By Tina Dirmann
staff writer for BCBSLA Foundation
Who doesn’t love movie night? And when turning out to see a good show also happens to benefit a cause close to our hearts, it’s even better.
So, of course we were there last night to catch a special showing of The Life Aquatic,hosted by Growing LA (a Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana grant sponsored program). The goal was to raise money for the Algiers-based holistic health clinic Common Ground, which operates out of a corner grocery store perched on Teche Street, catering to the under-insured and non-insured members of the community.
Growing LA hopes to build Common Ground their own self-contained, solar-powered aquaponic gardening system. But first, the groups need to raise about another $2500 to buy solar panels for the project (dollars that will supplement money Growing LA already received through Challenge Grant, which requires match funding). Eventually, Common Ground’s clinic will grow herbs and produce that their staff herbalist will use to create natural medicines.
“I love what they do,” said Marianne Cufone, Growing LA project leader and executive director of the New Orleans based Recirculating Farms Coalition. “They are a wonderful resource for the community because they focus on the whole person — mental health, physical health and spiritual health.”
Growing LA stepped-in to support Common Ground’s urban farming efforts by agreeing to build the new aquaponic garden. Last night, Cufone’s group
hosted a movie night, turning the Bywater Civic Center on Cherokee Street into a make-shift theater. Members of the surrounding community paid $5 to watch “A Life Aquatic” flicker against a wall, while offering popcorn and candy for sale. A collection of old chairs and office furniture made do for theater seating. Outside, a taco truck sold gourmet tacos and empanadas.
Common Ground intern Anne Van Schooneveld, who is pursuing a masters degree in public health at Tulane University, sat patiently waiting for the movie to begin
“For us at Common Ground,” Van Schooneveld said, “when we learned tonight was to benefit us, we were very excited.”