After Hurricane Katrina nearly destroyed New Orleans in 2005, we were all focused on the same thing: rebuilding the city. Apart from large areas of the Lower 9th Ward which still remain uninhabited, we have succeeded beyond, what were then, most people’s wildest dreams. Beyond simply rebuilding the city that was, we have moved into what has become the continuing evolution of New Orleans.
Take housing for example. After years of blight and abandoned homes being the city’s biggest problems, our housing problems today are the exact opposite – gentrification and an increasing population causing soaring rents.
Simone Bruni Crouere has been a part of this process all along. You may know Simone better by her company name, Demo Diva. Like the city itself, Demo Diva continues to evolve, diversifying from knocking down buildings to putting them back together again. Demo Diva’s sister business is called Reclaimed Diva.
Jonathan Leit is Director of the New Orleans office of a New York property development company with a community building mission. The company is called Alembic Community Development. Under Jonathan’s leadership the company developed the Palmyra Street Apartments the Dryades Public Market on Oretha Castle Hailey Boulevard, and the Donald Harrison Senior Cultural Arts Museum in the Upper 9th Ward.
As the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the almost equally devastating slow drip of population and resource-depletion that preceded it have been reversed, the continuing evolution of New Orleans is both a social and economic work in progress.
Out to Lunch is recorded over lunch at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. Photos by Jill Lafleur.
You can find Demo Diva Simone Bruni Crouere’s earlier appearance on Out to Lunch here. And see a whole other side of Simone on the It’s New Orleans Happy Hour podcast.