The “Dutch Dialogues” workshops are the outgrowth of extended interactions between Dutch engineers, urban designers, landscape architects, city planners and soils/hydrology experts and, primarily, their Louisiana counterparts.
David Waggonner, a local New Orleans architect, initiated this dialogue with Dale Morris, of the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Washington, DC, and the American Planning Association. Waggonner’s and Morris’ efforts on behalf of “Dutch Dialogues” derive from their unwavering belief that New Orleans can survive and prosper and grow only when it gets certain fundamentals in order. Dutch Dialogues exposes and hopefully addresses some of those fundamentals.
South Louisiana, like the Netherlands, must adapt to the threats inherent to living in a subsiding delta. This is not an either/or proposition — it is an ordering principle. Safety First” is the key organizing water management principle in the Netherlands. History repeatedly shows the folly of living in a delta: disasters are common there. To ignore, however, the water’s magic – the unique, abundant opportunities that can and should be exploited for economic, societal and cultural gain —is equally foolhardy.
“Living with the water” has recently become an ordering, corollary principle of Dutch policy. Dutch Dialogues participants believe that adapting a Living with the Water principle is necessary in post-Katrina New Orleans; they likewise reject the false choice posited by those who see only a choice between safety or amenity from water in the Louisiana delta. Indeed, Dutch Dialogues posits that both safety and amenity from water are crucial to a future in which New Orleans is robust, vibrant and secure.
The first of the Dutch Dialogues was held in March 2008 and initiated a set of a multi-disciplinary,cross-cultural interactions designed to explore if, where and how Dutch approaches to water management, landscape architecture, flood protection and urban design were relevant to New Orleans as it recovered from Hurricane Katrina.
Dutch Dialogues 2 was held in October 2008 and brought together 60 experts to develop jointly illustrative solutions and design approaches that could make New Orleans more flood-proof, sustainable, resilient, and attractive from both urban design and economic perspectives. The second Dutch Dialogues spun-off similar Dutch-American interactions in New York, Tampa Bay, San Francisco, and internationally in Taipei, Taiwan and Orangestad, Aruba.
The resulting concepts and designs have been the topic of further study at Washington University in Saint Louis, University of Toronto, Tulane University, University of Virginia, University of New Orleans, Delft Technical University (The Netherlands) and Wageningen University (The Netherlands).