30 August 2006

remembering hurricane katrina

It's been a year since the devastation in the Gulf Coast region, and the area is still suffering greatly. Many parts of New Orleans (especially the poorest neighborhoods that were predominantly black) are still empty and residents are still waiting for cleanup - one year later... some living in tents, in those shoddy FEMA trailers, and many others living across the U.S. trying to re-build their lives. Insurance companies are not paying. FEMA money has run out. People have been spread out across the United States with no way of getting back home. The city keeps promising to bring people back and rebuild - but very little progress has been made. And gentrification is underway in New Orleans. Spike Lee's documentary on HBO "When the Levees Broke" is bringing attention to these issues, but there is more to be done. What I really liked about the film is how he gives space for people to tell their own stories and express their frustrations. It is utterly sad. If you saw the documentary, what did you think? What kind of impact do you think Lee's documentary had on the public? The reviews I read of the film were for the most part positive, but some blasted Spike Lee for the length and the demonizing of the government. (As if the Bush Admin doesn't deserve it?) Also, I've been checking out the 'anniversary' stories on the BBC, MSNBC, and on alternative news sites which are bringing some of the problems back into the public eye. I've noticed overall that people are outraged at what happened and that people are still suffering - but I wonder how long will these stories will stay in the news? And the news stories about race (or that touch on race) turn into sadness about the loss of culture for New Orleans rather than any real discussion of the socio-economic inequities that existed pre-Katrina for many years. I don't watch T.V. so I'm not sure of how the networks and major news channels have covered the anniversary, so please share your thoughts on any interesting coverage. I was checking out this excellent site for current information about recovery efforts http://www.katrinaaction.org/, and they have a list of action items which I wanted to share:

1) Visit www.katrinaaction.org to connect with information, find local organizations and learn about Actions which impact housing, health, jobs, and many other issues. Some actions will only take 30 seconds of your time.

2) Put pressure on your state and federal officials to act now. You can email to comments@whitehouse.gov and call Congress at (202) 224-3121. You can also send emails to your Representatives including FEMA by visiting KatrinaAction.org

3) Make sure that news media tell the real story of Katrina and its aftermath and continue to do fair stories and reports. Call your local news, radio talk shows, and write letters to the editor. Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)has an online kit with contact information for media outlets and sample letters at http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=119

4) Got five minutes a week? Become KIN by joining the Katrina Information Network. KIN folk commit to five minutes a week to send emails to their network and to policymakers to keep these issues on the public agenda.

Join the fight at www.katrinaaction.org
Real relief. A just recovery. And nothing less.

some of these take only a few minutes to do... If you know if any other actions thangs, feel free to share and we can spread da word... thoughts, reactions, ideas???

catchin da wibe,

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