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This is a fucking fantastic post.

The irony is just killing me, though, because I went to read your blog right after I finished writing the section of my thesis on how to retain "cultural workers" in the city. And now I'm going to have to go back and revise!


So here we have a group of people, who wanted to bring musicians back to where they came from. They wanted to call it a "Musicians Village" because the whole idea was to bring musicians back. Look at this: You choose an American award winning organization with over a million houses built worldwide, to help you bring the musicians back. You promote it the best you can. Then it turns out that a number of musicians get turned down. So you bend the Habitat rules, to accept more musicians. Still there are musicians who are let down. So you hire someone to help out with the person's credit issues. (Musicians who are interested in getting information about help with credit or other issues can contact Harris at 670-9018. From before you have the habitat hotline (504) 861-2059). And you suggest musicians with credit issues, call the numbers to get help with their credit report issues and apply again.

It is not as if people give money to the Musician's Village, it takes away money from other organizations, or is this your fear? There are other great organizations out there, as you mention. And also at the same time, it is not as if you give money to those organizations, it takes money away from the Musicians Village. Get the organizations to work side by side together, instead of trying your best to push one in to the gutter.


Thanks, Ashley, for keeping this issue in front of people. It is SO important that we keep the culture of NOLA alive.


Senior is right; this is a fantastic post. As always, Ashley, thanks for keeping us informed of the real story.


Sorry, the link is Now as I said Ashley Morris, it's not as if people give money to the Musician's Village, it takes away money from other organizations, or is it this your fear? There are other great organizations out there, as you mention. And also at the same time, it is not as if you give money to those organizations, it takes money away from the Musicians Village. Get the organizations to work side by side together, instead of trying your best to push one in to the gutter.


There is no FEAR newsreader, there is a sense of BEING LIED TO. The promoters of the MV LIED TO EVERYONE by saying the musician's village was for MUSICIANS. We want to help out the MUSICIANS. Everyone else is being helped out, and we don't begrudge them the help, but musicians in particular NEED help in this of all cities.

We're not trying or even facilitating in pushing any organization in the gutter, we're just trying to help the musicians.

BY-THE-WAY, you CAN discriminate against non-musicians. You can have it big and bold on the application forms that the village is for musicians only as well as what the qualifying criteria are for being a musician. It is 100% legal. Non-musicians are not a protected group of people by any law passed by congress or the legislature of any state.

You are obviously reading but not comprehending what Ashley has written.


It would have been a far far better idea to rebuild the actual communities that spawned the unique New Orleans musical culture in the first place. Even if it was exactly what it advertised itself to be, a "musicians' village" is ultimately an intolerable alien artifice.

As it is, it's still an abhorrent exercise in dishonesty.


To rebuild the actual communities would take another 300 years to get them genuine. Think of an HONEST musician's village as a starter kit to the real thing.


To echo Aaron's remarks, all of us in New Orleans are thankful for the work Habitat has done in building low-income housing. It's needed.

We also need to get housing specifically for musicians and those that keep New Orleans culture alive. Habitat is not doing that, so somebody needs to be doing it.


I'm with Jeffrey for a change. Why not bring back Storyville? That was part of our unique culture. Might benefit those under stress and duress too. Hookers need a place to live, yo.

I know a bunch of musicians were helping gut and build one another's homes early on. But here's a list of resources for donations:

And I do appreciate Habitat, yo. Though not the Disneyfied concept put forth by two "musicians" (which is why I figured the name couldn't be a quibble).


I played trumpet in fourth grade band for a few weeks. Since that makes me a musician, can I come back, too?

Here is another prefab housing system, developed by a professor here at UH.

"Resistance to hurricane: Very good." And with concrete, you can mix the pastel colors right in, and use forms to impress detail into the wet slabs before assembly, so it doesn't look like, you know, Houston or something.

Perhaps a more inclusive "Cultural Village", with chefs and others joining musicians, would run into fewer of these problems. All kinds of models are out there: rent-to-own, that I plugged weeks ago, mutual housing, that seems to exist everywhere but N.O., and so on.

"I urge you to visit New Orleans and go to the site"?! What a mook. Myabe once you resume teaching, you could go from the airport directly to the site and "visit" it.


I'm sure if they had refused non-musicians to live there, it would be even bigger complaints about it. I understand what you're trying to say, that it's fake because there live both musicians and non musicians there and the name should be Village New Orleans or whatever, but I don't agree with it. Both habitat and the musicstars are trying to get musicians to apply, and you have the center for music there, and they bend the habitat rules and hire help especially to help musicians with credit trouble, and the whole idea and concept of the village is music. The Musicians Village, is the core site, so any musician who gets through the credit report issues, would probably get a house in one of the 1500 habitat houses planned in the surrounding area. The reason for the credit check, is to make sure people don't come to collect the house to pay for the debt. And it is different from renting a house, it would be cool if other organizations made offers of renting with low rent, as the rent in New Orleans now is super high. However, with habitat, the person gets to own the home. The way it works is almost the same as renting the house before they get to own it, but if that was how it worked, they would still have to work out their credit issues, so nobody came to take the house to pay for debt. I'm sure habitat has done this for many years and know which solution usually works out.


Newsreader, follow my links. The forest seems to be blocking your view of the trees.

And next time, leave a real email address or risk being banned.

Oh, and Carmen, you follow the links as well. There's no need for you to post a link that I put in the post.


Ashley, I didn't get the resources page from your links in this post, only the index one. Maybe you had that in the earlier post?

You know how people get overwhelmed and just want the quick list.

Anyhow, the major issue here is that Habitat is trying to get *renters* into housing as *owners*, and that takes time and processing, learning the credit rituals, and Habitat is coordinating help somewhat more efficiently than, say, the Road Home people.

Shavers' death is an atrocity regarding crime factions. No one can guarantee there won't be crime in the Village.


Both "newsreader" and carmen need to go back and READ the post. You are both arguing against points Ashley didn't make. We like habitat, it's a good thing. It is not musician's village. Reserve the houses in musicians village for MUSICIANS only. ONLY. Until the musicians apply, the houses remain empty - i.e., NO ONE ELSE CAN LIVE THERE EXCEPT FOR MUSICIANS. And as for the definition of what a musician "is" is part of the criticism we have with the musicians village idea - we want ACTUAL musicians who practice music as a vocation to be living there.

Please, just go back and READ the post, the WHOLE POST. You both are obviously missing pertinent parts and supplying your own facts which Ashley does not mention.


Yeah. You right, Ashley. It was long, and chock full o' interesting. Thanks. Many points made.

Andy Lee

Ashley, I've read your post, all of it (and all of the comments), and since you quote me and criticize my comments, I'll respond. I have intimate knowledge about the Village as I was there from the start, helped Habitat acquire the land, and have volunteered many hours to see it come to fruition. And since you have a problem with outsiders being involved, I'll tell you that I live here -- in New Orleans -- and I flooded, roof damage, etc. etc. Among other things, I volunteer for selfish reasons -- it makes me feel good to help people less fortunate than me. More importantly, it is my personal belief that every family in this city is just as deserving as me of having a simple and decent home, so I help out because every family -- musician or not -- served by Habitat genuinely NEEDS this. And when it happens for them, it's a deeply spiritual experience. (At the same time, Habitat isn't the only answer, and cannot solve the whole problem, and the work of other housing-oriented organizations is absolutely essential.)

1) You say that you "have a problem with Habitat calling this a musicians' village, when that's just an inaccurate name used to get contributions...." This is a recurring theme, but let's start with a fact: The core 8-acre site of the Musicians Village will, in fact, include over 70% musician-headed families. It's not finished yet, and I guess my request that people give it a chance because it's not finished was lost on you. You say: "The musicians' village gives no preference to musicians, as dictated by Habitat for Humanity's guidelines." This isn't true; although the message about Fair Housing has been inconsistent, the reason for integrating 26% deserving, qualifying families that aren't "musician-headed" is not based on a misapprehension of fair housing laws. For one thing, you should be aware that the 30 of the first 35 houses built were not built with restricted funds, i.e., funds earmarked for musicians, but were built with a large grant from Baptist Crossroads Foundation, whose only preference was that deserving families own the homes.

Is "Jazz Fest" all jazz? Do you buy tickets to Jazz Fest because you expect to hear only jazz? If so, have you gotten your refund from Jazz Fest yet? If not, at least you'll admit that, by your logic, Jazz Fest is guilty of false advertising and disingenuity? (Before you tell me that it started out as pure jazz, perhaps you should think about that famous picture of Mahalia Jackson singing gospel in Congo Square.)

2) You take from the Times-Pic article a Habitat spokeswoman's comment about "playing the flute" to mean that she thereby qualified out of context. That's not even how she was quoted, and she WAS misquoted. There are NO musicians in the 70% number, above, that are not "actual" musicians. None. (Perhaps your readers don't know this, but the Times-Pic article that you rely on has been officially corrected to disclose that the reporter had a conflict of interest that was not disclosed, i.e., that she was a Habitat home applicant herself, with her one-time musician boyfriend. The correction disclosed that her "domestic arrangements" subsequently changed. There were many, many quotes taken out of context, many negative themes that were transparent, in that article. Oh yeah, they also tried to correct the inaccurate numbers they reported. Surprisingly, unlike the NY Times and other reputable papers, the T-P doesn't attach the correction to the online article.)

3) You say you have no problem with Habitat's guidelines, yet you say that certain musicians MUST get in. I don't know what musician you're referring to -- I respect the fact that you didn't mention him by name -- but you say this about him -- he "does not have the financial werewithal to pass Habitat's rigorous standards, and has given up on them." Then you say: "Guys like him are why I donated." In the same post you say "I have no problem with Habitat's guidelines." Which is it? And, did this gentleman apply? What "rigorous standards" are deterring him? Habitat hits the lowest income group of ANY nonprofit home-ownership group that I am aware of. Income and good (or no) credit, though, are essential to anyone who plans to be a homeowner, because home-ownership means paying a mortgage.

With an understanding of the guidelines, you will be able to "get" that some musicians simply will not qualify. Habitat is not a traditional program -- it builds solid, wood, permanent houses, with 30-foot pilings and 140-mph roof trusses, all with volunteer labor. The houses are called "simple and decent," but many of our homeowners call them 1100-sq-foot "mansions." Habitat sells these houses at no profit charging no interest, as a manifestation of Christian belief in action. It is time-tested, and it works. But not all applicants get through the process -- traditionally only 1 in 10 make it through, for various reasons. Because of the extra efforts that Habitat has gone to in the past two years, that ratio has gone up, especially among musicians (where the ratio is much higher). As I said in my "post" on Adrastos' blog, Habitat is not a giveaway program. The Chinese proverb applies here: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

Tangible evidence of this: I went to a Habitat "home dedication" yesterday in Hollygrove -- a celebration of the "passing of the keys" to a new Habitat home. (This was not in the Musicians Village and not for a musician, but several musician applicants were there.) The homeowner lost everything in the Lower 9th Ward. She hugged every one of the 50+ people there. She is a proud woman, and she stood side-by-side with the people -- both from here and elsewhere -- who helped her build her house. This is what I was talking about when I referred to the Habitat mission of "empowering families to transform their own lives." The despair and destruction of the flood has been transformed into a new life and renewed hope.

This experience will be repeated many times over in the coming months. Everyone is welcome to join us in helping to build, and in celebrating, these new homeowners who are helping New Orleans recover.

4) You say "I donated, other people donated because we thought our money was going to be used to target musicians who needed housing." Well, it is. Although I am not on the Habitat staff (I'm a board member), I understand that the latest count is this: 120 musicians are in the program (not all will complete it), over 50 are assigned addresses in the "village," and the Musicians Village 8-acre "core site" will include over 74% musicians, at least. And these are people who make a living as musicians (or attempt to) -- not casual floutists. There is no trickery here. As I said elsewhere, I have worked with several applicants to clear credit, and many other volunteers are involved in this process. (The folks I've assisted are people whose names you would know: tuba player, trumpet player, drummer, bassist, etc.)

*(As I point out above, only a few of the first 30 homes on the "core site" were built with musician-dedicated funds, although almost half of them are musician-owned.)

Since you feel so strongly (and, let's not forget, you accused Habitat for complicity in Dinnereal Shavers' murder, although you've now backed away from the logic that led to this claim) that these statements are all "lies, lies, lies," etc., I'll make sure that Habitat returns your contribution. Help me make this happen by sending me an e-mail that specifies the amount you donated and the approximate date of the donation, and I'll see to it that your money is returned.

While you withdraw your support, you roundly criticize people like Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis for not living here any more, but nonetheless supporting the cause with time and great effort. This is something that I really DON'T get. Harry and Branford have quietly supported Habitat and this city for years. After the storm, they came up with this idea, and have raised money to build the M.V. and the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music. Based on your misunderstandings and rejection of their explanations, you flippantly refer to them as liars, "little rich kids," "mooks," and, compare them to Dick Cheney. Try to step back from your attacks on their success and see if you can at least agree that we need favorite sons like Branford and Harry to stand with us as we try and recover. Don't we?

5) You are right, the Tips musicians coop is helping musicians -- and in fact has helped the ones that have the desire to apply for Habitat homes, as is the NOMHRF and Sweet Home New Orleans (a coalition that Habitat is a part of). Thanks for mentioning these fine organizations -- everybody needs to pitch in, as the challenge is vast.

Ashley and others, thanks for reading this and please read my op-ed if you want another perspective. It is here:

And anyone is welcome to e-mail me if you want more info or have questions about the Musicians Village. I'll even take you there or meet you there to let you judge whether it's "true to its name" first-hand. Above all things, I ask that you keep an open mind and a positive outlook -- we have far too little of those these days.


Thank you for writing, Andy.

As I said at the top of the post, I have only 2 issues here: 1) the name “Musicians’ Village’ is inaccurate, and being used to disingenuously solicit contributions; 2) we need some program to help musicians come here and stay here.

Habitat is doing a wonderful job at building homes for those that need them here in New Orleans. When people in Chicago asked me what they could do, I told them all to donate to Habitat. There were no administrative abnormalities like with Red Cross, and the money truly reaches New Orleanians that need it.

Your quote that you think I “have a problem with outsiders being involved” is inaccurate. I have no problem with anyone being involved when it comes to building houses. The reason I mentioned that Mr Marsalis and Mr Connick do not live here is because I do not really think they understand the current state of affairs in regards to being a musician in New Orleans at the present.

I understand that it feels good to help those less fortunate. A psychology professor of mine once said that there is no such thing as altruism. We only do things that help ourselves. I asked him what about Mother Teresa, and he replied that he believes she does what she does (she was alive at the time) solely because it made her feel better. We argued for quite a while, but I let it go because I knew that it would affect my grade if I argued more. In any case, thank you for your work.

1) I do have a problem with the name “Musicians’ Village”. I do believe that when people donate to something called “Musicians’ Village”, they think their money will be used to house musicians who play not just music, but New Orleans music. Personally, I’m happy with Fredy Omar living there, even though he doesn’t play traditional New Orleans music. Perhaps some contributors are not; I don’t know.

I also keep hearing that “it isn’t finished yet, wait and see”. I hear this from you, I hear it from Ann Marie Wilkins, I hear it from Harry and Branford. I’m not waiting. I feel this is an important issue, and should be addressed right now. If we wait, more musicians may leave New Orleans, or may never come back.

In your point #1, you mention that my statement “The musicians' village gives no preference to musicians, as dictated by Habitat for Humanity's guidelines” is not true. If it is not, then my original thesis is still valid: why aren’t there more musicians in the MV?

“Is Jazz Fest all jazz?” Well, it should be – all Jazz and heritage. (Yes, I consider gospel to be heritage.) I don’t know why in hell Quint brings in people like Rod Stewart, New Edition, and Phish. Oh yeah, wait, I do: money. That’s why I used to only go on Thursday: so I could see good music without dealing with these headliners that shouldn’t even be playing. But your defense and bringing up Jazz Fest is identical to Harry’s strawman argument of Elk City, Oklahoma, and both of you are just stone cold wrong. This logic is why people like me feel cheated.

2) Can you please find the correction for me? I don’t doubt that the TP may have misquoted someone, but one must admit that the quote " If I play the flute at home, but I do PR for my job, I can call myself a musician" is a bit damning, no?

3) “You say you have no problem with Habitat's guidelines, yet you say that certain musicians MUST get in.” This is because, from all I have read, Habitat can not and will not reserve homes for musicians. The musician in question should be in any place called a Musicians' Village, otherwise, you should be more honest with the public and just call it Connickville or Marsalisland. Hell, just call it “The Village”, but don’t mislead people by calling it a Musicians’ Village.

You seem to really be missing my point, which is this: I have no problem with Habitat’s guidelines for housing in general. However, by calling this a Musicians’ Village, musicians should get housed. You are NOT doing that. Get it? Habitat’s guidelines are great for typical Habitat developments. I have no problem with Habitat’s guidelines for typical Habitat developments.

But this isn’t typical. With the misnomer "Musicians' Village", Habitat is capitalizing off the musicians of New Orleans, and the sympathy of the contributors in order to build housing for non-musicians. That’s disingenuous and wrong. Just wrong.

As I mentioned in my post: I don’t think anyone is asking for a handout for musicians. I just want a place for them to live, and if Habitat isn’t it, which it does not seem to be, then let’s not whine about it, but let’s find a place for them. I will whine about Habitat trumpeting a Musicians’ Village, where flute-playing PR people live.

4) I don’t argue with your numbers here, but since your spokesperson has redefined the term musician, I have to look at them with skepticism.

My first-hand interviews with New Orleans musicians who have been in the application process leads me to believe that the musicians there do not play New Orleans music. If I’m wrong, and I hope I am, then God be praised.

Once again, you need to really read what I was saying. The statement I claimed to be a lie was this one from the Offbeat interview: “That notion didn’t come from an undue sense of entitlement. Jim Pate told reporters that the Musicians’ Village “will provide the mentors and teachers for the next generation of New Orleans jazz and blues musicians. . . . The next generation will be living side by side by the old legends and the older masters who will teach them at the Ellis Marsalis Performance Center.”” From the numbers I’ve seen, from what I’ve read, from the musicians I’ve talked to, I do not see this happening. Like I said, I hope I’m wrong.

No, don’t send my contribution back. Don’t send back the contributions I solicited in Chicago. Don't send back the contributions I helped raise at my place of employment. Once again, read what I said: the MV needs to be for New Orleans musicians, or you need to rename it.

I do believe that Mr Connick and Mr Marsalis do not get a grasp of the challenges facing current New Orleans musicians. Many of those musicians who lived in the Treme or the 9th either lived in rentals that were extremely affordable, or in housing that their families had lived in for years. Now their homes, the only ones they have ever known, have been washed away. There’s no way any road home money or any other program is going to replace the home they’ve lost.

Now, suddenly, Mr Connick and Mr Marsalis are expecting these people to “follow rules”, to “move away from that insulated environment that the musicians used to live in, and having them think in a way that’s more in line with the market realities of this country”.

Why is this important? Why do these people need to be “taught a lesson” in market-based economics?

My point was that Harry, certainly, never had to worry about where he was going to sleep at night, his NYC YMCA story notwithstanding.

My comparison to Dick Cheney, my classification of them as mooks, directly comes from the statements made by Connick and Marsalis in the Offbeat interview.

You have to admit, when asked about contributors being misled by being sold a bill of goods labeled “Musicians’ Village”, the response “It’s a musicians’ village in a peripheral sense. You can’t find me a single piece of documentation that says, “We’re building homes only for musicians.”” is an amazing way to spin it.

Or maybe you don’t. And therein lies the problem.

Change the name to “Musicians’ Village in a Peripheral Sense”. Change it to Elk City for all I care. Don’t call it Musicians’ Village.

5) I’ve been working with the Tip’s musicians’ co-op, and I’m meeting with people from Sweet Home New Orleans. FYI, Habitat does not appear as a partner on the Sweet Home website. I hope you can see that I’m not just writing this, I am truly trying to find a solution to help New Orleans musicians.

Sadly, it doesn’t look like it’s Habitat.

Ray M

A quick Google search would tell you that bassist Chuck Badie, an classic Crescent City Soul session player, was one of the first residents granted keys to an MV home.

Ray M

And it was *always* best to spread your money around, to not give to any one organization--I've given to the NOMHRF (heavily involved in Sweet Home) for a while now, on par with Habitat. Had you not known about them? If not, why?

The rush to give everything to Habitat for Humanity recalled the rush to give everything to the Red Cross after 9-11. That can't be a good thing.

Meanwhile, I don't see what's wrong with an organization helping to improve the credit and money management skills of musicians or anyone else. If Katrina proved anything, it's that no one, including musicians (a significant number of whom did not evacuate), can depend on the federal govt. in a pinch--might as well be prepared for anything.

Musicians could, at the same time, use that to become more independent in a recording market increasingly geared toward it (about 15 percent of Apple's iTunes sales come from companies and individuals not associated with major labels), would not sign worthless contracts or at least think twice about it, etc. It would appear that Sweet Home has some of that in mind as well, as a look at the website of the partners listed, Neighborhood Housing Services, demonstrates.

Andy Lee

Ray, you're right about Chuck "Nine" Badie, who lost everything when his home in the lower 9th was washed away, and now owns one of the first 35 houses constructed (30 of which were with non-MV money, a point I made earlier, that was lost on the last comment from Ashley). Mr. Badie’s is an incredible story. He's pushing 83 years old, I think, and he rejected Habitat’s offer to satisfy his sweat-equity requirement by putting together gigs at the site, saying that he wanted to build. He helped lay the foundation of his own house.

And, Ray, you’re also right that Habitat can't do it all, and never claimed to have that ability. Far from it. Habitat’s push is limited to home-ownership solutions (and of course it can’t get ALL of the qualifying musicians into homes, either – that’s why there are great organizations like and others). Not all musicians are ready for home-ownership. It's that simple, and that's the message Harry and Branford were trying to convey. Ashley’s response that they are "little rich kids" who don't know what it's like to be musicians in this environment is wrongheaded and just plain misses the mark. (And how he thinks the Connicks and Marsalises grew up “rich” – one had parents who were lifelong public servants and the other was a jazz musician – is beyond me.) I’m pretty confident that the 120+ musicians in the advanced stages of the Habitat application process would also take issue with any suggestion that they’re incapable of keeping a budget or holding a mortgage. And Habitat ALWAYS said that to own a home, you have to QUALIFY – Ashley suggests that requiring musician applicants to QUALIFY was a bait-switch move. Interesting.

Forget spin -- I don't much care about what has been written or how one or another reporter wishes to "spin" things. The reality is in the numbers that I gave here (including that 30 of the first 35 houses were built with non-restricted funds from the Baptists, and that half of those 35 are owned by the musicians who completed the application process and their sweat-equity obligation the fastest). Of 71 homes to be built at the “core site,” 70%-plus will be musician-headed; another 10 duplexes = all musicians. We know this and it will be done. The remaining 26% are deserving families, by the way (who DON’T deserve Ashley’s suggestions that they aren’t), to be there. Their kids will benefit from growing up next to Nine Badie. You and Offbeat claim that the MV was supposed to be 100% musicians, and that’s why you donated. As someone who was there from the start, I can tell you that’s just not true. See this article, for instance, by Branford, in Billboard, published April 2006, around the time that Habitat broke ground:

“The Musicians' Village is not intended to be exclusively for musicians, however, and an important aspect of its design is that musicians will be in a true community, enjoying the kind of person-to-person, neighbor-to-neighbor relationships that have sustained such New Orleans traditions as the marching band.”

Of course you can choose to disbelieve my facts based on the rumors that you have heard. But don’t call us liars based on your rumors – the musician homeowners are real people (and real musicians). And I really don’t see what good it does to impugn Harry and Branford, who are showcasing New Orleans around the world and accomplishing more by inviting their audiences to visit New Orleans to volunteer and to spend money here, than we less-talented, less-famous people could ever hope to do. Lucky for us, your unfairly calling them liars isn’t going to stop their support.

For anyone else who would like to see first-hand the reality of what is going on, feel free to contact me. I get nothing out of this other than the satisfaction that needy families are being served by the efforts of over 25,000 volunteers (and counting) and an extremely hard-working staff that is bringing Habitat's mission to this needy city (and has been for 25 years), including many of its musicians.


Andy, Ray, thanks for writing.

Let me respond to some of Andy’s statements.

“I’m pretty confident that the 120+ musicians in the advanced stages of the Habitat application process would also take issue with any suggestion that they’re incapable of keeping a budget or holding a mortgage. And Habitat ALWAYS said that to own a home, you have to QUALIFY – Ashley suggests that requiring musician applicants to QUALIFY was a bait-switch move. Interesting.”

Can you point to any statement that suggests that they’re incapable of keeping a budget or holding a mortgage? I don’t see anything I’ve said that suggests that. The reporter in the T-P story may have alluded to that, but I most certainly did not.

I also did not suggest that requiring musician applicants to qualify was a bait and switch move. I really do not see how you’re getting this from what I’ve written.

“The remaining 26% are deserving families, by the way (who DON’T deserve Ashley’s suggestions that they aren’t), to be there.”

Where did you get this? Now you’re just trying to make me look bad. Where did I say this? I didn’t. I said what a great job Habitat is doing creating homes for deserving New Orleanians. Why don’t you put your anger on hold for a while, and re-read what I actually wrote, as opposed to what you imagined.

“You and Offbeat claim that the MV was supposed to be 100% musicians, and that’s why you donated. As someone who was there from the start, I can tell you that’s just not true.”

The article you cited does indeed make your point that this project is not intended to be exclusively for musicians. I wonder how many donors have read that before they donated.

Here’s what Offbeat had to say: “That was certainly the tone of the initial message, so much so that none of the stories written about the Musicians’ Village printed in New Orleans mentioned that the village would not be reserved strictly for musicians.”

And you can’t tell me that this is not a patronizing comment from Mr. Connick: “The girl who starred with me in The Pajama Game, Kelli O’Hara, comes from Elk City, Oklahoma, but I don’t see any elk there, you know what I’m saying?”

My point the whole time is that something named the Musicians’ Village should be for musicians.

As far as your comment about me calling people liars, that comes from this quote from Mr. Marsalis, followed by this quote from Jim Pate:

Marsalis: “if you look around the village and the musicians that are here now, none of them play the music that we play, not one of them. The ones that are qualified for homes, we couldn’t hire them to play in our bands.”

Pate: the Musicians’ Village “will provide the mentors and teachers for the next generation of New Orleans jazz and blues musicians.”

From these statements, it appears that these statements are in conflict, and one of those two people is not telling the truth. You decide.

Like I said in my prior response to your comment: if my sources, which I have fully documented, are incorrect in any way (such as the T-P article I referenced), then please, show me documented evidence where I’m wrong, and I will be happy to correct it. As an attorney, I know that your job is to make your opponent look bad, but please document something I have stated that is factually incorrect.

Please don’t point to a wikipedia article as documentation.

In summation, this is not an attack on you, Mr. Lee. It appears that you are treating it as such.

Again, I have 2 points: 1) from the documentation I have seen, very few people who play New Orleans music have been accepted into the Musicians Village. Therefore, soliciting contributions to something named the Musicians Village, when musicians are not the core group to be living there, is disingenuous. 2) Something must be done to preserve the culture and music of New Orleans. Finding homes for these musicians is important, and we need to find ways to do it, as the current documentation suggests that the Musicians Village is not it.


They're not reading what you're writing, Ashley. An information campaign has been launched with talking points which will be adhered to and anything outside those talking points will be ignored. The straw-man argumentative method is very effective on the majority of the populace and I see it in use today.

In case one of the HFH mouthpieces wants to ACTUALLY respond, answer these two questions and ONLY these two questions:

(1) Is there any reason that the MV can not be ONLY for musicians?

(2) Is HFH reserving specific homes for musicians only?

Answer YES or NO, followed by an explanation. Karl Rove spin is not welcome here.

Andy Lee

Aaron, Ashley, ok, this is taking a lot of time -- I hope it's worth it. I have no interest in making either of you "look bad," and yes, I'm capable of reading (and have read) everything that you've written. I'm only interested in responding to blatantly false and unwarranted statements that do violence to the efforts of many, many people working and volunteering for a fine organization whose interests are pure, whose record is clean, and whose delivery has been stellar. I've read everything you've written. I can point you to where you used choice words to describe Habitat and its supporters, but what's the point? You can read, too. (One quick reminder -- your first post on this subject fingered Habitat for "complicity" in the murder of Dinerral Shavers.)

