Help Long Beach #Sandy victims during the holidays!

via Liz Caldas & the “Sandy Help LB” group on Facebook:
Moms & Dads! Help your kids connect with kids on the ground and still in the dark in Long Beach. Send in cards like these and they will be included in stockings….or stuff your own stockings and send to: 120 West Park Ave Suite 103 Long Beach NY 11561….no later than December 10th.

Stockings could have headlamp-flashlights, prepaid VISA or Home Depot cards, deodorant, anything else you think could help and fit in a stocking.

NCR: Amid Sandy, symposium pairs papal teaching and climate change

Photo by Tom Stoekler

The following article in National Catholic Reporter touches on a conversation on climate change held at Catholic University of America. The talk brought together academics, bishops, church leaders and climate activists to explore and engage papal teaching on creation and the environment.

Fordham’s Christiana Peppard, a professor of theology who is writing a book on, Valuing Water in an Era of Globalization, is quoted in the article:

That the church sees issues of climate and the environment through “the language of fundamental rights, including the ‘right to life,’” Peppard told NCR, “is a call to awareness in our American context,” where often right-to-life talk singles out abortion.

Read the whole article here. And read about Peppard’s research here.

Helping Hands Also Expose a New York Divide

… From her Gramercy Park apartment, where she had been without power for several days, Kelly Warren, 48, and a friend lugged 500 pairs of new socks and underwear bought at Walmart to the Rockaways. Her guilt at being largely spared the storm’s wrath was compounded by being up-close to the destruction of an area already struggling with poverty, she said. It made her only more keenly aware of privilege.

“I’m driving in my big Lexus coming down here,” Ms. Warren said, betraying her self-consciousness as she stood in a parking lot amid people riffling through donated clothing. I said, ‘Thank God the car is dirty.’ ”

Read more of Sarah Maslin Nir’s piece in the New York Times. 

Reuters: Red Cross response to Sandy fails to meet expectations

This excellent article by Reuters reveals “a gulf between what many people expected the [American Red Cross] to do in times of crisis and what it actually delivers.”

Key points:

Like Hurricane Katrina victims, Hurricane Sandy victims feel let down by the charity.

From the article:

— The sense of letdown is all the more stark because the Red Cross, the fifth-largest charity in the United States by private donations, is viewed by many as the place to donate money when there is a major disaster at home or abroad. 

— Part of the perception problem may be the massive media and advertising campaigns that the Red Cross runs when there is a disaster.

— These campaigns appear to give the impression that the charity can be all things to all victims. Many of Sandy’s victims said in interviews that this was their view before disappointment set in.

— Frustration with the Red Cross is palpable throughout the Occupy movement.
“The Red Cross is useless,” said Nastaran Mohit, who runs the Occupy medical clinic in the Rockaways with volunteer doctors. “They come to me every day asking, ‘How can we help?’
“I say, ‘Send me people.’ And they tell me they’ll get back to me.”

Read the entire article here.

11-Year-Old Girl Fights To Find A Cure For Her Parents Diseases

Lauren Blum. Image via ABC 3/WinchesterAs many of you know, my father has Parkinson’s disease. He was diagnosed in his mid-to-late 50s.

I’ll NEVER forget the look on his face when he first told me he thought he had it. By that time, I’m pretty sure he had seen a doctor. We were eating lunch at the kitchen table and he looked at me and said his arm was trembling and he thought he might have something. I was CRUSHED but, as is my style, I showed little emotion and said, “No, you’re not sick. You’re fine. Maybe you just need to rest more.”

I didn’t want to believe it and, most of all, I wanted to aleve his fears.

He looked scared. And embarrassed. And he was right. He was soon thereafter officially diagnosed.

My dad was a very active man. He always worked two jobs. He loved to ride his ten speed bike (cycled competitively in his native Colombia) and lifted weights. Slowly, his ability to do all that would leave him. Today he spends most of his time watching soccer on TV in his bedroom.

