Monday, August 27, 2007

Community Radio - A Great Idea

I spoke Friday with someone in New Orleans who's looking to organize a community radio station in New Orleans that'd be focused on the happenings of specific neighborhoods.

This idea is very complementary towards this project's goal of accelerating local recovery by drawing attention to the different kinds and levels of recovery needed in particular areas.

I wonder if the Dan Gillmor, director of the Center for Citizen Media, would be interested in this? He and I have discussing how our spring collaboration (which includes Bill Gannon of Lucasfilm, Inc.) will continue through Dan & Bill's UC Berkeley graduate journalism course and a shared venture that involves having Gentilly residents becoming journalists themselves.

Maps are very democractic. A properly-organized map can communicate information in a form we can all understand. I think radio can function similarly. Imagine the project's local recovery results could be radio broadcast on both the NOLA airwaves and on the Internet! We could cross the digital divide quite well with such an effort.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Do Less to Achieve More?

There was a point in June when I had to slow the project's operational aspects (data collection, community engagement, data management) for a couple weeks, in order to reconfigure the project to achieve more during the summer.

Now feels like a similar time. In July and August, I came back to NOLA with Ingrid and Sam for two separate extended weekends of mapping. The heat was pretty brutal. Especially two weeks ago in August.

Altogether during those weekends, the three of us with Gentilly residents and other volunteers finished remapping 9 of 21 neighborhoods. Together the particular neighborhoods correspond to about 30% of Gentilly properties.

It would have been great to update more. This week I'm having to think ahead to the fall. Sponsors. External Partners. Core team members.

I'm weighing a trip to NOLA next week, so that I can map with some volunteers on Labor Day weekend. And the two years since Katrina is being recognized there too. But time is becoming critical to reconfigure the project, and I need to check to see if a third trip is in budget.

Should I return to NOLA next week?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Blogging Our Progress

I need to "let go" about blogging. Sometimes I just stop blogging about the project, because so much is happening around me with it and I haven't fully processed it yet. But by not blogging about the developments, I know I'm missing a key aspect of blogging : )

Within the last week:

- I was in NOLA again with Sam and Ingrid. We mapped three more neighborhoods: St. Roch Bend, Filmore Gardens, Mirabeau Gardens. We also finished mapping the other half of the Sugar Hill neighborhood. About 1/3 of Gentilly has been remapped this summer. The cool thing is the resident participation. Most of the mapping is done by the residents who join us - like Claire, K.C., and Kathi.

Within the past few days:

- The project is going to be integrated with one - possibly two - courses at the University of New Orleans.

- I'm exploring some synergies with my colleague Andy King at the Tuck School. In interesting and productive ways, both of our projects will benefit from increased coordination and sharing of resources.

- A potential partnership with the OneTorch organization is moving very rapidly ahead, based on some developments on Wednesday night.

I welcome comments on the blog. Honestly, your posts remind me that I should be telling you more : )

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Eminent Domain

Demolition lists and the seizing of properties. I understand it needs to happen. Just on Monday, I was back in New Orleans talking to someone living next to a blighted house. It's a health hazard. If an owner doesn't take action, the legal wheels must turn for the health and safety of people living next door.

But then, how do you know if you have the right house on the list? Especially on such a large scale? It's a manageable problem, but even small errors (i.e., a house inaccurately placed on a demolition list) will have a devasting effect.... And the time required to error check what's on these lists....I can imagine the bottlenecks in city departments...