Thursday, August 23, 2007
My Nephew Running Circles
Because we are living at the rate of two years for every one year since Katrina in our new life of intense civic engagement in New Orleans, I am finding that blogging has been helpful. I found that I can go back to my previous posts over the last two years and see how much I have learned and what I/we have accomplished. Mostly I am shocked, because in my head, it's all a blur. I sometimes wonder if we are running in circles or making real progress. Beginning from this post Red Sticker , I learned how I know how to get solidly removed from these lists. Now, I can get a house in tax adjudication threat fixed and I have gotten houses in very precarious situations more time, so the owners can stablize them.
After working with Karen on Squandered Heritage, I am now a "List Master". Not only that, I can suggest a contractor who is an expert on these old homes and an engineer who can give you a report on-the-spot. I have successfully helped owners apply for grants for historic building repair.
Since my house was hand salvaged by Willie White, my fascination with his level of knowledge led me follow him all over this city to teach me how these houses are put together. He has taken the time to show me the learning curve about "architectural forensics". We have crawled under many of our city's oldest buildings in the last year and what I thought was new was actually old. He taught me how to evaluate a building from the bottom up.
It really gives me a shudder to look back on my post for the approach of Hurricane Katrinawhich is now just horrifyingly prescient. To compare this with that last one from when MY house was on these threatening demolition lists it's all very logical that I am now assisting my fellow residents in getting some peace of mind by negotiating the labyrinth of processes I had to overcome myself. I can read that Red List post and see how I felt so afraid and the feelings of despair I held about the whole nightmare. And now I can see what we can do !
Many thanks to Karen for creating Squandered Heritage a viable project, something truly useful that I can look at as a real, solid outcome of all this. This, on the 2nd Anniversary of this all-consuming recovery from a great disaster. We both now know, it will be many years of continued diligence before things are stable. It's been a wild ride but as I look back, it makes sense.
As we had said to one another back in October of 2005, when we were under curfew, clearing our own streets of debris, helping our neighbors gut their homes, helping our friends open their restaurants to feed our fellow residents and give them a place to meet and heal over a meal. Today, two years later, we are still hungry for any sort of information from the people who are in charge at various agencies. We are still helping people gut their homes. The saying still stands.