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Our Mission


Charles Eliot Norton (1827-1908)


In any society, at any time, dramatic events can occur that demand a response greater than government alone can provide. At such times the circumstances can be so dire, and the potential consequences of doing nothing so severe, that ordinary citizens instinctively realize they must act.

Such a moment arose in 2005 when disaster struck New Orleans and challenged government at every level. Broken floodwalls had fatally exposed the city to a tidal surge produced by Hurricane Katrina. As government struggled in the aftermath of a catastrophic flood, citizens turned out in throngs to help.

One group began looking deeper into the city’s future. In November 2005, 120 local residents gathered to consider such looming questions as: What can we do to prevent a recurrence of this disaster? How can we rebuild to create a better city than we had before? They focused immediately on the local flood protection system.

With that gathering, Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans was born. Led by local businesswoman and longtime activist Ruthie Frierson, the group threw itself into a campaign to overcome the state Legislature’s failure to reform the workings of southeast Louisiana’s levee boards.

Through community and legislative outreach and public education, the group advocated for creation of a unified levee board comprised of experts who would be guided by sound principles and would operate transparently and without political patronage. The group collected some 53,000 signatures on a petition calling for levee board reform.

The result: In March 2006, the Legislature approved historic legislation to dissolve local levee commissions and create the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority. Six months later, Louisiana voters approved a constitutional amendment to consolidate and reform levee management in the region.

Using that success as a springboard, the fledgling group of activists took on additional challenges. They began advocating in such areas as property tax assessment, crimefighting, education and governmental ethics.With each step forward, Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans grew into a more powerful force for change.

Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans is a nonpartisan, nonsectarian grassroots organization that aims to be a voice for reform and renewal for greater New Orleans and Louisiana. A 12-member executive committee leads the all-volunteer group, which today has more than 20,000 supporters.