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Posts Tagged ‘Rising Tide’

Rising Tide 6 Is August 27, So Register Today

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

A Conference on the Future of New Orleans

After a week of economy-strangling legislation in Congress, Wall Street plunges, and a downgrade of the nation’s credit rating, maybe you’re ready for some positive news? The Best Thing Happening—we’ll be there and we can hardly wait—is the 6th annual Rising Tide conference on the future of New Orleans on Sat. Aug. 27 at Xavier University.

Held every year since 2006 on or near the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Rising Tide brings together experts, bloggers, writers, activists, new media peeps and other ordinary folks who care about New Orleans and the Gulf Coast: the culture, the environment, the politics, the food and music, the Saints, and the rebuilding and restoration . . .

This year’s RT, with meeting space generously provided by Xavier University, will be bigger and better than ever: two very interesting keynote speakers—David Simon, creator and executive producer of HBO’s popular New Orleans drama Treme, and the brilliant N.O. geographer and acclaimed author Richard Campanella—plus two simultaneous programs: the panel discussions on one stage, and, for the first time, a Tech School focusing on social media and blogging topics (more below).

Check out the Rising Tide Facebook page and Flickr site, then click here to register.

The panels this year are on Social Media, Social Justice  Louisiana’s Coastal Health, featuring our friend Len Bahr of LaCoastPost and Pulitzer winner Bob Marshall of the Times-Picayune • New Orleans Food Writing and Brass Bands. And, if you want to go to Tech School, you can get hands-on training in social media and blogging, learn advanced WordPress techniques, ways to improve your photography, and the latest in web strategies and online tools.

Two Must-Hear Speakers: Richard Campanella and David Simon

We are big fans of Rich Campanella (right) and his books Bienville’s Dilemma: A Historical Geography of New Orleans, New Orleans Then and Now (with Marina Campanella), and Time and Place in New Orleans. This Brooklyn-born geographer–historian–demographics geek has a rare gift for appreciating and explaining New Orleans’s neighborhoods and demographic changes as well as the city’s cultural riches and complexities. Rich will be speaking on “on the origins of how we’ve come to perceive, delineate, and name New Orleans neighborhoods.” See our write-up of his remarks at a 2009 panel discussion we attended at Loyola University, “What Is New Orleans?”

Fans of the hit HBO show Treme, set in post-Katrina New Orleans, will want to hear producer David Simon (see Salon.com’s interview with him)—also creator of HBO’s The Wire—and should check out the blogs Back of Town, many of whose writers are among the organizers of the Rising Tide conference, and Watching Treme.

Networking, Sharing Ideas, and Making Blogging Sexy

As usual, there will be a festive Friday night warm-up (location TBD), and at the conference Octavia Books will provide a literature table of the panelists’ published works available for purchase. Registration includes breakfast beverages and pastries as well as a tasty lunch prepared by J’anita’s.

“We come together to dispel myths, promote facts, highlight progress and regress, discuss recovery ideas, and promote sound policies at all levels. We aim to be a “real life” demonstration of internet activism as we continue to recover from a massive failure of government on all levels.”

Previous RT venues have been appropriately casual and informal (and much appreciated), but Xavier’s hosting of the event brings Rising Tide up to a more serious and professional level. The organizers are grateful to the university administration and to Bart “Editor B.” Everson of Xavier’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching for arranging the venue.

Past keynote speakers have included Mac McClelland (left), human rights reporter for Mother Jones; actor and filmmaker Harry ShearerJohn M. Barry, author of Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America; and Christopher Cooper and Robert Block, (former) Wall Street Journal correspondents and authors of Disaster: Hurricane Katrina and the Failure of Homeland Security. Click here for past years’ lineups and panel discussions.

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David Corn on Democrats, Zombies, and the Vampire Karl Rove

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Last night we had the pleasure of attending a real live Manhattan “liberal elite” salon hosted by Mother Jones magazine, moderated by MoJo’s publisher, Mr. Steve Katz, and featuring the magazine’s Washington bureau chief David Corn (also a blogger for PoliticsDaily.com, former Washington editor for The Nation, and author of The Lies of George W. Bush, Hubris [with Michael Isikoff], and other critically acclaimed books).

Corn spoke about the 2010 midterm election(s), what the Democrats are up against with the Tea Party Republicans, the likely outcomes of the 2010 election, and what impact it will have on the White House’s foreign and domestic policies, whether or not the GOP wins the House . . . and much more!

Readers of this blog will recall that Mother Jones was present at the 5th annual Rising Tide conference in New Orleans on August 28 in the form of (Ms.) Mac McClelland, a human rights reporter who covered the BP oil spill’s effects on Gulf Coast communities in Louisiana and elsewhere. As smart and attention-worthy as Mac is, we’re here to tell you there’s even more talent on the staff of this 30-year-old magazine of investigative journalism (the current issue’s cover story: “The BP Cover-Up”). A year’s subscription for this bimonthly is more than worth the $10.

