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Note from The Field: 7th Ward, New Orleans, LA

On July 20 and 24 our team carried out our first survey of residents of the 7th Ward. The survey asked residents their opinions about tree planting initiatives, rain gardens, neighborhood concerns such as crime and flooding, the effects of heat and hot weather, and other aspects of the physical and social environments in the 7th Ward.

Yasmin Davis, ISeeChange, speaks with a resident. Photo courtesy of ISeeChange.

The team consisted of TEX project lead Angela Chalk of 7th Ward Healthy Community Services; Tulane faculty member Amy Lesen; Julia Kumari Drapkin and Yasmin Davis of ISeeChange; a Tulane graduate student; a local high school student taking classes at Tulane; and six members of the Green Infrastructure Neighborhood Champion program.

We collected surveys from a 12 square block area that was designated by project lead Chalk as the target area of concern, and were able to collect over 47 completed surveys. It was a great opportunity for members of the TEX team and Neighborhood Champions to engage with residents of the neighborhood and hear their interest in green infrastructure and concerns about neighborhood issues.

Some residents reported health and other concerns related to heat. Residents are generally very enthusiastic about green infrastructure projects, and are concerned about flooding, neighborhood infrastructure, and crime. Many residents have lived in the area for many years and have multiple family members in the neighborhood, so there is a lot if deep personal investment in the neighborhood, and relationships between neighbors seem to be very close. The Neighborhood Champions felt that participating in the data collection was interesting and enjoyed the opportunity to hear from their fellow residents.

The data collected from the survey will provide evidence based measurements which demonstrate the need to reforest this area, help plan for future tree planting events, [and] reduce flooding by installing bioretention cells to assist with the uptake of water from the trees planted. Most importantly it will reduce urban heat island effects.

Julia and Amy speaking with some of the survey team (Photo courtesy of Angela Chalk)

In all, this first data collection enabled TEX project members to collaborate with community leaders and residents and to learn about the concerns of people living in the 7th Ward. Angela Chalk, Executive Director of Healthy Community Services, a non-profit organization stated, “It gave me a chance to meet more of my neighbors and to have a real impact to improve the health outcomes caused by repetitive flooding and extreme heat events. The cost of energy makes it impossible for folks to afford air conditioning, but we know that mature trees has health benefits and will cool down neighborhoods. I’m so very appreciative to all the collaborating partners for their time, technical assistance and commitment to the project.”

mgoodwin editor

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