Community Lighthouses begin to shine; hubs will provide aid and energy during disasters

A rousing performance from the Roots of Music marching band kicked off the opening ceremony Saturday (March 25) for the Community Lighthouse project at Bethlehem Lutheran Church on Washington Avenue. An initiative of Together New Orleans, the Community Lighthouse project is envisioned as a citywide network of solar-powered hubs with backup battery capacity throughout the city, so that every New Orleanian is within walking distance of an energy and aid source during power outages. The pilot phase of 24 community lighthouses is expected to be fully operational ahead of the 2023 hurricane season. The event Saturday celebrated the completion of the first two lighthouse:, one at Bethlehem Lutheran and another in Broadmoor Community Church. Together New Orleans is a coalition of faith-based and community institutions all over New Orleans.

Maple Street Starbucks workers hold one-day strike over stalled negotiations

Workers at the Maple Street Starbucks took to the picket line last week for a one-day strike over stalled contract negotiations. When the Maple Street shop unionized in early June, it was part of a meteoric increase in unionized Starbucks across the U.S. After the first store unionized in Buffalo, New York, less than two years ago, 287 stores have successfully held union elections, while another 91 have held elections where the union did not garner enough votes to win. 

The striking Maple Street workers said Starbucks has refused to bargain with the union to establish a contract, which is why they decided to go on the one-day strike. They also said they want full staffing at the coffee shop. 

“We want to be met at the bargaining table and we want Starbucks to stop cutting labor,” one striker said. “We don’t have enough staff to keep up with growing demand at the store.”

As the workers and supporters gathered for the picket line on the sultry Wednesday morning (March 22), cars driving by honked their support. One friend of the organizers passed out bottled water and cups of vegetable soup. 

Rowan Bienes-Allen, sat by the storefront door with a laptop and a sign saying “Ask me about the strike.” So I did. As we spoke, she was asked to move by a manager wearing a Black history month shirt.

Christopher A. Etienne, Sr., Letters from a Father: Gratitude and Pride (sponsored)

Dear, Son:

My faith still is rewarded in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I am proud of your growth, development, and enthusiasm for learning. I have drawn from your youthful energy, and every day I reflect on what you display, which is good humor, courage, and idealism. If anything, you are intelligent and strong, but more importantly, you are kind, thoughtful, and full of passion. Of all that I’ve achieved, I am grateful to be your father.

City changes polling place for some 12th Ward voters

The City Council on Thursday (March 23) approved several location changes due to construction, name changes or buildings becoming vacant. Many of the polling changes are in Uptown’s 12th Ward, which stretches from the river up to Broad Street and from Toledano Street to Napoleon Avenue. It includes part of the Broadmoor and the Milan and Touro-Bouligny neighborhoods. For precincts 1,2,3, 4 and 5 in the 12th Ward, the name of the voting location has changed to Benjamin Franklin Elementary Mathematics & Science School.  The address of the polling location is still 3649 Laurel St. In precincts 6,7 and 8, voters will now cast their ballots at Sophie B. Wright Charter School, 1426 Napoleon Ave.

Viewpoint: The four teens must bear responsibility for their actions in deadly carjacking

The family of Linda Frickey visited her grave this week, a year after the 73-year-old was brutally killed in a Mid-City carjacking. “We want justice for our family member, but it’s not just for Linda. We want this for all elderly people. For all the victims of  juvenile crime,” said Kathy Richard, Frickey’s sister-in-law. 

Three of the Frickey Four — the teenagers who laughed in Frickey’s face as she bled to death on the North Pierce Street on March 21, 2022 — are expected to go to trial in April. Lenyra Theophile, one of the four defendants in the case, was found to be incompetent and too depressed to stand trial.

Colombian pop-up Waska mixes innovation with tradition

New Orleans’ culinary scene isn’t necessarily known for its Colombian food, but one local chef is working to change that. Jose Chris Blanco owns Waska, a Colombian-inspired pop-up that’s been making the rounds of local breweries. Blanco was born in Colombia and grew up in Miami; he considers Waska a tribute to his culture. He’s been cooking for about 13 years and started Waska in 2021, after moving to New Orleans. 

At Waska, Blanco experiments with different flavors inspired by Colombian dishes, but not what Blanco would call “your grandmother’s cooking.” “I play around with a lot of the same ingredients, but I use them differently,” Blanco said.

Poydras Home hosts free organizational event with The Occasional Wife March 23 (sponsored)

Learn from a local professional about downsizing and sharing organizational tips for how to maximize your space! Poydras Home continues our annual speaker series “Poydras Home Conversations” with an upcoming guest lecture from Kay Morrison, owner of The Occasional Wife. On Thursday, March 23, Morrison will share her organizational secrets and the latest tools of the trade for residents, families and neighbors wishing to downsize or simply make the most of their available living spaces. Please plan to join us for this free event from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. Light refreshments will be served. RSVPs are encouraged at or call 504-897-0535.