The following account is based on hurriedly scrawled notes and is not intended to be a verbatim transcript of Mr. Corn’s remarks. To read his exact words, see his blog, his articles at Mother Jones, and read his books (listed below), all of which we highly recommend.

Backlash: The Tea Party Movement as a Political Science Experiment

Corn began by wondering aloud whether there would be a Tea Party as we know it today if John McCain had not chosen as his 2008 running mate an obscure but telegenic governor from the state of Alaska. Can you imagine Dick Armey as the “poster child” face of the Tea Party? Still, he said, there would in any case have been a backlash against a Democratic president, as there always is from the far right (JFK, Clinton . . .). Some of the recoil from the present administration results from the fact that the Democratic president is African-American, though Corn is not sure that race has as much to do with the backlash as the extremely distressed economic conditions.

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Celebrity Sighting: Levees Not War Meets FEMA’s Fugate

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Tomorrow we’ll post some comments on President Obama’s remarks at Xavier University on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. But first, allow us to babble excitedly about the public-safety-and-disaster geek’s idea of a celebrity sighting:

After all the luminaries at the fab Rising Tide conference this weekend we didn’t think we could be any more dazzled, until yesterday at the New Orleans airport we bumped into FEMA administrator W. Craig Fugate and his wife on their way back to Washington following the president’s speech. Sweet serendipity. We talked for a few minutes, told him Levees Not War has hailed his appointment as FEMA administrator—a return to the good old days of experience + competence that FEMA knew during the 1990s—and asked if we can interview him sometime. You see, Mr. Fugate, Levees Not War has interviewed Ivor van Heerden and Mark Schleifstein and other experts on the environment, infrastructure, and public safety, and we’d sincerely love to hear what you have to say after more than a year on the job. Mr. Fugate (pron. FEW-gate) graciously agreed, and we’ll be following up soon. In the meantime, you can see Deborah Solomon’s interview with “The Storm Tracker” in the Aug. 29 New York Times Magazine. He was tickled to hear that we used a photo of him paddling in his kayak (below), his home away from home; this may be why he agreed to an interview. Before parting, we wished each other a boring hurricane season.

A FEMA Administrator Who Tweets

Fugate, a former fireman and paramedic, directed Florida’s Division of Emergency Management from 2001 until his appointment to FEMA in 2009. Until 2009, James Lee Witt, FEMA administrator under President Clinton, was the most well qualified and admired director in the agency’s otherwise troubled history since its founding in the Carter years. Witt had been the emergency director for the state of Arkansas, and praise for his nimble and proactive emergency preparedness and response was bipartisan and pretty well unanimous. Florida native Fugate’s familiarity with hurricanes, however, certainly surpasses that of his celebrated predecessor, and he has won praise for, among other things, his insistence that individuals and families do as much as possible to help themselves by stocking up with emergency supplies and working out a plan for evacuation and communications. See his tweets about preparedness and staying alert about oncoming tropical storms here at In Case of Emergency, Read Blog.

Never anticipating we’d bump into him in an airport, we wrote here in May 2009 after Fugate was confirmed:

Obama’s nomination of Fugate to head FEMA exemplifies a restoration of trust in government and illustrates the difference between Democratic and Republican views of how elected officials should function. It is because Obama has largely chosen very highly qualified individuals for the federal agencies that Americans are consistently reporting to pollsters a renewed confidence in the integrity of government and a sense that the nation is moving in the right direction.

Stay tuned for more Fugate and FEMA reporting. Till then, you can read previous Fugate posts and our interview with Chris Cooper and Robert Block, authors of Disaster: Hurricane Katrina and the Failure of Homeland Security, which explains in compelling detail why FEMA and public safety demand a competent, experienced administrator, and what happens when those qualities are lacking. (Cooper and Block were the keynote speakers at the first Rising Tide conference in August 2006.)

Fugate for FEMA: “Semper Gumby”—In an Emergency, “The Calmest Man in the Room”

More Praise for Craig Fugate as FEMA Director-Nominee

Fugate Confirmed for FEMA: Help Is on the Way

Interview with Christopher Cooper and Robert Block, authors of Disaster: Hurricane Katrina and the Failure of Homeland Security



Live-Blogging from Rising Tide 5 in New Orleans

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Winner of the 2010 Ashley Morris Award: Clifton Harris of Cliff’s Crib

New Orleans blogger Clifton Harris, right, receives the Ashley Morris Memorial Award from emcee George “Loki” Williams, center, and Mark “Oyster” Moseley. Photo courtesy of M. Styborski. Cliff Harris’s writing also appears in the new book A Howling in the Wires: An Anthology of Writing from Postdiluvian New Orleans (Gallatin & Toulouse, 2010). The motto of Cliff’s Crib is “Embrace Your Potential and Be Productive. Long Live the Lower Ninth Ward.” Warm congratulations to Clifton Harris. Read his blog and buy the book. We have. [The coveted Ashley Award, named in honor of the legendary, larger-than-life Ashley Morris, is presented each year to a blogger who has made outstanding contributions to writing about post-Katrina New Orleans. Ashley Morris, Ph.D., who died in 2008, was one of the founders of the Rising Tide conference and an inspiration for the Treme character Creighton Bernette, played by John Goodman.]

