I went to New Orleans with a group of volunteers. We worked on one house that belonged to one family. Others involved in rebuilding the city, however, have serious money behind them and seek to implement Big Ideas about architecture, energy conservation and the nature of community.
We heard a lot about Brad Pitt while were in New Orleans, but I didn’t actually see any of projects bearing his name. Back in Maine, however, I read this article in the November issue of The Atlantic.
The article is intriguing, and it certainly contains ideas that are new to me. Even so, I’m left wondering what all of it actually has to do with the people I met in New Orleans. I can’t escape the feeling that these are the ideas of conquerors and missionaries, not helpers.
New Orleans certainly needs help and its people are generally grateful for the contributions that have been made. I’m not convinced, however, that it’s in anyone’s best interest to take this time of crisis in New Orleans as an opportunity to paper over the place with sensibilities that have more to do with San Francisco and Cambridge than the Crescent City.