The New Orleans Healing Centres grand opening was Sunday August 28th, 2011! The way I see the centre…it’s sort of like an enhanced community centre that seeks to unite the surrounding 7 neighbourhoods to promote community revitalization. Altogether, the centre offers over 20 stores, projects and services that are divided into 5 categories on their website: 1) Arts and Performance 2) Community and Environment 3) Wellness and Wholesome Food 4) Spirituality and Learning and 5) Services. While I was in New Orleans I got to go to the Healing Centre’s grand opening, talk to some of its tentants about the progress and even help out a bit by volunteering at the Food Co-op. I would like to share what I learnt while I was there, but be sure to also check the website as well @
1) Arts and Performance
Cafe Istanbul Performance Theatre: Cafe Istanbul offers a performance stage with seating, a bar, balconies and great acoustics! If anybody recalls my 2nd blog: “A taste of the culture”, the jazz show that I say I saw at the New Orleans Healing Centre was in Cafe Istanbul. Along with being used for concerts and musical performances, this space can also be used for plays, movie screenings and community meetings. I look forward to seeing many more performances at this venue in the future!
The Gallery Spaces: The Gallery Spaces program makes use of all the empty wall space in the Healing Centre by displaying local art. Different art pieces are displayed for 1-2 months before being put up in the Crossroads Arts Bazaar for sale. Part of the proceeds also go to the Healing Centre to help maintain the facilities. This is a great program because it brings life to the centre instead of the walls being empty and it supports both local artists and the centre! Below is some of the art I saw in The Gallery Spaces:
Also under the Arts and Performances section was: The Movement Room Dance Studio and Crossroads Arts Bazaar, but I didn’g get to check these out so go to the website if you’re interested in learning more.
2) Community and Environment
I don’t know if no one under this section was there that day, or if I just got there too late and missed them…but I didn’t really get to check out anything that was available under this section. However, this group does include:
1) Build Now (helps return residents with financing)
2) Full Circle Women’s Collective (women helping women help themselves)
3) Guardian Angels and NOPD (NGO crime patrol and New Orleans Police Department)
4) Community Outreach (provides vouchers for those in need)
5) Building Block (provides warehouse or office space)
6) Earthlab ( I believe this is the garden outside and is used for projects dealing with soil health, food production and storm water management)
3) Wellness and Wholesome Food
FOOD CO-OP!: The way I have come to understand the Food Co-op, is that they are independent grocery store that is owned by the community, for the community. A few of their many missions include: promoting local and regional food production, keep capital and jobs in the community and provide access to healthy food at a fair price. Where things get a little different is that people in the community can buy a membership to the Food Co-op. This membership gives part ownership of the Food Co-op, special discounts, eligibility to serve on the Board and vote in elections, and a profit at the end of the year from the patronage refund program.
When I was there with CINT912 in May we were able to deliver many pamphlets to the community and convince many people to sign up for membership. Well, we didn’t really have to convince them; a lot of people were thrilled to hear a grocery store was coming close by and wanted to know more about it. I still remember it was N Villere Street I pamphleted between Elysian Fields Avenue and Press Street. A few of the community members my classmates talked even came to the Food co-op meeting that night, it was really great to see.
The second time around in August I helped put together almost a lot of the shelving. I really liked being able to see all of the progress that has happened since May, especially the murals outside on the wall which look beautiful. Unfortunately the Food Co-op was not able to open on Aug. 28, but were set to open Oct. 1 as you will see in one of the pictures below. If you are ever in New Orleans try to check out the Food Co-op and “make your groceries” there.
Affordable Healing Arts: Provides fair cost healing for victims of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. You can read more about PTSD in Tanya’s post here: http://toronto2nola.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/disasters-and-post-traumatic-stress-disorder/
Downtown Fitness: Includes a gym, cardio room, saunas, and many different stretch classes. The thing I really liked about this gym is that it not only offers day and month passes like regular gyms, but also offers week membership. This is perfect for travellers that will only be in New Orleans for a little while as well!
Optimal Wellness 55: Provides vitamins and nutraceutical prescriptions. What I found interested about this vendor was that him and his wife were sponsored by Kiva. Kiva is a website helps people give micro-loans to people around the world to start-up a business, but I did not know they were active in the United States.
Also under the Wellness and Wholesome section was: Fabush Restaurant and Wild Lotus Yoga, but I didn’t get to check these out so go to the website if you’re interested in learning more.
Spirituality and Learning
Island of Salvation Botanica: This Vodou shop is run by Sallie Ann and as her site says, is nothing like the hockus pockus voodoo stores you’ll find throughout the city for tourists. Visit her if you want to know more about Vodou or the religion and culture of the area in general.
Street University: Offers 4 classrooms that can accommodate up to 20 students each for learning anything that anyone in the community has to offer. If you have a practical skill that you can teach people, you can rent out one of the rooms and classes go every evening from 6-9pm. A few examples of classes going on right now include: acting, french, political conspiracies, cpr. When the classes are not in use they are also open to be rented for meetings or many other events.
Also under the Spirituality and Learning section was: Interfaith Centre and Maple Street Books, but I didn’t get to check these out so go to the website if you’re interested in learning more.
I did not get a chance to check out ASI Federal Credit Union of Worldwide Concepts Vacations, so check either of these out on the website if you are interested.
Hope you all enjoyed this blog! Sorry again it took so long for me to get it out to y’all, but as you have seen it is quite lengthy and I lost it half way through the first time around.My next blog will be on Katrina 6th Year Anniversary events including Mr. Christie’s welcoming home party!!!
Bryan McGill (Envs. Studies @ Yorku)