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Tidal Reflections

Rising Tide 2 was a rousing success. I was invigorated and inspired. As Dangerblond says:

It got a little bit bigger and, according to the attendees, better this year, but the conference retained the feeling of a conversation among intelligent friends.

…and I wholeheartedly agree. There was a party Friday night at Buffa’s, where videos were shown including ROX #95. As I looked around the place, I was reminded of a night at Second Story in Bloomington, a decade ago. On that night, I counted the people I knew on a first-name basis and came up with 60. I didn’t count at Buffa’s but I got the same feeling of community. Ultimately, I think that’s what Rising Tide is about, at least for me: fostering a sense of community amongst people who’ve connected through the New Orleans blogosphere.

As for the conference itself, the best presentation was clearly Tim Ruppert speaking about our flood control systems from an engineer’s perspective. Thank you, Tim, for educating us so well.

Dave Zirin also made a big impact speaking about the intersection (or collision) of sports and politics. Dave really understands how the crisis in New Orleans is a precursor for America. I bought his book and encourage you to do the same.

A personal highlight for me was getting a chance to confer with Becky and Sarah and Karen about setting up a wiki for Squandered Heritage. Nope, not on the programme at all, but at the best conferences the interaction on the sidelines rivals the presentations on the stage.

Both at this year’s conference and last year’s, I was honored to be on the final panel. I thought I acquitted myself better this year. In any event, in both years the final panel was devoted to activism and seemed in my mind to promise more than it delivered. This is no slight to the moderators either year, who did an admirable job, but it does make me wonder how could it be better.

The last two questions fielded by our panel were provocative. One was the ├╝berblog idea, which I knew was coming because Maitri outlined it in advance. I have some thoughts on this but I didn’t say anything Saturday because I wanted to hear what others had to say. Fodder for a later discussion, perhaps.

The final question was when Maitri asked if we, as a group, are getting what we want out of government now. (Or something along those lines.) I was surprised — shocked even — when Karen answered “yes.” I guess she’s feeling good because she’s finally gotten some progress on the issue of erroneous demolitions. I wanted to pipe up and disagree, but we ran out of time. So here’s what I would have said:

No, we’re not getting what we want. We’re fighting for scraps. What we need is nothing short of a revolution. The important question we should be asking is, what do we want that revolution to look like.

Big, big kudos to the organizers of Rising Tide 2. Y’all did a great job.

Update: Dave Zirin has written a truly beautiful account of the conference for the Houston Chronicle.

In most cities, bloggers practice a peculiar virtual cannibalism, tearing each other apart for sport. But at Rising Tide, among people young and old, black and white, I saw my first glimpse of what can be termed blogger solidarity. It stemmed, as one told me, from “the necessity of coming together after Katrina.”

The bloggers represent the best of something beginning to bubble that you won’t see on the nightly news, as the two-year anniversary of Katrina arrives today. Amid the horror, amid the neighborhoods that the federal government seems content to see die, there are actual people sticking it out. And they do it with gusto.

Here’s to blogger solidarity!

Published inFriendsGeekyNew Orleans


  1. Garvey Garvey

    Have you, as a group, ever gotten what we want out of government…even pre-K?

    How about when you lived in Bloomington? Did you “get what you want out of government”?

    I like your question, “What do we want that revolution to look like?” I hope this includes the means and not just the ends. Everything has a cost (not just monetary, either), especially in complex systems.

  2. I think what KG might be answering is the question, are we *starting* to get what we want? In the tight rope war of citizens against status quo, corrupt and incompetent government actors, we’ve gained only inches, but we’re still sloshing around in the muck. There’s a very, very long way to go.

  3. ansley ansley

    Glad to hear the conference went well. Just wondered what do you want that revolution to look like? And, do you have any ideas how that revolution could be supported outside the city of Nola, too, by those of us who are concerned but not citizens?

  4. Bart, I agree.maybe it was the nyquil talking. Seriously I think we have made small gains in terms of being “allowed” to participate.

    A few months ago I could feel the doors at City Hall slamming shut, but dedicated enraged citizens are continuing to try and pry them open. In someways I feel we have made huge strides, in others I feel we are still begging for crumbs.

  5. Thanks for participating, Ed B. Your point about leadership will stay with me a long time.

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