Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Neal Walker's Harmonica

Neal's fiancée and nephew were kind enough to let me borrow Neal's harmonica last night so that I could draw it.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Official News About Memorial's for Neal

The memorial in New Orleans has been relocated.

Family, friends and colleagues are invited to the Memorial Service for R. Neal Walker, to be held at: Venusian Gardens, 2601 Chartres Street (cnr Chartres & Franklin) New Orleans La.on Saturday, February 3, 2007 at 3:30pm with an Open House to follow at Neal’s home, just around the corner. All are welcome.In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center, www.thejusticecenter.org/lcac/donations. Donations will be applied to the LCAC Client Welfare Fund to improve the lives of those Neal worked to save.

To all of Neal's friends
From: Anna, Neal's fiance.

Neal was a beautiful, intelligent, loving man. I loved him with my whole heart. Our hearts are broken.

I find it difficult to put words to our loss. Please keep us in your thoughts.

There will be two memorial celebrations.

New Orleans:
Date: February 3rd (now post-memorial gathering)
Place: 2616 Royal Street
Corner of Franklin

Lexington KY:
Date: February 10th
Time: 3:30PM
Place: 612 Central Avenue
Near corner of Old Park and Central

Please pass this on. Thank you.

Anna amaanna@gmail.com

Friday, January 26, 2007

Jazz Funeral for Helen

Kittee sent this along for all to see:

Hey, ya'll! We're gonna do Helen up right with a big old jazz funeral in New Orleans. Can you believe it?
The procession starts at Paul and Helen's old place at 3438 Cleveland St. on Saturday, February 24. The procession forms at 12:30 p.m. and rolls at 1:00 p.m. sharp.
We're planning on two brass bands, a vegan cupcake wagon parade, and, of course, Ernie K-Doe's hearse. We'll head up Angela Davis Parkway, then toward the river on Orleans Ave., then up N. Claiborne Ave. We'll disband at the Mother-in-Law Lounge, 1500 N. Claiborne Ave., where we'll unwrap the cupcakes for an official tea party as well as shang-a-lang-a to some really cool tunes. So come on out -- we'll remember Helen and help try to put ourselves and our crazy city back together again.
For more info about the jazz funeral, email dazee at dkoen_2000 [at] yahoo [dot] com. For more info about joining the vegan cupcake brigade, email kittee at kittee68 [at] yahoo [dot] com. Helen, we love and miss you, baby.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Neal Walker, Rest in Peace

This is a picture that Billy and I always have up in our house. Neal's on the harmonica.

Photo by Ana Arien

Monday, January 22, 2007

So Sad

I am very sad. We lost another friend in an accident last night.

Monday, January 15, 2007

David Koen talks about Helen on NPR

Listen or read here. You should really listen.

Many, Many Photos from the New Orleans Enough! March

Miranda Lake was kind enough to take photos for me to post here. I was still en route from the funeral and recovering from a mean chest cold that rendered me voiceless. Thank you Miranda.

Many people complained about the racial make-up of the crowd. I just want to point out that it is pretty difficult to come out for a march that was planned quickly and takes place at 11 a.m. during a work day. When I taught in public schools, it was a good parent-teacher conference turn out if five families came in. Most people work -sometimes two or three jobs. I can't imagine you can tell your boss that you'll be leaving work for a demonstration.

David Koen and Kittee bee-lined it from So. Carolina, beginning the drive at around 5 p.m. on Wednesday and managing to get to the march in time. Here's David, below, wearing a strip of cloth that Kittee tied on his arm from the material she used to make her Helen vegan cupcake banner:

Francine, thank you for leaving this sign for us at our door. It was good to come home to:

People marched by neighborhood. Mine is Central City, which according to many accounts, received a hero's welcome when they arrived at City Hall. Central City was the first neighborhood to be super plagued with murders after the storm. The so-called "Triangle of Death" is within the bounds of this very large neighborhood.

Central City:

From a March 21, 2006 Nolanik post:

Central City at the march, continued...

Bywater, one neighborhood downriver from Marigny:


The Irish Channel:

Read these signs:

Ruthie Monday XXXIV

Well, It's time to get some normalcy going on up in here. So I will resume Ms. Norma's Ruthie Mondays.

She posed for about 2 seconds in this ribbon on Christmas day...

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Fun Short Film Projects by Helen and Paul

For the past few years, Helen made a wee film for Halloween to be posted at the Gothtober website. Paul sang nice songs for these. They are useful for cheering yourself up!

Check them out by clicking these links and then clicking on October 9th:

Gothtoberfest 2005

Gothtoberfest 2006

Click the 2nd for

Gothtoberfest 2004


Gothtoberfest 2003

I think you'll like them.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Helen Hills' Funeral, and Kittee's Vegan "Helen Cupcakes"

Click on photo for larger image

This is the cover of Helen's Funeral Program. The illustration is from one of her movies -the one about her grandfather's funeral, which took place in the same church.

Kittee was a close, dear friend of Helen's, she was a pall-bearer for her. We went to the church early so that Kittee could put out a special vegan Helen Cupcake banner for everyone to see and taste:

On the way to the church

Waiting to get into the church...
The process...

Helen would have thought that was so pretty, Kittee. ..and yummy.

How to Help the New Orleans Community

People have been emailing me, asking where to donate money to New Orleans. Having been a public school teacher for a decade, both in NYC and here in New Orleans, I have formed strong opinions about the benefits of creative expression in building confidence and providing an outlet for inner city youth.


