Monday, May 7, 2007

Building Homes With A Grammy Winner

I'll be spending most if not all of my month working at the Musicians' Village. It is located in the Upper Ninth Ward, which was under 4 to 6 feet of water during Katrina. Each home is built upon concrete blocks to the Katrina waterline, so that if a similar storm strike, it won't be flooded.

The Musicians' Village will consist of 71 single-family homes and 5 duplexes, a small park, and a community center, which is meant for music lessons, meetings, after-school programs. Most of the village is built upon the site of a former middle school that was demolished in the 90s and had lain vacant.

Today I worked with Travelocity contest winners who were sent to New Orleans for a weekend of Jazz Fest and a day of working for Habitat for Humanity alongside Grammy Award-winner Joss Stone. Joss, her sister, and four others including myself put hurricane straps up on the homes walls- thin metal straps that reinforce the studs to the top beams of the walls. She worked for only the morning but did actually work, putting up plenty of hurricane straps- although a photographer documented every hammer swing. Celebrity volunteering occurs fairly regularly and is, for better or worse, an effective way to raise awareness about rebuilding.

Two of those others, Kevin a Republican from Austin, Texas, and Tod, a Green Party supporter from San Diego, were my main partners. We joked that we had a "tri-partisan effort." We finished the hurricane straps, and then worked on putting up some siding until another small group was ready for our help in raising a truss onto the roof, which we then fastened. This was their only day volunteering- most volunteers come for a day to a week. Bit by bit, day by day, homes are built.


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