The Calm Before the Storm

22 days til hurricane season, 2006… 
I’m sitting at the now familiar Willow St dining room table…I need to turn the light on…dusk is upon us down here…Long day, everyday. 
Fascinating meetings today.  Am waiting for dust to settle in my head and important discussions at next meeting of my Boston-based Mutual Admiration Society (M.A.S., and you know who you are!) to talk it all through. 

Historic preservation and generally working with the city sounds like a headache no outsiders are prepared for.  Non-profits seem VERY confident they can pull off large, complex community development projects down here and leave organizational/neighborhood capacity behind, based on their past experience (one talked about the 13 years of community meetings he participated in in Mattapan to get UMass’s biotech lab built)…The bulk of the examples came from Boston, a city w/tremendous CDC capacity…I can only imagine Roxbury/Mattapan’s lowest moments are still a far cry from the politics of doing biz down here. 

A local person pointed out in one meeting the need to not “divorce race politics” from anything we’re trying to accomplish, and I know my boss and I at least have also tried to make that point, but at this point I’m not sure there is a way to communicate this reality to the predominantly-white-male-Northeastern donor leadership until they are living it in the NOLA trenches. … as I write those words, I think of my friend Steve’s anecdote about the community in LA that burned itself down (twice?) in rage and frustration…

It is a trip hearing the Boston accents and wacky anecdotes about Charlestown and housing lotteries and South End CDC’s as we struggle to wrap our heads around the work to be done down here.  A far cry from Yankee fan contempt in the days of NY, and a fabulous way to stay close to home while I roam around this foreign land known as New Orleans.
That said, it is really hard to keep moving back and forth b/w NOLA and Boston.  The intensity and complexity of life down here is really hard to keep stepping away from, from post-disaster, urban, cultural, racial, intellectual/new project development perspectives.  I could see myself losing myself down here.  So maybe it’s good for now to keep escaping north.  I feel like I’m going to wake up one day and three years will have passed.  I’m getting ahead of myself…

I have pages and pages of thoughts, but I don’t even know what they are yet…stay tuned…


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