Friday, January 13, 2006


The good intentions of people are doing great harm to the recovery effort in New Orleans. The "we-know-best" crowd is out in force with recommendations on how the city should be rebuilt. Problem is, they don't all agree on how to proceed. And while all the experts debate and polititians dither, citizens whose communities were destroyed are itching to get back home and start rebuilding but are not allowed because some people are more interested in the unatainable perfect rather than the achievable pretty-good.

The Lower 9th Ward was/is an area with rampant poverty but with strong ties to family and community. Because some people are only able to see the material aspect of the community, they cannot comprehend the emotional ties that hold these communities together. And it's those emotional ties that maintains peoples spirit during these trying times.

What planners need to understand is what people want is for their community to be theirs, regardless of its drawbacks. Like a favorite stuffed animal as a child. Sure its dirty, frayed and is missing an eye but you have a sentimental bond to it that no new stuffed animal can replace.

Granted, much of the Lower 9th Ward is gone, but we need to let people rebuild their communities on their own terms, not ours. After all, they have to live there, not us.


David Sucher said...

Do you agree with this perspective:

People should not be encouraged (or even allowed) to rebuild in areas subject to flooding (i.e. areas below sea-level) until there is a serious flood-proofing program (including rebuilding the barrier islands) underway.

Kinch said...

The government would be overstepping it's bounds if it made non-government owned land unavailable for development. What the government has done in the past is provide some level of flood protection, say flood walls.

Because New Orleans is mostly below sea level, hindering development in most of the city would put a major crimp in the US energy industry as well as hinder a significant amount of imports and exports.

So you see, allowing New Orleans to grow and providing flood protection is in the best interest of the US.

Problem is, most people don't realize it but they should.