Rising Tide VI

This year’s Rising Tide blogger conference was held at Xavier University in New Orleans. If you would like to read the events of the day, you can look on Twitter, hashtag #rt6 or @risingtide. New this year was an adjacent room hosting a tech school featuring several sessions on how to get the most out of your blogging and social media experience. Another great addition this year, the conference was webcast! The space at Xavier is one of the best yet, with plenty room to spread out, a myriad of vendors, and cool environs to participate in the event. The opening address by Sr. Monica Loughlin was a very warm welcome by the conference hosts, and Sr. Monica gave the audience a history of St. Katharine Drexel, the founder of Xavier, noting that she lived her life going against convention in order to achieve her vision, and that she would have been proud that a grassroots blogger assembly was being held on the grounds of her dream made reality, Xavier.

The first speaker was Richard Campanella, who spoke eloquently on the historical geography of New Orleans, and those implications on the current state of New Orleans’ neighborhoods. He has spent countless hours as a researcher gleaning information from local archives to write many books on the city. He presented a thorough picture of the city and surrounding regions and established a foundation of the relevance of New Orleans as a truly unique part of the country. The next presentation, the panel on social media and social justice promoted using social media to mobilize grassroots opposition to unjust legislation in state and federal politics. Moderated by Dr. Kimberly Chandler of Xavier University, it was a dynamic panel with good information on how to participate in social justice. Jimmy Huck who writes The Huck Upchuck blog, and follows Latino and immigrant issues in and around New Orleans presented issues concerning Latinos in New Orleans and stated that this demographic is much more plugged in than many people think and are able to participate in social media activism. One panel member noted that social media can also be used against the activists, with the case in point concerning the recent London Riots: pictures of rioters were posted on a website with a number assigned and people were asked to notify the authorities if they knew the individual in the picture. Scary thought indeed…

The lunchtime panel spoke on the Macondo/BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill that began April 20, 2010 killing 11 people. The panel reviewed the spill timeline, and Bob Marshall discussed the fact that the Minerals Management Service was “in bed” with Louisiana politicians and the oil companies and how it is virtually impossible to change any oil company policy to benefit the citizens of Louisiana and the environment where we all live. Anne Rolfes reported that the oil industry has an exponential number of accidents that are not reported. Drake Toulouse of Disenfranchised Citizen commented on the post-oil spill financial claims distribution mess that Ken Fineberg inherited, and how his promises of distributing checks within 7 days went unfulfilled. The delays wound up wearing people down so they just gave up and took a check, but unfortunately are still living with the disaster effects on their health and finances. All agreed that the American Petroleum Institute controls congress, therefore citizens have little control over this mess and we are all screwed because of that. It was also reported that any remaining monies from the 20 billion BP put into the GCCF fund would be returned to the company, instead of distributing it to people suffering from the spill. Bob Marshall said that he recently watched again the 1948 Louisiana Story movie and how so long ago there was no value on the swamps and wetlands, but now that we realize the wetlands destruction equates a loss of a way of life in Louisiana, it might be too little too late to save the wetlands.

After a delicious lunch by J’Anitas, David Simon the second featured speaker explored the conceptual background of his series Treme’. He presented the fallacies of logic, speaking specifically about “standing” and ad hominem arguments, the second in which a person uses an argument against the other person as opposed to the subject being argued between them. He noted that politicians frequently use the ad hominem fallacy of logic, such as in health care debates and other political discourse. He also posited that “standing” is the lamest way politicians diminish political discourse, using as an example the controversy over the demolition of a row of houses on S. Derbigny street that were featured in the poster of the first season of Treme’. Simon also noted that because he is not a New Orleans local, he got Treme’ right because he bluntly inserted himself into New Orleans situations that perhaps a local would not have ventured, caring nothing about “standing” for or against anyone or anything. Simon also cautioned the audience about the biotech development proposal slated for construction alongside the new LSU medical center, and how Johns Hopkins in Baltimore promised the same. Unfortunately a decade later, the empty dirt filled lots which were to be filled with new businesses and research buildings are still that, empty…

