Common Ground Collective: Project Descriptions in the 9th Ward

Lower 9th Ward Projects

The lower 9th ward project is a community driven initiative which strives to actualize the articulated needs and wants of the residents of the lower 9th ward. We work in solitary with this community, and maintain all project areas as open to community involvement. Since January 1st, when the project began, we have opened and operated a distribution center, a tool lending library, a community media center, a fist aid station, two temporary housing spaces, a community kitchen. In addition, we run a national bulldozer defense campaign, and a roof tarping, tree cutting, and house gutting services. We are not here to define, shape, or dominate the evolving post-Katrina communities of the Lower 9th, we are here to work with them, and support them in their efforts. The challenges of this task are great, and will challenge volunteers physically, politically, and emotionally. However, we must meet this challenge with grace, humility and passion, for without a grand coming together, we are due for a tremendous failure.

L9 Projects L9 Volunteer needs L9 Health Clinic Donate to the L9 Project

Temporary housing

Common Ground Lower 9th Ward Project partners with homeowners in the Lower 9th Ward who have donated the use of their cleaned, gutted and remediated homes to provide temporary housing for other residents who want to come back to the city to work on their homes and work to renter New Orleans. Common Ground offers temporary housing to residents of the Lower 9th ward. We make spaces available for the community to use as footholds for recovery. In addition to offering dignified housing, we will also offer evacuees access to all of the various resources which Common Ground has managed to either tap into or help create. Our expectations of residents involved in temporary housing is that the residents will not only be working on their personal situation, but also that they become a part of the larger fight to bring back the community as a whole. Common Ground Lower 9th Ward Project will make any resources we have available to assist on both fronts. It is the vision that the temporary housing project will enable residents to take back control of their community. We hope that residents will organize to ensure that the needs of all residents are understood and addressed. For more information on temporary housing or reservations, contact Annie Hostetter at (317) 508-2867

Health Clinic

Healthcare is one of the primary barriers of return faced by residents. We are working to remove that barrier by collaborating with other residents and healthcare professionals to open a full-service health center on the corner of St. Claude and Egania in the lower 9th ward. The clinic is projected to open in July, 2006. More information is available here.

Tool Lending Library

The tool lending library lends out tools and safety equipment including respirators to help residents gut, clean, and rebuild their homes. The library is located at the Lower 9th Distribution Center, next door to the Blue House at 1700 Deslonde.


The Common Ground Lower 9th Ward project works with homeowners and renters in the lower 9th ward providing volunteer labor to clean and gut houses to allow residents to return and reclaim their communities. The list of houses that are in need of gutting is long and will take months before work can be completed. Between the need for services and the looming August 29th deadline set that the City Council set, we are encourging residents and other community based groups within New Orleans to work collaboratively. For more information or to sign up for house gutting, call (504) 312-1731. We are working as hard as we can to gut the houses on our list prior to the city's August 29th deadline.

Community Kitchen

The community kitchen at 1624 Deslonde serves free dinner every night at 6pm, residents are welcome to come eat, sit, and relax and even volunteer to cook.

Public Computer Lab

The public computer lab at the Blue House, 1700 Deslonde offers free public computers and internet access for residents. No experience is necessary, help is always available on a one-to-one basis as well as organized workshops.

Community Meetings

Residents of the Lower Ninth Ward hold community meetings every Wednesday at 3pm at the Blue House, 1700 Deslonde. Many of Common Ground Lower 9th Ward projects came directly out of these community meetings. If you are in need of information about what is happening in the neighborhood, work with your neighbors to create strategies and take action for rebuilding or would like to have your voice heard regarding Common Ground Lower 9th Ward Projects.

Demolition Protection

Sign up for demolition protection and notification and we will monitor the newspaper and the city's website to see if your address is announced for demolition. If it is and you do not want your property to be demolished, we will work with you to take action to protect your property. We also provide resource information to people who want to have their property cleared because their house is structurally unsound. Call toll free 1-866-611-9795 for more information or to sign up.

Distribution Center

Housed next door to the Blue House, the distribution center has water, food, clothing, and community information. Residents are encouraged and welcomed to use the Distribution Center space to visit and
relax. Hours are 8am to 5pm, 7 days a week. For more information call 504-313-1731.

Martin Luther King, Jr School Reopening

Residents of the Lower 9th Ward were becoming increasingly concerned with the lack of schools for returning children. When the residents asked Common Ground Lower 9th Ward Project to work with them on this fight, we responded to a community need by taking direct action. After a resident led press conference, volunteers and residents worked together to inventory and clean out Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School. The worked performed by volunteers and residents saved the city approximately $500,000 and helped the school begin the process for reopening.

