Posted February 1st 2010 at 11:03 am by
in New Orleans, Who's on Broad? (The Broad Street Story Project)

Broad Street, New Orleans, celebrates its voice

On Thursday, January 28th, Broad Street, New Orleans celebrated its people and businesses at the ‘Who’s on Broad?’ photo and digital story exhibit, pictured above.  Aditi Mehta, a master’s degree candidate at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), organized the exhibit with the help of those most passionate about the future of the street, including Broad Community Connections (BCC) and the folks who frequent Broad Street.

Onaja of Liberty's Kitchen, a food training program and cafe for at-risk youth, looks at his work.

Broad Street was once a vibrant main street in the City, but suffered decline.  Hurricane Katrina further aggravated Broad’s revitalization efforts.  The people of Broad are passionate about its future.  Kine Heights, who recently opened a popular coffee shop on Broad, said of one of her favorite buildings on the street, “I’ve been here a year and two months, and there is no use.  Not even, maybe, an event for the community, or something free.  It’s just vacant.”

“We held the event in a vacant commercial space on Broad Street to bring more attention to the corridor,” said Mehta.

Mehta began the project last summer.  She handed out disposable cameras to Broad Street business owners and regulars so that they could photograph the most important details in their context.  Mehta subsequently interviewed each participant, and eventually used the audio recorded interviews, along with their photos and hers, to create digital stories.  The final exhibit featured photos mounted on the wall, and digital stories projected onto a large paint cloth.

Toney the Godbarber on the big screen.

“Some of the business owners were so excited to see their own pictures and portraits hung that they were taking photos of their own photos,” said Mehta.  “We had a nice mix people, including Broad Street business owners, Main Streets affiliates, BCC Board members, MIT community, friends and others.”

MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning has a long-standing relationship with various entities in New Orleans.  Jeff Schwartz, the Executive Director of BCC, is a DUSP alumnus and a New Orleans native.  Several DUSP alumni have done projects in New Orleans as part of their graduate studies, and then moved to the city upon graduation to continue their work.

Mehta is thankful to the people of Broad Street for letting her be part of their City.

Photos by Jonathan Kennedy.

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