Netroots Nation is an annual conference of the nation's top progressive bloggers and leaders of the loose progressive movement partially responsible for the mini-resurgence of the Left since 2004.
You may be wondering: "How the hell did E get invited?"
Well, like an annoying neighbor or relative, it's because I invited myself.
I pitched a New Orleans-centric panel for this year's conference and it got accepted!
So I'm flying my ass up to the wrong side of Pennsylvania in - wow - just over a week and will do my best to rep our fair city.
Of course it's never too late for you to waste your vacation days in Pittsburgh.
Come on up!
It's August 13-16th!
The panel is called New Orleans on the Brink: Why Progressive America Can And Should Contribute To A Sustainable Recovery and the basic idea is to try to communicate where we're at, why we're here, and to discuss where we need to go.
This is how I billed it a few months ago when I submitted the proposal:
While statistical evidence has consistently identified the failed federal response to Katrina as the watershed event contributing to the decline of the Bush administration's approval ratings, progressives and the netroots have largely abandoned the cause of New Orleans as a political and moral issue. The Left has a responsibility to see to it that New Orleans survives and thrives, for the sustainable recovery of this city will be the primary measure used for determining whether the netroots indeed represent a substantive movement concerned with the betterment of American communities or just another vessel for cyclical change in partisan fortunes. As it stands, New Orleans is on the brink. Rates of crime, illiteracy, poverty, imprisonment and life expectancy too closely resemble those of developing nations. Political power remains ensconced in the hands of economic and tribal elites. Basic retention of the population that has been able to return is as pressing a challenge as bringing home the tens of thousands who remain displaced almost four years after the levees failed.
It's always tough trying to find that sweet spot when talking about New Orleans to a national audience. One has to disabuse people of two contradictory notions. Some folks inaccurately believe that New Orleans is a hopeless post-apocalyptic hell scape while others just as inaccurately believe that we've had 'excellence in recovery.'
Similarly there's a tough balancing act when you're talking to a national audience because of the generalizations one sometimes has to impart context to people that can't possibly understand the nuance that locals implicitly know. That's an inarticulate way of saying how tough it is to make honest and critical assessments and acknowledgments of what we need to get straight in our own backyard without undermining the all-important argument about ongoing federal indebtedness to New Orleans for decades of environmental costs associated with shipping, oil, and Mississippi River dams. And then there are the costs associated with the failed federal levees, of course.
So without further adieu, let me introduce you to the panelists.
James Perry: housing advocate, fighter of discrimination, mayoral candidate, and all-star twitterer
Karen Gadbois: news organization founder, 'gadfly,' champion of justice, and all-around superstar
Jacques Morial: renaissance man, world-straddler, and human encyclopedia of New Orleans politics and history
June Cross: professor at Columbia School of Journalism, documentary-slayer, and producer of one of the greatest stories of Post-Katrina resilience, the Old Man and the Storm
Last and certainly least, the conversation moderator:
Eli (Me!) Ackerman: increasingly annoying poser
My job, I think, will be to get coffee and keep time.
So I think this is an incredibly balanced panel. Insiders and outsiders. Boys and girls. Black, white, and creole. A Mayoral candidate and a barely employable pimple-popper.
What about you all? What do you think about the lineup? Given that we have an hour and will almost certainly devote 40% of that time to audience Q&A, what should we talk about?
Are there any messages you'd like me to deliver to scheduled celebrity pol speakers Joe Sestak, Arlen Specter, Howard Dean, or Valerie Jarret?
What about for your favorite (or most detested) snarky voice from the blogosphere?
Also looking for your suggestions on how to behave myself at another panel I've been invited to participate in, about the role of local blogs in investigative journalism or something.
Let 'er rip!