Why New Orleans is Worth Rebuilding – May 2009   Leave a comment

  by Nancy Lemon

For all those folks who question why we are helping rebuild a city
which depends on levees to survive, as much of it is below the level of
Lake Pontchartrain:

I fell in love with New Orleans the first time I went with this group, in May 2008. There are many wonderful things about this city and its people.

One thing I love about this great city is a local band called Panorama Jazz Band (see photo number 3 of my pictures from 2009, on the Lagniappe Stage at Jazz Fest). They play a mix of klezmer, various Caribbean styles, second line (term for the people following the mourners in a jazz funeral procession), and just plain great jazz, with sophisticated rhythms, and great solos. The clarinetist, whom I met in May 2008, is named Ben and is a sweetheart. I am now listening to them regularly through Pandora.com, an internet radio station. I love that Jazz Fest has local bands as well as big headliners and groups from Africa. Going to New Orleans to hear live jazz is like going to Italy for opera or Vienna for classical music – the source. Jazz Fest is a truly awesome cultural experience, being with thousands of local people who are just plain happy to be together, enjoying fine music and eating wonderful local food.

Another reason New Orleans is worth rebuilding is the sense that everyone’s individuality is welcome. Folks in N.O. don’t seem to be particularly worried about fitting in, looking like everyone else, conforming. Instead they often express very different styles in clothing, houses, music, opinions. It makes me feel relaxed, that I can just be me.

Finally, when people who aren’t from N.O. say, "But so much of that city must be protected by levees – does that really make sense?", I tell them that I live on an earthquake fault in the Berkeley hills. I grew up here, almost 47 years now. I love this house, this neighborhood, this city, and the Bay Area. I also know that at any time it might be my family who may become dependent on the kindness of strangers to help us rebuild after the big earthquake comes. Berkeley would be worth rebuilding, just as New Orleans is.

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Posted May 27, 2009 by NOLA-er in Uncategorized

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