Last week we watched a video called "When the Levees Broke" made by Spike Lee. It focused on hurricane Katrina and the damage it created in New Orleans. This video was heart-wrenching and then being in New Orleans made it all come to life.
After a long bus ride, we ate at Mothers, and headed to the hotel to settle in for the night. Wednesday morning, we woke up and jumped on the bus. This started our tour of the Katrina damage. Our tour guide, Wolf, took us through all the parts of New Orleans. At some points, there had been water on one side of the street and not on the other side. We saw where the levees broke in the lower Ninth Ward, and where the used to be houses but aren’t anymore. Among where there was still debris, Make It Right Foundation has begun building homes that are more stable for hurricanes. Wolf took us to a cemetery nearby. All of the graves are above ground, which is something I had never seen before. In the midst of graves, there was a chapel for Saint Roch, who was the patron saint of miraculous healings.
Then we headed off the beaten path to take a swamp tour! We had the pleasure to try genuine Cajun Gumbo, delicious, and Jambalaya. I learned a lot about the animals and plant life around the swamp and how throughout history they ended up in New Orleans. A little bit later we had the opportunity to talk with one of the people from Make It Right. They're doing such good work with the people after Katrina. They've almost reached the number of homes they want to build but are ready to keep going. That night we enjoyed some jazz music in the park as well; it was a short walk from our hotel but the square was streaming with people.
Thursday was an eventful and long day. It started early in the morning as we walked to Idea Village, an organization that helps businesses start up and get running. We walked down the hallway and ended up in the office of Launch Pad. This business has been helping other organizations for years. They provide desks, offices, and work space for a fee and some great ideas are coming out of there.
Throughout the day we visited two different universities and discussed their social entrepreneurship ventures. It was interesting to see how they were working it into what they were doing at their institutions. One of my favorite groups we talked to, however, were the men from Hero Farm. It's an advertising agency that really thinks outside the box. They talked about all the different ideas they've come up with and as outlandish as some of them are, they could catch a lot of attention for an array of products and companies. It was a long day full of meeting but at the end of the night we made it to the Rock and Bowl. Thursday night is their Zydeco music night. We had a great time bowling, listening to music, and just enjoying each others’ company before we left in the morning. New Orleans was a great experience. I hope to go back someday and see all the progress they've made. The trip was great and opened my eyes to some of the trials the people have faced since 2006. I'm glad I had the opportunity to learn with this great group of people.