September 07, 2005

Wading through my brain

More hurricane stuff:

There's not much space to avoid reality when it keeps leaking into my brain via all kinds of media outlets. I'm doing my best to single-handedly support the Red Cross ($10,124,762.25 raised as of today and counting!) by shopping where there are donations made tips and change, and sending the cash I can afford to hopefully buy underwear and clean water for those in need. Today I found out where to send packages of necessities to various locations in the Gulf States (and I can give you the 411 if you really want to know), and I'm having fun collecting basic needful things - and stickers! I mean, isn't this a bad enough disaster without glittery underpants and stickers! -- for kids. No books yet, since displaced people have to schlepp their stuff... and they have enough to shoulder at present.

So much political debate is going on -- are they 'refugees?' or are they survivors? I vote for 'survivors.' People in the Gulf states, where they are annually wind-battered, flooded and flattened, have got to be some of the toughest people around. May their spirits be as resilient... I hope that people like
Mills alum and former classmate Mahmud Rahman and the Neo-Griot New Orleans Project who will be going around in New Orleans, collecting stories not only of the disaster, but of the lives of the survivors, remembers to record the stories of the children... The stories that kids can tell should be told. Every other kid in America needs to hear what it was like living in New Orleans before this last month. Every child needs to think about how they will act and feel and be during a disaster. The best children's and YA books give kids a chance to fill another kid's shoes, if just for awhile.

New Orleans resident and Project leader,
Kalama ya Salaam adds,
"Too often when major historic events take place, those who are live at the margins of the mainstream are ignored. We know what the presidents and generals did, we know what the business leaders and major cultural figures thought, but do we know anything about the poor, the disenfranchised, the people of the Dome, the overpass, as well as those who left the city on Sunday and as of Tuesday night had no city to return to?

During the Great Depression the WPA collected the stories of people who had experienced slavery. Today we will collect the stories of people who survived a defining moment in American and World History."

The project objective is:

1. to put the words and images of the people on the internet via a New Orleans
Project website.

2. to teach the respondents how to access the internet, so that they can
continue sharing their views after the neo-griots leave.

3. to archive the resulting information so that it can be researched and
accessed worldwide.

There are stories yet to be heard, and yet to be written. Like a campfire shining clear in a dark and unfamiliar wood, I hope the smaller stories will shine out and be hope, as memory, and as the means to rebuild a world.

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