Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,

Returning to New Orleans... and staying there.

I got an email today from a LiveJournaler in New Orleans that prompted me to make an important decision as to how I plan on using my journal for the foreseeable future.

You don't really know me at all...I'm one of the NOLA bloggers who you
featured last year when you were trying to highlight stories coming
from inside of the storm. I'm writing you to ask a favor. Feel free,
of course, to decline, for obvious reasons.

I have been following your blog since last fall, and I appreciate your
writing style. I know that your blog gets a lot of hits from a lot of
places, far more indeed, than most of us NOLA bloggers. (Especially
those of us who just use livejournal for mental masterbation purposes.
ha.) Knowing this, I wonder if you would mind doing a revisiting.
Even a brief archival entry, highlighting a few of the blogs down here
and emphasizing their importance in the grass-roots efforts in the
city. (No need to include mine. It's pretty much useless except for
whinging. ;-) ) There's so much solidarity among us, and I think it
gets lost when we get linked here and there.

Anyway, thanks for listening. I'll understand if you don't want to.
Best Regards, 
(lj user enlabelleaurore)

Hi _____,
I do remember reading your journal and comments from you. Because of the people's stories I cite for the articles I research for my journal, I have a huge friends list -- I'm aa the 750 person max -- of people whose lives I have followed. While it's impossible for me to keep up on the daily lives of everyone I've shared stories of in the past, each one is special to me, and an honor to share with others. If I didn't feel that they were special, they wouldn't wind up on my journal.

While I write about other people all the time, I hope that the way I do it is personal and revealing in its own way. And if I don't write about myself that often, well, maybe it's because I feel it's not as interesting or as important as the often serious adnd dark subjects I often write about. Despite this, I live happily and simply, in the comfort of people who love me. If my life wasn't so content, perhaps I would have a harder time with it all. Somewhere along the line, I switched from being deeply introspective, to deeply interested in others and the lives they lead... and even though they're often going through exceptionally hard times, it's been a wonderful experience. Somehow, we help each other. 

The other day, it struck me that it was the anniversary of Katrina. Really, given the sites I review, it was hard not to notice all the one-year anniversary things, the president's speech, and all that... and my thoughts were, 
"Hm. I feel kind of unequal to this, because I don't want to hop on the bandwagon of rememberance, getting people's hope up, only to move on to the next thing tomorrow. And yet, what do I do -- and what can I do -- when my blog is primarily about what is going on, and what I feel people should know right now?" 

I'm concerned that if I commemorate the one-year anniversary of this big post of mine or that big post of mine, it might feel too much like I'm commemorating and repromoting myself. 

But Katrina isn't about me. It never was. It was about all of you, and your stories. I hope that I was helpful in drawing people's attention to all of your stories, because I thought they were important, and because they certainly meant something to me. It was an honor to be of any help to all of you that I could, and it was and is important to me, but if I could've had no public attention at all, while saving someone's life, I would've far preferred to do so.

So, it's not the anniversary anymore... it's the day after now. But thank you. I think I know what to say on my journal now, and I intend to post it shortly. Please feel free to give me feedback afterwards.

All The best,


This disaster is not over. The suffering, frustrations, hardship, the seperation of friends from friends and neighbor from neighbor is not over. New Orleans is not whole again. Not until everyone who had to leave their city is given the opportunity to return and really live again will New Orleans be whole. Not until the neighborhoods feel close, vibrant, diverse, safe, and alive again will New Orleans be whole.

I'm just this guy who has an active interest in the world and in other people's lives, stories, opinions, ideas, and hardships. I try in my own way to make this world a little better, but my resources are very limited, and there's only so much I can do. I wish I could do more, but most of the time, just dealing with the day-to-day is hard enough, and I often don't know what I can afford to do that would really be of much assistance.

I think most of the people who read my journal are in the same boat, and feel the same way. They want to know what they can do to help, but don't always know what they can do.

So, while I can point out the things I've written about New Orleans in the past, which tell the stories of people who went through Katrina, and are trying to rebuild their lives, their neighborhoods, and their city, I feel at a loss as to where to begin in order to tell people about what vital efforts are underway in New Orleans, and how others can be of assistance.

After New Orleans vanished from the front page, the rest of America did what they ordinarily do -- they moved on. The people of New Orleans did not have that luxury. For them, ordinary things became far more difficult. Progress was slow. Help was not there. Life as normal could not go on, for there is nothing normal about living in a broken city. 

We must not abandon these Americans. We must not keep them waiting. And we must not pay attention to them and their needs, only when it seems like the right thing to do. We must do it whenever we can, and let them know that if they need help, we'll be there for them.

So, with that in mind...

I want to ask those of you in New Orleans, please, give me your stories to share with others. Your firsthand perspective. Your frustrations. Your thoughts on what is important and helpful to you, and what is not. Your news of grassroots efforts to rebuild New Orleans, its citizen's lives, and its communities.

In a very real sense, I am encouraging New Orleanians to be co-contributors to this site, and to use whatever visibility I might have in order to ideally draw more attention to your issues. I reserve my right as editor, but I will do my best to make sure your stories get heard.

Most importantly, I'm not asking for you to contribute news and stories on some sort of arbitrary anniversary that will be forgotten until next year, but rather, I welcome contributions from the people of New Orleans for as long as you think it might help make a difference in rebuilding your lives, your communities, and your city, and for as long as there's a problem or a solution we can draw people's attention to. We need this as long as there's something all of us out here can do to help. We need this until New Orleans is whole again.

To contribute articles, news, information, and personal stories that you have written from New Orleans to my journal, just send me an email or leave me a comment in any of my posts, indicating your desire that I share what you're submitting with others. I, in turn, will do the best that I can to use whatever limited notoriety I might have to draw attention to it, not just today, not just tomorrow, but until New Orleans is whole again. I encourage others to do the same, or to simply copy anything I post from people  in New Orleans to your journal. You have my permission to do so, with absolutely no attribution required.  

So, New Orleans, what's your story? How are things going, what would you like to tell us, and how can we help you today?

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