Faith in New Orleans

At 5:30 Saturday morning, I woke up slowly to the shrieks of AC/DC and Quiet Riot. At 5:45, just after Cum On Feel The Noise’s initial crescendo, the music stopped. Shawn tiptoed his way into my connecting shotgun room apologizing and reassuring me that we had one more hour to sleep. “No we don’t, I smiled, It’s time to get up.” Apparently, he thought he’d awoken on his own, not realizing that as the guitar riffs grew louder, he’d pushed the off button to his alarm.
What a trooper. Not only allowing me to sleep in his office in his three-week occupied home in the Mid-City area of New Orleans (even cutting the slats to the bed frame during my first ten minutes in the city), but Shawn was also game enough to get up in the wee hours of the morning to accompany me to the Vietnamese Market in East New Orleans, not exactly in his hood.
He grabbed a couple of Red Bulls and some Cliff Bars and off we went, to a land unknown to either of us. If it hadn’t been for landscape architect Michael Spackman of Spackman, Mossop & Michaels in Australia whom I’d met at the PPS (Project for Public Spaces) market training in New York last May, I never would have known about the market. Mr. Spackman was part of the company helping to create a plan for a new Vietnamese Village in East New Orleans.
After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Father Vien The Nguyen rallied his local Vietnamese community together to rebuild their area and village. They were determined to get their lives up and running again with or without outside help.
While there is still a lot of work to do, I was impressed with the look and feel of what this East New Orleans Vietnamese community is coming together to accomplish. It’s yet another powerful ray of hope this world needs, and I’m excited to see it grow and prosper in the months and years to come.

Currently in its thirteenth year of existence, despite a short hiatus following Hurricane Katrina, Crescent City Farmers’ Market is booming on Magazine Street in the Warehouse District of New Orleans. Speaking with Darlene Wolnik of Market Umbrella, they have an amazing team dedicated to providing a strong community relationship between farmers and producers, customers, chefs, and staff. And they are excited about assisting new markets in Louisiana and other parts of the United States. Starting a farmers’ market next spring, I had quite a few questions for her, and promised to email her even more. But if anyone out there is looking to start a market to promote eating local, be sure to check out Market Umbrella.

I’m now in Seattle taking a break, visiting farmers’ markets, and seeing friends, but wanted to shoot off a few pics of the 9th Ward taken with Shawn’s trusty cell phone (my camera broke. :-().

Keep the faith, hope and work going strong. And, bon appétit!

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