As COVID-19 continues to impact the City of New Orleans, many small businesses have been forced to close altogether or adapt in ways they would never have imagined just a couple months ago. For Simply Dispensary, a local wellness products retailer with locations Uptown, in Mid-City, in the Marigny, and on the West Bank, that meant transitioning into a completely new industry in just a matter of weeks.
Since the beginning of March, Simply Dispensary has harnessed its relationships with suppliers and manufacturers in the U.S. and abroad to provide much needed personal protective equipment (PPE) and hard-to-find supplies—hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, and 3-ply disposable face masks—to restaurants, convenience stores, and other businesses. “When it comes down to it, we are in the business of selling wellness products,” said co-owner and general manager Sean Partridge. “As this outbreak started affecting our city and the people we care about, and you can’t find the supplies you need to stay safe and well anywhere, we knew we had to start offering these products ourselves.” By mid-March, when the City of New Orleans announced the stay-at-home order, Simply Dispensary had already brought in inventory of hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, and hand soap.
New Orleans traditions are here to stay! Every year, Rouses Markets donates millions of pounds of food to local food banks, food pantries, and community fridges. “I appreciate and love the way our stores and the neighborhoods they serve work together to support one another, and make sure that everyone has enough food to eat,” said Marcy Nathan, Rouses Markets’ creative director. Rouses Markets has always supported local nonprofit organizations, schools and churches working to make their neighborhoods better places to live and work. Recently they started a new community initiative, Red Beans & Rouses, in partnership with churches all over New Orleans.
Listening to the radio while driving nine years ago, Alison Parker heard a segment about the book “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” by Elizabeth Cline, and it opened her eyes to the problem of waste and pollution in the fashion and clothing business.
“I knew I could no longer sit on the sidelines and do nothing,” Parker said. Eventually, it lead her to found ricRACK, a nonprofit organization its website describes as “combining creative skill building with environmental responsibility.”
Everything that ricRACK does, Parker said, in some way combats the waste prevalent in the fashion industry, which is estimated be the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply and pollutes the oceans with micro plastics. What’s more, 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year. And when this happens, the dyes and chemicals from the fabrics leach into the ground water and release greenhouse gasses.
To promote the productive recycling of clothes, ricRACK has opened a thrift store in Central City that sells donated clothes as well as those that have been used in films and TV shows, and sponsors a variety of sewing classes. Parker herself worked in the costume department for Cirque du Soleil for five years and then as a costume designer for theater and films, so she has those connections.
New this month is a virtual exhibit that shows how New Orleans has benefited from Black leadership and engagement since the 19th century. Hancock Whitney and the Amistad Research Center at Tulane have partnered to present this curated collection, entitled “The Things We Do for Ourselves: African American Leadership in New Orleans.”
The exhibit uses Google Cultural Institute’s platform to create a virtual expansion of a past physical exhibition at the center. The virtual collection went live in celebration of Black History Month, though it was created as a free, permanent and accessible way to give back to the communities the organizations serve. Christopher Harter, deputy director of the Amistad Research Center, said it is important for the local community to see how African American civic leadership helped shape New Orleans. The purpose of this collection, he said, is “to educate the public about not only the historical materials that are housed in Amistad’s collections, but how these materials are relevant to the questions and issues that we’re facing today.”
The Kellogg Foundation awarded Hoffman Early Learning Center (Hoffman) a two-year grant for $400,000. “These funds will help the center achieve sustainability and to achieve its mission to provide a high-quality, affordable early education to children from a diverse set of socio-economic background,” said Joel Castro, CEO of New Orleans College Prep which operates Hoffman. “We know there is a need for our services, and the support from the Kellogg Foundation will greatly help us further our mission,” said Castro, citing research showing that there are nearly 12,000 low-income families with children ages 0-4 without access to affordable, quality early childcare programs in New Orleans. “Our job is to close the learning gap between low-income students and their more affluent peers,” he said. “We are doing that,” said Hoffman Executive Director Zerlander Ragas.
The WRBH 88.3 FM studios, a landmark on the corner of Magazine and Foucher streets, has a distinctive spot in the broadcasting world. It is the nation’s only full-time FM reading radio service and one of only three such stations in the world, according to its website.
