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Envision new future

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Posted: Thursday, October 4, 2012 2:00 pm

Over the past decade, an emerging coalition of community groups and city agencies has sought to revitalize the West End in various ways. Recent among these groups is the arts-based Envision da Berry. As EdB’s purveyors, my colleague and information director, Amelia “Mimi” Cronan and I see art and politics as being inherently interwoven. We work creatively to reshape a more inclusive and participatory public realm. Our projects may seem “theoretical” or “abstract;” however, by embracing these ambiguities, we can collectively explore the confusing aspects of our culture.

We are presenting an online collection of our past year’s work titled “West End Retrospective.” It contains never before publicized photos, drawings, diagrams, videos and data analysis focusing on speculative design and built work within the West End neighborhood. Available from Oct. 5 to Nov. 5, it marks the one-year anniversary of our first public art installation along Hopkins Street. Here we find progress in the growth of coalitions and renewed civic pride.

The online exhibit is ambiguous in the sense that it is an evolving piece of art, made possible by tremendous advances in technology. It is available through our website at This website offers a virtual public space where people and institutions can interact beyond the cultural boundaries of geography.  

The context of the West End is our point of departure for future work. We are actively confronting the cultural and economic divisions that have held our progress back. The Internet allows us to foster a transcending dialogue that can overcome perceptual nuances between the private and public realms.

The West End Retrospective conceptually occupies this sphere of ambiguity while defining a tangible vision for new viable public spaces. In so doing, we challenge everyone to critically look backward and optimistically forward at the same time. Ultimately, the retrospective seeks to reveal the challenges that surface when attempting to innovatively recover a common history. Reaching artistic truth is the biggest struggle we face because our work gets to the heart of what is happening. Armed with the truth (good, bad and ugly), we can envision a new future and embark upon a new and brighter chapter of history.


Phanat Xanamane

Creative Director

Envision da BERRY

new iberia

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.


  • Phanat posted at 11:26 pm on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    Phanat Posts: 54

    By the way... to ALL anonymous posters, while I appreciate your comments I implore you to reveal your true identities when giving your opinions. You are given more credibility if we all knew of your standing in the community. Particularly if you are actually invested in the community in someway and can truly attest to its nuances from your own direct experience. Revealing yourselves would validate this as a civil exchange of ideas and support the democratic process of transforming the city.

  • Phanat posted at 11:13 pm on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    Phanat Posts: 54

    The posts are critical in opening up dialogue that get to the heart of our hometown's problems. Many times you'll see controversial subjects on the Daily Iberian Forum devolve quickly into unproductive bickering. As this forum topic's poster, I have the responsibility to moderate and challenge all participants to engage in productive ways. This is about slowly building the relationships we need to begin working at defining workable solutions to our shared issues. I appreciate the comments and will continue to use my art to bring up the pressing issues impeding our progress. Whether that be lack of desire, leadership, and organization. You bring up a good point of creating a critical MASS. I agree with this and recognize the many churches in the district as providing the mass of people and leadership. Imagine what they could do if all their efforts and congregations were organized towards the revitalization efforts.

  • Anonymous posted at 9:35 am on Fri, Oct 12, 2012.

    Anonymous Posts: 128699

    I would have to agree with CD. I too, attended the revitalization meetings. Phanat, I admire what your trying to do, but until the residents of the west end decide to WANT to help themselves, that funding could be better spent on other projects. It's going to take more than money to fix the west end. Not everyone has the same vision that you have Phanat because its beyond their conscious. CD said something very important that you need to understand, Lack of desire, Leadership, and Organization. Bottom line, if you dont have a MASSIVE group of people, that are day in and day out trying to help the West End and its people, money is being wasted. They elect individuals who thrive off of confrontation and not doing anything credible to move New Iberia forward. Those are the minds you have to touch to promote change

  • Anonymous posted at 10:14 am on Thu, Oct 11, 2012.

    Anonymous Posts: 128699

    Phanat, I personally attended the "revitalization meetings" and was willing to use MY finances to develop permeant structures in attempts to bring business and create jobs on Hopkins Street. It was a total waste of my time due to the lack of desire, leadership and organization of the very, very few attendees who participated, not to mention the higher crime rate associated with the area. It reminded me of my deployment in Iraq, trying to rebuild a Country that had become an entitlement society, just like we created the current entitlement society we have here in America. People need to want to help themselves before others can help them, and unfortunately that will not happen anytime soon on Hopkins Street. When it does, I'll be there to assist them in any way possible.


