Levees Not War
Make Wetlands Not War.

Making Blogging Sexy: Rising Tide 2 | New Orleans | Saturday Aug. 25, 2007

08/28/07

See the Rising Tide blog here. Prepare to meet people you’re gonna like.

“In Levees We Trust.” Engineer Timothy Ruppert gave an excellent one-hour overview of Army Corps of Engineers repairs accomplished and planned through 2011. He compared Corps’ Louisiana work to flood protection systems in the Netherlands and London. Tim Ruppert is president of the Louisiana section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Stay tuned-we’ll be writing more about Tim and his report soon.

Progressive sportswriter Dave Zirin, author of Welcome to the Terrordome, was the widely praised guest speaker. He drew surprising connections between big-money athletics (in which billionaire team owners coerce cities into paying millions in taxpayer dollars for new stadiums, etc.) and the predicament of underfunded New Orleans. See his piece on Rising Tide 2 in the Houston Chronicle here.

“Making Civics Sexy.” We liked what “Editor B.” of b.rox said about leadership at the afternoon panel on civic involvement. It went something like this: Do not think of leadership as something that resides in public officials, as a quality that only other people have. Any one of us can be a leader, if we go ahead and take steps that no one else is taking. Elected officials do occasionally show moments of leadership, and that’s good, but a citizenry will only be disappointed if it waits for any initiatives or answers to problems of public concern to come from the elected officials.

Moderator Maitri Venkat-Ramani (above, right) asked, “Would you say that New Orleanians have cultural pride but not civic pride?” Everyone on the panel seemed to think that there was not a shortage of civic pride. One speaker observed that New Orleanians definitely have strong neighborhood pride-whether it’s your little patch of Mid-City, or a cozy niche in Bywater or Gentilly-and that’s their form of civic pride. Everyone seemed to agree that neighborhood pride was about all the civic pride you needed. If we take care of our neighborhoods, to an extent the city takes care of itself.

Sarah Elise Lewis makes civics sexy (and we believe she is behind a site we like called Habitat for Urbanity. Sarah Elise manages the Common Knowledge Social Network Map, and her specialty seems to be genus urban studies, species power relations. She is working with neighborhood activist Karen Gadbois, a brave and persistent investigator and preventer of erroneous demolitions-see her blog Squandered Heritage-who has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal. Sarah Elise and her Common Knowledge group are compiling a User’s Guide to City Hall-stay tuned for developments.

As we wrote to Oyster and Maitri (above), we came away from RT2 “committed to dedicating the next twelvemonth to acting on what we learned this past weekend and to bringing more accomplishments and ideas (and, let’s hope, even Congressional funding).”

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