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On January 11, 2006, residents of New Orleans's Broadmoor neighborhood, which still bore the deep scars left by Hurricane Katrina, were shocked by the headlines in The Times-Picayune. The Urban Planning Committee of a mayoral commission charged with developing a reconstruction plan for the hurricane-ravaged city had proposed giving hard-hit neighborhoods like Broadmoor four months to prove that they were still viable and, hence, worth rebuilding. Worse still, the paper had printed a composite map, drawn from the committee's report, which showed six green dots indicating low-lying areas that could be turned into parks and "greenspace." One of those green dots covered Broadmoor. Incensed at what they viewed as a betrayal by their own city government, Broadmoor residents who had returned to salvage their flood-damaged homes began to consider how to save their neighborhood from the bulldozers. Their efforts quickly coalesced around the Broadmoor Improvement Association--a venerable neighborhood organization-and a determination to create their own plan for recovery. A core group of residents-many of whom had never met each other and none of whom had ever worked on a redevelopment plan-would take the lead in organizing the planning process for the still-scattered community.
Learning Objective: This case, in three parts, tells the story of their efforts. Part A provides background on Broadmoor--a mixed-income neighborhood that encompassed both a relatively affluent, largely white area and a poorer, largely African-American section that had been troubled by blighted housing and crime--and tells the story of its early steps to organize an all-volunteer redevelopment planning effort. Soon after it launched the process, it got an unexpected offer of help from Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), which proposed to send students to Broadmoor during their spring break to assist the neighborhood with its plan. The case ends with a warning from the leader of the HKS initiative that the federal funds residents hoped would start pouring in once their plan was completed would not likely materialize. Part B then follows two strands of the Broadmoor planning effort: (1) how residents met to discuss and vote on components of the plan, and how differences over goals and priorities were mediated and resolved; and (2) how the neighborhood adopted a strategy of "partnerships" with outside organizations and corporations to get help in implementing its ambitious redevelopment plan. A brief sequel describes progress in key areas of the plan. Taken together, the cases provide a snapshot of a disaster-stricken community organizing itself and building the capacity to engineer and manage its own recovery.
Herman (Dutch) B. Leonard, Henry Lee, and Archon Fung