Parkinson’s is a like a slow moving physical prison. It sucks. I wish there were a cure.

Research helps. My dad had deep brain stimulation surgery about seven years ago. While it has slowed the disease, and we are grateful for that, I read up on Parkinson’s news daily, hoping there will be a breakthrough.

Eleven year old Lauren Blum of the Winchester-area in Virginia is raising money for research– not only for Parkinson’s, which her dad has, but also for multiple sclerosis, which her mom has. The feeling of having an ill parent is hard to describe. It must be harder for someone so young! This story made me smile because of her positive attitude.

Check it out:

“Half of the money I raise goes to Multiple Sclerosis and the other half goes to Parkinson’s” says Blum. She was only a baby when her parents were diagnosed with their diseases.

“I always used to worry about were they going to die and what is going to happen. You could never really know what’s going to happen with these diseases except they can’t die. When I was younger, I didn’t understand that.”

See the video segment via ABC 3/Winchester here.

For the next generation: Making Movies puts on M.U.S.I.C.A. camp

I was introduced to Kansas City rock band Making Movies during last month’s CMJ Music Marathon in NYC. They fuse Afro-Cuban rhythms with indie sensibilities to come up with bilingual songs that rock.

When they’re not working on their own music, the band is passing their knowledge onto the next generation. But it’s far more than just a guitar lesson here and there. Recently, Making Movies teamed up with the Kansas City-based nonprofit, the Mattie Rhodes Center, to put on “Musicians United by Social Influence and Cultural Awareness (M.U.S.I.C.A.)“, a camp which introduces high risk Hispanic youth from the northeast Kansas City area to the world of music.

As you’ll see in this video, they’re reaching a great group of youngsters who might not otherwise be exposed to the arts. Even better, they’re becoming young artists. The smiles on their faces as they’re playing guitar chords or belting out “La Bamba?” Priceless.

And for more information on the band, check out my Q & A with lead singer Enrique Chi in Sounds and Colours here.

Rockaway Beach Surf Club: Kicking ass & taking names in Sandy relief

If Hurricane Sandy has proven one thing, it’s that grassroots efforts can sure as hell get things done. Even better, they can work side by side with agencies such as FEMA, the American Red Cross, and even the National Guard, to help those affected by a disaster. In some cases, as you’ll see below, it seems like they’re leading!

The following Reuters Investigates video is about the Rockaway Beach Surf Club‘s well-oiled Hurricane Sandy relief machine in the Rockaways. Makes you wonder: what else could they be running?

I linked to the Rockaway Beach Surf Club here. You can also check out Rockaway Relief for ways to help.

The New Revolution: The Grassroots Efforts of Hurricane Sandy Relief

Sandy’s destruction in the Rockaways. (Photo via Danger Dame)

by Veronica Varlow via Danger Dame

I don’t even know where to begin.

But I know this needs to be written.

This is what I learned this week:  We are at the helm of our world community thriving or dying.  Know this.

Down at Beach 23 and Seagirt Blvd in the Rockaways, the five of us, jammed in a 1990 Mazda 323, on top of 2 generators and a pump to empty basements of water,  pulled up to a parking lot.

Sixty people came running to our car, surrounding it. “Do you have blankets? Please, we’re freezing!”

We had two left to give.

Read the rest of this great account of grassroots relief here.

A Little Iowa History That Might Put Its Vote for Obama in Perspective

By Fordham professor Mark Naison:

Some people are astonished that a 92 percent white state, which is heavily agricultural, voted for President Obama in two straight elections, in contrast to states with similar demographics and similar economies like Kansas and Nebraska. But if you’re historical research takes you back to the 1930s, you won’t be surprised. Iowa was the organizational center of one of the most radical agrarian organizations in American History, the Farm Holiday Association.

