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HBO’s “Treme” captures soul of New Orleans

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Nancy Delaney is Oxfam America’s Community Engagement Manager.

Doesn’t matter, let come what may
I ain’t ever going to leave this town
This city won’t wash away
This city won’t ever drown.

Steve Earle’s haunting lyrics from “This City,” heard at the end of season two of “Treme,” bring me right back to New Orleans as does each episode of the show. “Treme,” the award-winning HBO series now in its third season, depicts New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In my view this is television at its best. The combination of story, writers, actors, and of course setting, the city of New Orleans, is pitch perfect. I was introduced to New Orleans many years ago by one of my sisters, and have been drawn back many times since. The first thing that struck me was the music – where else can you hear jazz, zydeco, conjunto and Cajun all in a one block area? Then there’s the food. And of course there are the people of New Orleans.

Like millions of others, I was heart-broken when Katrina hit. I watched, in real time, as a city I’d come to love was destroyed. And like thousands of others, my sisters and I went to lend a hand. Our small gesture was rewarded many times over. Not only were we able to be back in New Orleans, but everyone we met and worked beside told us how much it meant to them that their city was beloved by so many others.

My husband and I eagerly watch the show to see familiar places, imagine the taste of the food being prepared, follow the sorrow of the survivors, root for the people struggling to rebuild, and of course, relish the music.

Post Script:

Telley Madina, Oxfam Coastal Communities Program Officer and a lifelong New Orleanian, describes Treme as “a very special place.” The oldest and most historic African American neighborhood in New Orleans – Treme is one of the first places in Louisiana where free people of color could buy homes. Since Katrina, it has seen rapid gentrification, to the point that the African American population has dwindled to roughly 50 percent.

“Treme” the show is filmed in the neighborhood, and often features the Charbonnet & Labat Funeral Home and Family Center. On October 2, Oxfam and partners will be hosting a screening there of the new documentary about poverty in America, “The Line.” The evening is open to the public, and features a discussion with one of the people in the film, Ronnie Duplessis, a fisherman on the Gulf Coast.

OxfamBuzzList is a new blog series about the movies, books, blogs, TV shows, music, and more that have Oxfam staff and supporters talking. Please leave a comment, or offer us your own contribution (400 words or less). E-mail Andrea Perera, Oxfam America’s Web Editor, at aperera@oxfamamerica.org.

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