I'm in New Orleans, where the sense of loss is palpable from the moment one deplanes at the Louis Armstrong Airport. The presence of absence evokes a Southern belle sitting on her front porch waiting for a gentleman caller who never shows up.
Like all communities, we in New Orleans have a microscopic perception of culture. It's a way of living – the food we eat, the institutions we're committed to – the people we're used to interacting with.
Anyone who loses a component of their culture, it's like losing an immediate family member, a part of your soul, the essence of what makes your community. It's part of the spirit of a neighborhood.
Silas told me New Orleans is losing the social anchors of its neighborhoods – churches, grocery stores, barber shops. "The people made those institutions."
As I walked around the French Quarter, the ubiquitous T-shirts show that New Orleanians haven't lost their sense of humor. My favorites are "Drove My Chevy to the Levee and the Levee Was Gone" and "FEMA: Find Every Mexican Available."
While the city cannot find the resources to support local musicians (and here), it had no trouble finding Mexican children to fill up the slots in a new escuela. In fact, there are so many Mexicans the school reportedly reached its capacity in a month and now has a waiting list.