Monday, August 27, 2007

The City That Care Forgot

According to CNN*, "the federal government has allocated nearly $27 billion for housing, rebuilding the levees, and what's known as hazard mitigation, the messy job of removing debris and repairing critical infrastructure, like broken sewer lines and potholed roads." Now before you get all hot-and-bothered about that dollar figure take a look at what the little ticker on the right side of my blog is saying.

Go on, look really hard.

As I type this it is saying $455,605,071,882. Let me put that in words. That is Four Hundred Fifty Five Billion. That means for every dollar spent to rebuild a great American city nearly $17 have been spent in a country that we invaded on false pretenses (don't get all conservative on me - there were no WMDs and the "terrorists" aren't following us home).

This is the week that the press will do its communal hand-wringing about the woe that is New Orleans and Gulf Coast. Hang-wringing that didn't have to be if we (yes, we because this is a democratic government in which we vote) had taken care of the levees, had listened to the warnings that a Category 3 hurricane could drown the city, and had acknowledged that not everyone has a car in the United States or money for gas and can get themselves out of a city on a few hours notice.

So before you faze out on me, before you say well that is our rotten government there are two things you can do.

1) Go read my friend, the Ambassador's, post today about K+2. And please pay attention to the news about New Orleans. This is one news story that cannot become a same old, same old piece. And ask questions as you hear/read the reporter's perspective (because that is what it is). Am I hearing the full story? Is it really all doom and gloom? What good things are happening there?

2) Spend some money there. Supporting the local economy goes a huge way in helping people have jobs, afford to live in houses they are repairing and keep the vibrant spirit of the city alive. Before you start thinking I can't afford to go there for a visit - what do you think the Internet is for?

Check out some of my favorite merchants:

Dirty Coast (the $20 option) - awesome t-shirts (among other things). Amazing Guy and I already own King Gator, and So Far Behind We're Ahead. The graphic above is the t-shirt NOLA Gothic.

Mignon Faget (starting at $35 but can go way up) - recall the promise ring Amazing Guy gave me 15 years ago? This amazing jeweler and business owner continues to create beautiful objects. She's a bit more than a t-shirt but I cannot wear her pieces (necklaces, earrings, pins and yes, that ring) without getting tons of compliments. And then I get to start in on the beauty of New Orleans. So it is lovely jewelry and a political conversation starter. What could be better?

Tony Chachere's - this, in all likelihood, is something you can find in your local grocery store. A locally owned company that makes the best Cajun seasonings. I put a little olive oil on pasta and sprinkle some Tony's. Yummy.

Of course, there are many worthy charities working to rebuild a great, fun city and I am not diminishing their good work. But those charities aren't buying jewelry, t-shirts or spice and those folks producing and selling them have living costs too. Many of them are not eligible for the assistance these good organizations provide. They are having to make do with what they earn.

So if you end up buying something from New Orleans, let me know. I'll highlight you. If you buy something from these folks, terrific. If you have other New Orleans-based merchants you adore or have discovered let me know and I'll do another post.

And if you go for a visit (like my dad is next month for his 67th birthday) I'll write about it here and even include a photo if you email it to me (but I have to like it so keep that in mind).

Now, doesn't that inspire you to do something for the City That Care Forgot?

* Feel free to give/find me a better number for what the federal government (not insurance companies) has paid for the rebuilding of New Orleans. That was the most current number I could find without a ton of digging around. And feel free to laugh that I cited a media outlet after my earler tirade.


Seriously folks, go show my Ambassador some love. Maybe even link to his K+2 post. He is someone you'll never hear about on the news who is makes New Orleans the wonderful, vibrant and caring place it is.


Ambassador said...


Thank you. Sometimes getting mad as hell is all that gets us through. I will post some more links later this week for local businesses/artists/craftsfolk to support. I can't believe you didn't put in a plug for Cool Bone!

