I don’t want to dwell on August 29, 2005, because
a) the disaster here was much longer than that one day with the levee breaks flooding the city for days and weeks after, followed by decade-long paternalistic and corporate disaster capitalism that defies easy description that we are still battling and
b) the decade so far of work to rebuild has been alternatively so exuberant and dismal that it cannot be remembered without sudden and troubling mood changes.
My old Market Umbrella boss wrote a 3-part piece on it for National Geographic , which may be useful for many to see what the market did to recover, although I find the outline of his recollections different enough from mine as to not represent my reality entirely. Still, he traces the decision-making that he and the Board had to do (for the systems and tactics he and I then designed and that I managed on the ground) so very well and offers some first-rate political and social perspective which is no surprise to those who know him.
The video we made as part of the Go Fish series that I produced and edited for Market Umbrella and is a small visual slice of that exuberant return. Since the market world represents the town square for most of us, it is no surprise that it served that purpose admirably well even in those dark days of 2005.
I watched this video again a few years back when showing it in Toronto for my farmers market colleagues and was surprised at the overwhelming emotion that welled up even then. I remembered the preparation for the market return as an exhausting month of work but a sweet one; one with a lot of heartbreak behind it and still in front of us to go through. Still, I love this video and all of the Go Fish/Go Market series on YT and hope you do too.
The disaster our region suffered was more widespread than usually reported, and so I ask that you reach out to any Mississippians or coastal Louisiana folks that you know and remember them as well this week. The destruction of the Gulf Coast was directly related to the hurricane and so this day is particularly difficult for them, even more than for most New Orleanians as our big disaster really started on Monday. Their recovery was not reported on by many or funded by Hollywood stars or rock musicians or held together by hundreds of thousands of volunteers as ours has been; additionally, the rebuilding there was delayed by the impact of the 2010 BP oil spill which was as devastating to the communities bound by coastal waters as any storm. Those of us in New Orleans love and admire our coastal communities and remain ready to do whatever needs must be done to repair all of it, not just our city streets and homes.
Lastly, let me say thank you once again to my food and farming friends and colleagues who have offered every kind of support over the last 10 years. As our founding Slow Food Leader and food maven Poppy Tooker told us then,”By being part of the food community, you are guaranteed help.” She was so right.