Residents and community groups seeking ways to rid neighborhoods of blighted properties are invited to hear about new resources at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 28, at Greater St. James Church, 4225 Erato St. The event includes music and refreshments and will be preceded by a workshop to build benches for a community park created on formerly blighted properties in the area, known as Zion City.

The featured speaker will be Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, who will join representatives of organizations involved in preparing and offering a blight resource guide and a blight organizational toolkit.

“These two new tools will be tremendously helpful for individual residents and for communities to tackle blighted properties in their neighborhoods,” Cantrell said.

The resource guide provides a starting point, explaining the city’s code enforcement process and offering resources including government assistance programs, nonprofit agencies and private-sector options.

The guide is a joint venture of the Committee for a Better New Orleans and the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance, as part of the Housing Community of Interest pilot program of the New Orleans Citizen Participation Project. An online version of the guide and ongoing updates will be maintained as part of this project, supported by Open Society Foundations and First NBC Bank.

The toolkit provides neighborhood leaders with training and strategies, such as using community mapping, property research, real estate market analysis, blight-related policy basics and action planning.

The guide and toolkit will be available online on June 28 at, and personal training will begin this fall. Dates and times will be announced on the website and through partner organizations.

The toolkit was created by Miller Urban Consulting with support from the New Zion City Preservation Association and the Broadmoor Development Corporation. Funding was provided through a TOGETHER grant from the Foundation for Louisiana.

The New Zion City Preservation Association approached the Land Trust for Louisiana last year to assist in transforming several vacant, blighted lots into a community green space. Zion City residents are hoping the park will draw new homeowners to the neighborhood.

For information, contact Keith Twitchell, president of the Committee for a Better New Orleans, at (504) 430-2258 or

Dinner and a Zoovie

The next Dinner and a Zoovie will be at 8 p.m. Sunday, June 29, at Audubon Zoo’s Capital One Stage. Gates open at 7 p.m. Bring chairs, a blanket, food and drink. Leave pets, glass containers and candles at home.

A Crepes à la Cart truck will sell food, and a DJ will spin music before the movie “Despicable Me 2.” The cost is $5 per person, and children younger than 2 enter free. Tickets may be purchased online or at the front gate.

Lynne Jensen writes about New Orleans community events and people. Contact her at