It has been a over a month of living and working in New Orleans and it has been great! I have two jobs — one of them being Okra Abbey which is a community garden and sacred space for the community. We grow food that is given back to the community and have a lunch and devotion each week called “Grace and Greens” where everyone in the neighborhood is welcome. My second job is working for Jefferson Presbyterian Church where I help with the Sunday services and the food bank they have twice a month. Our first week here we had an orientation where we went on a historical tour of the French Quarter and hung out at the house. We got to explore the city a little before we jumped into our work. When we started work the second week, it was a bunch of getting used to how things are done here and the responsibilities that I have for each job. There was a lot of work to do the first few weeks, especially at the garden. It needed a lot of care (weed pulling, cleaning out beds, etc.) but now the garden is starting to look good with new plants starting to sprout. The church folks have been so nice to me and the other YAVS and seem really glad to have me here. I’m working on getting into a routine with the church.
The communities here have been so welcoming and happy to have us here and that has been amazing. It is a pleasure for me to get invited into these communities and to experience them next to some great people. The community of Okra Abbey is called Pigeon Town and it is unlike any community I have experienced. Everything here is much different than Alabama. There are so many great people that come through the garden to stop and chat with Pastor Hannah, David, and me. It has been great meeting all these people and becoming their friends. Pigeon Town has had its ups and downs. I’ve heard stories of shootings and violence that happen pretty regularly just down the street from the garden. I am amazed by the respect and appreciation the town has for the garden and the work the garden does. I think it is a beautiful place where everyone feels welcome and safe.