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Commemorating Katrina, Celebrating New Orleans: An Update from Katrina Warriors

It's been five years since the Gulf Region was ravaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Much has been said about the impact both had on the Gulf South community - homelessness, unemployment, health problems, environmental catastrophe, trauma, sexual violence. Today, in spite of the transformational work of community activists, there is still a strong current of despair, and the recent BP spill has added yet another layer to an already deep burden for the people of the Gulf South to bear.

We celebrate our V-Day activists who have worked hard to help our sisters in the Gulf South - Katrina Warriors. We were honored and proud to host V-Day's tenth anniversary, our largest event to date, in the city of New Orleans. The event brought international attention to the issues facing women and girls in post-Katrina New Orleans, and we were able to leave over $1 million in the region. With money raised from the event, V-Day established the V TO THE TENTH SPOTLIGHT fund to award one-time grants to groups and individuals working to ensure an end to the physical, economic and environmental violence against women and girls in New Orleans and the Gulf South.

On this, the fifth anniversary of Katrina, let's remember the good news - the many beautiful and amazing ways in which people showed up for each other and gave back.

We asked some of our V TO THE TENTH awards recipients, Katrina Warriors, to update us about their work over the last five years, and we hope that V-Day activists will support their efforts:

Kathy Randels and ArtSpot
Kathy Randels, Artistic Director of ArtSpot Productions, has been on tour this summer with a site-specific performance piece she directed and began working on before Katrina about the cultural extinction faced by Southeast Louisianans due to the loss of precious wetlands. Loup Garou, a collaboration between ArtSpot and another New Orleans company Mondo Bizarro, tells the tale of a Cajun werewolf whose genetically inherited condition has been exacerbated by Louisiana's unhealthy relationship to the oil industry. The piece began as a character in 2006's Beneath the Strata/Disappearing; it premiered as a solo performance in October 2009; and this summer was brought to Serbia, the Catskills, Western Massachusetts and Tennessee. A tour throughout Southeast Louisiana, where our people are hurting the most, is planned for Spring 2011.


Asali DeVan
In the five years since Katrina, I have concentrated my efforts on family, friends, and neighbors. Before the flood, I spent most of my time organizing among artists, educators and other activists. With the flood, I realized that those people were already the empowered one. The already had resources and avenues to achieve resources. But many of the people closest to me, saw one of their few, if not only options for obtaining resources in me. This is great for when a girl needs to feel needed, but can imaginably grow weary--especially when you know the true capacity of the folks you're surrounded by.


Women With a Vision, Inc.
Women With a Vision, Inc. is currently working on our newest project NO Justice which is an organizing and advocacy initiative. The goal of NO Justice is to end the criminalization of sex work under Louisiana Statute 14:89, Solicitation of Crime Against Nature (SCAN). Those charged with and prosecuted under this law are disproportionately poor women of color who have been even more marginalized in post-Katrina New Orleans. Most of these women are struggling with homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, decreased access to healthcare and cycling in and out of the criminal justice system.


Mos Chukma Arts As Healing Institute, New Orleans
At this 5th year anniversary Mos Chukma Arts As Healing Institute has completed our 4-year core program at the Dr. King Charter School, still the only school open in the Lower 9th Ward, New Orleans. The work we have done with students pre-K through 10th grade has been transformative and successful, as attested to by the students themselves, their teachers and parents. Our program is non-traditional and addresses the mental health needs of our students, most of whom are survivors of Katrina.


Welfare Rights Organization (WRO)
After hurricane Katrina of 2005, the Welfare Rights Organization was destroyed and all members were scattered throughout many states. WRO returned to New Orleans in 2006 to pick up the pieces of the community destroyed. People were displaced which created a serious hardship. Families were struggling to return home to no avail. There was nothing to connect to in the community. WRO in its rebuilding efforts were able to seek funding to start a Twenty Four Hour Crisis Line to relocate with displaced families.


WATCH V-Day's Tenth Anniversary Celebration >

WATCH Democracy NOW!: Eve Ensler Marks Fifth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina With Performances of Swimming Upstream

On Thursday, August 26, V-Day Founder/Artistic Director Eve Ensler appeared on Democracy NOW! to discuss the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the two special performances of Swimming Upstream in New Orleans and New York City, and the connection between New Orleans, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti and V-Day's work to end violence against women and girls in those areas.


Tickets Available for Swimming Upstream in New Orleans & New York City

Starring Tony Award winners Shirley Knight and LaChanze and the original New Orleans cast directed by Eve, tickets for Swimming Upstream are available now, starting at $27.50, in New Orleans and New York City. Don’t miss these special performances on the 5th anniversary of Katrina!


Produced by V-Day, Ashé Cultural Arts Center and The Women Donors Network.

With generous support from the Rockefeller Foundation and The Culture Project.

*All performers pending scheduling

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