The Farm Holiday Association was organized by small farmers who felt they were being driven into poverty by low prices for what they produced and by bank foreclosures on their farms when they couldn’t paid their loans or mortgages. On the verge of losing everything, they picked up their rifles and engaged in highway blockades, which prevented agricultural goods from being transported to markets until prices went up, and armed occupation of courtrooms to prevent judges from seizing farms that had gone into arrears. So large was the support for these actions among Iowa farmers that truck traffic ground to halt in large portions of the state, and judges were forced to extend payment periods on farm loans or drastically reduce their interest and principal.

These actions began in 1931 and continued into the early years of the New Deal when parity payments under the Agricultural Adjustment Act allowed many farmers in the state to have enough income to stave off foreclosure, but in the interim, they prevented mass impoverishment and displacement of the state’s family farmers.

I don’t know if today’s Iowa voters have a historic memory of these events, but it has been my experience, from my own family, that stories of resistance struggles do get passed down from generation to generation and can shape people’s identities long after the initial event took place.

Mark Nason

Hurricane #sandy update: Nov. 5

Volunteers on the Upper West Side taking donations.

First off, Mary Kate Burke updated her efforts in the Rockaways. Read that here.

Secondly, there is a paypal account (here) set up through the Knights of Columbus Council 443 that will aid their efforts. As temperatures drop (it is COLD tonight in New York City) think of the goods donating to this account will help buy.

It’s nice to see individuals stepping up. My neighbor, a New York City schoolteacher, is collected donations in our building and drove them to Staten Island with a friend. She’ll return this Saturday. And local soapmakers Daniel and Zaida Grunes of Manor House Soaps donated about 30 pounds of their yummy product to George Washington High School in northern Manhattan, where a temporary shelter was set up.

I went to the Upper West Side yesterday (Nov. 4) to drop off at a collection point organized by the Contemporary Roman Catholics and local restaurants, Firehouse and Nonna. It was PACKED. There were more volunteers than sorting space and Upper West Siders showing up with giant bags of clothing, towels, toiletries, work gloves, etc. It was nice to see that the FEMA truck being packed up was headed to the Rockaways. Truck filled earlier went to the hard hit areas of the Coney Island, Long Beach, South Brooklyn, Staten Island and New Jersey.

And because this is New York City, many restaurants, bars, bands and DJs are getting into the action.

The Restaurant Group,” which consists of Upper West Side eateries Fire House, Nonna, A.G. Kitchen and Il Cibreo, are offering free dessert to those who bring a donation.

The folks at Remezcla are throwing an election day viewing/Hurricane Sandy collection party at SOBs. It will feature DJs Uproot Andy and Geko Jones of Que Bajo. Details here. (And then come to Que Bajo’s Fourth Anniversary party this Saturday at LPR.)

You can also head over the Bowery Electric, where the Bad Brains tribute show will also serve as a Hurricane Sandy fundraiser.

One hundred percent of the profits from Navegante’s Nov. 9 show at The Flat in Brooklyn will benefit Sandy victims.

Uptown businesses, such as APT78, Dyckman Bar, and 181 Cabrini, are collecting goods.

One of the best things I read today was this report about how many of the folks who organized Occupy Wall Street are behind Occupy Sandy. They’re even looking to expand to New Jersey. They have also set up a “wedding registry” on, so it’s very easy to help them!

Occupy Sandy, an off-shoot of Occupy Wall Street, has undoubtedly been a leader in spreading the word about local volunteer and donation efforts online, and thereby spurring real, tangible responses. Though certainly not a well-oiled machine by any means — seamless organization is hardly expected, anyway, in a movement that sprang up so quickly — the group’s Twitter and Facebook accounts have posted up-to-date information about exactly what is needed and where. And while the Red Cross doesn’t take donations of individual household items and certain bare necessities, these very same needs have become Occupy Sandy’s primary focus.

Read more in the Huffington Post here.

This truck was filled and headed to the Rockaways.

Volunteers and donors on the Upper West Side.