Thursday, February 15, 2007

l'Ecume des Jours & Rebuilding New Orleans



My perfume l’Ecume des Jours was inspired by Boris Vian’s magical novel by the same name. It was inspired by the perfect beauty of the Jazz of New Orleans, and in particular the music by Duke Ellington. This is a book that is signified by a perfect symmetric structure and the collapsing of a universe because of its own fantastic and surreal rules. It’s beauty is unbelievable. And so when I created a perfume in its namesake, I tried to make it perfect too, if this is even possible… I took the most unusual essences, such as boronia, pink lotus, seaweed, moss and cassis, and worked them together to create a watery, transparent, floral-green perfume. Something that is almost out of this world… I was very pleased to notice that recently it has finally started getting the recognition I was hoping it will receive, which translates into sales of course. And while this made me happy and proud, another thing made me sad…



Last week I watched in awe Spike Lee’s documentary “When The Levees Broke”, about the drowning of the city and the people of New Orleans. The people of this unusual city, which has been a beacon for freedom in the USA, an example for multiculturalism and a corner stone in the USA’s culture of jazz music and art – in fact a corner stone of the entire Western Civilization – have been let down by its own government. The people of this city have received very little help from the USA government ever since Katrina struck. So I thought to myself: “If the president of the United States doesn’t care for New Orleans citizens, let the Citizens of World care for them!”.

Let’s not let New Orleans collapse in the same way that the world in l’Ecume des Jours collapses into non-existence. Let’s not let a perfect city drown again in misery and death, poverty and stormy waters. This is too cruel of an end to a city that is truly the heart of America as we know it. It drowned in the water rising from the hurricane and unstoppable by incompetent levees. Let’s not drown it a second time by not helping the people of New Orleans to come back and rebuild it. Let’s help them re-build New Orleans, ensure its safety from rising water by restoring the wetlands surrounding it and building safe and steady levees this time. There is something we can do about it!

One of the powerful things a small business owner can do is help the community and help make a social change. Since the very day of conception of my little perfumery, I always knew I would do all I can to help causes that I think are important and that are close to my heart. I would like to invite you all, responsible business owners, bloggers, perfume lovers – responsible, caring people and citizens of this world - to join me in supporting charities in New Orleans that truly help the people of New Orleans and re-build the city.

I will be donating $10 from each bottle of l’Ecume des Jours that I sell to a New Orleans woman that is struggling to support her aging mother and two children. I have only raised $60 so far this way, but hopefully l’Ecume des Jours will sell more after this post, and hopefully my perfumery will flourish and grow to enable me to do even more for New Orleans.

I invite you to do the same and support an individual from the city, or donate to one of the few charities that I have confirmed are in fact helping the people of New Orleans and are most likely to actually make a difference in the future of this remarkable city.

Here are their links, as well as links to the film’s homepage:
To help New Orleans people with basic needs such as food and shelter you can donate to this charity:
Catholic Charities New Orleans - Hurrican Relief Services and Projects

To help restore Louisiana’s wetlands, essential to the future survival of the city, you can support this organization:
America's Wetland

Click here to read more about the film “When The Levees Broke”, where you can also find an interview with director and filmmaker Spike Lee, and also find out about more organizations rebuilding in New Orleans.

The illustrations and art work for these New Orleans posts are all courtesy of Mark Andersen, a New Orleans artist and a Katrina evacuee now living in Atlanta, GA. One more thing you can do to support New Orleans is purchase his art book via Emigre.com, which will donate 50% of the sale to a program in New Orleans to aid affected musicians.

Artwork copyright by Mark Andresen, 2006. Some images are from "New Orleans As It Was: Sketchbook Drawings by Mark Andresen from 1988 to Katrina", designed by Rudy Vanderlans and printed by Gingko Press. Avialable on Amazon.com and Emigre.com. If you buy it from Amazon.com you will be supporting the artist, himself a Katrian evacuee.

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10 Comments:

At February 15, 2007 4:29 PM, Blogger Dana said...

Ayala,
Thank you for bringing this to everyone's attention. The events surrounding Katrina have been and continue to be a horrible tragedy and illustrate my country's government's inability to, well, govern. Hopefully, we can change this, but it will take time.

 
At February 16, 2007 1:22 PM, Blogger chaya ruchama said...

You're a good woman, Ayala-
And I've been exceptionally neglectful lately, not telling you often enough...

Love to you, and Tamya.

 
At February 17, 2007 6:52 AM, Blogger Sali said...

What a wonderful idea for a new perfume and what a great thing you're doing by bringing attention to this ongoing tragedy. Every little bit counts where people are in need of basic necessities like food and water, clothes and safety and new rooves for their homes. You're right--America wouldn't be without Nawlins. Jazz is one of the greatest gifts this country has given birth to (and I'm a a big fan of the Duke), expanding our understanding of music to a whole new level of boundless creativity and sophistication in the modern age.

