Last year during the holidays, I was down in New Orleans with some members of my family, participating in a week-long service trip. We gutted homes, discussed human rights issues, and listened to residents who were willing to share their stories — of hope, anger and frustration. We ended our week by spending New Years Eve downtown, celebrating what is good about the city, and what is surviving, despite all the problems.
A variety of books on post-Katrina New Orleans continue to surface, and I chose this one to mention today, since NOLA has been on my mind. Down in New Orleans: Reflections from a Drowned City is Bill Southern’s story of his own evacuation to Mississippi, and subsequent return to his damaged home. Southern is a lawyer-activist who moved to New Orleans four years before the storm. He “offers a powerful vision of what Katrina has meant to New Orleans and what it still means to the nation at large.”
One thing I learned during my week in “The City that Care Forgot” is that the significance of Katrina should matter to all of us. I find it too hard to summarize my own thoughts on this topic in a short post. So I’ll leave it at this: Just remember. Remember what happened. And keep remembering. Read a book about someone’s perspective on post-Katrina New Orleans. Or go visit for yourself. It’s a city with problems, that’s for sure. But it is still a city, with plenty to do and see, and lots of opportunities for those who want to help.