THE ICON: Mary Rowe
THE LEGACY: Almost immediately after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, some difficult questions began being asked. First: Can New Orleans be rebuilt? And, more troublingly, should it be rebuilt? Enter Mary Rowe, an urbanist and self-described “community animator,” who focused more on those asking a different, and much more significant question: How can we rebuild it? For the next five years, Rowe worked in the city as a grant-maker, helping support the city’s recovery and, through the New Orleans Institute for Resilience and Innovation she helped found, to energize it by bringing together the myriad community groups and rebuilding initiatives that rose from the Katrina muck. By the time she moved on — to, among other things, help New York dig out from the effects of 2012’s Superstorm Sandy — New Orleans wasn’t just a city on the mend. It was a city that, with her help, had learned valuable lessons, not the least of which was faith in the power of its own resilience.
THE ARTIST: Maddie Stratton
THE INSPIRATION: “When all the pundits and all the experts were saying we couldn’t rebuild New Orleans, the people said, ‘Excuse me — oh, yes, we are. This is where I am from and this is where I am going to stay.’ Urban resilience starts at the most personal level, the places where people live.” — Mary Rowe, at the 2014 International Cities of Migration Conference in Berlin