Kaid Benfield Archive


More on the Ninth Ward: Musicians’ Village strikes an optimistic chord

Kaid Benfield

Posted October 20, 2009 at 1:31PM

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  the area after Katrina (by: Musicians' Village)  the area after Katrina (by: Musicians' Village)

  Musicians' Village takes shape in 2007 (by: Musicians' Village)

Last week's post on the architecture of the Make It Right Foundation's new homes in New Orleans brought some thoughtful comments, and it brought even more when I reposted it on another site that I also frequent.  One of the commenters on the other site mentioned another project in the Ninth Ward that seems immensely promising.  Check out the photos.

I'm particularly pleased to see Musicians' Village materialize, because my own charitable donations related to Katrina were directed toward helping the music community there.  From the project's website:

Musicians' Village in the making (by: Musicians' Village)"Musicians' Village, a cornerstone of the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity (NOAHH) post-Katrina rebuilding effort, is designed to both construct a community and preserve a culture. Conceived by New Orleans natives Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis, Musicians' Village will provide a home for both the artists who have defined the city's culture and the sounds that have shaped the musical vernacular of the world.

"The core idea behind Musicians' Village is the establishment of a community for the city's several generations of musicians and other families, many of whom had lived in inadequate housing prior to the catastrophe and remain displaced in its aftermath. A central part of this vision is the establishment of a focal point for teaching, sharing and preserving the rich musical tradition of a city that has been done so much to shape the art of the past century. The concept was quickly embraced by NOAHH, the organization that has developed a model for building single-family homes that low-income families may purchase with zero-interest financing. In keeping with its commitment to build not just homes but communities, NOAHH has given its support to an effort that redefines neighborhood revitalization.

resident Charice Harrison-Nelson leads the parade (by: Musicians' Village)"Musicians' Village is being constructed in the Upper Ninth Ward, where an eight-acre parcel of land was initially selected for the construction of 72 single-family homes built by volunteers, donors, sponsors and low-income families. As of September 2007, all 72 homes have either been completed or are under construction. In one of the project's innovative features, Musicians' Village will also provide elder-friendly duplexes for the senior members of the community, and, as of September 2007, drummer Bob French and guitarist Little Freddie King, have moved into their apartments.

"Another important innovation in the Musicians' Village effort is the inclusion of the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music . . ."

They have tons of information on the site, and lots more photos.  They also have two excellent videos that capture the project well.  The first, a local news report, tells the story from the point of view of one of the residents; the second is narrated by project co-founder Harry Connick, Jr.  (Note that clicking on them takes you away from the blog; they aren't configured to be embedded here.)

  video: "A Dream Becomes Reality"  Harry Connick, Jr. looks back on Musicians' Village