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St. Roch raises the question: Can’t we just all get along?

For a city that is really quite small, it’s amazing the number of geographic sectors we have. Even more amazing are the number of unique neighborhoods within each sector. But, for me, most amazing of all is that within the neighborhoods, there are distinct residential groups who have hardly any communication with one another.

I remember when I first moved here, more years ago than I care to remember, I wasn’t just advised about which street to look at when thinking of buying a house. Oh no, it was which block on that street.

Now I’ve lived here 40 years. There, I’ve said it. And, in my opinion, things haven’t changed a whole lot.

So why am I not surprised, as I cover what’s happening in the St. Claude/St. Roch area, to be told that residents on the river side of St. Claude Avenue and those on the lake side of the street don’t exactly connect? On the river side are the eclectic Bywater and Marigny neighborhoods, leading to the French Quarter; on the lake side lie the more economically challenged neighborhoods still reeling from extensive flooding, blighted property and a city seemingly indifferent to those challenges.

Not much brings these folk together. But a group of people – from both sides of St. Claude, as well as other areas all across town – have decided to change that dynamic, and in a rather unusual way. They are creating a healing center in the hope that, in this new post-Katrina world, very different people from very different walks of life can get together for positive change and experience.

In many ways, it is the very essence of pioneering. To some, the project is exciting; to others, it’s the height of naïveté. See what you think: Read about it here.

Sharon Litwin writes for NolaVie about the cultural community of New Orleans. Wednesday: An artist deserts St. Roch.


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