After Simon, a delightful and lively panel discussion on New Orleans Food was moderated by Jeffrey of the Library Chronicles. The panel talked about the miraculous post-Katrina recovery of the restaurant industry and the ensuing burst of food creativity as described by Todd Price. Rene Louapre who writes Blackened Out pointed out how there have been no New Orleans chefs participating on Bravo’s Top Chef series, and the reason probably is that New Orleans chefs in their 30’s have abundant opportunity to open restaurants in the city than anywhere else because of the storm and the abandoned food establishments just waiting to be put back into commerce. Chef Adolfo Garcia recalled how many chefs worked together after Katrina to help each other and mobilize restaurant re-openings because there were so many people in town that needed places to eat: first responders, contractors, insurance people and others who had money to spend and nowhere to dine. A lively discussion ensued about assigning the nomenclature of Creole to the current cuisine being served in town and the question arose: is New Orleans losing its food identity? Alex del Castillo talked about mobile food vendors, “taco trucks”, setting roots into brick and mortar restaurants that contribute to the eclectic mix of New Orleans creole cuisine. Chris deBarr of Green Goddess Restaurant had the most optimistic take on it all: in merging the varied cuisines of the different cultures of New Orleans (Italian, French, Caribbean, African, Vietnamese, etc.) the true identity of Creole cuisine is discovered by marrying local cuisines and cultures into great food.

Next was the presentation of the Ashley Morris Award, and this year’s recipient was Dedra Johnson of the G_Bitch spot blog. An extremely well deserved recipient, she tirelessly writes about the state of the New Orleans public school system. And finally, the exuberant Brass Band panel, hosted by Big Red Cotton discussing the history of and return after Katrina of New Orleans brass bands, closing out another wonderful Rising Tide conference. The TBC Brass band trumpeted another successful year and heralds the continuation and success of an inspiring event. Thanks to all the Rising Tide VI organizers, vendors and participants for making this year another memorable conference!

17 thoughts on “Rising Tide VI

  1. Great post, thanks, Charlotte. Just a short note: the twitter tags at this time (Saturday nite at 6:45) are 10 hours old, so what’s the use of them if no one updates using them.

    I’m glad it was a big hit and congrats to GBitch!

  2. Oops, sorry maringouin. I saw Charlottes pic by the link to the post on FB and thought she wrote it. Thank you for such an in-depth post. If it weren’t so close to my daughter’s bday, I would go to RT.

    • I hope someday you can make Rising Tide – it gets bigger and better each year! And definitely, congratulations to G-Bitch for winning the Ashley Morris award from her peers!

  3. Pingback: Rising Tide VI « the mosquito coast

  4. Why is it “a scary thought indeed” when people are asked via social media to identify rioters, looters and arsonists in London? And why do refer to these criminals as “activists”?

    • Scary because intrusions such as this can lead to law enforcement agencies becoming even more emboldened to invading our private lives via social media. For instance someone with an axe to grind can communicate something slanderous on another person, and without fact checking someone’s life could be ruined simply by being “fingered”.

      Did you look at that UK website link? How can you possibly, with 100% accuracy tell who those people are? There are no direct witnesses to the crime, only a photograph coming from a cell phone with grainy pixels. Are you willing to defend yourself on the inaccuracy of blurry images?

      I do concur, activists does not equate criminals, yet how could you, or anyone for that matter discern from those pictures who are the “criminals” and who are merely the “observers”, unless you think observers are outright criminals too – suppose one of those pictures was one taken of you, and all you were doing was walking home from work but got caught in the crossfire of a riot, which leads to the point where’s the initial premise of “presumed innocent” – regardless I stand by my comments.

  5. Points well taken. But would you have us ban such images from television news, handbills or posters? And would you abridge the rights of the website’s organizers to free expression? And did anyone at the conference tie what happened in London to the looting and arson that went on in New Orleans after Katrina? This is the great big dirty secret of the storm, which we all ignore so that everyone can be a “victim.”

  6. I would hardly think that ALL of the looting that happened during the storm was grounded in criminal intent – the citizens who remained behind, most out of misguided blind faith in the fortitude of the levees and others simply because they had no resources to leave, were taken off guard when the levees broke. All levels of government were grossly unprepared to handle the situation so residents were abandoned in those early days and left to fend for themselves. One hears countless stories of notes being left behind by people needing basic supplies of food and water, “sorry but I needed this to survive” as opposed to the minority that were looting which unfortunately was sensationalized in the media as if it were happening all over the city and surrounding regions.

    The point about the London riots and the posting of images online was only mentioned as an aside – the conference, while retrospective of Katrina, has for the most part gone beyond the events of that place in time and is focused on promoting the future of New Orleans, while respecting the civil rights of ALL New Orleanians as opposed to enriching the pockets of a chosen few.

  7. Sample notes NOT left by those thoughtless looters of New Orleans:

    1). “Dear Arthur, We’re sorry we broke into your apartment, stole your kids’ bicycles, ransacked your bathroom cabinets looking for drugs, and left a big pile of human excrement and a pair of leopard hip-hop shorts on your living room rug. It won’t happen again…”

    2) Dear Harold Clark: We’re sorry we smashed the windows to your beautiful fashion showroom at Iberville and Dauphine Streets. We tried on a bunch of dresses, but none of them fit. So we tore them to shreds and left them on the floor. Besides your place was starting to flood by then anyway. Hope you won’t be too heartbroken when you return… ”

    3). Dear Lee Michaels: “We’re sorry we swiped the gold Rolexes from your showroom. We just couldn’t help ourselves. And, you know, everyone was doing it. We just couldn’t stand around a watch a chosen few enriching their own pockets while we didn’t get any. Know what I mean?”