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Liveblogging follows, with earliest panels at bottom. (“Treme” panel not included, sorry. For good coverage of that, see Machelle Allman’s Watching Treme.)

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Why Can’t We Get Some Dam Safety in New Orleans? | Presentation by Tim Ruppert

Presentation by Tim Ruppert, engineer and N.O. blogger (Tim’s Nameless Blog) Denial of killing potential of failed levees results in low standards of expectations for levee strength. Levees are considered to only protect property, not human life. The 100-year flood model is an inadequate standard of measurement that leaves N.O. and other human settlements exposed to unacceptable risk of flooding and death. ASCE advocates a risk-based assessment of levees—in other words, let’s calculate how many people would die if this levee fails (the same way dams’ failure is measured and risk-assessed). “When levees fail, people die.” We’re going to have to push Congress to act as though failed levees are every bit as threatening to human safety as failed dams are. 3:30 About 43 percent of Americans live in areas protected by levees. What it means to public safety when dams and levees are perceived as being different from each other. Begins with Johnstown Flood of 1889. Is there really any difference between a dam failure and a levee failure? National Dam Inspection Act passed in 1972, and WRDA (Water Resource Development Act) both distinguished between dams and levees. Dams are considered a life safety system—they usually hold higher levels of water than levees do. Levees are not considered life safety systems; it is assumed or expected that all people living within a levee-protected area are able to evacuate, though we know this is not actually true.

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Politics Panel: Peter Athas, Jason Berry, Clancy Dubos, Jeff Crouere, Stephanie Grace, Jacques Morial

3:05 What will Jindal do? He is looking beyond the governor’s mansion. Run against Mary Landrieu? Crouere and Dubos agree that Jindal won’t finish out his term. That is why the next lieutenant governor’s race will in effect be the next governor’s race. Dubos says he will cut the budget to the bone and then go around the country to Iowa or Florida and talk about how he cut the budget. He doesn’t care about the people of Louisiana; he cares about how his actions look on his resume. Jindal refuses to sign any revenue increase, so cuts will get worse. Stephanie Grace says that what happens to the state’s universities in the next couple of years will send a message to the rest of the nation of what Jindal stands for. 3:00 Jason Berry says a progressive media is needed to help build Democratic, progressive party, candidates, through spreading progressive ideas. As it is, we’re breeding Republicans. Even here in the most progressive urban city in the state there’s really only one progressive paper [Gambit].

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Come Surf the Rising Tide : Aug. 28 in New Orleans

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

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We’ll be in New Orleans for Rising Tide 5—and you’re invited too. First, on Friday afternoon, we’re embarking on a boat tour of Barataria Bay southwest of New Orleans—thanks to friendly connections at the Plaquemines parish government, Loyola University, and the EPA—to see the BP oil spill’s effects on the Louisiana wetlands. Photos, reporting, and possibly video footage to come soon.

Rising Tide Volunteer Community Service Friday Aug. 27

Volunteers are pitching in with a food drive to assist the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana, packing food boxes from 9:00 a.m. until noon, on Friday, August 27, at Second Harvest’s Elmwood warehouse at 700 Edwards Avenue (map). If you can’t make it to this event, please consider contributing to Second Harvest to help hundreds of families who have seen their jobs and livelihoods evaporate since the BP oil spill. Each year, Second Harvest provides emergency food assistance to nearly 263,000 people, including approximately 82,000 children and 40,000 seniors across 23 south Louisiana parishes.

Rising Tide program for Saturday Aug. 28

The Howlin’ Wolf, 907 South Peters Street

Details about participants here.

