Exactly a year ago, on the anniversary of Katrina, we found ourselves in an all too familiar situation as a city. All of us were glued to our screens for updates from our meteorologist of choice on what to expect from Hurricane IDA.
You know the rest of the story. Our city without power for weeks due to Entergy’s inability to invest in improving the infrastructure it relies upon. A harsh reminder of the infrastructure failures 16 years prior when canals never built to sustain serious storm surge failed us.
What we wrote last year focused on why we choose to live in a place with so many drawbacks. Our answer: because of the people. The solidarity we have with so many of our neighbors and shared experiences and traditions.
We ended our post last year with this:
“One thing is certain… As long as there are people who choose to live in New Orleans, the city will be filled with the right people. A community linked by a reverence for history and shared traditions. Each of us has the responsibility to help create and to share the culture with others. When you choose to live here, you don’t just choose to live here. It isn’t just an address or job. You are choosing to participate and play your role in the collective experience of this wonderful and weird city. One that, on occasion, has to deal with a hurricane in the same way the many generations that came before us did.”
A year later, We still stand by this. But, we do think this is a moment of concern for all of us who live here and love this city. To know where we are today, let’s look back at the past few years.
2005-2010: the rebuilding years. We came out unscathed by the 2008 economic collapse. An island focuses on getting back on its feet.
2010-2015: the pride years. A city back from the brink, a Super Bowl victory, TV show on HBO, and booming tourism. BP oil spill is a harsh reminder of our dependence on Oil and Gas.
2015-2020: the over-popular years. Tourism and attention in the city keep growing. Short Term Rentals carved up our neighborhoods and priced out many who live and work here.
2020-2021: the “don’t take it to the streets” years. Covid put a pause on all that we hold dear as a community, that of being with each other, together. On the streets, in crowds, in bars, at bustling dining tables.
2022: Here we are a year after Entergy left us in the dark and City Hall made the City haul its own garbage. We are seeing an increase in crime with a huge spike in those perpetrated by juveniles. Every street seems to be in disrepair or mid-repair. And we have a mayor who can’t seem to establish a narrative for where this city is going.
When a city has a long history like New Orleans you benefit from the embedded cultural traditions that make this such an amazing place to call home. There is a rhythm to the city. But this rhythm can also be the repeating patterns of crime, failures of city hall, grift, and apathy.
We hope this is a moment where New Orleans can get some new leadership to help establish a path forward that counters apathy with action and accountability.
Where do you hope to see New Orleans in 5 years?