On Sept 2 I
In another post on WorldChanging Alan AtKisson follows up in A New New Orleans – Issues, Leverage Points, Scenarios
Another tool for producing best-possible outcomes is scenario planning: imagining several likely future-history pathways, starting from present conditions. In a short brainstorming session, at an international conference on regional sustainability held in central Hungary, an informal workshop group produced several possible scenarios for what New Orleans could become. Three of these scenarios are named after the Dutch cities they most resemble — appropriate, given the city’s position at the end of a major river, under sea level — and they roughly correspond with some scenarios floated by other US commentators (which I had heard about largely through conversation with a BusinessWeek editor reporting on the story).
Describing scenarios in this way can help clarify what we are actually aiming for. It can also help as an information tool for those attempting to aim redevelopment money toward desired alternatives — and away from unpleasant or non-optimal outcomes.
This list is obviously not meant to be an exercise in planning, but to be used as a conversation starter. Here are six scenarios for New Orleans: Which one do you prefer? What mixture? Or better yet, what’s your scenario for a New New Orleans?
1. The Amsterdam Scenario
New Orleans continues to be a center for tourism, culture, and commerce, with a “racy” side and with an emphasis on its identity as a melting pot of cultures. The airport expands to serve the region and burgeoning Baton Rouge, with high-speed rail connections. The city bustles … but major industry, and even ship-borne traffic, continues its historic shift elsewhere, and the river recedes in economic and psychological importance.
2. The Rotterdam Scenario
New Orleans focuses on its role as a port, builds infrastructure, gets “back to basics” in terms of generating revenue and jobs as a major flow-through point for the world’s largest economy. Tourism still exists, but gets de-emphasized in economic development planning. The closer-to-home model (though it is far less vulnerable to flooding) is Houston.
3. The Gröningen Scenario
New Orleans becomes more like this smaller, lesser-known, university-dominated city in the North of the Netherlands: less industrial, less of a destination, but a student town that is also showcase for green city planning (with lots of bicycles). Think Austin in the bayou, but without the computer business, and with a solar roof on a reconstructed Superdome meeting LEED Platinum green-building standards.