Change in New Orleans is inevitable but at what emotional cost?

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Change in New Orleans is inevitable but at what emotional cost?

Many of us know all too well that change is inevitable. However, when it comes to change and a redeveloping a community such as New Orleans, we often overlook the emotional impact the changes are having on citizens that once called the redeveloping areas home. The change I am referring to is the changing social and economic dynamics taking place in neighborhoods across the city that is leaving many long-term residents unable to live.

Granted many residents were renters in the redeveloping areas and did not own their home and were forced to leave because of Hurricane Katrina, or in some cases did not return after the storm due to the re-positioning of public housing or for those that did own their homes, decided to sell because they did not see the value in staying due to strained resources to rebuild. Regardless of the origins of the situation, the desire of former residents and their families to return still linger strongly.

As a resident that has been fortunate to remain in the uptown area (one of the fast redeveloping areas) and retain the lineage of family ties that trace back for generations, I cannot help but wonder what the emotional impact must be for those individuals and families that can longer live in areas that have emotional ties dating back years for their families?

More importantly, and in response, we see what can be described as either a cultural stand against the change or a personal statement where for example neighborhoods traditions such as second lining is coming “into” the redeveloping areas by former residents that used to be” of” the neighborhood as if to say we are still here. And community activities attended by thousands of moistly former residents who lived uptown for generations coming together for the Cohen versus Fortier (no longer a school) basketball game to keep the connection to uptown and the areas that once bonded everyone.

In short, this is amounting to an outside looking in phenomena. It’s like saying you want to eat but can only look through the window outside your favorite restaurant at others enjoying a delicious meal realizing its now cost prohibitive for you. In its simplest form this is what taking place across the city as areas which hold an emotional attachment to former residents are now off limits. Along with the physical and economic impact of redevelopment change, we should include emotional impact as part of our lexicon to better understand this dilemma and the social and economic impact it’s having on New Orleans.

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