Thursday, October 2, 2008

Baton Rouge

Today we drove up to Baton Rouge to meet with Thomas Neff. I'm not sure what the scenery looks like or exactly how long it takes to get there from New Orleans because I slept all the way there and all the way back.

However, meeting Thomas Neff was a great experience. He shared a slideshow with us showcasing his Katrina work, and also some great portraits from his personal work. Mr. Neff has really produced some amazing images. He's a film guy who uses a 5x7 camera. He is also a highly skilled printer as well. He shared with us a box of his silver prints which were a real treat.

After Baton Rouge, we went over to Lakeview again and visited an abandoned school building. It was a strange feeling to see the playground empty and the basketball courts crumbling away. There was a mural on the school's walls that appeared to be painted images of the students. You could see into a few of the classrooms from outside the school that still had posters and other visual hanging on the walls. It was an odd feeling to see the remains of the school and all the prior signs of life that it possessed.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Holy Cross

This morning we drove over to the Holy Cross area. Holy Cross gives a much different view of the progress New Orleans is making. Going through the previous neighborhoods I have visited, the damage suffered is very apparent, but new housing and construction give you a sense of hope and of people moving forward towards positive, if not somewhat slow progress.

Holy Cross gives you a different feeling. It is a feeling of a neighborhood that has barely been touched. In most of the neighborhoods I have visited so far, I want to ask myself "where am I?" It is hard to imagine what these neighborhoods once looked like.

With Holy Cross, I think I asked myself a different question: "What is this?" This area is so untouched in areas that it almost looks unrecognizable as previous being an inhabited area. It is hard to believe I am looking at another residential area. It is hard to believe I am looking at a place where people lived. I think that this area sums up what I thought that destruction in Katrina would look like, and also of destruction that I thought was no longer able to be viewed in this capacity.

There is progress and rebuilding going on, but it seemed almost unnoticeable compared to the destruction that surrounds it. I spoke with a man in the neighborhood who is rebuilding his house by himself. He hopes to be in there within the next month. I am very impressed with this man's courage to move forward and return to his home. It was encouraging to see similar people who are returning and showing progress on their homes. I hope that this trend will continue and all residents affected in this area will receive the aid that they are in need of.

My thoughts are with all those in the area. I felt very encouraged by those that have been able to return thus far and was overwhelmed by the courage that you have shown.