How to Transform New Orleans: Combating Complacency

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How to Transform New Orleans: Combating Complacency

It’s tough as a citizen of New Orleans to go through the city’s on-going challenges. At times it’s the greatest city on the planet and you love it beyond words. While at other times you wonder why can’t we deal with the systemic issues that prevent this community from reaching its full social and economic potential through transformative community change.

There are countless reasons as to what prevents communities from making needed transformational changes. For New Orleans, the obstacles are numerous: lingering violence, crime problems, high poverty rate, nation-leading social and economic inequality, housing costs beyond most resident pocketbooks, re-entry challenges, city fiscal constraints. Then there is the passé attitude often conveyed as, “oh well, it’s New Orleans, this is how we have always done things.”

While the obstacles noted above, and others, are real, and play a major role in the community change process, they are symptoms of a larger problem that we tend to overlook. There is a fine line between “complacency” and a “sense of urgency” when it comes to transformative community change.

Complacency can be defined as an acceptance with a situation that prevents an individual, organization or entire community from going beyond its accepted cultural norms and approaches to addressing pressing community challenges, often unaware or unwilling to acknowledge a deficit with a current situation both in the problem itself and the approach to address, often resulting in a static resistance to change thus limiting the creation of a much needed “sense of urgency” to drive transformative community change.

A community must have a high level of sense of urgency to challenge the inertia of complacency which will stifle any creative solutions that may emerge outside the traditional community norm to address systemic community social and economic challenges. Without the sense of urgency, the status quo creeps back in. Thus, not much gets done to solve the problems and the community is prevented from reaching its full social and economic potential.

This is important to our future because establishing and maintaining a sense of urgency is critical to gaining needed co-operation from citizens and local institutions to address pressing social and economic challenges. Without such action many within the community won’t feel the same desire and the momentum for change will flame out long before reaching its goal.

If the New Orleans community can acknowledge this reality and prepare a war against its impact, the City can begin a path toward lasting transformational change where we no longer see or read headlines about the challenges that continue to plague us year end and year out.

My question to you is…Are your ready?


Eric Anthony Johnson, Ph.D

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