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The Best and the Worst of the Week 

City Park volunteers
have donated 100,000 hours to help restore the park since the levee failures. From the start, volunteers played a tremendous role in the park's recovery, removing tons of accumulated debris and, later on, assisting with planting, mulching, mowing grass, shoreline cleaning and painting. A number of groups have adopted sections of City Park to maintain throughout the year. Park officials equate volunteers' contributions to 49 full-time employees working for one year at a cost of $1.9 million.

Shirley Laska,
a professor of sociology and director of the University of New Orleans' Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology (CHART), has been honored with the Public Understanding of Sociology Award by the American Sociological Association. Despite losing CHART's offices to the storm, Laska gave numerous interviews, public presentations and met with policy leaders to tell Americans that environmental disasters are not natural or random, but social and unequal in profound ways.

Bill Loehfelm,
a local writer, has won Amazon.com's Breakthrough Novel Award for his debut book, Fresh Kills, which tells the story of a man trying to find his father's killer despite having been abused by his father as a child. Loehfelm, born and raised in Staten Island, moved to New Orleans in 1997 and has taught high school and college, tended bar and managed a pizza joint. His work also has appeared in the NolaFugees' anthologies, Year Zero and Life in the Wake.

Road Home Rental Programs,
designed to assist landlords and replace some of the more than 82,000 rental units damaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, have delivered only 2,600 units so far, according to a recent report by Policy Link, a research and advocacy organization. The small rental program, which originally received $869 million in funding, has managed to bring only 370 units in Orleans Parish to the final stages of the reimbursement program. The average rent in Orleans Parish has increased by 46 percent since Katrina.

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