My heart goes out to the victims of Hurricane Irene. I feel your pain. (And I promise not ask this inane question: Why would you live/rebuild where hurricanes can hit? I’ve been to Vermont. I know why you live there.)
Six years ago, when the federal levee system failed in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, many wondered if the subsequent flooding meant death for a great city.
It certainly has not died, and most of the 300-year-old city has come back even better than before with a green focus, better schools, and more restaurants than ever (900+). The music is still strong, Mardi Gras rolls on, Jazz Fest rocks, and the friendliness of the folks and the closeness of families cannot be dimmed.
Some areas still struggle. The street where this former furniture store once thrived (on St. Claude at St. Roch) is a work in progress. Many ruined shops remain shuttered, while new shops emerge, and the whole neighborhood is underserved by the most common businesses, like grocery stores and banks. As it turns out, it’s kind of a blessing that this area has been rejected by the chain stores that have homogenized so many once-unique towns.
The New Orleans Healing Center — a nonprofit collective conceived right after the levee failures as a massive catalyst to more improvements — had its grand opening on Saturday and the 3-story, 75,000 square feet of luminious space was mobbed (in a good way) by happy and appreciative citizens. The feng shui and air quality in this place are extraordinary, thanks to green-building practices.
The Healing Center includes a food co-op, eco cafe, botanica store, spaces for artisans to sell their goods, a fitness center, credit union, performance space, classrooms, a White Lotus yoga studio, Maple Street Books, art gallery space, an Interfaith spirituality space, and so much more.
I stand in awe of the heart and work it took to bring this about. It’s hope for our future, hope for our present.