Community Participation Shapes Katrina Recovery

Steven Bingler of Concordia Planning and Architecture discusses the process and thinking behind the Unified New Orleans Plan, which engaged large numbers of citizens to plan the recovery of their neighborhoods in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
September 4, 2008, 6am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"There were a half dozen professionally implemented planning processes immediately following Hurricane Katrina. The community was in a state of distress and desolation. Some of the components in these plans caused pushback from the community due to trust issues, which prevented the plans from moving forward.

Fortunately, the Rockefeller Foundation joined together with the Greater New Orleans Foundation and some others to support a community-engaged process that would ultimately determine the recovery plan for the city."

"The Unified Plan outlines the notion of clustering facilities around what we now refer to as a "nexus." Beyond the concept of schools as centers of community is this more robust concept of clustered community resources. The plan looks at the core components of both, because of course we know that schools can be community centers in addition to being schools. But we have also learned that in terms of governance, the concept should be broader than simply bringing different functions like health care and social services onto a school site."

"The most important element in rebuilding a city-because of a disaster, in spite of a disaster, or even in preparation for a disaster-is the act of coming together and working collaboratively. The community has said that they will not tolerate the school system not working with the city government. They will not tolerate the city government not working with the housing authority. And they will not tolerate the housing authority not working with our city institutions. The community sees all of this as one challenge as opposed to silos of challenges addressed by separate governing systems."

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Published on Friday, August 29, 2008 in The Planning Report
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