Tuesday, January 09, 2007

To Map Again?

I understand that in certain respects, I am rare and walk in circles of other rare people. I'm an African-American with a Ph.D. in Management. The past few weeks, I haven't had personal contact with people who share these attributes with me. That changed during the past 24 hours.
Dr. Vanessa Hill drove up from Lafayette, LA to see the project yesterday afternoon. We know each other from conferences, and she had been reading my emails describing the project. So she came up yesterday, and helped me walk and map a chunck of the remaining Gentilly blocks that had been missed. She also immortalized the final mapped house, convincing me in a moment of weakness to pose for a picture (above).
Meanwhile, Dr. Jeffrey Robinson wanted to connect me with Patricia Jones, Executive Director of the Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Empowerment Network Association. He sent me her number this morning, and I met with her mid-day. It turns out she's been interested in mapping the Lower 9th Ward for a few months. She already has her fellow residents sticking push pins on a map to indicate whether or not they will return to their home. She has been looking for help setting up a mapping process. Apparently, when she said that yesterday in the forum where she met J.R., he said "What a lucky day this could be for you...." That's when he first text-messaged me about her.
The Lower Ninth Ward is smaller than Gentilly. If we could think of a way to generate quickly the census-block maps and the associated address lists, we could map the entire Lower Ninth Ward in one weekend with about 50 volunteers.
I get myself in trouble with ideas like this...


Blogger Sarah said...

First I have to say I loved the map of Gentilly being completely filled in. Not only because I began making and updating a highlighted map while in New Orleans and I am glad Professor Jett filled it in, but also and more importantly because I have seen so many residents and volunteers from across the city, metropolitan area, and the country contribute to this project. As the momentum builds, I feel like we are beginning to make real progress.

Dr. Jett has said numerous times, people want to help but they do not know how and where to put their particular skills to work. Gathering on the ground and updated information helps volunteers, organizations, business, and possibly city officials gather the information needed to make their plans a success. The project also demonstrated that while frustratingly slow at times progress is being made.

Most importantly for me as someone who grew up in the city, is watching the traditional boundaries of race, class, and neighborhood begin to break down through contact and working on this project together. The best way for New Orleans to move forward is as a united front with all residents regardless of race, class, or feet of flooding working together in partnership. We must look beyond boundaries of neighborhood, district, or Parish at the larger picture.

As the level system failures proved, New Orleans is one community whether we embrace that reality or not.

5:28 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home