Wade Rathke's Journal: NO's Future

Wade Rathke, a legendary organizer with ACORN (Association of Communities Organized for Reform Now) and SEIU Local 100 based in New Orleans, has been sharing some very interesting thoughts on his personal blog.

In a recent post, after discussing what those who have left New Orleans should be called (he personally doesn't like "evacuee," and favors either "refugee" or "exile"), he offers some honest thoughts about NO's future:
We read of the New Orleans business community in exile here in Baton Rouge trying to figure out how soon they can open hotels and throw Mardi Gras beads - visionaries to the end it seems providing the incredible lack of leadership that has been their hallmark in New Orleans for decades and continuing to cheerlead the race to the bottom.

Today we even read Joel Garreau's view in the Washington Post, that essentially this is just the way things are. Some cities die. Some cities live. New Orleans took its chances and came up short.

His view is troubling to me, because there is just enough truth in it to be disturbing. The French Quarter can become a faux neighborhood, a historical representation, kind of a cross between Williamsburg and Disneyland-on-the-River. He argues that the real city, the city of neighborhoods, people, families, traditions, gumbo, creole patois, shotgun houses, snoballs and poorboys, will not be rebuilt. Clearly, that is the view of many in power, as much as the rest of us are fighting against that rising tide as well.

In this future we are absolutely exiles. We are forced as a people to wander the country without a way to ever truly go home. We are forced to come to grips with the fact that even if we have a few sticks and bricks still standing in New Orleans, we will be forever forced to struggle without ever again finding home.