In this week’s Planetizen, NYC planner and journalist Roberta Brandes Gratz examines the ongoing process of rebuilding New Orleans, more than three years after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. Gratz attended a conference there titled “New Orleans Speaks: We Are The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For,” and found that many successes in the rebuilding process are coming from the grassroots. She writes:

“Many small and often innovative plans are being made and implemented by a remarkable array of self-organized local groups, energetic residents, small business entrepreneurs, and an unending stream of outside volunteers from churches to university groups and from Americorps to Starbucks and Barnes & Noble… With names like Save Our Schools,, Squandered Heritage, TREE, Get It Done, Latinola, Beacon of Hope and the usual assortment of neighborhood associations with terms like ’empowerment’, ‘environment’ and ‘faith-based’ included, this untrained but virtual civilian conservation corps has learned more on the job than they could have in a classroom — and quicker. The collective experience here offers the country a road map for disaster recovery programs of the future.”

Read the full article here.

Editor’s note: I took this photo in New Orleans in 2006.