The Lens retracts opinion piece regarding St. Claude Ave. parkettes

The Lens is retracting and apologizing to Candy Chang for an opinion piece about “parkettes” on St. Claude Avenue that appeared in this space Thursday.

The article contended that  Chang, the co-founder of the design company Civic Center, is pushing an effort to build “parkettes” along St. Claude Avenue. This is not true. Civic Center is involved in a separate effort along St. Claude that was financed by the same grant that is supporting parkettes. In fact, the St. Claude Avenue Main Street organization is working to develop parkettes. Further, the piece implied that Chang or Civic Center is going to collect “a large portion” of the $275,000 grant. That is not true.

The Lens regrets the errors.




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  • Amy

    Despite these corrections, the opinion piece still brought up some interesting points about the grant and how it might be used. Too bad the whole piece had to be removed.

    Also, to just say that Chang is not going to collect “a large portion” of the 275,00 grant kind of leaves us hanging…why doesn’t Chang tell us how much she’s getting and we, the people in the neighborhood, will decide for ourselves if it’s “a large portion.”

  • It was revealed in June at the St. Claude Ave. Main Street community meeting that Candy Chang was the intended recipient of $90,000 of the Art Place grant(that’s almost 1/3 by my math). This was announced directly by Alan Williams, Civic Center’s “Senior Community Manager”, who helped moderate the meeting. Ostensibly Ms. Chang’s participation was the catalyst for the grant since St. Claude Main Street, at this date still not an official 501c3 organization, has a track record of failed attempts at managing and disbursing money from its past incarnation as a community organization.

  • I would like to amend my comment with an apology to Mr. Williams. Alan is an adept and capable newcomer, among so many others, but apparently does not work for Civic Center. I do stand by my notes regarding Ms. Chang’s participation in the St. Claude Main Street grant however and perhaps Ms. Chang might like to emerge and enter the conversation. Consider this a post it note: “I wish this was a transparent issue.”

  • I regret the confusion caused by Ms. Horn’s article. It could have easily been avoided if she — or The Lens — contacted me or my Civic Center colleagues with any questions about our role. To be clear: Parkettes are not my idea or initiative, let alone a “pet project” of mine. They are an initiative of St. Claude Main Street, the organization that received the grant from ArtPlace.

    My company, Civic Center, is a design studio in the Bywater that has been hired by St. Claude Main Street to assist in developing a series of educational programs and print/digital materials in collaboration with the schools and galleries around St. Claude. I am not receiving a “consulting fee”. $30,000 of the grant proposal was allocated to Civic Center for design, production, materials, curriculum development, and management of this work. We will be lucky to break even. We chose to get involved in this project because we wanted to help support our community. My partner, James A. Reeves, has experience in developing art education programs and will be leading much of this effort. You’re welcome to contact him with any questions, concerns, or suggestions at james@civiccenter.cc. We’d be happy to hear your thoughts as we get started on the development of this project next month.

    Regarding the “parkettes,” I believe St Claude Main Street’s intentions are good: to support physical improvements for St Claude Avenue that will be determined by the community, whether that may be trees, better lighting, benches, bike racks, etc. You can contact them to learn more.

    The Before I Die toolkits were created due to demand, and they are sold at-cost plus $10. All files can also be downloaded for free if people would like to make their own stencils. Many of my projects, including Before I Die, are not self-sustaining. I give talks at conferences to fund my projects.

  • Re: The Neighborland colonizers and St. Claude Main Street II. I think that there are a few things in need of explanation. First, who is Michael Martin, what is his “demonstrated accomplishment”, how long has he lived here, and exactly why has he been hired to save us? This is the “New Orleans Blank Slate” concept writ large. There is a direct line of comparison between this kind of false community improvement and that of Marigny residents, (most of whom comprise the leadership of St. Claude Main Street), who protested the Black Men of Labor Civil Rights Mural to the HDLC. (Is a new movement necessary- “Marigny Out of Bywater!”?) For residents who are not college educated, who have no interest in art beyond their kids’ school drawings, who simply live lives of quiet dignity, going to church, (yes actually worshipping in a church! How quaint!) going to to work and raising a family in our neighborhoods, this kind of wrangling goes on way off the radar. Then housing prices rise. Then they have trouble affording their own neighborhoods. Then they leave, taking history, culture, and authenticity with them and we are all the poorer for it. This is what the colonizers fail to realize as they flood in from elsewhere to “help” with catch phrases and magic solutions instead of FIRST doing the hard work like establishing plans for low income home ownership. As for Ms. Candy Chang Inc. I apologize that the $30,000 you are skimming from the Art Place grant isn’t enough to pay your bills, I will immediately take up a collection at Markey’s Bar on your behalf, but I doubt that anyone who actually lives in Bywater asked you to run up those bills in the first place. On the other hand I hear Pittsburgh is nice this time of year…

  • Don

    Skip, are you okay?