8:30 | doors open

9:30 | Opening remarks

9:45 | Public Safety panel : Brian Denzer, Susan Hutson, Allen James, Peter Scharf, N.O. Police Chief Ronal Serpas, Jon Wool

11:00 | Keynote speaker: Mac McClelland, human rights reporter for Mother Jones

12:00 | Environmental panel : Steve Picou, Len Bahr, Robert Verchick

2:00 | Politics panel : Peter Athas, Jason Berry, Jeff Crouere, Clancy Dubos, Stephanie Grace, Jacques Morial

3:15 | “Why Can’t We Get Some Dam Safety in New Orleans?” Presentation by engineer Tim Ruppert

3:45 | Presentation of 2010 Ashley Morris Memorial Award

4:00 | “Down in the Treme” panel : Maitri Erwin, Lolis Eric Elie, Eric Overmyer, Becky Northcut, Dave Walker, Davis Rogan

Also happening in New Orleans

New Orleans area Katrina anniversary events (NOLA.com)

President Obama to speak at Xavier University Sunday, Aug. 29, to commemorate 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

New Orleans C.A.R.E. Free Clinic | Tues. Aug. 31–Weds. Sept. 1 at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, 900 Convention Center Blvd. Volunteers needed and welcome! Register to volunteer: www.regonline.com/nolacare | Patients call 1-877-236-7617

Historic New Orleans Collection : Katrina + 5: Documenting Disaster | May 12–September 12  |  Williams Gallery, 533 Royal Street

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Rising Tide 5 Is Aug. 28 in New Orleans: Register Today

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

A Conference on the Future of New Orleans

The Rising Tide Conference is an annual gathering for all who wish to learn more and do more to assist New Orleans’ recovery. It’s for everyone who loves New Orleans and is working to bring a better future to all its residents.

Fresh back from one vacation, we’re already booking our next trip: to New Orleans, baby, for Rising Tide V.

That’s right, in late August we’re going to the 5th annual Rising Tide conference on the future of New Orleans on Saturday, Aug. 28, on the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina (8/29/05). This will be our third RT (after 2007 and 2008), and they just keep getting better. (Press release here.)

Leveraging the power of bloggers and new media, the conference is a launch pad for organization and action. Our day-long program of speakers and presentations is tailored to inform, entertain, enrage and inspire.

Treme, Environment, Levees, Public Safety, and Politics

RT5’s program keeps improving, too, every time we look at it. Check this out:

Breaking news: The keynote speaker will be Mother Jones human rights reporter (Ms.) Mac McClelland, who has been reporting on the BP Oil Flood in the Gulf. See her “Rights Stuff” dispatches for MoJo here. ]

The conference will feature panel discussions on  HBO’s hit show Treme (set in post-Katrina New Orleans) with Treme co-creator Eric Overmyer and N.O. journalist and documentarist Lolis Eric Elie . . . “Paradise Lost” on environmental issues, including LaCoastPost’s Len Bahr, a coastal science adviser to five Louisiana governors, and environmental law expert Rob Verchick . . .  flood protection discussed by Tim Ruppert, an N.O. engineer and blogger . . . public safety, led by activist and blogger Brian Denzer . . . and Louisiana politics, moderated by Peter Athas and featuring Clancy DuBos of Gambit and other N.O. journalists. And more! The event will be emceed (like last year’s) by the incomparable George “Loki” Williams of Humid City (who personifies—indeed, “lives the dream”—of social networking). And all this fun is jump-started by a pre-conference party on Friday night at the Howlin’ Wolf, starting around 7:00.

The all-day event will be held at The Howlin’ Wolf, 907 South Peters Street near the Convention Center. Pre-registration is only $20, slightly more at the door.

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Rising Tide III in New Orleans Aug. 22–24: A Conference on the Future of New Orleans

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

LNW_RT3.medThe third annual Rising Tide conference of Katrina bloggers and activists will convene in New Orleans on the weekend of Aug. 22–24, the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina (8/29/05). The main event is Saturday at the Zeitgeist Arts Center at 1618 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. (504-827-5858).

John M. Barry is the keynote speaker on Saturday. Barry, a resident of New Orleans and a recognized authority on the Mississippi River, is the best-selling author of Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America.

As usual, there will be a meet ’n’ greet Friday night (TBA), a full day of truly lively panel discussions (Saturday at Zeitgeist), and an optional public service action on Sunday (such as painting a classroom or repairing a house).

Click here for the Rising Tide III blog.

We’ll be there again, as we were last year. (See ‘Making Blogging Sexy’ below.)

More details to come . . .



Viva New Orleans—for Art’s Sake!

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

One of the happy (re)discoveries at the Rising Tide 2 conference of Katrina bloggers this past weekend was the New Orleanians’ sheer vitality, creativity, and ingenuity—their will to survive, to renew, to make the city better than it was before. We came away reinvigorated, reassured that in at least one American city democracy and citizen activism are alive and well. (If you keep busy, it doesn’t hurt quite as bad—and anyway, struggling for your very survival has a way of concentrating the mind.) In part because some public officials are lame and passive, and others are working but overwhelmed and underfunded, gutsy determined citizens are taking into their own hands the work of rebuilding, forming civic associations, alerting fellow citizens about opportunities and dangers (potential funding, criminal activity on the streets or in City Hall), etc.

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