Earlier this spring, I applied to be one of the volunteers in this year’s Gracenotes Rebuilding the Birthplace of Jazz trip to New Orleans to assist through Habitat for Humanity in the rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. I was delighted and honoured to join this year’s team. I imagined that the week would consist of hard work building on the Habitat site followed by evenings exploring the city and listening to music in a city that was pretty much back on its feet after the devastating storm of August, 2005. The city is exciting and vibrant; it is lauded as one of the most unique cities in the United States and I agree wholeheartedly. Live music pulsed out of every restaurant, bar and café and on every street corner of the French Quarter, Bywater, Marigny, and Treme that I passed. Continue reading
I came on the Gracenotes Rebuilding the Birthplace of Jazz trip with the unique point of view of a former resident of pre-Katrina New Orleans. From the first night, my Berklee teammates asked me what had changed since I had last lived there in the year 2000. Continue reading
Hi I’m Matthias Lupri. Thanks to Berklee and the Gracenotes committee for sending a team once again down to New Orleans. It was a full week to help out with the rebuilding from the devastation of hurricane Katrina, through the organization Habitat for Humanity. I have been here a few times for jazz events, but all prior to this horrible tragedy. It is very clear that much help is still needed here in this very colorful city of French Creole flair.
“Home is the nicest word there is.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder
The notion of home. It’s something most of us take for granted. The literal, structural part, at least. Until now, when I looked at a wall in a house, I saw a wall. I didn’t see the bones that held it, that made it so.
Now, after four days of working on a Habitat for Humanity house in New Orleans’ 7th Ward with a team of Berklee faculty and staff, I am more conscious of the fact that each individual nail has to be put in its place by a human hand. I am more aware of the framing and insulation and drywall. I don’t think I will look at a wall the same again.
But as we nailed and measured and sawed and painted, we knew this wasn’t just about building a house. This was about creating a home for a family who couldn’t otherwise afford one. Working alongside these homeowners was a powerful and moving experience.
In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, particularly New Orleans, which experienced catastrophic flooding and destruction.
Nearly eight years later, the city is still recovering. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity have been indefatigably working to rebuild the city. Habitat currently has nearly two dozen projects going, including a one-story, single-family house in the 7th Ward.
Yesterday morning, a group of Berklee faculty and staff arrived at this house, marking the college’s seventh year pitching in on reparation efforts in the birthplace of jazz. I am lucky enough to have been selected to join this year’s team, composed of Matt Frias, Kathleen Flynn, Benai Kornell, and Matthias Lupri, and led by Gracenotes volunteer committee cochair Maria Goldberg. Berklee staff member Joe Chinni was inspired enough by his experience on the trip a few years ago to come back on his own dime; he and his friend Kevin will be joining the group for two of the four work days.