Liz McCartney and Zack Rosenburg
Special to CNN
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When we started thinking about the contents of this piece, our first thought was to highlight all of the progress, accomplishments and successes that the St. Bernard Project has achieved since Katrina.
We thought of numbers: 302 - the number of homes that the St. Bernard Project has rebuilt; 85 - the number of residents who utilize our free evidenced-based clinical services at our Center for Wellness and Mental Health each week.
We thought of all of those who have made it possible: 25,000 volunteers; nearly 1,000 AmeriCorps members; companies like Entergy, Patron Tequila, KPMG, GE and United Way, and citizens like Ari Mittleman, who has made 20 volunteer trips over the past four years, and the Solon family from Massachusetts, who has raised enough funds to move three families home and who spent the summer volunteering with the project.
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CNN Political Producer
Nearly 4,000 GOP insiders are descending Thursday on New Orleans for the start of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, thought by many to be the unofficial kickoff to the 2012 presidential cycle.
Along with speeches from party leaders, the conference's agenda includes strategy sessions and even a GOP-themed film festival - not to mention behind-the-scenes networking and a sampling of the city's abundant food and drink. The conference is taking place just steps from Bourbon Street.
The Republican National Committee and Republican Governors Association, eager to fill their coffers in a midterm election year, also are holding fundraisers to piggyback off the gathering, which takes place every four years.
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James Carville | BIO
In September of 2005, no one could have anticipated what we saw in New Orleans last week. What happened on the football field and parade route after the Saints' Super Bowl victory is amazing and uplifting. But what's happening elsewhere in New Orleans also rises to that standard.
Consider the following:
The day before the Super Bowl, New Orleans participated in a historic mayoral election, as Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu won a stunning 66-percent of the vote, with unprecedented support among all races.
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David Gergen | BIO
CNN Senior Political Analyst
The country took a well-deserved time-out last night from bleak news about jobs, deficits, health care, Iran and the like. Even if you were pulling for Peyton Manning and the Colts, you had to agree that the epic upset victory by the New Orleans Saints was the best feel-good moment for the country in more than a year.
Drew Brees and the Saints did more than deliver a storybook ending to a storybook year. They made New Orleans a fresh symbol of the American spirit – what we can do as a people when we have our backs to the wall and join together in search of a comeback.
As almost everyone knows by now, Drew Brees is himself a story of overcoming the odds. Even though he was a high school star, most colleges weren’t interested in him as a player because he was so short – six feet in cleats, far below today’s stereotype. By grit and determination, he made it into the pros but four years ago, diving on a fumble, injured his shoulder so badly that no one wanted him except for the Saints, a team with such a sorry record that it was often nicknamed the “Aints” back home.
As CNN's John Zarrella reports, the NFL's New Orleans Saints are more than just distraction for the city with soul.
Program note: Tune in at 10pm ET tonight to find out more about the origins of the "Who Dat?" craze.
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Special to CNN
Copenhagen, Denmark, is 5,000 miles away from New Orleans, Louisiana. But representatives of the 192 nations gathering this week at the climate change conference need to keep the memory of a flooded New Orleans in mind.
Two years ago this month, the Make It Right Foundation was launched to help the families of New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward rebuild their lives and community. That was already two years after Katrina, and the once-vibrant neighborhood was still in ruins, failed by government and frustrated by a lack of progress.
Working with the Lower 9th Ward community, with families who lost everything in Katrina, with cutting-edge architects and inventive builders, we learned some truths and made some discoveries we would like to share with the climate change negotiators in Copenhagen:
We need urgent action. Climate change is real and happening now. The world already is reeling from the consequences - rising sea levels, more violent storms, more frequent flooding and prolonged droughts. Hurricane Katrina, the killer heat wave in Europe, China's floods and the enduring drought in Australia are not anomalies, they are harbingers.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/10/15/obama.new.orleans/art.new.orleans.generic.gi.jpg caption="President Obama will visit New Orleans, Louisiana, on Thursday to talk about rebuilding efforts. "]
Special to CNN
I spent much of this month in my adopted hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana. Uncharacteristically for August, the streets and restaurants and galleries and music clubs were largely full and throbbing with energy.
There are hubs of entrepreneurs all over town trying to invent the future. And thankfully, Mayor Ray Nagin's term is only months away from its end.
Between my weeks in the Crescent City, I joined some local folks in traipsing up to the Aspen Institute to share the news of New Orleans with interested outsiders. One talked about the progress in rebuilding homes. Another discussed the reform of the public-school system, the decoupling of the schools from a centralized board, resulting in the city becoming the leader in charter-school enrollment.
Program Note: Four years after Katrina, what is New Orleans like now? Some residents continue to face challenges as the Big Easy keeps trying to rebuild. Take a look at In Depth: After the Storm. And to learn about ways you can make a difference, visit Impact Your World.