Manual Uncommon Sense: A Common Citizens Guide to Rebuilding America

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Cooper , Schwartz challenged his team to make "every effort to involve the residents and the community in the planning effort," while ensuring that the design of the new housing "could maintain the look and feel of surrounding neighborhoods with a mix of both modern interpretation of historic typologies and new urbanist models. Relief agencies helped many returnees. The American Red Cross made a belated but nonetheless significant entry into the city in mid-September; and by the start of October had a number of relief centers set up around the city.

These provided hot meals, packaged food, bottled water and other supplies like diapers, mops, and dust masks. The Salvation Army also had many stations giving food.

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Temporary free clinics provided some medical care. Towards the end of , the relief centers were wound down, starting with those in functioning parts of the city.

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Red Cross meals continued at a much smaller scale into from trucks traveling around the worst-hit and poorest neighborhoods. Since this time, the Southern Baptist Convention through its North American Mission Board established an ongoing project called Operation Noah Rebuild, not to be confused with the Operation Noah sponsored by the City of New Orleans which has hosted thousands of volunteers and teams from all over the United States. The volunteer teams helped in the reconstruction efforts in New Orleans and the surrounding parishes.

Food Not Bombs was active in providing food early after the disaster. A community kitchen was set up first in Washington Square in Faubourg Marigny ; after a few months it was moved to a park by Bayou St. John before being closed down. A number of church groups and smaller charities set up aid for a time.

Common Ground Collective had two relief centers in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans , providing food, clothing, and a tool library. The larger center was in the Upper 9th Ward, with a smaller one in the worst hit part of the Lower 9th Ward. They also helped gutting houses. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began bringing in load after load of food and water for local members and residents to several areas of the city.

Thousands of church members came in on rotating weekends to help clean up debris, gut houses and cut up fallen trees all over the city. In addition to the home repairs, the church full-time counselors were available to provide mental health assistance; and church employment centers — offices that aid with finding jobs — opened their doors to everyone, regardless of religion. Habitat for Humanity has been active in building homes at an accelerated pace since the storm.

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Initially, the organization had volunteers gutting homes; but since returned to its primary mission of fighting poverty housing. Catholic Charities also was very active with volunteers repairing damaged houses and churches throughout the area. Bernard Parish since June 1, Build Now is a non-profit organization that played an active part in bringing New Orleans families back home.

The non-profit, a licensed and insured residential contractor, constructed site-built, elevated houses on hurricane-damaged lots. The homes reflect the style and quality of traditional New Orleans [4] architecture. The organization moved New Orleans families back home since beginning operations in In The foundation held an auction to benefit musicians affected by Hurricane Katrina [5] Thanks to the generosity of the foundation's chairwoman, Ms. Agnes Varis , [6] they were able to create employment programs which have made it possible to keep the artists and their music alive in New Orleans.

Repopulating the city has been steady but gradual, with neither the rapid return of most evacuees hoped for by some optimists nor the long term " ghost town " desertion of the city feared by some pessimists. Even in , many homes and homeowners were still devastated. Some organizations, like the statewide Louisiana Disaster Relief Foundation or the neighborhood-based United Saints Recovery Project are still working to provide support to homeowners in rebuilding their homes. The areas with little or no flooding were the first to be officially reopened, have utilities restored, and a sizable portion of residents and businesses return.

Flooded-out areas presented more problems. The city had no comprehensive plan for what to do about flooded areas. Thousands of property owners have been gutting and repairing their property, some in the lowest lying areas of town. Contractors and workers from out-of-state and other countries came in great numbers doing demolition and reconstruction work, some filling hotels and rental property, others living in trailers and tent cities set up in city parks and parking lots.

Sportscaster Mike Tirico incorrectly generalized on Monday Night Football in September , some areas, like the Lower Ninth Ward and Gentilly , still looked as badly damaged as the day the storm passed through. However, in each of those neighborhoods thousands of truckloads of debris were removed, hundreds of unsalvageable houses demolished, and work on gutting and repairs has been constant since the city has reopened. Hundreds, if not thousands, of New Orleanians lived in the largely intact upper stories of their homes while the flood damaged downstairs got repaired, often being stripped to the wall studs in the process.

The U. The tarps kept out rain until more permanent roof repairs could be made. Thousands of blue tarps were seen throughout the city; however, a number of official restrictions meant some residents were unable to benefit from this recovery program. Likewise, a number of subcontractors paid by the Corps only did "easy" low-pitch one-story roofs, choosing not to return to do more difficult roofs.

Among the popular handouts at Red Cross relief stations were 5-gallon buckets, many put to use as rain catchers. Six months after the storm, many of the hastily placed blue roof tarps were in tatters, leaving those homes vulnerable again. Many people did not succeed in getting permanent roof repairs from such reasons as long waiting lists for reliable contractors and waits for insurance payment.

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During the s some American firms ramped up their corporate philanthropy further. The Minneapolis-based Dayton Hudson became noteworthy for giving away 5 per cent of its pre-tax profits to philanthropy. Starting around , however, shifts in technology, geopolitics, and governance changed the game.

It became possible in some sectors to do business from anywhere, and large firms became globally mobile. With new forms of automation, companies could do more with fewer workers. The ensuing waves of globalization and technological progress brought great benefits to American firms and consumers. Competitiveness Project. First, these trends weakened the connections between companies and their communities. Third, because individuals with unique skills — from celebrities and sport stars to entrepreneurs, investors, and consultants — could now sell their services on a global scale, inequality soared.

Throughout this period, America systematically underinvested in the common resources that underpin shared prosperity. That needs to change. These resources are in large part the domain of government, of educational institutions, and other community organizations. Our research, and the research of several of our colleagues at HBS, has focused primarily on the subset of challenges that the business community can and should play a major role in addressing.

Reconstruction of New Orleans

We see business as an important force in addressing parts of the commons that drive the economy, particularly in areas such as workforce skills, infrastructure, supplier networks, and ecosystems of entrepreneurship and innovation. The good news is that experiments in all these areas are already underway at the local level. In cities and metros across the United States, leadership from government, business, labor, education, and the nonprofit sector have started to work together across sectors to bolster the commons.

These cross-sector collaborations are diverse in nature, and often are responses to specific local conditions. Furthermore, they are pushing the boundaries of traditional public-private partnerships: the engagements are driven neither by civic duty or short-term transactional benefit, like they often were in the past.


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Instead, businesses see them as in their longer-term strategic interests.