The Door To Action

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Tropolism means appreciating urbanism wherever it is, in whatever form, even though it may not be suited to our taste. We prefer super-dense cities like New York and Tokyo and London to quasi-dense second-tier urban patches like Chicago and Atlanta and San Francisco.

(For instance, my brother, sister-in-law, and my two nieces absolutely love the 50,000 house development called "South Riding, Virginia", even though I have yet to determine if this is the name of a town nearby, or if that is only the name of the super-development. I think it's boring and uninteresting, but it's a form of urbanism, of density. Low-density, for me, the New Yorker, is simply low-interest.)

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But there's one city that is small, compared to New York, yet has a cultural power to rival NYC. It's New Orleans, the abandoned city, the evacuated city, the city under water. America's dream of Venice. As Mr. Koolhaas pointed out in 1976, we here in the USA always dream in terms of disaster scenarios.

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What's surreal is the inability to get documentation of what's happening. After September 11, 2001, people could simply call me up and get the word on what was happening in Lower Manhattan. I worked eight blocks from the WTC, and saw everything from the second airplane to the months of rancid smoldering to the eventual clean up and reconstruction. But New Orleans is a wasteland of information as well as city infrastructure. There is no way to know, exactly, factually, what is going on. The disaster is a story, and hearsay. Something New Orleans does well, but it does not always produce accurate information.

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Tropolism will have plenty of time to report on the lapses in floodplain management, levee upgrade requests, and the disaster scenario warnings city and state officials made to the federal government, all ignored. That can come later. Now: help people. Donate.

Find out about how to help an architect or a student.

Tropolism also means writing is a door to action. We will help the survivors first, and help rebuilt next.

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