Lower 9th Ward Village

image description

Photo Credit: Cameron Conklin

Contributors

Mission

“The Lower 9th Ward Village is a community center that serves as a hub where all community members can access or create essential resources to empower themselves, be self-sufficient, become whole after Katrina and beyond, and sustain an equitable quality of life.” [1]

Background and History

The Lower Ninth Ward Village is the vision of Ward “Mack” McClendon, a born and bred Lower Ninth Ward resident. He bought the building in 2007 and started working with community groups and volunteers to open the Lower 9th Ward Village Community Center. Through the center, Mack hopes to “bring the community back, make it whole.” Mack wants to provide a place for his community to share their stories and come together. The center is a place where his neighborhood can come to heal from the storm and look towards a brighter future. The Lower 9th Ward Village will help to build the infrastructure of the Lower Nine community and fill a void by providing a range of services, from literacy, job training and apprenticeship programs to recreational facilities and community meeting space. The Lower 9th Ward Village is a tax-exempt not-for-profit community center that will serve the residents of the Lower 9th Ward as they rebuild their lives and their community. The main purpose for the Lower 9th Ward Village is to serve as a focal point for residents returning to the neighborhood by offering a number of services in one centralized location, thereby contributing to community revitalization. [2]

Programs

Documentation of Resident Stories: Through interviews recorded on video and audio, the Village aims to create a collection of stories told by residents about their experiences during and after Hurricane Katrina. These stories will be transcribed and documented for research and for media purposes. These stories will raise awareness of the effects of Katrina on this neighborhood and the strong culture and history of this area. [3]

Community Organizing & Advocacy: Residents of the Lower 9th Ward can gather at the Lower 9th Ward Village through town hall meetings to voice their needs to and assemble to advocate for rights. These meetings also include important information about where The Village is going and its plans for the future. Community members get to have a say in activities and programs The Village conducts. The Village has also hosted 3 community wide meetings in the past. These are a chance for non-profits working in the area to talk to residents about what they are doing and plan to do. It also helps to increase coordination and networking among non-profits in the neighborhood. [4]

Lot Clearing: Village staff and volunteers trim tall grass on empty properties in the Lower Nine. Clearing lots diminishes habitats for rodents and poisonous snakes keeping the neighborhood safer. Lot clearing also helps to keep these lots from being confiscated by the government. If displaced property owners are unable to clear the lot (or pay the fines induced from not clearing), they lose the property to the city. [5]

Gardening: The Hope Garden at the Lower 9th Ward Village is available to teach youth about growing food and agriculture. This is a community garden which residents can use to grow food for their families or sell in the community. [6]

Computer Center: A free computer lab with internet for adults and youth to complete research, search for jobs, complete homework, etc. will be available. This center can also be used to technologically facilitate communication between displaced families at distant locations. [7]

Skate Park: A new skatepark has just been finished in The Village with the help of Lil Wayne, Mountain Dew and Make It Right. This is the only skatepark in the Lower Ninth Ward and will encourage physical activity and productive after school activity for young people in this neighborhood. [8]

Tours: Ward “Mack” McClendon conducts tours throughout the neighborhood stopping at The Village and other locations throughout the community. These tours help to expose the condition of the Lower 9th Ward to as many visitors and locals as possible. The tours showcase not only of the devastated areas of the community, but also show the contrast between what the government does for itself (Jackson Barracks) and what the government does (or doesn’t do) for the people (blighted houses and overgrown lots). Tour participants get an experience that gives them first-hand knowledge of the Lower 9th Ward, its past history and current conditions. [9]

Getting Involved

Volunteers from around the world come to the Lower 9th Ward for experiential immersion in sustainable community rebuilding. Over 50,000 volunteers have gone through The Village. Volunteers range from large groups to individuals coming from all over the United States. The Village welcomes volunteers with a variety of skills from construction to counseling. Volunteers pay a minimal fee and can be provided with housing, seminars and tours during their stay. [10]

Mapping Non-Profit Influence: The Case of the Lower Ninth Ward

Lower 9th Ward Village is one of many organizations that have worked to restore the Lower Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina. As part of a larger study of the impact and networks of of non-profits in 2013 (please see Mapping Non-Profit Influence: The Case of the Lower Ninth Ward for more details), we can see that this organization excels in the following areas:

Performance

1. Access to consumers regardless of ability to pay
The services available at The Village are free and accessible to the community. The Village is located directly in the neighborhood it is targeting and its programs are free for Lower Nine residents.