I am planning on doing a week-long series, in an effort to counterbalance the excess of gloom-and-doom reports. Stay tuned...and I love you!! Ambassador

Flower Child said...

I received a jar of Tony Cachere's from you years ago - and have subsequently replaced it (these things do have a shelf life). Thanks for the shopping ideas - that's consumerism I can get behind!

Jami said...

Oh, wow - I thought I was the only one to put Tony's on pasta! Tried it on popcorn? Oh, wow!

I love Nawlins! Honeymooned there, been back bunches, doing what I can to get it back.

Jodi said...

I read Ambassador's post this morning and was blown away by the complexity of it.

CableGirl said...

The thing that kills me about the totally insufficient amount of money that is being spent to "repair" New Orleans is that is it being spent in an idiotic fashion. They are building the same types of levees and are not taking into consideration any scientific data supporting the fact that these types of structures are not sufficient protection against storms. The engineers have learned nothing from their mistakes.

I'm going to go check out Ambassador's post now.

Kate said...

You go girl, you are my favorite activist. I've never been to New Orleans, but certainly feel that it is quite worth it to rebuild the city the right way.

Oh and you'll get a kick out the video link on my site today - it's a clip from MadTV. I hope it's working. If not, let me know and I'll email you the file.

Jenn said...

So what you are saying is that I should make Kuntheary's bachelorette party in New Orleans?

It will definitely help the economy out.

Jen said...

Don't forget Zatarain's - they kept everyone on full salary and benefits when they were shut down...

GREAT post. And so necessary. I'm off to Ambassador and K-2 now.

Jenn in Holland said...

Brilliant SMID.
All the way around--this is an excellent post.
Yeah, just what do we think the internet is for?

Brilliant. I will say it again. Brilliant.

soccer mom in denial said...

First of all, thanks to ALL of you that went on over to the Ambassador's site. Keep visiting him this week and every week thereafter. He needs the love.

FC - Tony's has a shell life? I thought red pepper was like the cockroach of spices.

Jami - another reason I love you but no, I like my popcorn non-spicey.

Jodi - I'm always blown away by the Ambassador. You should see him sing show tunes at Good Friend's during Sunday Tea.

Cablegirl - nice to know someone is paying attention to the idiocy of some of the reconstruction.

Kate - YOU'RE BACK!! Hey everyone, did you notice Kate is BAAAAAACK! Oh, I've missed you SOOOOOO much. And I'm your favorite activist? Really? I'm blushing.

Jenn - you better go to that party down there. I'll harass you during lunch on Thursday.

Jen - actually Zatarain's is owned by McCormick spices in Maryland. They bought Z's something like a month before the storm hit and made that decision to keep paying the Louisiana site. I give them credit but won't list them since they are no longer locally owned.

Jenn #3 (how many of you are there?) - Brilliant? No, just flipping mad. But thanks for saying that.

Alex Elliot said...

A bunch of people from our church went down there a few months ago. There's a UU program to rebuild the city.

Brillig said...

"don't get all conservative on me"--hahaha. Yeah, okay, I'll try not to.

Awesome post, SMID. My Daddy's PhD is from Tulane, as is my brother's law degree. My sister was born in New Orleans. I've spent many happy moments eating beignets at the Cafe Du Monde. Reports of the devastation there make me cry. Thanks for giving me an idea of what I can be doing.

Fourier Analyst said...

I once told my best girlfriend that if I ever ran away from home she should look for me in N'orlins! Thanks for the links, will be shopping there soon. And one of these days I hope to get back for a visit. Meanwhile, various in-laws (and in-laws once removed and outlaws) are in and around Lewsiana, Miss'sippi and parts South. Rebuilding is going slow, but they're making it!

Goofball said...

We get only gloomy messages about the rebuilding and recovery of New Orleans in our press

...for those of you that can read Dutch (or that know a good online translator):

I'll find it very interesting to go and read Ambassador's website!

painted maypole said...

thanks for calling attention to our poor city. And sending some $$$ our way! :)