    • In an otherwise positive post about an informative event, you pick out one statement and choose to exploit your negative platform on this post. I can’t help it if you were the victim of looting, which it appears you were, plus those letters sound contrived. Katrina was 6 years ago, there is nothing that can be done now to change it. Plus, did business insurance cover the damages and business interruption to those merchants? If so, that was a heck of a lot more than most people received who went forward and rebuilt with little or no claims compensation. Plus, it sounds like you had an intact place to live, a place to return to after Katrina, how about the 250,000 homes in the metro New Orleans area that were destroyed and people who desperately wanted to come home were not able? What’s your deal?

      • Of course, those letters are “contrived.” I made them up; but they describe actual incidents of looting, including my own experience. The losses suffered by the jeweler and the dress designer (again, these are real people) were not covered by insurance. Their business policies specifically excluded “riot” and “civil unrest.”

        You ask “what’s your deal?” Just challenging some of the comments I’ve read so far…
        1). That looters and rioters are “activists”.
        2). That we all should be deeply troubled about exposing criminal acts on the Internet.
        3). That looting during Katrina was “sensationalized” in the media. On the contrary, this nasty sidebar to the Katrina story was quickly dropped because it did not fit the meme of universal victimization.
        4.) That somehow it’s o.k. to break into my home, wreck the place, steal things, and crap in the living room because I “had a place to return to” and the lowlife who did this didn’t?

        I’m just following in the tradition of the sainted Ashley Morris (God rest his fuck-you-you-fucking-fuck splenetic soul) in questioning the prevailing view of things.

        • Despite attempting to point out that there are many, many other stories out there that equate and possibly eclipse the losses you endured by speaking of the collective region’s suffering, you chose to take this discussion personally. Bravo on a textbook use of the ad hominem fallacy argument BTW…

  8. Ok, let’s imagine the dress designer returning to his business — one that’s taken him years to grow and develop — looking through the broken windows at his beautiful gowns, hand-sewn by his wife, ripped apart and laying in the muck. My loss was nothing by comparison. Trivial. And believe me I’m over it. But how much compassion do we allow those who wantonly destroy someone’s life work and dreams? You tell me…

    • I don’t know if you recall why the Londoners rioted – it was because young people in the UK are completely frustrated at the lack of job availability and in their minds blame the corporate establishment who are getting more rich by the day while people who truly want to work are struggling to make ends meet without a steady paycheck and have even less opportunity to get a job. People who have yet to create their dreams, who may never get the opportunity. This of course does not excuse the criminal behavior, and I think the reason they rioted got lost in the criminal element. It is very sad that the small businesses were the ones that suffered and not the larger corporations who could turn this around by creating more jobs and improving growth.

      I don’t equate what happened in London to what happened with looters post-Katrina. I do know of stories – out by the lakefront, in Metairie and Kenner, in which doors and windows were pried open, basic food and drink were taken by desperate folks and notes were left, without any looting, thanking them for the supplies.

      I feel for the woman who hand sewed the gowns. I returned after Katrina, and my quilts were exposed to rainwater after half the roof was ripped off the house, and to see my handiwork ruined was very sad. I still hung them up on the walls, water stains and all. I am not comparing my loss to the elements with the loss of the gowns by looting, but both sting the person creating them in their own way. I remain thankful however that my family and my pets survived, many didn’t – material things can be replaced, but not human life.

  9. Disagree completely. The rioters in London and elsewhere did not go on a rampage because of a lack of job opportunities. With virtual lifetime unemployment benefits, “free” healthcare, and assorted other entitlements of the bankrupt British welfare state, most of them don’t have to work, or really want to work. Why should they? They were just out to “take” what they thought was theirs by right. Completely rational behavior of a warped and upside down way of thinking. Everyone recognizes this now, even Labour Party leader Ed Millibrand. And by the way, stuff like this has been happening all over the US this summer. Google “flash mob” + Philadelphia, + Madison, WI, + Chicago, + Miami, + Atlanta, etc.

  10. As Maringouin pointed out, this is a positive posting of a local event in New Orleans. Let’s keep the comments to that subject going forward. The looting convo is a dead horse – stop beating it, please!

    One point for future comments by anyone: sarcasm used to belittle or judge is not acceptable here. If you have something to say, say it plainly. Thank you.

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