Make It Right Houses on Tennessee in the Lower 9th

Make It Right Houses on TennesseeI picked up my touring bike from R. this afternoon and planned to ride home and then get some work done. But once I got on the bike, I just wanted to keep riding. I headed out on St. Claude Avenue via the lovely bike lane and then over the Industrial Canal to the Lower 9th. I rode around the Holy Cross neighborhood, listening to the sounds of construction as people continue rebuilding. I then headed out to St. Bernard Parish, through Arabi and over to Chalmette. The devastation and the rebuilding look really different just a couple of blocks into the Parish in just the ways you might expect. After a long ride I headed back to  New Orleans up E. Judge Perez Drive. I saw burned-out buildings, strip malls under construction, a hopping Home Depot, and, unfortunately, a three car accident (everybody seemed ok). As I reached the Canal I noticed the Make It Right houses over on Tennessee. I hadn’t seen them before. I was prepared to be cynical, but they were really cool–space-age shapes and colors, solar panels, big porches. It must be odd to live in those houses, though, when people–like me, for instance–are treating your neighborhood like a tourist attraction. Finished homes had signs out front reading “private residence,” I assume because people are often there, trying to get a closer look. I took a break at the ritzy playground installed right behind the house in this picture. This playground is crazy, for sure. There are these seats that you sit in and they spin you around. Some of the apparatuses are electronic, tracking what, I’m not sure. A little kid cam and joined me for awhile. I talked him in to joining me on the see-saw while we chatted about his band practice (he plays the drums), whether or not I get scared riding my bike over bridges, and, of course, where we live (me, Uptown, him, Desire). His cousin lives in one of the kooky Make It Right houses. He thinks, in that yellow one. But, in his words, they all look the same. The don’t look the same to me at all. They each look all futuristic and, you know, architectural, to me. But after looking around I could see where he was coming from. Yep, how that neighborhood looks depends, like everything else, on what you’ve been taught to notice.

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