While I’m in New Orleans for a conference, I was lucky enough to be able to join a large group of people doing a ‘Travel for Good’ service day at a local elementary school, organized through Hands On New Orleans. About 150 of us scraped paint, built a basketball court, planted flowers and other beautification tasks. It was pretty amazing, all the more so because the day began with a bus tour around the devastated areas…including the upper and lower Ninth Wards and the Gentilly neighborhood, all of which suffered destruction. Seeing how the lower Ninth resembles a third world country *still* was shocking. Services and utilities have been slow to return (if at all) as there’s concern there will not be enough population to serve to be profitable. And in the classic chicken vs. egg syndrome, people are loathe to return if there’s no power or heat, so it’s a perfect storm of stagnation…and blame.
Frankly it makes Tahoe’s politics and post-fire recovery look insignificant.
However, there was a silver lining in the cloud called the post Katrina recovery, which was how much we were able to accomplish at the Murray Henderson Elementary School in 7 hours. And how excited the kids were to see a basketball court.
The whole notion of Travel for Good is intriguing – something I would love to do again. It’s a great way to connect in a different way with a place like New Orleans, and is so needed here.