2. Provisions of collective goods
The Village provides a vast array of collective goods including an open and public community center with recreational facilities and tools such as computers. It also provides community meetings and meeting space along with a public garden. The Village is also helping to build infrastructure in the Lower Ninth Ward which benefits all of its residents and those planning to return.

3. Opportunities to volunteer
The Village provides many opportunities to volunteer. Visitors and locals with a variety of skill sets can come to The Village and work in the community. The Village also coordinates volunteers with other organizations in the community such as the CSED and Common Ground Relief. They provide housing and activities in the neighborhood to make volunteering more attractive and interactive.

Participation in Information Sharing

When we analyze Lower 9th Ward Village based on its extent of participation in information sharing activities, we see they are active in 3 ways:

2. Capacity Building
The Village is helping to build the capacity of Lower Nine residents by hosting community meetings, providing recreational activities and technological services in order to help residents help themselves. The community meetings give residents a voice and opinion on what happens to their neighborhood in the future and provides a place for them to communicate and network with each other. Recreational activities such as the skate park, computer lab, and garden build skills that can be marketed or used later in life.

3. Networking
The Village has connections to 6 other organizations in this study (CSED, Historic Green, Backyard Gardener’s Network, Sierra Club, Make It Right, and Common Ground Relief). They share volunteers, work on projects with these organizations and sponsor the same programs. Mack has also worked to get The Village involved with organizations beyond the Lower Ninth Ward and hopes to use these networks to implement his mission and project around the world.

4. Awareness Raising
The Village raising awareness through tours, documentation of residents stories and community meetings. The tours hosted by Mack are vital in helping visitors and volunteers understand the history and culture of the Lower Ninth before and after Katrina. Documentation of residents stories creates an archive of the effects of Hurricane Katrina to help inform research and media from a localized perspective. Community meetings help to inform residents of the happenings in the Lower Ninth. Residents are also able to bring to the table their concerns raising awareness for community groups as well.

References

  • Mission Statement, Lower 9th Ward Village, August 23rd 2013, http://www.lower9thwardvillage.org/new/about
  • Mission Statement, Lower 9th Ward Village, August 23rd 2013, http://www.lower9thwardvillage.org/new/about
  • Programs, Lower 9th Ward Village, August 24 2013, http://www.lower9thwardvillage.org/new/programs-services
  • Programs, Lower 9th Ward Village, August 24 2013, http://www.lower9thwardvillage.org/new/programs-services
  • Programs, Lower 9th Ward Village, August 24 2013, http://www.lower9thwardvillage.org/new/programs-services
  • Programs, Lower 9th Ward Village, August 24 2013, http://www.lower9thwardvillage.org/new/programs-services
  • Programs, Lower 9th Ward Village, August 24 2013, http://www.lower9thwardvillage.org/new/programs-services
  • Programs, Lower 9th Ward Village, August 24 2013, http://www.lower9thwardvillage.org/new/programs-services
  • Programs, Lower 9th Ward Village, August 24 2013, http://www.lower9thwardvillage.org/new/programs-services
  • Volunteer, Lower 9th Ward Village, August 24 2013, http://www.lower9thwardvillage.org/new/volunteer

This page was last modified on 24 August 2013, at 04:02

VIEW PLACE PROFILE

Lower 9th Ward Village Headquarters

1001 Charbonnet Street New Orleans, Louisiana 70117

image description