"Dare to Dream" of a New Delta Dawn

An enviromental expert urges New Orleans to build on the city's creativity, embrace green technology -- and above all, act boldly

By Peter Coy

One of the most ambitious post-Katrina blueprints comes from Alan AtKisson, a Stockholm consultant who has advised New Orleans and other cities on sustainable development. On a Web site called WorldChanging, AtKisson advocates the following:

• Hire Dutch engineers to advise New Orleans on how to rebuild the city's levees, while relying on the Mississippi itself to rebuild the protective coastal islands and shoals.

• Raise the poor to higher ground, literally and figuratively, in better housing.

• Build on the city's legacy of creativity. "New Orleans' music and cuisine, its festivals and gardens and galleries, and even its notoriously wild parties are the only thing that can hope to draw people back to a place whose inundation is now etched in the world's consciousness," he writes.

• Create a "clean, green showcase." He says New Orleans "could become a living laboratory for solar roofs, mini hydro generators, architecture that creates cool buildings without air conditioning, electric and fuel-cell vehicles."

AtKisson's last admonition: "Dare to dream." Given the post-tsunami-like condition of much of New Orleans, it takes a lot of daring to envision the city as a clean, green showcase.

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Coy is Economics editor of BusinessWeek

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