Recently commonscribe posted a simple plea entitled: 14,000 in FEMA trailers on the Gulf. Finish The Job. That post sparked some ideas that are worthy of discussion for the entire group, it also sparked the following interview:
(discussion follows interview)
This will be commonscribe’s third visit to help rebuild homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina so who better to ask about what is needed than one of our own?
NLOB: Why did you get involved?
commonscribe: It was more productive than screaming at the TV. Seriously.
NLOB: How can others get involved in your particular project?
commonscribe: It’s fairly easy. If you go alone, they will place you on a work crew. If you bring down a crew, they will give you a house to work on. If you can’t go at all, they can use your web skills as a “virtual caseworker” for displaced residents.
NLOB: Is your project fully funded or do you need more donations or supplies?
commonscribe: Our particular project is fully funded, but the outfit we are working with, Katrina Relief Volunteers has a half- dozen such projects going at any one time. Like most charities down there, they are underfunded, short handed, and post a regular needs list on their website.
Keep in mind that 12,000 houses were destroyed in Hancock County alone. Maybe 200 have been built back, largely by volunteers.
NLOB: Have you been in contact with the people you are going to help? If so can you tell us a bit about the troubles they have and continue to face?
commonscribe: This is my third trip down, and the place seems to be caught in a time warp; there’s just not enough money from insurance or federal funds to really get the rebuilding jumpstarted. I’ve written about some of these folks, and you might get a better sense of their problems by reading those essays.
NLOB: In addition to housing-related needs what other volunteers are needed?
commonscribe: I am hearing lots of anecdotal stories on shortages of mental health workers, social workers and paralegals.
Katrina Volunteers or Congressman Gene Taylor’s office can probably provide better guidance on that front.
NLOB: Where will you be staying when you go? Are other groups joining you or meeting you there?
commonscribe: Katrina Volunteers has three sites for volunteers, but
because we have 10 high school juniors and seniors in our group, we’ll be staying at “Mission on the Bay,” a youth volunteer camp that’s run by
Lutheran-Episcopal Services of Mississippi. It’s dorm-style housing in bunks and quonset huts donated by the Alaska National Guard. I’m hearing there will be 100 volunteers in the camp that week, all working on various rebuilding projects. Here’s a link.
Please re-post or link to this interview on your own blogs and newsgroups.
Thank you commonscribe for your efforts on the ground and the blogosphere, there is no replacement for first hand accounts. Many of us would like to help in the greater effort of Katrina Relief and this is where the group discussion can begin.
Tigana floated the idea of creating a Katrina Fund Raising Initiative. This could be as simple as a link from the Wiki to a reputable relief group or it could be as involved as setting monthly fund raising goals and holding on-line/on-ground fund raiser events. We could have a Katrina Krew that writes about important developments and seeks to keep a strong positive focus on the issue. Members that live in the area or are volunteers pitching in to help can provide us with photos for posters, screen savers, t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc. etc.
Pico warns against picking just any group and suggests we select those with very good track records. Pico offers ThinkNOLA as a good resource.
My personal opinion is that a Katrina Relief Effort would be a great way to bring us together as a group. Using a Katrina Relief Effort as a political billy club should not be the goal, doing good work for people in Mississippi and Louisiana should be the goal. It will also help us to learn what works and what does not work in the way of raising money. We can branch out and do some local collections for the groups selected to receive donations. And we can help share the story of Katrina survivors with the world.
To our members please weigh in on this issue by providing personal experiences with various charities, first-hand knowledge from previous relief efforts, targeting donors, including more blogs and media, and your own ideas on getting this thing off the ground. Once the feedback has been posted I can boil it all down and post a follow-up.
Interviews start actions. Most people will be up for an interview and honored that you think enough of them to share their thoughts. You don’t need to be a reporter. You are a blogger, that’s better than being a reporter. Take advantage of it.
There has been a change on the site this weekend and I’d like to thank everyone for working hard and coming up with new ideas and solutions. For the first time ever, I feel a certain buzz about the site.