Hey all,

We are half way there! This past week has been the most amazing experience and although  I am getting slightly home sick, its hard to feel home sick when everyone here makes you feel so at home. I do miss my momma’s home cooking,  some cabbage rolls or kopitki would be amazing right now– I think I have ate my fair share of beans and mac and cheese for a life time.

This past week has been a whirlwind, from working with St. Bernard Project to driving to Stephensville to sandbag and our swamp tour. Everywhere we go everyone is so kind and welcoming, southern kindness is not a myth or an exaggeration!

Our trip to Stephensville was quite the amazing experience, from the people we met, the places we saw and the work that we did. The residents that we met were all so grateful for our presence their and the work that we were doing, which made the bagging of sand feel so important and beneficial. I even got to climb up on a sandbagging contraption (yes that is the best name I can think of for it) and was shoveling/digging/pushing through a huge sand pile in order for it to release into the bags.  It sounds boring but the people we had there made it entertaining and satisfying, I also got a lot of sun, which is a nice change from Toronto’s month of rain.

The reason all the work we have done so far is due to the joy that the citizens here show from seeing a Canadian face (not that you can differentiate us from Americans) and from finding out about the work we are doing. Even in the French Quarter many people are interested in what we are doing and where we have come from. Especially so at the Bayou Boogaloo everyone was very interested in what we were doing even though it had nothing to do with out project and trip. What was interesting was that even at this mini jazz fest we saw a group from LSU planting grasses in the river. We went down and spoke to them about what they were doing and it hit me then that there are constant attempts to revitalize this city even while all of the tourist attractions are happening. Just a little background by the way- the reason the replanting of these grasses is so important is that it works like a bayou by slowing down the speed of a hurricane to decrease the damage that occurs when a hurricane does hit. It is strange to see the stark contrast between the part of the city that has moved on after Katrina and the part that is still trying to revitalize the protection that the city once had. This contrast could literally be seen when standing on the bridge and on one side there were the LSU students planting grass and then on the other side a tourist and city-dweller ridden festival with music, food and shoppes set up. The money making part of the city is necessary in order to support the large tourist income that the city gets but also these grasses are necessary to keep the city available for tourists to visit. It is a strange cycle and one that requires priority to be placed where it may not immediately benefit residents especially those in the Ninth Wards.

signing off for Team Hardie Backer!

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