Saturday, May 05, 2007

Residential Block Teams

Through this project, volunteers have mapped Gentilly house-to-house. Twice within the past six months. Doing it within 5 weeks the first time and in 10 days the second time demonstrates that wipespread public mapping can be done. But we are not ending there.

In the coming weeks, we'll be recruiting local block teams. We are asking them to:

1. Keep the house-to-house status record up to date
2. Maintain this record on the Internet
3. Form a network of local teams that can map all of Gentilly very rapidly

We're providing the process and tools. I'm focused on Gentilly residents on the ground, since I've been coming to NOLA a lot for over a year. My colleague Dr. Xun Shi and his research assistant Ben Wilson are working on what residents do on the 'virtual Gentilly' that's online.

And my broader concerns about resource mobilization in the rest of flood-damaged New Orleans, as well as for my focus on methods for responding to future disasters, has me looking to other areas in the city beyond Gentilly's borders.

Yet now I'm back from New Orleans, looking to continue from about a thousand miles away.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


While the project was making the news (Front page of last Friday's Times-Picayune!), I was with a class from the Cal-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. The instructors - Dan Gillmor, director of the Center for Citizen Media, and Bill Gannon, director of online operations for Lucasfilm Ltd - brought 6 students.
They have audio/video of individual interviews with about 36 Gentilly residents, and they took photos of blocks throughout Gentilly. Their intention is to post all the content on a Google map, working in concert with this project to show what's happening in New Orleans and how the progress can vary house-to-house and block-to-block.
And this is just the first step. The next is finding people in Gentilly to serve as citizen journalists!