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.

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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.

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.

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.

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 Amazon.com, 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.

‘The Land that God and the City Had Forgotten’ -Reflections on an earlier Rockaway tragedy

ANTHONY DELMUNDO FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Far Rockaway residents fall in line as FEMA gives out food and water at Beach 49th and Beach Channel Drive in Far Rockaway, New York on Friday, November 2, 2012.

By Mark Naison
Professor of African American Studies and History at Fordham University

The wave of destruction that that descended upon the Rockaways in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, compounded by government neglect and the absence of official aid organizations, is not the first time that section of the city has been overcome with violence and fear. The wave of arson and disinvestment that swept through the Bronx, Harlem and large portions of Brooklyn during the early and mid 1970’s also took a terrible toll on the Rockaways, though I never saw it mentioned at the time, or for that matter in the historical literature about those difficult years in New York’s History.

I experienced this first hand in 1979 when I drove out to Rockaway to interview a former NYC school teacher and union activist, named Alice Citron, for my book Communists in Harlem During the Depression.  Her address put her in a section of Rockaway, Edgemere, where I had spent many summers as a child staying in the bungalow of my grandfather, who was a garment worker. Although the bungalows were wooden, and  in retrospect, extremely modest, I remember magical days and nights in that area in the early 50’s, running into the surf, playing ski-ball on the boardwalk, eating delicious knishes, and listening to the adults political arguments. The area had been packed with people, almost all of them Jewish, who had survived  the Depression and were enjoying a first taste of prosperity and security. It was a joyous place.

Now, in 1979, it had the atmosphere of a ghost town. Alice Citron’s house stood on a beach block where 90 percent of the land consisted of vacant lots, with only three houses standing. Across the el tracks, near the bay side, stood a large public housing project. When I rang the door bell, Alice and her husband came to the door, accompanied by two huge dogs. Before we started her interview, which focused on the role Communist teachers played in fighting for better schools in Harlem and the teaching of Black history, she told me what the neighborhood was like today.

Rockaway had become the land that God , and the city of New York, had forgotten. In the housing projects across the street, senior citizens, most of them black, were trapped in their apartments by fear of crime. The Citrons with their huge dogs, and their car, sometimes shopped for them, and brought them to the doctor when they were sick. The neighborhood had become a kind of urban concentration camp for  the poor, a place where the beauty of the surroundings was little compensation for fear, neglect, and the absence of basic neighborhood amenities. The Citrons, who had lost their jobs during the McCarthy area didn’t have the money to move out so they stayed and helped their neighbors cope. They were in their 70s then, and  had no where else to go.

For years after, I was haunted by  what I saw that day, and what it told me about class and race in New York City. Ten years later, when I was coaching CYO basketball, I returned with a team from Park Slope to play a game at a Catholic parish not far from the Citron home, St. Rose of Lima, but I didn’t have the time to drive around. I never found out if the neighborhood had been rebuilt, or whether life had gotten better in the projects of the Rockaway Peninsula.

Now, with reports of residents living without power, food, and water, surrounded by piles of debris the storm had scattered, terrified of crime,  the memories of that visit came rushing back and along with it, the rage and frustration I had felt at the time.

Once again, the people of Rockaway were being neglected. Once again, they were reminded because of their color and economic status, they were not really “citizens.” And once again, they were  living in the land that God, and the City of New York had forgotten.

-Mark Naison