L9 Projects L9 Volunteer needs L9 Health Clinic Donate to the L9 Project



Upper 9th Ward Clean-Up

CONTACT: Travis at (541) 556-2955

Minimum Time Commitment: varies between 2 weeks and 6 weeks

It's happening in the 9th Ward of New Orleans! The vital primary steps in the long road to rebuilding New Orleans are being taken. These steps, however small, furtive, and difficult, are a critical affirmation of hope in the face of incomprehensible devastation. For families trying to return to their homes, the removal of destroyed belongings and the gutting of their houses is the first step in the rebuilding of their lives and communities.

Eight months post-Katrina the need for help with these first basic steps is greater than ever. Families are scattered across the country without the means to return. There is a shortage of resources in the way of temporary housing, aid and infrastructure to assist in this difficult process. A recent city council resolution mandating that houses be gutted and boarded up by August 29th or face seizure and demolition adds urgency to the task at hand. Less than half of the houses in the 9th ward have been gutted to date, and the heat of the summer season is upon us.

House gutting in New Orleans in the summer is not for the feint of heart! It will require waking up at 4:00 a.m. each morning and going to bed at 8:00 p.m. every evening. The work is rigorous and physically taxing. Volunteers will be subject to extreme heat, physical discomfort, and high expectations of conduct and responsibility. Volunteers should be prepared to co-exist peaceably in a hot and crowded communal living environment.

Skilled volunteers

• Project managers - oversee the house gutting project in the upper 9th ward. You will be responsible for assigning leaders to crews and crews to neighborhood project areas. They will also be responsible for a myriad of tasks ranging from lunch delivery coordination to community relations to strategic planning and documentation of progress. Experience in administration and management a must. Three (3) project managers needed for a minimum time requirement of 6 weeks.
• Community Liaison & House Gutting Coordinators - work directly with the residents in a neighborhood grouping of roughly nine blocks. In cooperation with the residents in their assigned areas. You will be responsible for the direction of work crews. These positions will require excellent interpersonal, communication, and organizational skills. Experience in management and public relations will be helpful. Ten (10) community liaison/house gutting coordinators needed for a minimum time requirement of 6 weeks.
• Gutting crew leaders - experience in building and in some form of leadership is necessary. Thirty (30) gutting crew leaders needed for a minimum time commitment of 1 month.
• Skilled labor – any and all skilled carpenters, electricians, plumbers, etc. are welcome and needed.

General volunteers
• House Gutters - must be physically fit and enthusiastic. A positive attitude and
flexibility will be critical this summer as we work under increasingly difficult conditions. 300 house-gutters needed for a minimum time commitment of 2 weeks.

Application process for all volunteers: Anyone interested in being a project manager or community liaison/coordinator should call Travis at (541) 556-2955. Everyone should register on line and indicate any skills that you bring.



Upper 9th Ward Women's Center

Women's Center

(504)421-1218/ (504)442-1683
commongroundwomen [at] riseup [dot] net

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The Upper 9th Women's Center challenges systems that put female hurricane survivors and their children in harm's way. We are a resource center, emergency housing facility, and provide assistance with obtaining social services, such as help finding housing, FEMA, WIC, food stamps, and other available benefits.

Application Process (for all types of volunteers): Send us an email about who you are, how long you plan to volunteer, and why you are interested in working with the Common Ground Women's Center. You may email Caroline Heldman at heldman(at), with questions.

2 weeks minimum required for all volunteers.

Volunteers are currently steering projects such as Free Breakfast, home schooling, after-school activities, daycare, tutoring, gardening, and bike building through RUBARB's Earn-A-Bike Project for youths at the center. As a center, we continue to work on building infrastructure, communication skills and solidarity with the women and children of New Orleans and the Common Ground community.

Volunteers assist women in finding jobs, housing, social benefits, house and yard work. They are able to get involved in home schooling and after school activities with the children at the center, and support media work by writing press releases, letters, editing videos, and setting up events.

Understand that if you come here you are assisting a pre-existing community and culture, not trying to change it.


• Ideal candidates for interns and volunteers are people who are experienced with Early Childhood Education, Day Care workers, women with specialties such as Women's health, Self-defense training, Trade skills, Counseling, or Case Management are encouraged to apply.
• Tradeswomen - general maintainance on the house, and offering help involving carpentry, electricity, plumbing, roof tarping, etc.
• Self-defense Instructors – offer classes to women in the neighborhood. :
• In general, about 5 people are needed per week to staff the center.