WRBH, also known as “Reading Radio,” turns the printed word into the spoken word so that vision-impaired people can receive the same ease of access to current information as their sighted peers.
Two other stations share that mission: Minnesota Radio Talking Book Network, a sideband service not on the FM dial, and Vision Australia Radio Network. The latter is a network of eight radio stations whose programming and structure are similar to WRBH but do not operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Australian group recently reached out to WRBH to share information, ideas and forge a relationship. The target audience for Reading Radio includes the blind and illiterate, as well as individuals who are unable to read due to illness, spinal cord injuries, eye muscle damage, learning disabilities, lack of access to print media and loss of vision due to age.
The Crescent City (LA) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated presents the first in a series of chapter-hosted webinars. The first webinar, What You Need To Know About Successions, takes place via Zoom this Wednesday, December 9, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Our presenter will be retired Judge Carolyn W. Gill-Jefferson, former Chief Judge for the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans. Media pro Camille Whitworth will moderate the webinar. We encourage you to join us for information that will include understanding the importance of successions:
Protests and demonstrations calling for social justice have continued across the country for months now, including here in New Orleans. Every night, groups in neighborhoods throughout the city come together at 6 p.m. on-the-dot to silently kneel, sit or stand for nine minutes to demand justice for George Floyd, who was murdered by police officers in late May, and to show solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement. “The Kneeling for 9 Minutes movement is bringing together neighbors from all walks of life and various backgrounds who all want to see our country make more progress toward ending systemic racism and creating a more just and equitable society,” said resident Angie Breidenstine, an organizer of one of the Uptown nightly vigils. “Meeting every night is a way to keep the issues visible and central–for ourselves and for our community.”
Purposely gathering on neutral grounds during high-traffic hours at main intersections—such as Oak Street at Carrollton Avenue, Magazine Street at Napoleon Avenue, and Bonnabel Boulevard at Metairie Road — the demonstration is blatantly visible to the hundreds of cars that pass each evening. While some respond with snickers and shouts of opposition from rolled-down windows, most responses come in forms of car honks and chants of support.
The Councilmembers representing the city’s five districts — Joe Giarrusso, Jay H. Banks, Jared C. Brossett, Kristin Gisleson Palmer, and Cyndi Nguyen — will host a free citywide mask giveaway at 10 a.m. this Saturday, June 13. Uptown locations include the Notre Dame Seminary, 2901 S. Carrolton Ave., and Kingsley House, 1600 Constance St. The event is set to provide 16,000 face coverings to the public, many of which are washable and reusable, to prevent further spread of COVID-19. This joint mask giveaway by the five District Councilmembers is their way of encouraging the wearing of masks or face coverings as the City of New Orleans continues its phased reopening. “As New Orleans works to reopen the doors for our local business, industries, and community organizations, many citizens still need face coverings or masks to reduce the likelihood of spreading COVID-19,” said District D Councilman Jared Brossett in a statement.
The seventh annual GiveNOLA Day, an initiative of the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF), is on Tuesday, June 2 from 12:00 am to midnight. This is a 24-hour online giving event for the 13-parish Greater New Orleans region. “Now more than ever, our local nonprofits need your support,” said Greater New Orleans Foundation’s President and CEO Andy Kopplin. “COVID-19 has adversely impacted our region, let’s not let it impact our region’s giving spirit. “The challenges facing our families and neighbors during the COVID-19 crisis only magnifies the need for our nonprofit community to provide the critical resources our region depends on, and after this crisis ends, their work will be that much harder and even more important.”
GiveNOLA Day provides support for over 700 regional nonprofits in the 13-parish region (Orleans, Jefferson, St.
To the untrained eye, it looks like organized chaos. The lunchroom in Booker T. Washington High School, once filled with students, is now populated with HandsOn New Orleans volunteers in constant motion — packing meals into plastic bags, that are placed into boxes, which when filled are placed into cars to go to low-income housebound seniors and people who have medical disabilities. I became a part of that scene seven weeks ago when I signed up to volunteer with the organization. Like many people during the COVID-19 pandemic, I had time on my hands and knew this would be a productive way to help the community. It also got me out of the house and into a social setting with people.