Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sunday reflection

By Sunday evening we'd had a shabbat at Anshe Sfard, a synagogue next door to our hostel, explored the Garden District and Central City neighborhoods (Colliseum Square, Magazine Street, Fauburg Delassize), listened to a representative of the Jewish Farm School talk about korban (sacrifice) and service, caught cabbages and bead necklaces thrown from St Patrick's Day Channel Parade floats on St. Charles Ave, heard Rabbi Polsky speak at Seudah Shlishit about the history of Anshe Sfard and the local Jewish community, seen a Mahavishnu Orchestra tribute by a talented (and loud) quintet at Tulane, volunteered with a local community gardening project, and wandered around the French Quarter.

After a Kosher Cajun catered dinner, with our hardest work ahead of us, we met for a reflection on what we'd experienced so far. Each member of the group answered the following question:

What images, or what elements of the soundscape, have struck you so far?

Here are some of the responses:

the Superdome next to Highway 10, intact, emblazoned with a luxury car logo

Dave, a friendly, softspoken volunteer at the community garden -- a recovering alcoholic who has struggled to find housing

strangers smiling and offering St Patrick's Day hats to other strangers

children giving out flowers

a chicken wandering among the chairs and tables of an indoor cafe in the Marigny district

passersby in the French Quarter giving high fives to strangers

elaborate Mardi Gras masks on display in French Quarter boutiques

firsthand evidence of the racial and socioeconomic divides that characterize the city

an old woman in the French Quarter who said "Merry Christmas" and gave strangers Mardi Gras beads

our neighbors in Central City sitting out on porches and stoops

a young woman on Bourbon Street singing and twirling a sign for a strip club

public nudity

wrought-iron balconies


After our conversation, we talked about the transition from the first and more relaxed phase of the trip to the four days of work we'd be doing with St Bernard Project, and we read and discussed an article about tourism to the Lower Ninth Ward.

We'll revisit our first impressions of New Orleans once we have two days of spackling, drilling, and sanding behind us.