Friday, November 7, 2008

Barack Obama's New Orleans Cabinet

As Barack Obama starts to put together his cabinet to mend our country back together, it makes me think about the next generation of leaders in New Orleans that can help our 44th President rebuild this city.

(Pictures taken from the WPA Photograph Collection at the New Orleans Public Library)

New Orleans had a very large rental population before the storm, and still does. In order to re-populate the city and build more affordable units that can support the working people of the city, we need to push our tactics to be different from what has been in done in the past. To analyze what the city is doing and how to enforce landlords to fix the thousands of blighted properties, we could ask Andrew Holbien. We also must be realistic about how much affordable housing costs and how it to build it so it lasts. When the city built public housing in the 40s, it was designed to sustain the "100 year" storm. The team behind Green Coast Enterprises should help us build the type of housing that will be sustainable, affordable and will last. Others to add to the team, Yasmin Bowers and Andrea Floyd from Consciously Building, Tess Monaghan from Build Now, Hampton Barclay- Homebuilder's Association, Futureproof and the Greater New Orleans Fair Action Housing Center.

Community Development/ Neighborhood Collaboratives
/ The Arts

Since the storm, there have been many powerful examples of how neighborhods in New Orleans have responded to adversity. In order to make government more effective, neighborhood organizations/stakeholders must have a strong influence in the city's decision making. Our president should consult with Timolynn Sams and Gill Benedek from the Neighborhood Partnership Network to see how to empower neighborhood associations, but also how to find common ground with people from different locations who may have opposing views on city ordinances.

The key to recovery is who has access to information, and the team from Whence The Studio has been instrumental in creating web portals that share information with all users.For government to work, we need innovative, easy to navigate websites. We can also use websites to give suggestions for policy the city should undertake. For example, see Zach Kupperman's led Policy Pitch. In addition, an important part of rebuilding a more equitable city, is getting groups from different backgrounds and geographic locations meeting and working together. Many of the organizations ( Urban League Young Professionals of New Orleans, Young Leadership Council, NOLA YURP,Puentes, Young Friends Society) geared towards the young professional demographic have started to collaborate in meaningful ways and should be asked more to take part in the decision making for the city.

A crucial part to rebuilding a city, and strengthening neighborhoods during an economic depression/recession is investing in the arts and music (see the rest of the WPA Photo Collection). Here are several of the many projects and people that Obama should find ways of supporting and seek advise from- ( New Orleans Creative Alliance , Trombone Shorty, Sweet Home New Orleans, Defend New Orleans, New Orleans Kids Camera Project,, DJ Soul Sister, The George and Leah Mckenna Museum of African-American Art

Education, Health Care, Small Business Development- Coming Soon- Please Send your suggestions


G - illy said...

For Housing Policy, Amber Seely of Renaissance Neighborhood Development Corporation and Ian Trivers from the AFL-CIO Investment Trust are exploring different housing finance methods - from soft second mortgages to keeping dedicated reserves in city coffers to ensure affordable housing opportunities. It will take the expertise and innovation of folks such as these.

Furthermore, the next generation of leaders should heed the lessons that are hard at work in the neighborhoods. Both NENA and the Broadmoor Development Corporation have highlighted the effectiveness of gathering neighborhood level data on homeowners and their housing conditions. Jon Graboyes experience with data collection and systems, such as Salesforce, exemplify leveraging hi-tech for high impact.

A component often neglected in implementing government initiatives is the importance of quality design. Comprehension in today's age requires both content and form to work together to accomplish the intended function. An example of quality design can be seen by Curious Tribe, a collective of young designers in New Orleans led by Justin Sheils, that do not accept the status quo - always pushing and experimenting towards clear new ways to present ideas and expression. Imagine getting City Hall Budget 2009 that clearly delineated previous expenditures, future gains, and the return on your public contribution (taxes).

- Gill

Danielle Gilyot said...

I think that we need to work to preserve the unique architecture that is characteristic of New Orleans as we rebuild the housing here. An excellent group of people to consult with is the board for the Preservation Resource Center.

Robbie said...

Amen Nathan. Keep lending perspective, raising your voice.

lakkbe8 said...

Really loved your piece above. Keep in mind: The Ashe Cultural Center, Neighborhood Story Project, Louisiana Artworks, the Downtown Development District of New Orleans - just to name a few.

After the Hurricane, Nagin engaged the Bring New Orleans Back Campaign - of which the city's intiatives were divided and tackled by various groups. I'm not sure how successful the overall project was - but I helped to compose the report for the Cultural Committee. If these reports are still available, it might be useful to see how far we've come since 2005 (especially since most major institutions' workforces have rebuilt considerably).

Education-wise, engaging the universities/their outreach programs/the graduate schools seems entirely appropriate. Particularly pro bono efforts currently underway. Also: our newly elected school board, Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives, New Schools for New Orleans, New Leaders for New Schools, and The New Teacher project.