Rising Tide III, A Conference on the Future of New Orleans, gets underway tomorrow night with a welcome reception at Buffa's on Esplanade (near the French Quarter) before launching into a long weekend of conferences, talks, panels, and parties.
Saturday brings some seriously impressive panels dedicated to levee protection, media, politics, the school system, and the intersection of all of the above. (Here's the schedule with all the links and bios.) I'm on the 1 p.m. media panel with Lee Zurik of WWL-TV, David Winkler-Schmit of Gambit Weekly, and Eli Ackerman, who blogs at We Could Be Famous.
Mostly I plan to shut up and listen.
It's an extraordinarily odd and exciting time to be a news person in New Orleans; everyone and no one is driving the discussions, and if you're not reading the papers, scanning the blogs, listening to radio, and watching TV news, you're missing part of the picture. At a time when, more and more, I turn on cable news-flavored programming or try to read the opinion pages of the national papers, and come away with absolutely nothing of relevance to my own life, it's a tonic to be in a time and a place where so many people are saying "Well, I'll do it myself, and let's see what happens," and it gets done and people pay attention. It's the model people have been talking about for years, but it's actually happening, and Rising Tide is sort of the apotheosis of that. If The New York Times was smart, there'd be a correspondent there, but the best part is: it really doesn't matter or not if they are.
Anyway. See you there, I hope.