From The Redwoods to the Bayou, Now In NOLA

20080208bayouliberty01w.jpgFriday, we pointed ourselves westward, right into New Orleans (NOLA), where we’ve met up with an old friend from Humboldt, Mr. Gordon Soderberg. As one of the founding members of the Redwood Technology Consortium, Gordon is one of the reasons why we fled San Francisco in ’98 and moved up to the sticks. He was a geek like us, and we figured if he could make a living in the trees, so could we. In 2005, Gordon left Humboldt to join the Veterans For Peace wagon train that was supporting Cindy Sheehan, and found himself in NOLA two days after Katrina, to help with the rescue, cleanup, and now, grassroots rebuilding efforts (because the government hasn’t done crap. More later).

20080208bayouliberty04w.jpgWe are in Slidell, just across the lake, parked on an 11 acre plot of flooded land that is today used for Gordon’s Bio Liberty project. The only reason we were able to find this place was thanks to a generous firefighter who saw us wandering around the neighborhood, and knew we were lost. He took the time to escort us here. Amazing.

Last night was our first night here, and just as we were done setting up camp, we were promptly swept into getting to know the wild devastation, beautiful music, fun, artistic and inspirational people that make up this great city.

The last time we met Gordon somewhere, we stayed for 10 years. Who knows how long we might stay this time?

9 thoughts on “From The Redwoods to the Bayou, Now In NOLA”

  1. MadDog,

    It has been such a learning experience, hearing from folks like you whose lives were changed by Katrina. You reiterated what our friend Gordon said about the local government. Same ol same ol is right.

    Thank you for sharing your story, I hope you’ll keep in touch. Good luck on the road!

  2. The wife and I are planning to fulltime as soon as she retires next year. I’m already there, 30 yrs military. We lost the home and the wife’s job in Katrina. Didn’t get gov’t help, didn’t want it. We have a new home in Kennesaw GA, new jobs. We are not victims, were getting on with life. The problem with NOLA isn’t the federal gov’t,
    they have sent millions to the state and local people. The problem is the old open hand of local gov’t grabbing up those dollars. The some old, same old back home in NOLA is the problem.

  3. Thanks K&J, appreciate that.

    It was funny, today I was talking to a soldier today, born and raised in NOLA, and he said that since the government already interferes in his life with stupid nanny-type laws, like helmet and seatbelt rules, then they should play nanny all the time and help to clean up messes like the one in his city.

    We hope to meet up with you and Josh too. Good luck on the road!

  4. You go Rene! Very well spoken. I think that Josh and I have a lot in common with you and Jim and we’ll definitely try to meet up with the both of you in the coming months.
    Take Care,
    Kelly & Josh

  5. Ouch! Pretty harsh words, compadre. Actually, it was me who wrote it, I’m surprised you couldn’t tell.

    Now, let me clarify that when I accuse the government of not doing anything here, I’m not talking about rebuilding private homes for people…no, that won’t ever happen here, since currently Federal relief money is earmarked for things like the rich coastal dwellers in Florida, where the government is currently shelling out our tax dollars to pay for hurricane upgrades on 400,000 private citizen’s beachfront estates.

    No, I’m talking about basic things like infrastructure. Roads. Bridges. Sidewalks. Stop lights, for christsake. Things that we as citizens deserve in our cities, things that we vote elected officials into office to help get done. The infrastructure in the wiped out areas of this city has been abandoned by the feds, and still looks like a war zone. How can you expect people to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” as neocons like to say, if there is not even a single unified effort to put a civic framework in place? Excuse me, but then why are we paying for our elected officials salaries? Gosh, maybe our billions spent in Iraq are a better use of government money?

    Things are happening in the private sector here, in small increments, and there are definitely people who are dedicating their time and money toward bringing back life into this war zone. We just went to a wonderful event yesterday, to dedicate a community center that is almost complete in St. Bernard Parish. At that event, I heard two African American men debating over who should pay to rebuild here; one who said the government should help, the other said people shouldn’t expect that, they have to do it for themselves. So please don’t paint a picture of the citizens of this area and accuse them of all “sucking off the government tit.” That is unfair and narrowminded.

    There is an unspoken effort by the wealthy and our government to keep the poor out of this city for as long as possible, until some big developers will come in and appear to save the day. Too bad Dubya’s pathetic excuse for an economy has petered out, seems like this will take longer.

    The state of NOLA is a dramatic contrast to what we saw in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where a flood took out that city in the late ’90s. That city was rebuilt with government and private money in less than 10 years. One has to wonder what is so different about NOLA? Hmmmm. Could it be that poor people lived in this area?

    Anyone who has not been here, post-Katrina, should not spout off neocon rhetoric until they have seen the effects of what our government has allowed to happen to this area. Only the most heartless individuals can come here, talk to the people who have lived here all their lives, hear what this mess has done to their communities, and still go home believing “the government can’t take care of you, only you can take care of yourselves” BS.

    Rudy, I do hope that your travels will allow you to consider ideas and opinions beyond what you hear on right wing talk radio.

  6. Jim;
    I love to read you stories and follow your adventures, but Jim you have to quit expecting the government to be a nanny. It has been several years since Katrina, the people who have cojones to take responsibility for themselves are on their way to success or at least back to living their life and the ones that always were sucking on the government’s tit will continue to do so in NOLA or maybe they have moved to suck on a different tit in another city/state

    Here in GA we have adopted many of the people who are still waiting for the government to pay for their food and shelter. Have they ever considered getting a job. Probably not.

    American people are the most generous people in world. We like to help people who want to help themselves and people who TRULY NEED IT.

    happy traveling


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