If you have visited the Lower Ninth Ward at any point within the past eight years you will know that the tangible aftermath of the destructions of hurricane Katrina is still very much present here just east of the canal. You will have encountered gutted out houses, overgrown houses, empty lots, and seven feet large improvised trash piles. You might have returned home with a bruised bumper as the result of an unfortunate encounter with one of our streets’ many feet wide and deep potholes, which make driving in the Lower Ninth Ward a task for the skilled – or for those with premium insurance.
For the residents of this community these encounters are part of their daily life. They do not, however, only present as physical manifestations of a flood that happened almost nine years ago and wiped away homes and amenities. Where there are thus now uninhabitable houses with man-made holes in the roofs there were once people trying to get out of those holes to avoid drowning in their attics, and where there are now empty lots with nothing but a concrete marking of the foundation of a house there were once somebody’s home. The current state of the Lower Ninth Ward is for its residents therefore also daily encounters with memories of loss of neighbours and loved ones, and of their community as they once knew it.
It is therefore critical that residents have access to equally tangible examples of hope and recovery. The Lower 9th Ward Village has been such a manifestation since Mack McClendon in 2007 purchased what was then an old warehouse building on 1001 Charbonnet St. and turned it into an arts- and community center. Besides from housing New Orleans’ only indoor skate park the Lower 9th Ward Village community center is equally a structure, which by way of its location right by St. Claude Avenue, connects the different geographic entities of the Lower Ninth Ward south and north of St. Claude Avenue respectively. It provides a crucial space for members of the community to hold meetings and do community organizing as well as it houses volunteers who visit the Lower Ninth Ward to take part in the recovery and rich culture and history of the community.
The Lower 9th Ward Village community center is a testament of the resilience of the community of the Lower Ninth Ward and its members, and a necessary manifestation of hope for the future and for recovery.
Please go to our kick-starter page to see how you can support the Lower 9th Ward Village.