MOSAIC NOLA:The Gentilly Project

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

On the fourth day...

When reporting the shared uncertainty that New Orleanians have about recovery, an article today sums up the key issues quite well:

The future of New Orleans teeters on choices made by families.....The sum of their private deliberations will determine the size of the reconstituted city, reset its racial balance and dictate its politics.

Ron Martinez, 49, an architect...weighs the risks of bringing his wife and two children back....he cannot make an informed decision. "I flat don't know what to do right now....A lot of things that are out of my control have to happen before I say I am rebuilding my house."

"If we had waited for the city and the federal government to do everything for us, we would be waiting for a good long while." - Adrianne LeBlanc,school principal [on her decision in the days after Katrina that any long-term closing was unacceptable]

"Your upper-class white neighborhoods are first in line and we are very last." -- Kesa Williams, accountant


Thousands of families from New Orleans are pretty much on their own. Left to make private decisions about a variety of things they can't reasonably get information about, and grossly lacking in the resources to fix the problems they encounter.

Only those in the best shape economically have some chance to dig themselves out. However, even upper-class families with ruined houses are on the brink. In the most damaged neighborhoods, what good will it be to recover your own house if your neighbors do not? By default, the recovery of family homes will need to be neighborhood efforts.

Jimmy from New Orleans suggested to me today the need for Block Captains. Makes sense. Recovery would go a lot smoother on a block if there was a captain to keep track of the block's needs and share information about common problem. According to Jimmy, block captains apparently worked well in rebuilding London faster than expected after World War II .


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