HOME, New Orleans?
Collaboration breeds collaboration and they often are intwined. Several offshoots were spawned:
Jan Gilbert with The VESTIGES Project co-founded and served on the Steering Committee of HOME, New Orleans? (HNO?). HNO? was a community-based, arts-focused network of artists, neighbors, organizers, schools and universities that brought diverse constituencies together in long-term collaborations to create positive change in New Orleans. HNO? was committed to forging a healthier New Orleans through art and community activities that moved local participation forward in strengthening, revitalizing and rebuilding community.
HNO? responded to community priorities through neighborhood and community arts projects, memorials, youth theatre workshops, performance and installation art — all that enhances life and creates new opportunities to rebuild community for New Orleans and its residents.
The Four Neighborhood Programs:
The diverse projects and programs of HNO? were firmly situated in four distinct New Orleans neighborhoods, and thus, HNO? took various forms according to the needs and goals of community partners. The following community-based organizations served as the loci for the neighborhood projects:
7th Ward: the Porch 7th Ward Cultural Organization
Central City: Ashé Cultural Arts Center
Lakeview: LakeviewS team: ArtSpot Productions and The VESTIGES Project (with Jan Villarrubia)
Lower 9th Ward: Historic Lower 9th Ward Council for Arts and Sustainability’s Sankofa Marketplace.
HNO? is something that I personally needed as both an artist and a New Orleans native from Lakeview, one of the neighborhoods that was destroyed by the levee failures following Katrina. Jan Gilbert, also a Lakeview native, was steadfastly gathering people and resources to come together around the notion of using the arts, schools, community organizations, and individuals to help rebuild the spirit of New Orleans citizenry, especially in the destroyed areas.
– Kathy Randels
Beginning in 2009, Home, New Orleans? participants took a breath to reflect on the work thus far and produced a booklet that is a selective retrospective on HNO?, including the parties involved, principles embodied by the projects, some challenges encountered in the work, and some lessons learned from the partners’ experiences. This document is intended to serve as a resource for artists, educators, and community leaders seeking a model for employing art as a strategy to build community; and/or for those networking community-based organizations across oft-aligned divides of geography, race, age, and/or class.