Gentilly Terrace discusses exploratory water management group, mobile app for documentation
At their most recent meeting, the Gentilly Terrace And Gardens Improvement Association hosted two speakers, both inviting the community to participate in improving water management in New Orleans.
The neighborhood association meeting took place on Wednesday, Sept. 13 in the cafeteria of the old Gentilly Terrace Elementary School, located on Arts and Carnots Streets. Guests from the Gulf Restoration Network presented first and passed out handouts on upcoming flood reduction projects.
Harry Lowenburg, campaign organizer for the Gulf Restoration Network and advocate for implementing the Greater New Orleans Water Plan, talked about how the Mirabeau Water Garden and the Pontilly Neighborhood Stormwater Network are multimillion dollar projects currently underway in Gentilly.
“We need a multiple line of defense, and with water management we need the pumps, but the pumps will never be enough by themselves,” Lowenburg said.
Lowenburg said that with water management, inches are a crucial measurement. He asked the community if they can work out a plan to utilize neighborhoods’ vacant lots to retain storm water.
“The added benefit of that is the water that soaks into the ground reduces our subsidence,” Lowenburg said. “So we’ve started an exploratory committee that’s made up of people throughout Gentilly, and I’d like to invite other members here to be part of that.”
The Gentilly exploratory group is starting with documenting what is happening around their neighborhoods, and that’s where Lowenburg said iSeeChange can come in. He said working with the mobile app can help residents document their observations.
“The idea here is to create a model that other neighborhoods can use, and if we do it right, the city will benefit,” Lowenburg said.
The Gentilly water management exploratory group meets the last Tuesday of every month. For more information, contact Lowenburg here.
Julia Kumari Drapkin is a Gentilly resident and the CEO and founder of the iSeeChange mobile app and online platform. Drapkin began her presentation saying one of the reasons climate change has been difficult to talk about has is because of people’s usual focus on data, rather than narrative.
“That’s why we ended up with iSeeChange,” Drapkin said. “We felt like these conversations about the weather and how climate change impacts our daily lives have not been tuned into.”
The mobile app allows residents to track changes in their weather in their community through pictures, videos, and installed rain gauges, when watching for flooding. Drapkin said that recorded New Orleans stories started this summer and that iSeeChange comment slips and boxes have been recently placed around dollar stores and coffee shops in Gentilly to receive feedback about city flooding.
“There are hotspots all around town and identifying them and measuring them helps us to work towards a solution,” Drapkin said.
In sharing stories and posts from residents in the St. Bernard area, Drapkin told residents of the Gentilly Terrace neighborhood that iSeeChange functions to help those citizens who wish to participate in civic engagement but can’t always make such community meetings.
Frank Rabalais, president of the Gentilly Terrace board, this application is important because a record can be created that can be distributed to stakeholders and city leaders.
“It’s some amazing app that allows for community, real-time documenting of what’s happening,” Rabalais said.
The next Gentilly Terrace And Gardens Improvement Association meeting will take place on Tuesday, Oct.17. There will be a potluck held outside the Gentilly Terrace Elementary School and a meet and greet with the NOPD Third District Commander.