I am off onto another adventure in my restless pursuit of urbanism. Over the next three days, I will be attending the City Building Exchange in New Orleans. This 3 day immersive conference connects local government with leading practitioners. The list and personal portfolios of each of these speakers is really quite amazing which will balance my attention between the content and the place.
Like many travelers before me, I have fallen in love with the mystic and charm of New Orleans. My first trip to the Big Easy was during one of the most traumatic times for the City. During my tenure at Urban Design Associates, I was part of the multi-firm team working on post Katrina Recovery. My role with Louisiana Speaks was to tour the many parishes and communities devastated by the storm to document the traditional architectural and urban character of these places. Many of the places I toured, even months after the storm, remained vacant. Despite the devastation, I witness the determination residents had to rebuild.
Several yers later, returned to New Orleans for a gathering of other inspiring urbanist. This was a round a clock urban adventure. Short presentations led to discussions, discussions led to walks, and walks led to lifelong friendships. New Orleans provided a platform for this group of other restless urbanists to apply the necessary critique and peer pressure to advance their ideas and projects.
During that trip, I also witness how the city began to recover once the theorists and starchitects left the city. Every morning I awoke to the sound of circular saws and pound of nails. A roaming caravans of builders moved block by block to rebuild one home at a time. This was not sanctioned building, aka no permits, and the contractors either slept in vans or within the job site. This work was not about building for the money, but was about building for the place.
I intend to share my experience at the City Building Exchange this week through one of my social media platforms. This week, I fully expect to be inspired once again. The City Building Exchange provides the opportunity for the knowledge and New Orleans provides the backdrop which we will be fully immersed in. As with my other trips to the Big Easy, I cannot tell you exactly what I will learn or be inspired by, but I can guarantee that I will be inspired.