Here are my first-thought suggestions, below. I will provide a permenant link to this page in my links column on this blog. I will also add to these when I can. Feel free to post comments with more suggestions of community-based organizations that may not otherwise be in the press. I know that I hve not even begun to include effective neighborhood community centers here, or sports or music based programs.

I have worked with YA/YA on an art project that included almost 100 portraits of incarcerated loved ones painted by elementary students at The Craig School in Treme. The work was a backdrop for a press conference held by Critical Resistance South. These Ya/Ya folks are good people.

Ashé is a group that takes in folks, mostly from the Central City area (my neighborhood) of Nola in order to help them find creative outlets for expression, no matter the age.

Café Reconcile rocks. They take in kids and teach them how to cook and then put them to work in a real café with EXCELLENT down home food here in Central City.

KIDsmARt is an organization that provides an arts school for afterschool. They take in kids from troubled backgrounds or creative kids in general, providing support and confidence building for the students. I have sent a creative, but troubled student down there (randomly, without following their usual protocol for admitting students) and they welcomed her with open arms. Her confidence has improved drastically and her talents are developing rapidly.

NOCCA is the school for super creative kids where Helen has popped in and out, helping kids learn that you do not have to be a technical genius to make excellent films. She was about to start helping out in film studies more consistently as a staff member before she left us. The school employs local artiststs to work with students, which I feel is a great, inspirational example for them. The need for this school here, in a city where creativity abounds, goes without saying. It is a wonderful place.

The Neighborhood Story Project started with the idea of sending public highschool students into their own neighborhoods to interview the community and put together books of writing, filled with interviews, about the distinct character of each. The importance of talking to neighbors and learning their histories and personalities is an invaluable lesson to youth of today, who are often isolated from these types of connections.

The New Orleans Kid Camera Project is a brilliant way for kids to process the visual trauma of living in New Orleans. The project began after Katrina, but the visual trauma started for these kids long before the storm, and I hope that this program continues to provide this forum for expression for children of our communities.

KID smART is a nonprofit 501 c.3 organization, created to teach positive life skills to children through the performing and visual arts. KID smART programs involve intensive, quality instruction by professional artists who have experience working with under-resourced children. Instruction is challenging and dynamic, allowing children to think in new ways, explore new mediums and investigate themselves and the world in which they live.

Café Reconcile

In 1996, under the leadership of the late Rev. Harry Tompson, S.J., a group of concerned people of faith gathered together to began a course of prayer, study, research, observation and dialogue regarding the witnessed challenges facing out-of-school youth in New Orleans. The newspapers, police reports, television news, research and personal experiences all pointed to a multitude of young lives spiraling into destructive and violent behaviors.

In an effort to stem that tide, to effect a glimmer of hope in the near-downtown community of Central City, this group of concerned and motivated people began the planning and research necessary to establish a safe and supportive place where at-risk youth could have the option of receiving the life, work and educational skills necessary to turn their lives on a productive path toward thriving and complete citizens of this city.

The New Orleans Kid Camera Project was created to address the psychological and emotional impacts of Hurricane Katrina on children returning home to New Orleans. Through the use of photography, creative writing and mixed media, children from flooded neighborhoods explore their environment and express themselves, their stories and feelings with their friends. This project provides a venue for growth and recovery. By teaching the children tangible skills and exposing them to new means of expression, we hope to empower them to impact their lives and environment.

YA/YA (Young Aspirations/Young Artists), Inc. is a non-profit arts and social service organization whose mission is to provide educational experiences and opportunities that empower artistically talented inner-city youth to be professionally self-sufficient through creative self-expression.

Since it's founding in 1988, the YA/YA studio-gallery has provided young artists who have limited access to educational resources and career opportunities the chance to apprentice with professional artists, create public artworks, design merchandise, serve as cultural ambassadors, work as project managers, and mentor others in the arts.

YA/YA has received extensive media exposure with features in Fortune, Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Elle Décor, and ArtNews, as well as MTV's House of Style, Sesame Street, and NBC's Today show.

In 2002, YA/YA was a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show as a recipient of the Angel Network "Use Your Life Award."

Ashé is a gathering place for emerging and established artists to present, create and collaborate in giving life to their art. For those who felt compelled to choose more mainstream existence at earlier points in their lives, Ashé is a reclaiming harbor that welcomes them with open arms. Ashé is a magnetic force that first attracts and then activates the artistic, creative and entrepreneurial possibilities available in our community.

We work to involve the entire community, from children to elders, in our planning and creative efforts. We celebrate the life and cultural traditions of the community, and then we immortalize them in our art. Storytelling, poetry, music, dance, photography, and visual art all are a part of the work we do to revive the possibility and vision of a true " Renaissance on the Boulevard." Our name ASHÉ - a Yoruban word that translates closely to AMEN - So let it be done - The ability to make things happen, bears testimony to our commitment and intention to accomplish our goals.

The New Orleans Center for Creative Arts|Riverfront is a world-class educational institution that has been changing the lives of young people since 1973. Every year, this pre-professional arts training center provides intensive instruction in dance, media arts, music (classical, jazz, vocal), theatre arts (drama, musical theatre, theatre design), visual arts, and creative writing, to students from public, private, and parochial schools across Louisiana through schoolday, after-school, weekend, and summer sessions.