Works and Days


"rain gardens"

Defense Mechanisms of a City Under Water Siege, McGill Lawrence Internship Award, Suhai Yehuza

Children painting a bench.

While parts of the country battle wild summer fires and far lands such as the Darfur region and Southwestern China make headlines in the news for want of water, one city is doing everything it can to rid itself of this important element of classical thought. This summer I am in New Orleans. And I must admit I was in part lured to this Southern princess by five star reviews of its rich culture and cuisine by Dana Lawson. After exploring as much of the city as I could during my arrival weekend, I turned my back on bustling Bourbon street, buckled my work boots, rolled up my sleeves, and began toiling under the sweltering sun with a team of other volunteers to fight water in this city. I am interning with Groundwork New Orleans, an environmental non-profit organization, this summer to lead a group of volunteers to construct rain gardens in the lower ninth ward of the city to minimize the risk of future flooding.

People constructing benches.

The start of the project had been delayed by a week pending paper work from the New Orleans’ Redevelopment Authority and the city’s Water and Sewage Board. So I spent my first week helping working with Global Green USA, a sister organization of Groundwork with a similar project on Andry Street. This gave me the first idea of the construction challenges I would be facing in the proceeding weeks. After two weeks of teasing grey clouds masking the resilient furnace of the sun, the clouds finally showed some potency by spewing down the long overdue rains. There were sighs of relief on the sweating faces digging the rain garden with shovels.