FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The "New" New Orleans

They say that when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. New Orleans and the Gulf Coast have been handed (maybe thrown) more lemons than they can handle over the past week. But can the region turn a disaster into an opportunity?

Despite assertions from its residents that the Big Easy will rise again, powerful politicians have questioned the wisdom of spending billions to do so. As the Katrina disaster fades from the headlines and emotions ebb, expect more pols to echo this sentiment. Already, polls are finding that a majority of Americans believe that New Orleans will never fully recover from the disaster. Many of those who have been evacuated may never return, and with so many sights and sounds of human suffering, the image of the Crescent City as a carefree party town will be forever tempered.

That said, some are already envisioning a "new" New Orleans... one that will be better and safer than ever. The Next Hurrah blog proposes an "Eco New Orleans" that will features smart growth, green housing and a distributed energy program. WorldChanging features a similarly ambitious and sustainable blueprint for rebuilding.

On a more immediate note, Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine outlines a strategy for using online technology to coordinate recovery efforts and get survivors back on their feet.

UPDATE: Putting Jarvis' ideas into action, Greg Burton of Genius Now has set up the Recovery 2.0 wiki, where people can network and share ideas for helping with recovery efforts. The Katrina Help Wiki is a similar resource. Katrina Help is one of many blogs set up to provide up-to-the-minute information.

UPDATE (10/4/05): Enviropundit has a post that links to several resources covering hurricane-resistant building codes and construction techniques.

Source: Genius Now