My trip to New Orleans, the Big Easy, to participate in the National League of Cities conference, was tremendously beneficial and informative. The city is recovering from the devastation of the Katrina and Rita hurricanes from two years ago as best as it can. The population is now approximately 66% (250,000) of what it was before the storms hit. I was moved by the spirit of the people and the city's focus on hope and recovery. All around you can see and feel strong resolve and progress on getting back to a vital robust city. The city's cultural distinction with its music, food, French and Spanish influences, diversity is remarkably evident and is constantly promoted as its hallmark and pride. Southern hospitality and a strong affection for pride of place is alive and well in New Orleans.
The conference provided the opportunity for BDS and the City of Portland to showcase its Living Smart and Biofuels programs. The exposure to other efforts around the country related to improving city services, revitalizing neighborhoods, increasing public involvement in city operations and pursuing alternative solutions to transportation travel, recycling and use of public funds was very informative. One of the themes of the conference was that cities need to adjust to the marketplace and its customers to ensure relevant successful operations.
Conference participants were very impressed with our programs and received good information from Shawn Wood, Anne Hill, Ross Turkus and myself, as well as, Michele Crim from OSD who staffed the Biofuel booth. Throughout the country many other cities also want to guide attractive developments in their neighborhoods and want to find ways to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. To the degree we have succeeded in these endeavors, jurisdiction look to Portland as a leader in the these important challenges. This was evident in many the comments and compliments of our programs and people's knowledge about Portland as an innovative and livable city.
I was also fortunate to have participated in the rebuilding efforts of the city through one of the Habitat for Humanity projects. The project site was the ninth Ward where there was major devastation due to the weak housing stock and the severity of the flooding in the area. I was tasked, along with other volunteers, with installing insulation on the underside of a newly constructed house. This was a very rewarding experience and I am happy I was able to give back in some way to the hope of the city.
Paul L. Scarlett,