MOSAIC NOLA:The Gentilly Project

Monday, October 03, 2005

Why Is This Called MOSAIC?

When I hear the word "mosaic," I think about the craft of pulling together lots of diverse pieces into a whole, but in a way that exhibits structure.

This comes into play when thinking about the New Orleans community. Anyone who knows the city well understands the bad that goes with the good. It was a very segregated place racially and economically. Can a restoration bring the various fragments of the city together, or will some pieces (those who are most poor and/or African-American) get expelled out. In response to Katrina, are we even appreciating the diversity of New Orleans as city? There was a pretty vibrant Vietnamese community in the New Orleans area....what happened to them? If we think in terms of a mosaic to describe the diversity that was - and could stiill be - in the city, the cultural richness that is New Orleans' history can be maintained.

As an organizational theorist, I also think of "mosaic" in terms of structures to mobilize the independent efforts to support evacuees. Hundreds of thousands of evacuees with individual needs are out there, and large bureaucratic structures will fall short. If we rely on them, the responses will be too slow, will have too narrow a perception of needs, and will be too expensive. It is too difficult for bureaucratic structures to keep up with the variety of changing needs. A more complex structure is needed that is more organic, fluid, and network like. Yet this structure must show coherence with its diversity. A 'mosaic' like structure is needed to give root to the volunteer potential that exists on behalf of evacuees.

That's what we are building here at Dartmouth: a mosaic structure. Building it right will require the participation from a lot of people who live in different places and come from different walks of life. We're working on that. Being online is only a part of the project. It can't be the whole.


  • I was dreaming this morning and somehow (maybe it was from celebrating Rosh Hashanah last night) Noah's Ark floated into my mind. Honestly I thought about Noah after the Tsunami, also, but I didn't have anywhere to talk about it.
    Could there be a "NOLAs Ark" as a part of this effort? A place to put things we want to save and renew or restore when there is "dry land" again in New Orleans? This cultural community ark could be anything. I see it as a keeper of links to cultural icons (however we define culture and icon!) during their restorations, as a place to document architectural culture, as a place to keep up with our musical icons and places...It could also be a place to say "Hey! What happened to X?" and alert people to find out and recover those things.
    The idea is that when we finally land, we don't want to look around and say "Oh, we forgot the Unicorn!"

    By Blogger Mica Tucker, at 2:29 PM  

  • Ok, NOLAs Ark will be put up on the new site too. We can start it as a web page. Is there something anyone visiting this would add to the Ark?

    By Blogger Quintus Jett, at 3:01 PM  

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