Mar 302011

It’s that time of year again: to close the refrigerator door and open up your wallets, in support of the International School of Louisiana. This Sunday, April 3, sees ISL’s Seventh Refrigerator Art Auction & Gala.  The annual event supports enrichment programs at ISL, a public charter school providing a multi-lingual education in French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.

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Mar 302011

If you know anything about New Orleans in its post-Katrina journey you should at least have heard something – or some things – about Freret Street. Good or bad. Beyond bisecting the city from north and south as a fairly well-traveled thoroughfare, it’s been in the press for various reasons, too. There’s blight, but new businesses keep popping up. Shootings happen on occasion. Monthly there’s a market. And on. But what you might not know is that starting this Friday night, April 1st, a veritable Freret extravaganza is set to unfold over 24 hours of relatively epic proportions. No, this isn’t some sort of April Fool’s prank. It’s all a part of the engine that has been pushing this “little corridor that could” from relative obscurity to well, to quote Beck, “where it’s at.” And it starts with a delightful evening of (wait for it) – – – boxing. Continue reading »

Mar 302011

State Rep. Walt Leger debates district lines with Rep. Cameron Henry in this still image from the House of Represntatives streaming video of Tuesay's redistricting debate.

A plan to divvy most of the Carrollton, Audubon and university neighborhoods among three Jefferson Parish and Lakeview-based districts in the state House of Representatives narrowly failed Tuesday, leaving all of Uptown represented by three New Orleans-based lawmakers.

State Reps. Helena Moreno, Walt Leger and Neil Abramson led the attack on the Jefferson Parish plan, describing it as Jefferson Parish’s blatant attempt to gain more seats without regard for the will of voters or the integrity of neighborhoods in New Orleans.

“This is just slicing and dicing New Orleans up,” Abramson said. “This plan from Jefferson Parish is their attempt to get them 100 percent whole at the expense of New Orleans.” Continue reading »

Mar 292011

This site plan shows a possible layout of the proposed temporary campus for Audubon Charter School in the Lower Garden District. (Courtesy Jacobs/CSRS; click to enlarge)

Neighborhood residents and Audubon Charter School parents got a first look Tuesday night at plans for the school’s proposed temporary campus in the Lower Garden District and began voicing concerns about the safety of the neighborhood, before a sudden downpour flooded the area and forced an early end to the meeting. Continue reading »

Mar 292011

State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson and state Rep. Walt Leger listen during a neighborhood town hall meeting at the Irish Channel Christian Fellowship church on March 14, 2011, just prior to the redistricting session. (Sabree Hill,

A redistricting plan to prevent two Jefferson-based lawmakers from having to run against one another would carve up much of Uptown between them, based on a map of the proposal, drawing early opposition from Carrollton neighborhood leaders.

The plan, proposed by Rep. Tony Ligi of Metairie, stands in stark contrast to the present proposal for Uptown, which would assign the majority of the area to two sitting representatives, Reps. Neil Abramson and Walt Leger. Continue reading »

Mar 292011

Nearly two years ago, Common Ground Health Clinic purchased a new building, located at 501 Newton Street. Acquiring the Newton Street building was the primary focus of community organizer Keith Jones, a longtime CGHC staff member and lifelong Algiers resident, who passed on earlier this year. Though the building, architectural renderings, and building/zoning permits are in hand, costs associated with demolition, building the shell, renovating the interior and furnishing the building remain. In honor of Keith’s work and vision, Common Ground Health Clinic is launching a capital campaign to make its Newton Street location a reality.

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Mar 282011

Mary Mangen of Mid-City marches with police during a January anti-crime walk in Milan. (Sabree Hill,

Amid the usual complement of civic meetings, this week marks the return of the NOPD monthly marches against crime with a Tuesday evening march through the Riverbend.

Also on Tuesday evening, Audubon Charter School will present its plans for a temporary campus for the next two years in the Lower Garden District.

See our calendar listings below for full details and links. Continue reading »

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Mar 282011

Owen Courrèges

In the 1830’s and 40’s, army officers stationed in the southwestern frontier began to consider the use of camels for use in the arid, desert climate.  In an area where water was scarce, they reasoned, camels were more naturally well-suited than horses.

