Re-Building Communities

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Rebuilding Communities

By nature I am a builder, a developer. I see things that I believe are broken and I want to fix them. I see a lack of structure, and I want to put some in place. I see disorganization and I have a strong urge to bring organization. I see inefficient processes and I want to infuse efficiency into them. That is who I am and what I do. Therefore, it is very hard for me to read about the seemingly continual disorganization and discontinuity of the relief efforts. It is very clear to just about everyone that this country was not ready for a disaster of this magnitude that has impacted nearly 1 million people directly or indirectly. For a while, it seemed like chaos was king, with the response effort adding more misery and grief to lives that had just been devastated.

Once hurricane season is over (Rita is on her way), the focus should shift fully to rebuilding lives and communities of those who have been displaced. After all the cameras have left and the sensation has died down, there still will be tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands people that will be trying to find and pick up the pieces of their lives, literally and figuratively. Even those who have chosen to be permanently displaced (they don’t want to go back), will need help rebuilding their lives in their newly adopted hometowns. However, what is really waiting for them in their new cities? How challenging will it be for them to get jobs in markets which were already tight? If they lack the skill sets to get the jobs that are available in these locales, what other options will be available to them then? What is the plan in those cities whose populations have instantly swelled in weeks for what normally may have taken decades?

It will be very interesting to see which cities and communities are able to come up with the most innovative and effective plans to insure that their new residents have the opportunity to build new lives successfully and that the resources are made available to them to help them get back on their feet. For many, the displacement will prove to be a blessing in disguise, because it will open up new doors and opportunities that previously weren’t thought about or explored. However, this will only be true for those cities and communities that welcome these individuals and help them to find real solutions to their real problems.

Tags: Katrina, Rita, poverty, economic development, community development, ,

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