Rebuilding ALL of New Orleans

The New York Times has a story today describing a plan that would open all New Orleans for rebuilding. Given some of sentiments expressed by certain federal officials, like Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL), this is good news, and it is not surprising that such a plan would have to be devised by New Orleans residents themselves. There are of course obvious reasons why this is a good thing, but there are some more subtle positive outcomes as well.

The obvious positives are that every part of the city will be given [close to] a equal opportunity to be redeveloped. On the face, that means that all areas, black and white, lower, middle, and upper class can and will be open and available. The article does state that “the areas that fail to attract a critical mass of residents in 12 months will probably not survive as residential neighborhoods.” What does this mean? It means that people have to act quickly to ensure the survival of their neighborhoods. That means multiple people from an area pooling their resources and going in together, as opposed to individual investment.

More interestingly, this presents an opportunity for people to take ownership of their futures. They owned their past, in terms of their particular pieces of land, their homes, their possessions. Many of these things were damaged/destroyed by the Hurricane, and there were attempts by disinterested parties to prevent people from reclaiming any/all of their lives in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The drafters of this plan are creating an opportunity for sections of the region to not be forgotten. The people of southern Louisiana deserve to rebuild the area as they see fit, not as out-of-town investors see fit. Outside investors would make different choices than local people would, since they value different things. Prime examples are why the French Quarter is bustling, but people are prevented from returning to homes in New Orleans East, the 9th Ward, and various public housing projects.

Further, this opens the door for Black sections of the city to remain Black. That is important because there is a concerted effort to dilute both the culture and population of the city of New Orleans. This initiative gives Black people the chance to reclaim what was already theirs. Ownership is important. This is a unique opportunity for ownership, Black ownership, to be proliferated in the area to an even greater degree than before.


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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

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