Almost lost in my shuffling through all the two-year-anniversary coverage of Hurricane Katrina was this interesting feature in New Orleansâ Times-Picayune about Glenn Allen, an evacuee minister who decided to stay in Atlanta and start up his own church in the area.
Of course thereâs the usual examples of homesickness and the contrasting lifestyles in the two cities. Hereâs one of my favorites:
To heighten the contrast, as New Orleans struggles to repopulate, Atlanta recently has passed the 5 million mark with its metro-area population. Much of the increase owes to the constant influx of transplants.
âNo one is really from here,â Allen says.
The benefit that derives from that is the stimulation of diversity.
âYou have all these different cultures â Latinos, Jamaicans, Nigerians,â he says.
But there is a downside as well: a diluted sense of place. At Thanksgiving last year, Allen and his wife, Carla, entertained 40 of their parishioners in their home â all people who were spending the holidays away from their families. At Christmas, there were even more.
And while he has plenty of genial new friends, he says itâs not the same.
âWeâre surrounded by good people, but theyâre all new people. Iâm used to knowing someone for 20 or 30 years,â he says.
âItâs strange to be brand new. You donât know who to trust; you donât know what peopleâs true intentions are. Itâs harder to read people when youâre out of your culture.â
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