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Committee for a Better New Orleans (CBNO) won an on-line contest sponsored by the group NationSwell for CBNO's "Big Easy Budget Game," a website where citi-zens can allocate a virtual version of New Orleans' $602 million annual budget. The results are compiled with others' budgets to create "The People's Budget," a document the group submits to the City of New Orleans to illustrate residents' priorities.

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Walt Handelsman won the 2017 EPPY Award from Editor & Publisher for his editorial cartoons and animations for The New Orleans Advocate. The EPPY award is a digital news contest conducted by the trade publication.

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Kicks 4 the City, an organization that collects new and slightly worn shoes for the homeless, has begun its annual shoe drive, which will culminate in a shoe giveaway Nov. 19 at the New Orleans Mission. The program began in St. Louis, Missouri in 2012 and spread to New Orleans last year.

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Marjorie Esman, who has served as executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana for 10 years, is retiring at the end of this month. Esman, a graduate of Tulane Law School, was a member of the ACLU of Louisiana board of directors from 1995 and the ACLU National Board from 1997 before leading the local group.

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Jesmyn Ward has received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" of $625,000 over five years. Ward, who teaches creative writing at Tulane University, also is among five finalists for the National Book Award in fiction for her new book Sing, Unburied, Sing.

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Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne, physicists at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory in Livingston Parish were awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics last week for "decisive contributions" in detecting gravitational waves. The physicists captured the sound of two black holes colliding in deep space, demonstrating Albert Einstein's theory of relativity.

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VH1 Save the Music Foundation gave a $60,000 grant to Morris Jeff Community School to create a band program for Morris Jeff's middle school students. The money will provide 35 new instruments along with teacher training and other fundamentals.

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Ben Passmore received the Ignatz Award for Outstanding Comic for Your Black Friend, his acclaimed short graphic novel.

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The Contemporary Arts Center received a $30,000 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The award will support programming at the CAC in fall 2017 and spring 2018.

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"With Love From NOLA" was organized quickly by local restaurants to provide immediate financial help to Houston hospitality workers affected by Hurricane Harvey. On Aug. 29, more than two dozen New Orleans restaurants accepted gift cards to be dis-tributed to servers and others who need immediate help.

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Britney Spears will donate $1 for each ticket sold to her Las Vegas revue, "Britney: Piece of Me," to the Louisiana School Boards Association, a federation of all the public schools in the state. Spears, a multiple Grammy Award winner, is a native of Kentwood.

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Julie Stokes, a 1992 magna cum laude graduate of the University of New Orleans (UNO), is the 2017 recipient of UNO's Homer L. Hitt Distinguished Alumni Award, the university's highest honor. Stokes, a CPA, represents Louisiana's House District 79.

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