Berklee College of Music
in Boston is sponsoring its third annual volunteer mission to New Orleans this week. Ten faculty members from the college's Gracenotes Volunteer Committee will spend six days working on the New Orleans Musicians' Village, a Habitat for Humanity project in the Upper Ninth Ward. The college has been a steadfast supporter of New Orleans musicians, inviting locals such as Ellis Marsalis, Marva Wright and George Porter Jr. to serve teaching and performing residencies. One month after Hurricane Katrina struck, Berklee organized a group called the New Orleans Resurrection Brass Band to lead a fundraiser for the city.
New Orleans City Park
received a $50,000 grant from Redwood Creek Wines of California. The winery selected City Park as one of five finalists in its Great Outdoors project, and the winner was chosen in online voting. The park's supporters managed to secure more than 17,000 votes, edging out all other competitors. The grant will be used during the fall planting season to buy and install trees in City's Park Couturie Forest, just off Harrison Avenue, an area of the park that was badly damaged by the floodwaters that followed the levee failures after Hurricane Katrina.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation,
the nation's largest nonprofit HIV group, brought its mobile testing bus to New Orleans this week to offer free HIV screenings at the Family Health Center and Jackson Square. The group also presented $5,000 in grants to the Algiers Family Health Center and local organizations FACES and the NO/AIDS Task Force for continued testing. New Orleans ranks second among major metropolitan areas in AIDS case rates, and an NPR report last week revealed that African Americans now make up nearly half of the newly diagnosed AIDS patients in America.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation
unveiled an ill-chosen ad campaign at the same time its testing bus was touring. The foundation describes it as "an iconic photo of an indifferent George W. Bush looking out the window of Air Force One at the devastation and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans with a close-up photo of a seemingly homeless person's pair of hands holding tightly onto a piece of battered corrugated cardboard with the phrase 'AIDS is DC's Katrina' scrawled in red." No — AIDS and Katrina are two important but completely separate issues, and they don't deserve cheap conflation.