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Scholars Gather in Arkansas to Discuss Rebuilding New Orleans


Among the researchers and scholars from across the country who gathered at the University of Arkansas over the weekend to discuss rebuilding New Orleans were victims of Hurricane Katrina, who said they came to make sure they were not forgotten.

Jerry Peel, 62, who now lives in Little Rock but was a New Orleans resident before the storm says he wanted a voice in reshaping the city for the lower and middle-class. He says he hopes the experts consider the social consequences of their work.

“We wanted to instill in them that there are people involved, not just structures,” he says.

Takuna Tarhakah, 76, who lived in a Ninth Ward apartment in New Orleans also now lives in Little Rock. He says he came to the conference “to emphasize the ‘little people’ of New Orleans in terms of how they would be able to participate in rebuilding.”

The university hosted the conference last Saturday and Sunday, where issues were discussed such as economics, establishing development sites, sharing expertise and resources, rebuilding strategy and including the poor and disadvantaged.

Dan Etheridge of the Center for Bioenvironmental Research at Tulane and Xavier universities in New Orleans presented a documentary and spoke.

“The landscape, history, economy and cultures should not be isolated from one another when moving forward,” Etheridge says.

Lora Kim, an assistant professor at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, came to share her knowledge of emergency structures — a class she teaches in the institute’s architecture department.

“It’s not about building quickly,” Kim says. “But when we do build, can we find techniques to … build more efficiently and economically.”

Associated Press

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