The surrounding areas in neighboring states have also suffered from this horrible tragedy, so I hope help reaches the people in the outskirts of the great historical city as well. Bless your heart and good luck with your new launch.

 
At February 17, 2007 2:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The U.S. government has sent enormous amounts of federal aid in the wake of Katrina:

http://tinyurl.com/dculq

It's not the federal government's "job" to fix local problems in this country. We are not (thank God) a socialist state.

The performance of the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of the state in this tragedy were abominable. I appreciate what you're doing, Ayala, but don't place all the blame on the US government for this tragedy - and don't fail to acknowledge the efforts that have been made at the federal level.

 
At February 18, 2007 8:36 PM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

Dana,
We can only hope for the better and take things into our own hands when it comes to caring for one another...

 
At February 18, 2007 8:37 PM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

Chaya Ruchama,
Thank you for your kind comment, it's great to see you back!

 
At February 18, 2007 8:40 PM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

Sali,
Great to see you commenting here!
l'Ecume des Jours is not new, but it now has an added meaning to help in the best way a perfume can - the city and its art that inspired its existence.
I've been listening again to New Orleans jazz - it's so amazing how it always stays fresh, even years after being recorded. That just how it is for truly meaningful art. I've been listening again to Winton Marsalis' "The Majesty of Blues" and it's so current, especially after watching the film... I need to get me some Duke's CD's now...

I hope for the best for all the peope who got affected by the hurricane. Even in Florida, where the impact was relatively small, it's still showing its signs and people are still recovering (I have a friend there, so I know about this from her). Let's just hope we are not going to get more of these... It's been a crazy winter in Vancouver, and I hope it won't repeat itself in other places.

 
At February 18, 2007 8:54 PM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

Anonymus,
Thank you for sharing your views, even though I disagree with some of what you said.

I am not an expert on US politics and structure; all I know is that the state of Louisiana is too poor to absorb such a huge disaster on its own. The US being one of the richest countries in the world, and very well equipped to help victims of such natural disasters (remember how fast they made it to the tsunami struck South-East Asia?) - it's really shameful if not pure neglagence that it took FEMA 5 days, I repeat, FIVE DAYS, to bring help to these people. Not to mention that the president didn't show up in the area to demonstrate his caring and support until 12 days after the storm. He could have had taken example from presidents who preceded him in similar situations. They had less technology and showed up faster, which tells a lot about their leadership in my opinion. You don't need to be a socialist to care for your citizens and protect them. One would hope it's a human trait, and this is what governments are all about.

On another note, I am not under the impression that the federal government keeps its distance from the "local" issues when it comes to oil. The federal government is using all the oil harvested off the shores of Louisiana and the people of that state don't get any of the wealth from it. Perhaps Louisiana will be better off just taking it all for itself and just breaking off the US? If they don't get anything in return for their natural resources, not even protection and support in emergencies such as a hurricane that buries 80% of a city under water - they may just be better off on their own as a separate state.

I agree that what the local government in New Orleans and Louisiana was extraordinary, particularly knowing they don't have that much resources. And I cant imagine what I would have done if I had to be responsible for so many people. I know they get criticized, but they got affected by the hurricane as well and had to act really fast and make the right decisions, which it seems, for the most part, that they did the best possible thing to do at the time, with limited knowledge of what's going to happen and limited resources.

The bottom line is, though, that they could use more help. A LOT more help. So it's the least we can do - help them with either money, moral support or coming down there and helping the people to rebuild this beautiful city and restore their lives.

 
At February 18, 2007 9:02 PM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

A little piece of info for the Anonymous commenter:
It took the President Lyndon Johnson only 3 hours to get to New Orleans to view the disaster first hand after hurricane Betsy (1965).
A lot faster than President George W. Bush (12 days).

 
At February 21, 2007 6:07 PM, Anonymous Camille said...

Ayala,
Besides being a uniquely gifted artisan perfumeur, you have discernment for beautiful art.Your blog is very attractive.

Your analysis of the Katrina aftermath is sympathetic and informed. Because state and federal governments let down the citizens of Louisiana after a major natural disaster does not mean they are undeserving of help from other human beings.

Anonymous, there is always enough money available to build advanced weaponry. There's always enough money to move troops a couple of continents away and kill those who are deemed enemies. You said "
It's not the federal government's "job" to fix local problems in this country. We are not (thank God) a socialist state."

No, we are not. But if a major earthquake struck California,or a terrorist attack happened e there or elsewhere, many would suffer. I wonder who would begrudge them assistance? Ayala is not pushing for us to help citizens from New orleans or elsewhere. She is pointing out ways to help if we choose to.

 

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