One year ago this week I was in NOLA, heading down the Gulf Coast seeing how people were dealing with the damage and neglect of the Federal Flood. Here’s an excerpt from one of the posts on the subject of housing in New Orleans,
It was probably my second day in New Orleans and I decided to go visit the common ground legal clinic. I had heard they were providing free legal advice and a mini computer lab for local residents who want to get informed about their rights and perhaps how to manage property issues that have emerged after Katrina. After some nice emailing with one of the spokespeople… I figured going there would be an interesting experience.
As usual I drove around in circles, distracted every five minutes by another neighborhood of abandoned or destroyed houses. Eventually I found the legal clinic on a very lovely and typical new orleans street with the nice trees growing in the middle island that people seem to refer to as neutral territory. A large house with a dry cleaners on the ground floor, as I pulled up I could already see lots of people hanging out using their computers… I knew I had come to the right place.
Fast forward an hour or so, I’m sitting on the front porch sharing a little plastic table with a pretty young lady on her laptop, both of us typing away franticly.
At some point I strike up a conversation. She’s a law student from Seattle… as are many of the volunteers at the legal clinic. They come down in waves whenever they can, and right now it was spring break. When I asked her what tasks she was working on, she held up a stack of photocopied newspaper pages.
“You see these… they look like classified ads don’t they? These are printed in the big local newspaper, the Times-Picayune, everyday. Thing is, they’re not classified ads, they notices of properties that are considered abandoned, warning people that they will be evicted from their property if they don’t do something about it.”
I looked at the tiny print and the neverending list of properties, each one representing a life, or probably a family. Looking up at the young law student, I asked if this was legal?
It was one year ago that I was making my way to New Orleans. From there I travelled along the Gulf Coast, visiting communities and good friends, many who’s lives had been dramatically effected by the Federal Flood and hurricane Katrina.
Jay wrote to me a few weeks ago to say that he was heading there, to give some seminars or talks on videoblogging. More recently he sent me a message talking about how great it was to be there, and the good news: a new NOLA videoblog has launched. Despite all the great voices, like Dambala, Morwen, and Ray, who write about the city’s issues on a regular basis, there has long been a lack of consitent video blogging on these topics. Now, Citizen’s City Hall looks like a great contender to fill that void.
This section of my CCC’07 talk on Rebellious Communication and the Federal Flood looks at prisons and public housing in New Orleans. You’ll notice at the end I come to a conclusion not unlike that which Naomi Klein later did in her book the shock doctrine.
Remember to update your links as my blog is now located directly on citizenreporter.org and if you want to watch part 1 and 2 of this blog please look in the archives.
A recent court ruling may have dropped the case against the army corps of engineers, but it also pointed to them as responsible for the terrible state of the levees in New Orleans before the Federal Flood. Sandy Rosenthal, founder of levees.org joins me on this program to explain what is happening with the legislative and legal battles being fought in the quest for justice and accountability in NOLA.
Making the rounds on several of my favorite NOLA bloggers, I was especially captivated by Ray’s post a few days ago on a specific house that several bloggers had helped to gut. He featured a video which I wanted to include on my blog as well. Its 8 minutes or so long and contains the first visit to the house after the storm and you see the very grim pictures as they remove everything from the house that no doubt looks nothing like it did before the storm.
I recommend you read Ray’s entire post, the struggle and the pain continues down in the Big Easy.
This is not the anniversary of a tragedy. This is the 2 year anniversary of the day the world saw and thousands of people felt the effects of a deliberate neglect, mismanagement, and sabatage of an entire region and the city at the heart of it. A campaign that continues, as does the suffering.
“We” includes more than just the people of New Orleans, “We” is us as a nation, as a planet, as humans… and “WE” are NOT ok.