Neighbourhoods in the Lead: Grassroots Planning for Social Transformation in Post-Katrina New Orleans?

Irazabal Zurita, Clara E.; Neville, Jason

Since August 2005 when levee failures after hurricane Katrina destroyed 80% of the city of New Orleans, popular media and local residents alike have frequently used the term ‘citizens’ revolution’ to describe the autonomous grassroots planning process in the post-Katrina city (Nossiter, 2006). Although the phenomenon of grassroots participation has been generally regarded as unprecedented in the history of the city, and perhaps even the nation, there has been no investigation of the extent to which a ‘citizen's revolution’ is truly underway. This article places these neighbourhood planning processes in a historical and socio-political context and trajectory that illuminates their scope and significance, as well as the prospects of a possible shift to broader and more transformative political processes in New Orleans. The article offers insights about the potential for broader democratic transformation in post-Katrina New Orleans vis-à-vis this autonomous grassroots planning process, surveying some of these neighbourhood-based processes (to the extent possible, considering their ongoing nature).

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Planning, Practice & Research

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Urban Planning
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January 15, 2015