NEW ORLEANS, LA
Post Katrina brings to light the exodus and aging of the African American middle class and how that is potentially affecting cultural cohesion of this unique city. While signs of economic recovery show progress, led by a vibrant tourism sector as well as increasing entrepreneurial infusions, opportunities are not reaching the middle and working class and especially lacking for young New Orleans African Americans.
Katina exposed much of the problems—e.g. inequalities, racism, crime–that existed prior. Frequencies of fires, floods, droughts, hurricanes are increasing nationwide and recovery efforts are inadequate. Environment is a factor everywhere. For the Crescent City, currently with over 50% of residents facing lack of housing affordability, this compounds societal opportunities and challenges in ways that require modifications to how resources are applied and how unifications of disparate efforts may be achieved…
After some period of slumber, there are signs of economic growth with likes of Netflix and Facebook, albeit also foretell indicators of the same factors—increasing housing costs pressuring affordability that can quickly spiral in favor of investment class, high crime activities, stagnant wages, gentrification, lacking opportunities for youth (NM is worst in nation for child wellbeing)–that plague Seattle and New Orleans. The Facebook development reveals that tech growth is not limited to urban centers but into sprawling regions.
But unlike how Seattle and New Orleans have reached current state, Albuquerque, representing a “flyover” scenic state urban center, has potential to shape this episode with careful consideration and not allow its progress towards “economic” prosperity compromise the well being of its middle class, local historic, surrounding communities and wealth of culture. Santa Fe, the City Different hiding behind a creative culture façade, less than 60 miles away, also provides warning signs for Albuquerque—high costs of living and housing, apparent disparities, limited opportunities for diverse economy.
PACIFIC NORTHWEST CORIDOR
Seattle has experienced the boom of technological innovations but it’s also the technology prosperity bomb, resulting in extreme disparities for many. This serves as a lesson for others in the US. It has the third highest rate of homelessness in the nation.
Many middle class households have fallen into status of asset limited, income constrained, but employed. Barely maintaining a survival budget with not much to spare and unlikely to be able to cope with unexpected expenses. Housing costs is out of reach for majority of working persons.
As many get pushed out to surrounding areas in the Pacific Northwest, increasing geographic inequality compounds existing racial and socioeconomic disparities further affect access to opportunities. With technology and automation accelerating changes, this too will influence the societal and community structure we are all part of.