Monday, November 23, 2015

Where to spend money in New Orleans during the holiday season, 3rd Annual Edition

Hey you! Over there, with the disposable income!

Just in time for this holiday season, here's a list of places to spend money in New Orleans where your dollars are going to have positive impact on the local economy.

Consider donating money to the following groups in honor of your sister or whoever, for whatever holiday you observe. It beats that "candles and potholders" gift idea you had for her!

In no particular order:

Health
Trystereo / New Orleans Harm Reduction Network
Provides health supplies, wellness education, wound-care consultations, toiletries, and clothing to drug-users in southeastern Louisiana. Facilitates workshops on safer drug-use, first aid practices, and overdose prevention. Self-funded (no overhead!). Runs a 12-Step Alternative support group for people who feel kinda judged or unwelcome at AA/NA/etc meetings.

Sex Workers Outreach Project
This anti-violence network provides health, legal, and safety information to people engaged in sex work (stripping, escorting, etc)  in New Orleans. It is an important support in an industry where many laborers experience stigma and alienation.

Women with a Vision
Facilitates the empowerment of low-income women of color through legislative advocacy, educational programming, and other initiatives that nobody else is taking up. They do important work around harm reduction for drug-users and sex workers; they're currently running domestic violence support groups as well.

Common Ground Health Clinic
"Solidarity, not Charity" is the motto of this Algiers community-based clinic that focuses care on low-income residents of New Orleans. They also publish and distribute a free (and extremely useful) guide to mental and physical health resources in the GNO area.

Food Justice
Supporting Urban Agriculture
Grows food in the Lower 9th Ward and gives it to the neighbors, sells it to the people who can pay. Kinda evens things out, and promotes healthy eating for everybody.

Community Kitchen
Makes and serves free meals (including vegan and gluten-free options!) for anyone who's hungry. Caters events for other radical groups in the city.

Youth
Break Out
Organizes against police profiling and brutality of queer and transgender youth of color. A totally self-determined group of badass visionary young people.

Apex Youth Center
Originally run by a couple out of their living room, this organization does an awesome job of providing free afterschool care for youth in the city. Kids get snacks, clothes, tutoring, whatever. The older kids are the "mentors." The center is often open to the neighborhood for barbecues and other parties. The founders even negotiated with the police to extend the nighttime youth curfew to kids leaving the Center late at night.

Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools / The Rethinkers
A participatory education group of New Orleans students who reject the school-to-prison pipeline, and the teach-to-the-test pedagogical approach. Instead, they work to make their schools supportive environments for learning and leadership development.

Arts, sports, foreign language, yoga, drama, dance, culinary, etc. classes for youth in New Orleans. This program - formerly called CP3 Afterschool Zone - used to be funded by Chase Bank, but Chase Bank no longer cares about the children of New Orleans. Somehow the program has to fund itself now. You can help!

RUBARB
All-volunteer run bicycle shop that teaches neighborhood kids how to build and repair their own bikes.

LOUD: New Orleans Queer Youth Theater
Queer youth create, design, and perform top-notch theatrical productions. Also produce educational workshops on civil rights and sexual health.

The Prison System, and the People Affected by It
Cornerstone Builders
Free buses to prisons around Louisiana. Help a mama visit her son while he's locked up!

Books 2 Prisoners
Sends free books to people in the South's jails and prisons. 

Voice of the Ex-Offender
Helps formerly incarcerated individuals re-acclimate to society. Provides legal resources, financial management education, and leadership development opportunities. Promotes community education and collaboration around voting rights and interaction with law enforcement.

Resurrection After Exoneration
Say you spent a lot of time in prison for a crime you didn't commit. Then you get released, but you have nowhere to go. This organization will let you live in their house for free! They'll also hook you up with clothing, legal resources, and whatever else you might need.

Housing
Youth Rebuilding New Orleans
Founded by two New Orleans-born brothers in their 20s, this agency engages youth to build houses for public school teachers. They also make room to train and mentor young people doing court-mandated community service.

LowerNine.org
Rebuilds people's houses in the Lower 9th Ward. Pretty simple. The homeowners just pay for the construction materials; volunteers do the rest. On a side note, it's pretty ridiculous that we're still relying on volunteers and donations to rebuild people's houses in the Lower 9th Ward. Let's get it done already.

Survivors Village
Stands up for people whose housing was seized after Katrina for "abandonment," "blight," or other political reasons, when really they just didn't have enough money to come home.

Labor
New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice, specifically:

Congreso de Jornaleros / Congress of Day Laborers
One of the bravest groups around - a union of undocumented workers. These people rebuilt New Orleans after Katrina; now they're being deported. Fuck that. Give them money to access healthcare, education, labor rights, housing, and stable legal standing.

Stand with Dignity
Tirelessly advocates to improve the housing, employment, and educational opportunities for low-income residents of New Orleans. These people were left in deplorable conditions during Katrina, and stood up to (successfully) demand radical changes to the city's shelter and evacuation protocols.

General Community Development
Puentes
Asserts the rights and needs of Spanish-speaking populations in New Orleans. They do stuff like: help clinics translate health flyers; advocate to get interpreters wherever they're needed; link families to information about schools and housing; and hold businesses and social services accountable for working with Spanish-speakers.

Vietnamese Initiatives in Economic Training
Promotes education, economic self-sufficiency, and access to social resources in the Vietnamese communities of New Orleans East. Runs free summer camps for children.

Arts
Ashe Cultural Arts Center
Promotes African, Caribbean, and African-American art and artists. Hosts community groups about health and fatherhood, among other themes.

The successor of the Free Southern Theater, this organization produces and encourages social justice-driven art. Recent productions have concerned the privatization of New Orleans schools, and the experience of displacement in the environmentally fragile Gulf Coast.

A film festival that spotlights the struggles and triumphs of marginalized populations.

A multidisciplinary arts group that produces works around ecological and other civic concerns. Their stellar outdoor "Cry You One" show was performed on the canals and swamps of St. Bernard Parish, highlighting the human consequences of environmental degradation.

A multidisciplinary performance arts group that uses theatre as a tool of healing and recovery. Runs a theatre group at Louisiana's St. Gabriel prison for women.

New Orleans Community Printshop & Darkroom
A low-cost studio space for artist-entrepreneurs. Also runs free workshops for neighborhood kids to learn screenprinting, photography, and zine-making.

Books & Other Things for Purchase
Jala and the Wolves, and the Jaden Toussaint series, by Marti Dumas. Lacking many promising options for literature featuring children of color as the main characters, this New Orleans mom and educator started writing her own books.

Immigrant Dreams & Alien Nightmares, by José Torres Tama. Explores the bilingual, bicultural identity of the author as he poetically documents his own experience of immigration to the United States and in New Orleans.

Mixed Company, by women of color in Louisiana. A collection of writing and visual art that confronts spatial and mental boundaries, and expresses contemporary Black intellectualism.

Floodlines: Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena Six, by Jordan Flaherty. Tells the oftentimes underheard stories of grassroots organizing and collaboration in New Orleans, during and around the time of Hurricane Katrina.

Art, comics, and ephemera, by Ben Passmore. This hyper-talented, hyper-sensitive Black New Orleans-based artist explores masculinity, anarchist theory, and police violence in his playful art.

Also check out:

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Hit up the comments section if you want something included! Thanks to everyone who helped me compile this list by doing the work / shouting out others who do the work.

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