Thursday, November 30, 2006

Greetings from New Orleans

I'm in New Orleans for a few days in preparation for the project's launch next week. This morning I met with the executive committee of one of the local neighborhood associations.

One thing that's pretty clear when I attend meetings like this: A lot of residents of overwhelmed with the combination of employment (if they have it), rebuilding their households (literally), and attending to the larger civic matters that can affect the future of their neighborhoods and their city.

And I run into residents who are tired of meetings! There's a hunger to do something that will have an impact. So many just want get on with the rebuilding already, wanting it all to move much faster and not sure how to make it happen.

There are perspectives emerging from my scientific field of management and organizations that provide an answer, in theory. I look forward to putting them in practice soon.

My own feeling to move forward is especially strong when I'm here in NOLA. I have met too many residents who have endured and done so much, yet they are still looking for the rebuilding that so often is promised.

About This Blog

Dear all,

A few words about this blog. It may not look like much yet, but as things develop over the next few weeks, these pages will begin to reflect a community's rebuilding process.

Quick note about the links on the right side of the page.
One is the GIS map of Gentilly. The color codes let visitors to the site know the up-to-date status of the Gentilly renaissance. Visit the page and examine which areas are still in need, over a year after major hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast.
The other is a little more about the Gentilly Project than what we have here. It tells you how you can get involved in the mapping process, and also has an events calendar.

The Gentilly Project is always looking for people to get involved in whatever ways they are able.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Welcome to the Gentilly Project!

Thank you for visiting the website of the Gentilly Project.

This is a research project designed to extend theories of distributed, autonomous volunteer organization, applied to neighborhood disaster recovery in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and the city's levee breeches.

Why this project?

Hi. I'm Quintus Jett. I started what is now the Gentilly Project in aftermath of the flooding in New Orleans in September 2005. Back then, I was guided by three things.

(1) There would be a lot of people who would focus on who how the catastrophe happened. I knew attention to that would be necessary and important, but I wanted to contribute in a different way. So what do we do now?

(2) I had expertise to offer. All sorts of organizational issues would occur in response to this catastrophe in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, and I couldn't escape where my background was relevant. I have a Ph.D from Stanford University in Management and Organizations. I had discovered a passion two years earlier for distributed grassroots organizing as a research topic. And I am an African-American, which I feel gave me a particular sensitivity and motivation to act in the Gulf region. In many respects, the decision to start a project that was different (but necessary) wasn't mine to make.

(3) Emerging organizational theories should be immediately put into practice, so that we can accelerate their development. Bureaucratic thinking and organizations aren't sufficient for the catastrophic problems and risks emerging in the world today. With the variety of skilled expertise distributed nationally and around the world today, we can do better to alleviate the public danger and suffering in our own backyards.

Over a year later, I've seen ways that diverse people can make a difference together. Next week is going to be a very important time for those who can get to New Orleans sometime between December 7 and 21. More details to come...