In a recent column, Business Report Editor Stephanie Riegel questioned why Louisiana, in general, and Baton Rouge, in particular, are so mired in the problems of the past and unable to move forward. Why can’t we get anything right?
A small—but growing—group of longtime, north Baton Rouge residents has decided the situation isn’t hopeless, Riegel writes in her new column. They’re taking the bull by the horns and looking inward to tackle the crime, blight and educational problems that have plagued their community for decades.
Calling themselves the 70805 Community Action Network, they are the brainchild of 65-year-old Pearl Porter, a minister, mother, grandmother and small-time entrepreneur who has sold Avon and Tupperware over the years, done home interior work and hosted garage sales.
“Anything to make the ends meet,” she says.
Porter and a handful of her fellow 70805 residents first met last November. There wasn’t a single catalyst that pushed them to mobilize; just a collective determination to do something about the piles of trash and debris that dot their neighborhoods, the abandoned lots that serve as dumping grounds for used tires, and the related problems that follow—namely, crime—in dirty, blighted communities where residents don’t seem to care.