Tuesday, August 29, 2006


An essay by JASON DePARLE @ NY Times

I spent the Christmas of 1984 in the St. Thomas housing project, a parcel of low-rise New Orleans blight tucked beside the Mississippi River. It was a glorious day. Neighbors sat on stoops with their stereos loud, swapping plates of corn bread and shrimp-stuffed squash. Kids — happy kids — played everywhere, with toys that looked especially new in barren courtyards. Big Wheels, bikes, robots and dolls — they had been liberated from layaway with dollars squeezed from welfare and menial jobs. One mother let her phone service lapse to buy a $100 set of superheroes that her son could not bring himself to like. She laughed and drank a beer. My guide was a teenage tenant, Thomasina Crockett, whose faith in her future had survived the projects for 15 years. “I don’t think God said, ‘Your Mama went out and got pregnant so you have to live in the project,”’ she said. “You can bounce back.”


Photos by Brenda Ann Kenneally

No comments: