Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A communal effort to plant a fruit orchard in an underprivileged neighborhood in west Lafayette Parish is something we can all sink our teeth into. The children who reside in Ile Des Cannes apartments between Scott and Lafayette are the first in the parish to take part in the Community Roots Cooperative, a project that aims to bring community gardens to neighborhoods and in turn “bring residents together by helping them take ownership of their neighborhoods,” LCG’s Community Development Director Ben Berthelot tells The Advocate. Live-in Ile Des Cannes mentor Ken Hargrave says the Ile Des Cannes children will assist in maintaining the 17 fruit trees and bushes — and will eventually be able to sell the fruit to fund summer trips being organized by Hargrave’s nonprofit A Heart for Children. With the help of EarthShare Gardens, the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office and LCG’s Community Development and Traffic and Transportation’s Planning departments, the inaugural Ile Des Cannes garden could be the first of more to come in the parish. Here’s to a healthful first harvest — and more fruit to come.

As hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors alike enjoyed what may very well go down as the best Festival International to date — we won’t know its financial success for some time — we couldn’t help but be reminded of our two “no” men on the City-Parish Council: Jared Bellard and William Theriot. Their no vote on the horse farm/non-governmental agency funding last year (festival gets about $72,000) was only part of the reason they earned a spot in the prestigious Couillon Hall of Fame (we also noted that for the past three years Bellard had no problem showing up to collect his three VIP festival passes and enjoying the perks that went with them). At a time when we should be taking advantage of a stable festival management team by trying to figure out how our government and community can better accommodate this cultural shot in the arm, we are reminded of the bass ackwards politics of this duo. Dumb and Dumber, indeed. But, read on, they could have company.

Aspiring City-Parish Councilman Craig Spikes appears eager to join Dumb and Dumber in opposing NGO funding. He won’t be supporting such wasteful expense of taxpayer money should he be elected, though Spikes said in an email to the paper that he does not put Festival International in the same category as “the bulk of the private, non-profit groups that make up the NGOs.” Really? We’ll argue all day that in a cultural economy the AcAs and PASAs of the world do the same as festival, only somewhat more subtly. Spikes sent out a letter dated April 27 introducing himself as a candidate in District 7 and noted that the incumbent, Don Bertrand, supports NGOs. Bertrand “has decided to take this local government in the same direction as our Federal government has gone in the past few years,” Spikes writes, “operating under the theory that government should be all things to all people.” Spikes maintains that local government should use public funds for the basics: roads, bridges, drainage, utilities, and fire and police protection. “If there are any meetings, discussion groups or gatherings that I should attend, please let me know,” he writes. We already have a suggestion: City-Parish Council meetings. Had he made the April 25 meeting, he’d have known before penning the letter that redistricting now has his home at 426 Paddington Drive in District 8 — Keith Patin’s.

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