Friends of Lafitte Corridor seeks to revitalize the Lafitte Corridor by working to build, program and promote the Lafitte Greenway as a great public space.
“I brought my family along with me: my husband, my granddaughters. We come to have a good time,” says Ariska Everette, who’s sitting on a folding chair in front of a giant movie screen on the Lafitte Greenway. There’s a tub of popcorn in her lap. She’s waiting for the film Annie to start, but she says just being outside, in this space, feels great.
“Like we transformed the whole thing. It’s usually just kids running around, now it’s a whole movie theater — families sitting down. I love it.”
Adults, obviously, are not the only ones excited to see the new Annie. Lance is 15 years old, and he stays right next to the greenway, in Lafitte. He says seeing a movie outside like this is different.
“You get to be with everybody around your house,” says Lance. “You get to be around with your friends and other people you don’t know and you get to know them. And it’s like you’re helping out your community to come over here.”
“We publicized with flyers all over Faubourg Lafitte area, and then publicized through social media and email lists,” says Sophie Harris, Executive Director of Friends of Lafitte Corridor. “I went to all neighborhood association meetings and gave little presentations.”
Friends of Lafitte Corridor collaborates with other groups all the time. For the movie screening of Annie, they worked with the New Orleans Film Society and the Sojourner Truth Neighborhood Center.
“The Greenway’s getting really close to opening,” says Harris. “We understand it will open this summer. And so this is how we envision community events happening on that space, and it feels really good.”
Friends of Lafitte Corridor formed in 2006 by a bunch of community members who wanted to ensure this brand new greenway became a vibrant public space.
“Before that, this land was vacant land in the heart of the city,” explains Harris. “Where we’re standing right now, it actually used to be a canal. It was the Carondelet Canal that ran from Bayou Saint John, and it took a 90-degree turn and went right to the edge of the French Quarter.”
Harris says the canal was key for trade and for the economy of the city from the late 1700’s, through the 1800’s, and into the last century, when the canal was filled in.
“Since mid 1900’s this land has sat vacant. You know we’re right in the heart of this — you can hear it around us — really vibrant community. There’s this amazing opportunity to take this land and turn it into something that would really contribute to the lives of the people that live around here, connect neighborhoods all the way from Armstrong Park to City Park.”
Harris says things like walking trails, bike paths and trees make a huge quality of life difference for any neighborhood.
“You want to have a space to come together with your neighbors. You want to have a space where you can walk or ride a bike or actually just connect with nature. You know, we’re standing next to a great jungle gym, and it is getting a ton of use already. Clearly, people want to come together and play.”
15-year-old Lance knows exactly what Harris is talking about. He loves riding his bike on the corridor. He even took a bike safety class through Friends of Lafitte Corridor. Lance says it’s hard describing the way he feels being on his bike, here in this green space, but he gives it a shot.
“Like make you feel free,” reflects Lance. “’Cause when I’m on my bike, I feel the wind blowing in my face, and it’s just different.”
Written by Eve Abrams for the Community IMPACT Series and produced by WWNO in partnership with the Greater New Orleans Foundation. Learn more about Friends of Lafitte Corridor.