MOSAIC NOLA:The Gentilly Project

Thursday, January 05, 2006

On the twelfth day..

Early next week, I am meeting with my faculty partners on campus to discuss possible next steps.

Although the immediate project is about New Orleans, the broad issue for me is how to facilitate widespread coordination without bureaucratic controls. There are a great variety of public problems that strain the planning and resources of federal/local governments (e.g., (e.g., emergency preparation and response, homeland security), and I think such problems are well suited to organizing that exhibits some "openness" to motivated participants. But that's my perspective from an organization/management theory perspective.

What will my colleagues see about this from the perspectives of Geography and Environmental Justice?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

On the eleventh day..

Some good news... this project has received a small internal research grant from Dartmouth College. It's not just the money to continue that's good. The College's Provost Barry Scherr supports the project's key features:

- Collaboration a faculty member from Dillard University in New Orleans (Beverly Wright)

- Interdisciplinary collaboration at Dartmouth, among a faculty member in engineering (me), a faculty member from Geography (Xun Shi), and a couple of faculty members from Environmental Studies (Darren Ranco, Michael Dorsey).

- A plan to create a prototype for future systems that enable private citizens and NGOs to participate more readily in open-sourced projects.

With the internal grant, we can prepare a larger grant to continue this work, making this research-inspired educational project into a functioning research project.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

On the tenth day..

This week, the Rude Pundit shares his recent visit to New Orleans.

And today on its front page (left column), the Wall Street Journal provides a good summary of Environmental Justice issues in Post-Katrina New Orleans.


How can residents displaced by Katrina determine if it's safe to return to their homes, and when? And who ultimately should decide?

Here in St. Bernard Parish, neither federal nor state nor local officials have provided residents with any clear answers. Parish leaders and residents say they expected the federal Environmental Protection Agency to manage the cleanup process and determine when the neighborhood was safe. But the EPA hasn't provided guidance on the long-term safety of the area, and says that it's not up to it to decide whether the community should be resettled.

Thus far, all major decisions about whether to let people back in have been made by St. Bernard officials, who have little expertise in assessing pollution levels. They are eager, however, to see residents return. So the Hopkinses and hundreds of other families have been cleaning up themselves. Many simply assumed that if it was unsafe, authorities would stop them.

-- Betsy McKay "Katrina Oil Spill Clouds Future of Battered Suburb," Wall Street Journal print edition (1/3/06)

Monday, January 02, 2006

On the ninth day..

Brown University has interesting Katrina research funded by the National Science Foundation. I hope to learn more from the principal investigator later this week, but I gather that the research project will study and report on the demographic shifts happening in the Gulf Coast post-Katrina.

There will be a lot to watch in the coming months, particularly in New Orleans. After Katrina, there was a bit of increase in the suburbs that weren't affected by the flooding. And it reported yesterday that the city's repopulation is occuring faster than expected. There's even stirring in the Lakeview housing market (e.g., one owner sold his flood-damaged house for another house in the area that was less flood damaged). However, housing activity isn't as apparent in the predominantly black areas of the city: Gentilly, New Orleans East, 9th ward...

Repopulation is driven by housing. If the areas least affected by flooding were predominantly white and there's stirring in predominantly white Lakeview and demolition for rebuilding in predominantly white St. Bernard's Parish - the fears of a New Orleans with much fewer African-Americans are being realized. Then again, I'm receiving first-hand accounts of clean-ups in African-American neighborhoods too. Specifically in Gentilly and New Orleans East, in the parts that have neighborhood associations.

Must housing patterns of the city be discussed in black and white racial terms? The way a long-time resident described it to me today, most New Orleans neighborhoods aren't exactly "diverse" - except maybe around Tulane University or the Algiers area. Historically, there's been a housing pattern of segregation between white and black, so that's the starting point of the post-Katrina housing patterns.

I wonder too : where do the Vietnamese residents of New Orleans fit in the picture? Where are they post-Katrina?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

On the eighth day..

"Above all, we resolve to be grateful for what Katrina spared, respectful of what was lost and dedicated to making this place we love even better than it was." -- Time-Picayune editorial board (January 1, 2006)
Happy New Year