  • Phanat posted at 5:53 pm on Mon, Oct 8, 2012.

    Phanat Posts: 54

    To Anonymous 7:10am, I am intrigued to learn more about the sources for your claim that the West End was "created to hold the Black people in one area." Through the research I've conducted over the past year I understood that the West End was a mixed income and mixed race neighborhood up till integration then things started to shift. Hopkins Street Elementary was even an all-white segregated school. Maybe I haven't found or "know the history" as you claim but the point here is to get people to open up and share about the ugly and evil history. Let's not be timid, embrace it as part of your history, find closure, and lets move forward. There seems to be lots of resentment surrounding those times that older generations can't or won't let go of. Why? More importantly, how can we move on?

  • Phanat posted at 5:31 pm on Mon, Oct 8, 2012.

    Phanat Posts: 54

    CD - It's going to take a lot more than an anonymous post for me to give up my work in the West End. It is my passion! I grew up here, I live here and I see amazing potential. My work as an artist and activist is what drives me to dig deeply into the "sand" of New Iberia to make sense of the confusing and the impeding aspects of our culture. I am trying through the good, bad, and ugly dialogue of this forum to evolve into a productive conversation about workable solutions. SO I welcome ALL scrutiny and suggestions of the revitalization efforts. And Anonymous 7:10am, in regards to the "space cadet" label... I will take that as a compliment. One has to dream big. That's how we attain a better tomorrow. I'm not sure if you heard that REAL space cadets are a reality now.

  • Anonymous posted at 1:35 pm on Mon, Oct 8, 2012.

    Anonymous Posts: 128699

    Phanat, Pull your head out of...the sand!

    Anonymous 3:29 and 8:08, very well said!


  • Anonymous posted at 7:10 am on Sun, Oct 7, 2012.

    Anonymous Posts: 128699

    Phanat - I love your picture. You must be a real space cadet to think that the West End can be improved with lots of funding. You do not know history and the West End should be bull dozed down as someone suggested. West End was created to hold the Black people in one area. Whites did not want them living in other parts of town so they created the West End. In that way they could hold back the Black Community. It should be torn down because it is an evil reminder of segregation.

  • Phanat posted at 10:26 pm on Sat, Oct 6, 2012.

    Phanat Posts: 54

    to Anonymous 8:08pm. In regards to your comment..."Let them work it out for themselves..", you should be aware of the many efforts going on in the West End to not only better the environment, but better themselves. Example: The Hopkins Street Revitalization Association and partner organizations received a one million dollar grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation to go towards great projects in the West End. (300 home gardens, 3 schoolyard gardens, community celebrations, and various other educational activities). The training workshops have just started and there's still opportunities to become involved in working together to make the CHANGE happen. I hope you will reconsider your stance on the ability of people to change their minds and work for the benefit of themselves and others around them. That's the only way we can truly envision and create a better future.

  • Anonymous posted at 8:08 pm on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    Anonymous Posts: 128699

    You can't fix stupid! Let them work it out for themselves! It won't change until they CHANGE!

  • Phanat posted at 2:57 pm on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    Phanat Posts: 54

    to Anonymous posting 3:29 pm. You raise a relevant question. Would attempts to revitalize the West End be another waste of money? Your idea to move people out and bulldoze the area is an interesting one and one that has been carried out in modernist urban planning developments in the 1950's, 60's, and 70's. As history has shown, that idea may not be the wisest. You may look into the work and opposing views of Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses. The dilemma in your proposal is that even bulldozers and moving 7500 people from the West end would cost an exorbitant amount of money. And once you do have a "blank slate" to start with then what???

  • Phanat posted at 8:27 pm on Thu, Oct 4, 2012.

    Phanat Posts: 54

    There will weekly content updates on the exhibition webpage over the next 5 weeks.
    This week will highlight various installation, design proposals, historical maps, and data models that relate to the theme of Local Markets & Commerce. Follow the link.

  • Anonymous posted at 3:29 pm on Thu, Oct 4, 2012.

    Anonymous Posts: 128699

    Putting money to revitalize the West End would be another waste of money. People have tried it and nothing ever comes out of it. Move the people out, bulldoze the whole area and start from there. It’s old, houses are in disrepair, there is no money to build businesses, etc. Tear it down then move the bulldozer to the downtown area and do the same. That is the only way that you will ever revitalize these areas. Don't give me any lip on it has historic value.


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