Benjamin Morris: Spring Cleaning

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Benjamin Morris

Can you believe it’s been two months? The other day, we sat around trading Mardi Gras stories, and it wasn’t long before the bulk of the haul came out. You wouldn’t believe what we found — well, actually, you would. Beads, pounds of them. Stuffed animals, a whole menagerie. Doubloons, beads, pens, koozies, emblems, beads, plastic cups, and dreidels, twice as many again as all of the above, and oh, did I mention the beads? Somewhere in your house, in bags in the utility room or in backpacks in your study, you’ve got them too. So: it’s time for spring cleaning. What are you going to do with all those extra beads?

Here’s an idea: drop them off for recycling.

There are offices all across New Orleans to drop them off — just check their website — but if you live in Uptown, one of the easiest is the ARC office on Nashville and Loyola (just across from SciHigh). As the ARC staff gladly attest, they accept everything — beads, balls, stuffed animals, you name it. The goods are either recycled, repackaged and sold back to the krewes, or used in the on-site day care — but either way, the proceeds return to the organization to benefit their clients with learning disabilities, no matter whether the beads end up in their hands in the facility, or in the hands of the krewe riders the following year.

When I went, on a mid-week morning, the donation table was already nearly full. “We’ll take everything,” Caroline Cottingham assured me, with a massive grin. “Anything you’ve got, we’ll put it to use.”

We took last weekend off for Easter — we hope everyone had a great one, and had a great time at the second-line — but on our return, it’s been a week spent clearing off our desks. In the spirit of spring cleaning, then, there’s one further item on the area noticeboard that deserves bringing out for a little fresh air: a recent article in March/April issue of The Trumpet (starting p. 22), the publication of the Neighborhoods Partnership Network.

If you’ve ever wondered what your local neighborhood leaders do, Tim Garrett, a neighborhood leader in Marlyville-Fontainebleau, explains it here in clear, fair, and inspiring terms. Simply put, they do far more than you think. Engaged citizenship is both a privilege and a responsibility — even if you’re not able to be a leader yourself, make sure you take the time out to appreciate those who do. Every neighborhood has one, but often the behind-the-scenes work makes all the difference, and just as often, it goes unrecognized. Let’s fix that, shall we? It’s easier than clearing a storm drain.

In other news, both the Pop-Up Art Gallery on Maple and the McKenna Museum had openings yesterday, the former by Kenneth McAshan and the latter by Malaika Favorite, a show featuring thirty variations in painting on the American flag. If you’re in the area, be sure to check them out. Next week, in my penultimate column, I’ll be waxing fond over the Fly, a location dear to many hearts; now that the weather is so fine, who wouldn’t want to spend all their time by the river? Just don’t forget to drop your beads off on the way.

Benjamin Morris is the author of Coronary, a poetry collection, and The Bella, a novella. Around town, he can be found catching music on Frenchmen, crawling the galleries on St Claude, playing soccer in City Park, or tending bar at the Sovereign Pub Uptown. His column appears on Sundays. He can be reached at

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