  • JL

    Skip, that was beautiful! thanks man!!! this situation is pushing me to think about leaving my home almost daily ;(

  • I am simply someone who wants to live and raise my kids in a neighborhood, diverse economically, racially, and culturally, and NOT a “scene”. And thanks Don, for caring. Meanwhile, raise your hand if you know that NOCCA, whose Board is strongly influenced, if not totally controlled by uptown monied interests (and here he is again, Sean Cummings), is quietly working to warp the Master Plan and change the Press Street corridor from parks and green space to anything and everything “mixed use low density” zoning. No one has to look further than a $3000 per month apartment in Mr. Cummings’ luxury Rice Mill development to guess who will be making big money off of that little maneuver. But who really needs that grassy, non-money making green space? After all it was just a useful lie to get the original Master Plan passed anyway. Park-ette anyone? A meeting to discuss this little issue is scheduled for August 21st, 7 p.m. at Holy Angels, 3500 St. Claude in Bywater if anyone cares to find out more about what’s going on behind the curtain.

  • Eva

    I was the manager of St Claude Main Street from May of 2009 to June of 2011. During that time we were under the federal Main Street program, administered under the office of Lt Governor and we were eligible to receive grant money that covered the manager’s salary and $3000 worth of façade grants every year, provided we followed the guidelines and filed the necessary paperwork.
    During my tenure the board only consisted of one Marigny person, Chris Costello, who was the treasurer of St Claude Main Street and the president of FMIA. After Costello assaulted me the board voted to have him removed from St Claude Main Street and because the grant year ended in June and our 5 year grant availability window ended in 2011 I left, needing full time employment.
    It is my understanding that one requirement to be a federally designated Main Street the organization must employ a full time manager. The designated area of the official St Claude Main Street was from Elysian Fields to Press St and the purpose of the federal program is to invigorate dying main streets across the United States. This is another requirement of the privilege of being a Main Street. Your programs and the results must be indicated in your grant paperwork.
    There were originally six Main Streets in New Orleans, they began after Katrina and were the only ones in the state that were not funded by city government. The original six were St Claude, Oak, O.C. Haley, Rampart, Broad and Old Algiers.
    You can search for Louisiana Main Street and see the Mission Statement and the above mentioned requirements. I noticed that all of the six New Orleans Main Streets are listed even though not all of them are presently up and running.

  • Jules B.

    Preach it, Skip Henderson! backed 100%

  • John McSweeney


    I’ll agree it’s easy to toss around these Yankee newcomers as carpetbaggers. Because it’s easy to get nervous and feel “our” way of life is being threatened by “those people”. Some of these fears are valid with folks like
    http://www.nola.com/arts/index.ssf/2011/04/artist_mel_chin_defends_his_sa.html http://www.thenation.com/article/155212/doing-time-paul-chan . Mel Chin, Paul Chan, Sean Cummings, and Pres Kabacoff (last 2, native boys)

    And now here come more of “these” dang artists, Real Estate agents, VCs, MFAs, ironic mustache hipsters, etc. moving in and they’re at “our” doorsteps causing our cost of living to go up and old residents to be pushed out http://www.thebaffler.com/past/dead_end_on_shakin_street/print .

    But here it comes people, not everyone is out to get/help/save “us.”
    Some are just leading with their chin trying to express themselves through art and design and are excited about living in this amazing city that we all love.
    My suggestion is to have an ongoing dialogue, stay open, listen hard and maybe you’ll find a common ground and hell, a new friend(s).

    If you say kick them out. Remember you’re an immigrant to.

    Oh and before any of this sanctimonious righteous local indignation is directed at me for my suggestion, know this. Owned a home here Pre-Katrina and lived below I-10 all my life growing up…

    Anywho, please go start a conversation with these new folks and judge for yourself. And remember don’t be crass and two-faced, it just isn’t southern to do so, ya heard?