Following Hurricane Katrina, a group of concerned citizens, academics, engineers, writers, artists, developers, physicians, and architects came together to form a salon think tank. The members met to explore creative solutions to New Orleans’ vast recovery challenges. Out of that salon developed a multi-media cultural project, an energy policy for the City of New Orleans, and a plan to heal people and heal place.
To heal the individual and the community sustainably requires the delivery of services, products and programs that synergistically promote physical, nutritional, emotional, intellectual, environmental and spiritual well-being. The services, products and programs provided at the New Orleans Healing Center (NOHC) includes a food Co-Op, credit union, alternative healers, street university, art bazaar, art galleries, yoga studio, community center and performance space, environmental office, green business incubation center, woman’s center and a spiritual space.
To create a healthy place we look to the strength of the City of New Orleans which lies along the east bank of the Mississippi River. The neighborhoods along the eastern riverfront are on the high ground where historic settlers lived to avoid annual river flooding. The St Claude corridor is the downtown border of the historic riverfront neighborhoods as Magazine Street is the uptown border. Magazine in the last 25 years has replaced Canal Street as the region’s most successful retail and commercial corridor.
St. Claude has an inventory of historic buildings and has healthy neighborhoods on the riverside. However, unlike Magazine the buildings along St. Claude are underutilized, vacant and/or abandoned. Given the similarities to Magazine, St Claude is prime for revitalization and its revitalization is extremely important to the city.
|The building under construction in April 2011|
The Healing Center is located along the St. Claude Avenue corridor adjacent to the Upper Ninth Ward at the intersection of St. Roch, in the former Universal Furniture Building. On the lake side of St. Claude is a neighborhood that is predominantly poor – low income African American that was severely damaged from the floodwaters following Katrina. Prior to Katrina it was home to many of the keepers and creators of African American culture in New Orleans – artists, musicians, writers, and Mardi Gras Indian groups. This community was displaced and torn apart by the storm. Though some have returned, the community remains troubled.
Riverside of St. Claude is the Bywater, Marigny, and French Quarter, which are racially diverse, eclectic in character and economically far healthier than the lakeside neighborhoods. These neighborhoods were not flooded during Katrina. The NOHC will draw people from both sides of St. Claude Avenue, and throughout the city, so all can meet and exchange ideas and knowledge. We can create from these polarized neighborhoods, one cohesive and balanced community. Diversity is strength in whatever sphere it is encountered
We come together to create healing for people in a healthy place. Healing on every level for every individual, for our community and our city. New Orleans is a unique city, but it is not unique in its need for healing. If we can heal New Orleans (and we will, the healing has already begun), the most toxic of places, we can apply our model to other communities and cities, and eventually our world.
The Healing Center opened in August 2011!
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