Raise over $80,000 – Pay curator a salary and health insurance.

Raise over $86,000 – Put in new flooring.

Raise over $105,000 – Big touch screen to show who has moved back home in the Lower Ninth Ward, who hasn’t, and why they haven’t been able to come back.

Raise over $200,000 – Build a cat army to get all of this work done.

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    Tote bag with Living Museum logo + T-shirt + Name on Website + Handwritten Thank You + Postcard (please add $15 for international orders)

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    Handmade Living Museum Mardi Gras Mask + Tote + T-shirt + Name on Website + Handwritten Thank You + Postcard (please add $15 for international orders)

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    Signed Living Museum edition photograph print (16”X22”) by Living Museum’s featured artist Ryan Brandenberg, photographer and author of Roots Run Deep Here + Mardi Gras Mask + Tote + T-shirt + Name on Website + Handwritten Thank You + Postcard (please add $15 for international orders)

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    Your name on Donor Brick featured on Living Museum walkway patio + Signed Ryan Brandenberg photograph + Mardi Gras Mask + Tote + T-shirt + Name on Website + Handwritten Thank You + Postcard (please add $50 for international orders)

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    Professional photoshoot of you to be featured on Living Museum website along with your biography + Your Name on Donor Brick + Signed Ryan Brandenberg photograph + Mardi Gras Mask + Tote + Name on Website + T-shirt + Handwritten Thank You + Postcard (please add $50 for international orders)

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    Guided tour of the Lower Ninth Ward and English tea at the historic Steamboat House + Donor Photoshoot + Your Name on Donor Brick + Signed Ryan Brandenberg photograph + Mardi Gras Mask + Tote + Name on Website + T-shirt + Handwritten Thank You + Postcard (please add $50 for international orders)

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Funding period

- (32 days)