Voices: The View from the Roof

by Homer Twig '08

July 11, 2008

Standing on the roof today and laying shingles gave me a new perspective on the city.

I’ve been here before. It’s the same New Orleans I’ve seen on Bour-bon Street, or mulling around the market, or taking a taxicab tour through all of the damage. Some people will tell you that the city is still in shambles, and it still is.

But it’s different today.

Two years ago, New Orleans was a disjointed city of lost people searching for a home that had floated away. Nobody knew who was who. People were moving into devastated houses barely recognizable as those they’d owned before the storm.

Today on the roof, I realized that was all in the past. The next phase in the rebuilding of New Orleans is not structural but societal.

Today I saw lawns being mowed, people riding bikes, flowers being planted, and little old women standing outside just talking to one another. The neighborhood was coming back. You can’t get the materials for that at Home Depot, and no federal loan can bring it back.

Neighborhoods are mystical bonds of people who are actually interested in one another. I don’t know my neighbors at home. A lot of people don’t. But on top of the roof, I got to see the larger picture…a community coming back together. It was in this brief moment of clarity that I began to see that I had come back to New Orleans perhaps not for rebuilding, or Jesus, but because the community of people living together to improve living conditions has a byproduct of communal joy that is unique and transcendent throughout the whole city.

That’s why people come back to New Orleans, resident and volunteer alike…because the people here wibig hearts make rebuilding look easy.

Homer Twigg ’08 traveled to New Orleans with Professor Jon Baer, 13 Wabash students, and five men from Crawfordsville’s First Christian Church to help rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.


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