New Flickr set: I toured the Lakeview section, New Orleans East and the French Quarter today with Ernie the Attorney.
On the flight from Atlanta to New Orleans I did a 50-minute podcast with Janet, a woman who lost her house and all her posessions in the Lakeview section of New Orleans. It might be the best MCN so far.
Ernie the Attorney on Magazine Street in New Orleans.
In a few short hours yesterday I talked with enough people to get a few ideas.
First, the people who are here are people who very much want to be here. Second, many of them are new to the city, attracted by the idea of a fresh start.
People who were uptown, in the Garden District, or central business distribut and quarter (the "sliver by the river") went through a burst of euphoria in October and November when the lights came back, phones started working, a few businesses re-opened. But since there's been less progress, and some people are getting depressed.
Some businesses are shuttered, others are visibly rebuilding. Walgreens has opened several 24-hour stores, they're brightly lit, a hub of activity. The Whole Foods looks incredible, not open yet, but clearly coming back. Two Starbucks on Magazine Street are dark and dead.
Magazine Street is the most active street uptown. Restaurants open. St Charles was trying hard but for the most was not open for business. On the lake side of St Charles, I'm told (but have not yet seen) there was a lot of flooding, on the lake side of Claiborne (the next street in, it was all flooded, and all needs to be rebuilt).
Ernie says people are waiting for leadership, but I say the leadership is already here. For example, when we pulled up to the Walgreen's parking lot last night, there was a Military Police humvee with three soldiers standing around. He said "Let's go talk to them." How strange, I said, to be talking to soldiers like that, but we did, and they were friendly, had opinions about stuff, they were from the Air National Guard. Here's a Quicktime movie of the soldiers.
They have an incredible word of mouth network going. Everyone has an opinion about what's going on. Not only does everyone here want to be here, but they want the city to work, even as the much smaller city it is today.
Some ideas. You knew I was going to say this -- more blogs. One for every waitress, lawyer, construction worker who wants one. Everyone has an opinion. Even if you write the same thing today as you wrote yesterday -- write. A Greensboro-size blogging community is a real possibility here, and it would help get people thinking and talking.
I've felt totally welcomed here. People are glad to see someonenew from the outside show up. The waitress at dinner last night said she felt awkward complaining about her situation because the person she's talking with might be worse-off than she is, but no problem talking with an outsider.
Anyway, here's something new people can do for the city -- help clean it up. So here's an idea, when people come to Mardi Gras in February, not only do they go to the parades and parties, but they also work. Haul away debris. Teach people how to blog. Do paperwork.
BTW, Ernie says there is free wifi covering the French Quarter and CBD.
Also, be sure to listen to last night's podcast, it'll help make things make sense.
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