The idea found a powerful advocate in Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi, who was then the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs.  He pushed the idea through Congress and, sure enough, in 1856 a ship stocked with 32 camels lay anchor in Matagorda Bay, Texas.  More followed the year after.

The idea was a qualified success.  Camels did deal much better with the climate, although opposition remained due to the view of camels as distinctly “foreign.”

Then the Civil War struck.  Jefferson Davis became the President of the Confederacy.  Union officers became prejudiced against the project because it’s chief sponsor was considered a traitor.  Any support for the plan quickly evaporated, and the camels were largely released into the desert.

Random sightings of wild camels in the southwest continued into the 20th century. Continue reading »

Mar 282011

Shamarr Allen and the Underdawgs perform at Fete de la Musique at Generations Hall Sunday night. Bonerama, Ellis Marsalis, Dr. Michael White, the 610 Stompers and the Sirens also performed at the event. (Sabree Hill,

Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans, Uptown’s newest French charter school, managed to assemble some of the city’s most celebrated restaurateurs and musicians Sunday night, creating a fitting stage for organizers’ excitement as it prepares to open its doors in August.

“It’s a new day in public education,” said Lora Carapina, chair of the fundraiser, Fete de la Musique. “We want our tax dollars to go to top-rate education for our kids.” Continue reading »

Mar 272011

Cleveland M. Alfred (via

A convicted drug dealer charged but never found guilty in separate murder and attempted-murder cases in the 1990s is now back in jail after a patrol officer found him with two guns this weekend during a traffic stop in the Milan neighborhood, police said. Continue reading »

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Mar 272011

“Column styles and arches vary from house to house, and three still have their fine terra-cotta roof tiles,” R. Stephanie Bruno writes of the 2900 block of Octavia in her “Street Walker” column for The Times Picayune. “It all comes together to make an engaging vista.”

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Mar 272011

Amid accelerating changes in the landscape of public-education in New Orleans, the board of the International School of Louisiana spent Saturday morning discussing a long-term possibility of expanding into a small network of charter schools united in a focus on “immersion” as an educational concept, though not necessarily only in foreign languages.

In an effort to accommodate the trend toward full, open admissions for charter schools, the board hopes to quickly begin building several pre-kindergarten programs that would encourage children’s language development earlier, preparing them for the school’s current full-immersion foreign-language curriculum. At some point, perhaps through the absorbing some of the city’s currently failing schools, the International School contemplates branching out into immersion programs in other subjects, such as the arts or math and science.

The long-range goal, ISL board members and administrators said, is to create a broad-enough elementary student population to create a new high school that may have both a full language-immersion track and another track that accepts students whose training in foreign language has not been as rigorous.

“We need to have a high school that’s coming into play,” said ISL head of school Sean Wilson. “Otherwise, all we’re doing is making — though a significant impact on students we touch — a small social impact that does not improve the quality of education in New Orleans.”

Saturday’s discussion at ISL may reflect an emerging movement among schools around New Orleans with charters from the state to consolidate into different fully-formed networks essentially in competition with traditional public-school systems. Both Firstline Schools and the KIPP system are also expanding rapidly, for example, and ISL board members suggested that a multi-campus model was likely the most sustainable future for their approach as well. Continue reading »

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Mar 262011

Darryl "Dancing Man 504" Young jumps up in the air as he teaches "Heal 2 Toe," a children's dance program, at the Arts Market of New Orleans at Palmer Park Saturday afternoon. Young started the "Heal 2 Toe" program collaborating with New Orleans' best brass bands to teach second-line dance and culture. After the "Heal 2 Toe" program children made Sassy Second-line Fans, the craft project of the day. (Sabree Hill,

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Mar 262011

Hundreds of purple-clad supporters of St. Augustine High School marched a short route through Uptown New Orleans on Saturday morning to protest Catholic officials’ call to end the school’s controversial paddling policy.

The march began from Palmer Park and ended at the Archdiocese of New Orleans offices on Walmsley Avenue. For coverage, see, or and for video.

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