Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Classless Bureaucrats

I never understood why I saw this sign was on every street corner in the Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans, amidst the devastation and tragedy.

Sign says: We Cut Tall Grass

Don’t these people have enough to contend with without worrying about the state of their lawns? Hear what Mack, the visionary leader of the Lower 9th Ward Village, has to tell you about this:

After all these people have been through, you would think the local government would be happy to cut their grass for them, seeking any way to help them return to their homes.

It defies the imagination how these bureaucrats can have the audacity to actually fine displaced people, their own people, who paid their taxes their whole life under the illusion that their government was there to help them when they needed it.

Mack tracks where his neighbors are settled.The sign hangs on the outside of the community center so that no one will forget.

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

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One thought on “Classless Bureaucrats

  1. Glad you wrote this. I visited in 2006 (around JazzFest) and helped out with a few organizations during that trip. I couldn’t believe how things were after 5 months had passed. Then I moved there in late 2009 and was still shocked that the city was, by and large, recovering. I mean, all the “white” areas were okay and lookin’ good… but go beyond those areas and things had not changed that much. I also noticed that in the Marign area, a certain type of people were coming in and dislocating those who should be moving back. (I admit being one of these people, but I wasn’t just there to party and be a hipster.) Because of this influx of wealthier tenets, rent was sky rocketing in that area. So those who wanted to come back to their homes and neighborhoods, couldn’t even think about it because the rents were so ridiculous. That city is very near and dear to my heart and, while some change is bringing back life to the city and therefore money, I don’t agree with all of it. That being said, being there during the Saint’s Superbowl win was the best time of my life. WHO DAT!

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