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A city the young can dominate

Steve Katz
Bill Haber/AP photoMusician Gary Grimes walks along Bourbon Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans as a tourist carriage slowly moves down the street.
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Note: Mary Sue and Steve Katz are part-time Vail residents whose home in New Orleans was severely damaged and flooded by Hurricane Katrina. They have been traveling back and forth between Vail and New Orleans since the storm, and writing about their experiences.

NEW ORLEANS ” New Orleans’ progress has been disappointing in the 11 months since Katrina.

So, is there a silver lining in this cloud? Indeed there is and an interesting and unique one.

Historically, the 40-65 age group is the governing generation. They run the government, own the businesses, professional firms, etc. The older set has “achieved retirement” and the up and coming are just that, patiently up and coming.

New Orleans is different ” New Orleans is always different. The over-65 crowd, really over 75, has retired and for the most part have stayed in the city.

The biggest change in the city is the subsidence of the 40-65 generation ” my generation. It is the one most dispersed.

At the top of the bracket, so many have left for other cities, some just to move, so many to live with grown children, even more to relocate; many doctors and attorneys were able to call in a marker and move to an afar practice, or become ‘of counsel’ to a corporate client.

Moving is difficult for our boomer generation. After 40 uprooting is difficult, and it doesn’t necessarily work. Some of those who left will return to New Orleans, even more will vacillate, and move two, three or four times.

In many cases they are confused. The city we grew up in is so different. No city in history has ever changed so fast. Even World War Two evolved more gradually than the overnight flood that so changed New Orleans and all of its people.

The previous paragraphs covered a large part of the populous ” the Auntie Mame part. In the play of the same name, when asked her age Auntie Mame replied, “somewhere between forty and death.” This is not the set on which New Orleans should focus.

New Orleans is a city starting over. Soon it will be a young and vibrant city. It’s a city that 30-year-olds have the opportunity to dominate. A person between 25 and 40 has a chance to really flourish.

The post-Katrina New Orleans is a city not only to be reconstructed but retailored ” retailored into a quilt of music, art;, a river, wetlands, the Cajun culture ” with a ruffle, a lapel: A new twist.

If you’re 30 you can weave the city, you can weave its culture, and you can work your business into it. Amortization is on your side.

New Orleans is sorely lacking in services. But go read your Ayn Rand. It is the opportunity to start ” not over ” but again, to learn from history.

The city has no schools, no police, not enough labor ” so create charter schools instead of the crap we had; a police force without the corruption for which we’ve been infamous; train a labor supply that is educated and productive and doesn’t live in public housing, but prides itself in home ownership and a skill no matter how narrow.

Go to New Orleans out of college. The opportunities abound and they abound in every arena. Get involved and avoid the mistakes of yesteryear.

Of course some will repeat, but listen to the past and look to the future. Have fun and take the city over. A city run by 30-year-olds, at least for a while, can be a refreshing and enlightening thought ” at least it would be if I were 29.

Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado


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