Saturday, August 23, 2008

8/23/2008 Community Gumbo

Listen | Democracy Now (8/20/08)
  • The Limits of Power: Andrew Bacevich on the End of American Exceptionalism
Listen | Democracy Now (8/22/08)
  • “Trouble the Water”–New Film Provides Firsthand Account of Hurricane Katrina and Its Aftermath
Listen | Karen Gadbois: Government Transparency, Social Networking, and Disaster Recovery
Representatives of more than 20 contractors hired by the New Orleans Affordable Homeownership Corp. (or NOAH) delivered records in federal court on Thursday to comply with a grand jury subpoena as part of a widening investigation into malfeasance. The investigation is centering on allegations that contractors were paid to gut and clean flooded houses, but never completed the work.

The scandal erupted when WWL TV Eyewitness news reporter Lee Zurik began reporting on discrepancies found in records obtained from city hall through public records requests.

Irregularities in the records of the city-chartered agency were first found by local bloggers Karen Gadbois and Sarah Lewis. They were posting photographs of homes slated for demolition at when they noticed a home that was gutted by NOAH contractors were going to be bulldozed. Gadbois wondered why the city would spend money to gut and clean a house if it was going to be demolished.

Using her persistent investigation skills, Gadbois had uncovered numerous cases over a period of weeks. Lists provided by the city appeared to show NOAH contractors billed the city for work that was never completed. Reporter Lee Zurik took notice of what she found.

Gadbois and Zurik put the NOAH controversy in newspapers around the country, and Mayor Ray Nagin accused them of hurting the recovery, calling Gadbois an "amateur investigator."

Karen Gadbois talks about how it feels to be the center of attention, how government transparency combined with new social networking technology like blogs is vital for disaster recovery, and she talks about an event taking place next Saturday at UNO, the New Orleans Speaks Symposium, an effort to write a living history of recovery, including stories of personal and community recovery, visions for urban renaissance, and resources communities need to bring to bring their visions from concept to completion.

Karen Gadbois blogs about disaster recovery and documents New Orleans historic architecture at


Susan Finch, "Documents submitted in NOAH investigation," The Times-Picayune, 8/22/08.

Listen | George Williams: Government Transparency, Social Networking, and Disaster Recovery
Continuing the conversation about blogging, George Williams is another New Orleans blogger who's discovered the importance of social networking for disaster recovery. Using the byline Loki, Williams blogs at, and talked about the third annual Rising Tide blog conference taking place today.

New Orleans Speaks
For many months after the levees breached we waited for someone to help us “recover”. Who was coming: FEMA? The federal government? A university? Developers? We were waiting for experts to arrive with answers. The answers and experts never came because they were already here in the person of every emerging activist, every parent struggling to navigate a shattered school system, every neighbor at a planning charrette, every small business owner who evaluated a volatile economy and chose to rebuild anyway, and every returning New Orleanian. We are the experts that we have been waiting for.

The New Orleans Speaks Symposium will highlight lessons learned by fifteen of these experts - the real deal about urban resilience.

Their lectures will include stories of personal and community recovery, present visions for urban renaissance, and identify targeted resources communities need to bring to bring their visions from concept to completion.

We know we must write a living history of our own. We recognize we must control our own message, herald our own accomplishments, and articulate our own frustrations. Only then can we, as a city, identify what our communities need, and what our learnings can contribute to a broader understanding of how cities can emerge from extraordinary challenges.

The New Orleans Speaks Symposium which will take place on August 30, 2008 at UNO’s Kirschman Hall.

More information at

Rising Tide III
Rising Tide is a gathering for all who wish to learn more and do more to assist New Orleans' recovery from the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the failure of the levees that were supposed to protect the area.

We will come together to dispel myths, promote facts, share personal testimonies, highlight progress and regress, discuss recovery ideas, and promote sound policies at all levels. We aim to be a "real life" demonstration of internet activism as we continue to recover from a massive failure of government on all levels.

John Barry, author of Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America, will be keynote speaker at the Conference this year.

Rising Tide started in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding of the city when a small group of New Orleans, La.-based bloggers decided to expand their on-line advocacy for the rebirth of New Orleans into a public event.

August 22-23, 2008, Zeitgeist Multi-disciplinary Arts Center, 1724 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd (@ Felicity) New Orleans, LA 70113.

More information at

Dr. John, Sippiana Hericane, Blue Note, 2005.


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