Aaron's questions are fair ones: 1) Is there any reason that the MV cannot be ONLY for musicians?

Yes, several.
1- That's not how it was envisioned OR advertised. 2- Deserving families qualified for homes well ahead of musicians, and they were needy. I know them -- one family was living in a car, and they worked so hard to make this happen for themselves, that (a) they bought in, and (b) we didn't make a rule that excluded them because we didn't anticipate that people would try to revise history about Habitat's announced plans.
3- Putting non-musicians in the same neighborhood has great benefits -- see below.

To wit, your false advertising / spin / lying accusations are based on this Offbeat claim: “[Including ONLY musicians] was certainly the tone of the initial message, so much so that none of the stories written about the Musicians’ Village printed in New Orleans mentioned that the village would not be reserved strictly for musicians.”

You'd think that a statement like this would be supportable. I've already cited the Billboard piece, from April 2006. Ashley may be right that many contributors might not have read that. Okay.

But what about these sources (neither are from Wikipedia, which I wouldn't reject outright if it's sourced correctly)?

Times-Picayune, front page of Metro, Jan. 6, 2006 (before Habitat even owned the land, much less had began raising money in earnest):
“Some of the musicians who live in the village will donate their time to young students who are interested in learning New Orleans music in the New Orleans way, Branford Marsalis has said. _The musicians village will be inhabited by nonmusicians as well, Pate said. The mix has not been determined._”

Seems pretty clear to me, and no, Habitat didn't write that. (The T-P got something right.)

And this, in Gambit on April 25, 2006:
“_Although non-musicians are eligible to live in Musicians Village_, Habitat New Orleans is targeting most of its outreach at that community via the Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund, the Tipitina's Foundation and Habitat affiliates in areas that took in large numbers of evacuees.”

Also pretty clear. So there are two articles "printed in New Orleans" that sat the record straight from the start. You guys and Offbeat have the record all twisted, not sure why.

74% musician families (in the core site) is the result of these efforts. That's well more than "most" in my book. And my "other 26% deserve it too" comment, above, responds to Aaron's demand that "only musicians" should live there. The rationale for mixing the community so that kids of non-musician-headed, qualifying families can get the musical fire makes sense to me, and that was part of the original vision. Even Ashley pointed out that one of his Hot-8 contacts declined to apply because there were, in essence, too many musicians, and they'd wake him up in the middle of the night!

"Very few people who play New Orleans music" are there -- Ashley said it -- is a premature indictment, and it's also wrong. I can assure you that there are people that fit this description -- see A FEW OF the actual homeowners who do in the pictures on my link -- and there are many, many more in the works. (The application / sweat equity process does take time, and I'm not at liberty to identify to you what applicants are close to qualifying for home-ownership through Habitat. That's not a cop-out, just a fact.) As for your view that Branford's comment conflicts with Jim Pate's, (a) I can't be sure that Offbeat didn't get this quote wrong, too, and (b) if it didn't, I can only guess at what Branford meant or whom he had met by the time he did this interview, and I'm not going to do that, Offbeat's editorializing notwithstanding.

As for Aaron's second question -- Is HFH reserving specific homes for musicians only? -- the answer is a resounding YES. The final number will be nearly 3/4 musician-headed families in the core site, with as many of the other musician applicants in the surrounding neighborhood as possible. This depends on musicians, like all of our other applicants, meeting the criteria. With folks bending over backwards to help them, many -- but probably not all -- will succeed.

Finally, I will tell you, Ashley, that Habitat, and I, want to make sure that you receive your donation back. You should only support organizations that you believe in, and you've stated that you feel wronged, lied to, etc. There are other excellent organizations out there where you should direct your resources. While we will endeavor to show you and others that we're not at all about deception, in the meantime, we need to get your money back to you -- when did you make your donation, and how? Check? Online? (The reason I ask this is that N.O. Habitat, despite best efforts made at my request today, does not have a record of a donation coming from you, and I want to make sure that we get it back to you asap.) Thanks, guys.


Where's the "printer-friendly" format button?

Great, great post. I think I'll have that port and cigar now to ponder the ramifications.

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