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Lafitte Portrait 

Ashley Nelson, 19


The Combination, a Neighborhood Story Project book about the Lafitte

Lafitte is the funnest place I ever been. Play a card game -- pitty pat -- on one porch; get your hair done on this porch, got a frozen cup on the next porch. Everybody knows everybody. The popular kids come home and hang out with whoever -- it's not a fit-in thing.

"That's why I hate the stereotypes -- that project women are all loud and common and have a lot of children, that the men are all drug dealers and violent. I lived there and I saw most everybody working, even if it's some embarrassing job like McDonald's or Burger King. It's hard to make a dollar in New Orleans.

"In Texas, where we evacuated to, they had a huge library with all these books and a big fishbowl. At John Mac, our library had a hole in the ceiling, the books were torn up, and the magazines and books were outdated. What kind of inspiration is that? You don't have to tear down the bricks to improve the project. We need opportunity. There's no opportunity in this city.

"I always saw the nice Benzes pull in, drive around. If they ask where to get drugs, most people just point to the driveway. You can't tell people what to do. But they're stealing people's hopes and dreams. It's wrong. I know -- I've been in the house with no bed cover, no school supplies. And my mama's on drugs, no daddy's around that I can ask.

"If you would've told my neighbors they couldn't return after Katrina, they wouldn't ever left. They would have sat there with the water instead of sitting around in Texas and Phoenix and Florida and Arkansas." -- Reckdahl

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