In November 2001, I founded the Renaissance Project, marking the formal beginnings of a journey to improve the quality of life in my neighborhood, the Lower Ninth Ward. Since then the Renaissance Project has expanded to embrace low-income communities of color throughout New Orleans.
When I grew up at the corner of Lamanche and Roman, the people in my neighborhood were farmers, school teachers, building contractors, homemakers, nurses, retired seniors (old people), longshoremen, chefs, sitters, grass cutters, jacks of all trades, seamstresses, ministers, barbers, hairdressers, shopkeepers and lots of kids.
Over the course of forty years, the seniors have passed on, the kids have grown up and are becoming old people – most have moved away. Supermarkets and corner grocery stores, florists, dry cleaners, and small businesses have closed. The grass has grown tall.
As our organization celebrates its 10th anniversary, we reconsider how we define ourselves and our work. Our value begins in our human relationships. We identify priorities, design processes and pathways, predict outcomes, then we test our assumptions in vivo—in this living organism that is the community. Our needs, the needs of the working poor, remain the same: access to healthy food, economic opportunity, quality education and opportunities for cultural expression.
Moving forward, the Renaissance Project’s work focuses on building the infrastructure to sustain our work for generations to come. We invite you to join us on this journey.
Health, wealth and well wishes,
President and Executive Director