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Urban Adaptability: Sustaining Place in a Dynamic Environment

New Orleans, LA
Apr 9, 2009

The rapidly growing population centers in low-lying coastal settings worldwide (notably in Asia) will face formidable challenges due to sea-level rise in the next century. However, the timing of the onset of adverse impacts will vary, depending on site-specific conditions such as topography, local sea-level scenarios, probability of major storm events, wealth, and community resilience. Within this context, New Orleans can be viewed as a canary in the global warming coal mine. More than three years after Hurricane Katrina, and after last summer's warnings with Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, New Orleans and coastal Louisiana are reminded of the vulnerability of their homes, communities, cities, and region. Those who have decided to remain and those who have decided since Katrina to move to New Orleans and call it home, are challenged not only with long-term recovery, but with discovering how residents, individually and collectively, must incorporate adaptability and mitigation as a strategy for urban survival. A concerted effort to restore and transform a coastal urban center whose long-term viability is inextricably tied to its surrounding natural ecosystem, can only lead to new knowledge and understanding that will prove critical when comparable conditions confront cities such as Shanghai, Tokyo, and New York. Through the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has an unparalleled opportunity to become a leader, providing new models for dealing with the impacts of global climate change around the world. Through the Bruner-Loeb Forum, we seek to learn from this moment in New Orleans' evolution. We are now at the end of many of the initial emergency response and recovery measures that followed Hurricane Katrina, but at the beginning of creating a new kind of city, one that will hopefully be fully integrated into its unique natural setting. New Orleans is positioned to reveal successes, failures, and opportunities in promoting safety and sustainability for New Orleans' residents for this century and beyond.

Program:    nola_program.pdf

What We Learned:    nola_learned.pdf

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