New Orleans Years ago Jane Bagley Lehman was the first board chair of the Tides Foundation. Her untimely passing, her grace, her generosity, and our friendship led to the creation of the “JBL’s” a Tides award given almost annually over the last 17 years in the name of citizen advocacy and policy making. It has been a wonderful experience for Drummond Pike and me, who served with Jane in the early days of Tides, to join with Russell Long and Susan Carmichael, Jane’s children, every year to figure out how to keep the flame of this great lady burning bright.
Not surprisingly, this year Tides wanted honor all of the work of citizens and citizen organizations in the fight to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in the wake of Katrina. Although initially uncomfortable, the JBL committee managed to figure out a way to make this very special by doing the dinner and awards in New Orleans, and recognizing that there was no way one could name any one individual in what has been so clearly a collective struggle thus far and forward into the future.
It turned out to be a wonderful event at the Basin Street Station across from Louis Armstrong Park in New Orleans. Each award winner brought a table of friends, family, and comrades which enlivened the whole process making it into a celebration of the community itself. Drummond Pike, founder and CEO of the Tides Network, including the Foundation was in New Orleans to present the awards. Russell Long was expected but got stuck on the tarmac in Washington, D.C. Nicole Washington from ACORN and Jane Lin from Tides were bustling and engaging hosts of the function. I did “no harm” in accord with the common oath.
The seven (7) award winners all gave brief and moving testimony and thanks. We were in the South, so there was praying. We were in New Orleans so there was drinking. It was a hot summer night so people could hardly wait to go stand on the 4th floor balcony and look into the Quarter.
The award winners were the following:
* Ann Rolfes, Louisiana Bucket Brigade
* Father Vien the Ngyuen, Mary Queen of Vietnam Catholic Church
* Tanya Harris, Head Organzier, New Orleans ACORN
* Rev. Jennifer Jones-Bridgett, Executive Director of PICO-LIFT
* Malik Rahim, co-founder, Common Ground
* Victoria Cintra, Gulf Coast Outreach Organizer, Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance (MIRA)
* Derrick Evans, founder of Turkey Creek Community Initiatives in Gulfport, Mississippi
I was crazy happy to be home again. I had a ball and it was good feelings all around.
This one’s for you, Jane!