taking action

taking action -- in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast

Where people can volunteer to help:
"Common Ground Collective
formed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, to provide immediate aid and long-term solidarity along the Gulf Coast. We are a local, community-run organization offering mutual aid and support to New Orleans communities that have been historically neglected and underserved. Common Ground's teams of volunteers include: medical and health providers, aid workers, community organizers, legal representatives and people from all over with broad skills from all walks of life..."

Rebuild New Orleans Green
A group
of New Orleans residents has formed with the goal of rebuilding their city based on ecological "green" principles. They say:

"...There will be powerful corporate and government forces trying to control the rebuilding without popular participation. And there will be community-based organizations struggling to ensure that social justice and environmental sustainability take a prominent place on the rebuilding agenda. Help us make sure our community needs for livable, sustainable neighborhoods take precedence over corporate greed.

The disaster that has struck New Orleans should be turned into an opportunity to REBUILD GREEN. By focusing on green building technology, renewable energy, mass transit systems, and green community development that empowers local people to take control of their local resources, the rebuilding of New Orleans can take our city from being a symbol of disaster to being a prototype sustainable city of the future..."

Contributions to their work can be made via their well-known non-profit sponsor Global Exchange. Click on the title above for their website and more information.

"The people of New Orleans need our help

85% of the City of New Orleans is underwater (the images that you see on the TV of bone dry streets is just the French Quarter and the Central Business district. They have automatic pumping stations, something they don't provide for the rest of the city). The displaced survivors will not be able to return home for an estimated 6 months. Many of them will never be able to return. Some people have no place to return too. Their families, their homes, their lives have been devasted. The dead have not been counted.

The flood waters poured in so quickly when the levy breached at 2:30AM Tuesday, whole communities were buried underwater as they slept off the effects of the hurricane. The elderly, the infirm and the children were the reason many did not evacuate. African people in New Orleans live in clans of large extended families. Because they did not have the resources to evacuate all members of their families, they decided to stay together and ride out the storm. And they did ride out the storm. The levy breach is responsible for so many of the deaths. Mismanagement and lack of planning by city officials is responsible for so much of the suffering. Race and class are at the root of the current chaos."

-- from letter from New Orleans film-maker

A southern US activist wrote this message, which we support by offering the information below:

"As we have seen in the recent fiasco, it is TIME for us to build and strengthen our community based organizations. I write you this email for two particular reasons. The first reason is to thank you the work, prayers and contributions that each of you have made to our communities down south. The second reason is to ask each of you to support and spread the word about all of the great grassroot efforts that are currently underway in our community..."

Local initiatives doing support work -- that need our support:

Highlights of Alabama S.O.S.(
Saving Our Selves) Efforts

Alabama Coalition on Black Civic Participation: This is a chapter affiliate of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation that served as the coordinating body for the statewide efforts in Alabama. Also this organization helped with fundraising and collecting donated items for the effort. Contact Natasha Jennings at 1-866-922-VOTE.

Malcolm X Grassroots Movement

The Selma chapter has organized 200 units of temporary and long-term housing for Hurricane victims. They also organized a service system of community groups to provide educational services for the children, legal aid, food, clothing and transportation from the disaster sites to Selma, AL. They are coordinating alot of work with the groups in Mississippi. Contact Cliff Albright at 334- 872-7517.

One for Life:
This organization was founded and led by formerly incarcerated people who have dedicated their lives to restoring, empowering and building communities. The organizers coordinated an effort in which food, water, pampers, instant milk, and hygiene items were distributed to the residents of the Orange Grove Housing community and the bay area neighborhoods in Mobile. Over 300 people were served. Contact Paul Robinson at 251-604-1837.

T.O.P.S.: This is a prison ministry located in Dothan, AL that is also led by formerly incarcerated people that were able to collected five van loads of food, clothing, water, and personal items. They also organized and coordinated the transporting and assisted with the distributing of the items from Dothan, Al to Mobile. Contact Kenny Glasglow at 334-791- 2433

Ellwood Community Development Center
: This non-denominational Christian community based in Selma has organized resources, housing and transportation for the victims. contact Pastor Crum at 334-872- 6000.

Community Empowerment Project:
This is a group of young Alabama natives that have formed a think tank to help with training, logistics, and developing a community based plan and strategy to address some of the long-tern issues. Contact Vivian Felts at 251-377-9691.

Black Youth Vote:
This is a student led organization that is coordinating volunteer efforts of college students at several junior and community colleges. Contact Natasha Jennings at 866-922- VOTE. http://blackvoternetwork.com/blackyouthvote.htm

Beneath My Wings Ministry:
This grassroots organization that was recently donated an abandoned Wal-Mart building and shopping center is working to transform the building into a temporary crisis center and shelter. Contact Rev. Joyce Peeples at 334-872-2929 

21st Century Youth Leadership Movement and the National Voting Rights Movement:
These organizations have coordinated the 21st Century dormitory and camp site based in Perry County into as a shelter for over 65 hurricane victims. They are making arrangements to accommodate at least 50 more people. They are also establishing a school for the children at the site as well as support programs. Contact Joanne Bland at 334-418-0800.

Here are some Atlanta local organizations to consider:
  Georgia Coalition for the Peoples Agenda
contact Helen Butler 404-653-1199.
Black Youth Vote:
contact Steven Waddy at 404- 290-2912.

Some places to send aid: (from the report on Katrina by activist-writer Starhawk)

Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children
are doing intense work among the shelters and prisons with displaced youth, mostly African American. Believe me, the Red Cross and the Christian charities won't be pouring out relief to this group! They can also use some volunteers (especially African American) and many gifts in kind. Send a check to the "FFLIC Hurricane Relief Fund" to: 920 Platt Street, Sulphur, Louisiana, 70663.
Info: awakenprogress@yahoo.com kd.higgs@yahoo.com

The Veterans for Peace bus that was at Camp Casey in Crawford, TX has now gone down to Covington, Louisiana to do relief work. They also need donations of money and computer equipment. Make a donation to Veterans For Peace Chapter 116 www.vfproadtrips.org

Contact information: Veterans For Peace National Office Michael T. McPhearson, E. D. 216 S. Meramec Ave. St. Louis, MO 63105 VOICE (314) 725-6005 FAX (314) 725-7103 email: vfp@igc.org webmaster: vfpstl@graffiti.net

Food Not Bombs
will be providing food for refugees. They can use volunteers to prepare and serve food, and, of course, donations. Web: www.foodnotbombs.net. You can make a financial donation on line or mail checks to: Food Not Bombs, P.O. Box 744, Tucson, AZ 85702. Please call (1-800-884-1136) or email katrina@foodnotbombs.net if you can join them on the bus or help with gas money.

See also relief support being organized by CodePink: http://www.codepink4peace.org/