The Dryades Public Market hosted the popup marketplace “Friends and Flows” for the first time Saturday, raising awareness of issues like food deserts, the market’s role in the Central City neighborhood, and gentrification.
“We create social environments for young creatives and professionals to connect and cultivate new relationships,” said Damon Landry, one of the founders of Atypical SEC who put on the event.
Central City is primarily a food desert because of the lack of stores that offer healthy food options. Dryades Public Market seeks to resolve this issue. Alana Harris, the community outreach director for the market, asserts that such a business is necessary for the community, but not everyone buys in.
“There are some that understand it and some that do not,” Harris said.
For those who do not buy into the usefulness of the market, Harris has to go out into her Central City community and meet these people face-to-face.
“Going door to door. Going to community meeting, bingo game. Just showing up to say ‘Hey, Dryades cares enough to even put me into this place to represent them’,” Harris said. “Not only do I work in Central City, I live in Central City.”
District B Councilwoman and New Orleans Mayoral candidate LaToya Cantrell paid a visit to the event. District B includes Central City and the Dryades Market.
Cantrell said that the market is an important resource for Central City, but a lot of people just do not know about it. “Since I’ve entered the door, I heard a lady behind me say ‘Wow, I didn’t even know this was here’,” Cantrell remarked.
“We’ve been struggling, since the building opened, to get people to come in an have a real understanding of what an asset they have in the community,” Cantrell said.
Mayoral candidate Hashim Walters and City Council District B candidate Timothy David Ray were also in attendance.
The market and event proved to be very useful to I’sha Gaines, whose jewelry business Ugly Betty Boutique participated in Friends and Flows.
Gaines had a store previously, but she prefers the atmosphere of these popup marketplaces. “Here, you get to mingle. You get to meet people,” Gaines said.