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10 Years Later: New Orleans Deserves a Real, Fair, and Green - and Successful - Recovery

placeholder+imagePosted on: 08/30/2015

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina devastated parts of New Orleans, it would be nice and appropriate to be hearing more and summary success stories.  But something doesn’t feel or sound quite right. A review of some recent articles and news suggests that some communities and people have benefitted far more than others from disaster relief efforts and redevelopment, and that the Lower Ninth Ward and its inhabitants, and some other predominantly black neighborhoods, were somehow largely or at least partially left behind.  One grocery store finally comes back to a neighborhood and isn’t clearing a profit yet?  Sufficient medical resourcces and servies aren't avalable?  

The Make It Right foundation has built over 100 green and healthy houses and counting, which is terrific and a real accomplishment.  Global Green has also built a sustainable village, has created programming and initiatives, and is working locally to promote green building policies as well.  But why are nonprofit organizations carrying so much weight?  Where did billions of dollars of recovery funds go?      

Some claim that a slower recovery can be an event better and more real recovery.  That may in part be true.  And if that’s what the people of New Orleans want, then that is a different story.  But really, ten years later, it seems that not enough has been done and not enough people have been drawn back to a place they can confidently call a great and safe home.  It would seem that all of the people of New Orleans should have a say in where and how money gets invested, but it also would seem that the federal and state and local governments would have somehow collaborated and communicated between themselves and the people of this area to figure out some great long-term plans for all of the people and for the buildings and businesses they need to thrive.  

Wouldn’t every other community expect better?  We have to ask ourselves what is different here.  And we have to be willing to face the answer and to come up with even better solutions.  We can’t rely on well meaning nonprofits and passionate people to fix everything without help and support  -and belief - from the rest of their country.  

"Slow may be good, but it also can be lonely and even sad. Where I live, in Pontchartain Park, there so many empty parcels of land. An empty parcel is usually a reminder that somebody has died, given up trying to rebuild or can't come back.”   - Gwen Thomkins (via NPR)

People and communities should not have to give up. 

Was there a kind of silver lining opportunity from this catastrophe to rebuild a thriving green city with walking neighborhoods full of businesses and sufficient schools other services and amenities?  If so, why didn’t “we” do it?  I’d really like to understand, and I think we could all benefit from more information on what didn’t quite go 100% right here.  Because we have more climate disasters coming.  We need to recover, to prevent, and to build back better, environmentally responsibly, and equitably.  

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