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Description de l’éditeur
As floodwaters drained in the weeks following Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans residents came to a difficult realization. Their city was about to undertake the largest disaster recovery in American history, yet they faced a profound leadership vacuum: members of every tier of government, from the municipal to the federal level, had fallen down on the job. We Shall Not Be Moved tells the absorbing story of the community leaders who stepped into this void to rebuild the city they loved.
From a Vietnamese Catholic priest who immediately knows when two of his six thousand parishioners go missing to a single mother from the Lower Ninth Ward who instructs the likes of Jimmy Carter and Brad Pitt, these intrepid local organizers show that a city’s fate rests on the backs of its citizens. On their watch, New Orleans neighborhoods become small governments. These leaders organize their neighbors to ward off demolition threats, write comprehensive recovery plans, found community schools, open volunteer centers, raise funds to rebuild fire stations and libraries, and convince tens of thousands of skeptical residents to return home. Focusing on recovery efforts in five New Orleans neighborhoods—Broadmoor, Hollygrove, Lakeview, the Lower Ninth Ward, and Village de l’Est—Tom Wooten presents vivid narratives through the eyes and voices of residents rebuilding their homes, telling a story of resilience as entertaining as it is instructive.
The unprecedented community mobilization underway in New Orleans is a silver lining of Hurricane Katrina’s legacy. By shedding light on this rebirth, We Shall Not Be Moved shows how residents, remarkably, turned a profound national failure into a story of hope.
City Hall stalls while neighborhoods forge ahead in this unfocused study of the post-Katrina disaster recovery in New Orleans. Teacher and organizer Wooten (No One Had a Tongue to Speak) celebrates heart-warming scenes of mutual aid in districts from the impoverished Lower Ninth Ward to prosperous Lakeview, profiling the local residents, clergymen, and activists who removed flood debris, rebuilt homes, enticed neighbors back, and managed volunteers (including actor Brad Pitt). But the biggest obstacles they faced were city leaders who envisioned a smaller, wealthier, whiter New Orleans, tried to make rebuilding contingent on neighborhood "viability," and placed ominous green dots on planning maps where flood-ravaged blocks were to become parks. Wooten's narrative of citizen self-help gradually becomes bogged down in bureaucratic detail as scrappy groups evolve into community development corporations that seek grants, start charter schools, and elaborate renewal plans. Unfortunately, his celebration of grassroots process conveys little about the substantive differences between clashing redevelopment proposals, and flits past urbanist initiatives (from urban farming to a light-rail system and roof-top solar panels) that blossomed after Katrina. Wooten's saga of fight-the-power community organizing yields an inspiring but myopic perspective on the reshaping of New Orleans.