I recently spent four days in New Orleans with a film crew from National Geographic exploring facets of social resilience. We were fortunate to talk to and learn from some amazing people who were kind and generous to us in sharing their experiences of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and especially how they had re-built since, and their aspirations for the future. The result will be one of a series of films co-ordinated jointly between National Geographic and AXA. I worked alongside Jon Waterman, an inspiring filmmaker and writer – you can see his website here
We heard accounts of tremendous courage, perseverance and hope, and passionate articulations of place attachment – New Orleans is undoubtedly a special place, with high values placed on its culture and community. People expressed strong views about what had got better since the Hurricane, what was worse, what helped and what hindered, and what has and hasn’t changed. But in contrast to the uplifting stories, there remain many boarded up houses still bearing the marks of the rescue teams alongside the newly built houses and, of course, there are many other people who haven’t returned to their former homes.