Brita Rose at Common Dreams reports on the community response to Hurricane Sandy.
Light After the Storm – Local Churches Partner with Occupy Sandy in Grass Roots Relief Efforts
by Brita Rose
It was a beautiful sight — throngs of volunteers lining up outside a local church on Sunday, Day Five of the local recovery initiative spearheaded by Occupy Sandy. The number of willing helpers had tripled over the last three days alone, a response as dizzying as it was encouraging for the coordinators at the relief hub in St. Jacobi Lutheran Church in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York.
Occupy Sandy is an offshoot of the Occupy Movement, which, until now was by some pundits given up for dead. In collaboration with Occupy Sunset Park, 350.org, recovers.org and interoccupy.net, it emerged to meet the essential needs of storm victims while larger charities were already turning away willing volunteers, just a few days after the storm. It began organizing local relief efforts so that supplies could be immediately sent to the most devastated areas — beginning with Red Hook and The Rockaways. To their own surprise the Occupy activists found themselves doing so with an efficiency and speed that was sometimes outpacing government relief organizations. While the latter focused on essential infrastructure — pumping out subway stations and restoring transportation and power — independent groups were able to reach isolated areas by building community solidarity and mutual aid on the local level. Both entities were needed, as was becoming ever more apparent.
The spirit of cooperation and mutual responsibility that made Occupy Providence a success has roots in the barn-raising spirit of America. This is what Democracy looks like when citizens are empowered and when solidarity overcomes fear.