COMM-ORG important message: Do you know of grass-roots groups in the Gulf Coast?

colist at colist at
Fri Sep 9 10:17:18 CDT 2005


Our discussion about the need for better grass-roots organizing to 
handle disaster relief, along with the able advocacy of some 
COMM-ORGers, has caught the attention of at least one of the national 
disaster aid organizations.  They are interested in finding out which 
grass-roots groups are now operating in the Gulf Coast.  If you know of 
any list, please let me know.  As far as we can tell so far, there is no 
such list.  So...

*Please* send to rstoecker at the following information for any 
gulf-coast grass-roots groups that you know to be organizing relief efforts:

1. organization name
2.  pre-hurricane address, phone, and e-mail
3.  current address, phone, and e-mail if displaced
4.  relief supply needs

Remember to send the information to rstoecker at

And remember that we are talking about grass-roots that serve specific 
geographic areas and build face to face relationships in those areas.  
Please also, however, include include grass-roots organizations 
attempting to organize evacuees in Houston and other locations.  One of 
the tragedies of the Superdome was the lack of self-help organizing, and 
that tragedy may be recurring in other places if people get treated as 
helpless clients rather than as participants in survival and recovery. I 
will post and update the list on a web page.  When you submit 
organization info, please contact that organization so they know they 
are being listed on a website, and can update their supply needs.

The gulf coast is currently experiencing the worst of both worlds.  On 
the one hand is a government relief effort that has shown itself to be 
deadly.  On the other hand are disorganized individual relief efforts 
that have introduced chaos.  In between are national aid organization 
efforts that inefficiently target individuals rather than communities.  
The government's and national aid organizations' response is that 
"amatuers" should stay out of the relief process.  But we are beginning 
to hear from some of the local organizations through our discussion so 
far about the kinds of ground level aid efforts that are well in 
motion.  Negotiations about how the list will be used are not complete, 
but we hope to have an official statement as soon as possible.  Even if 
those negotiations fail, however, the list may still be useful to others.

The challenge is to build a new model of disaster response built on a 
grass-roots organizing model that can dramatically improve the 
effectiveness of national-level aid efforts.  Grass-roots groups know 
their communities.  They know the housing issues, employment issues, 
health issues, school issues, disaster aid needs, and they have personal 
contact with community members.  What they do not have are the resources 
to handle those issues.  National aid organizations, including the 
government, have resources.  What they do not have is complete knowledge 
of local situations.  The communication links between these two levels 
are currently almost non-existent.  We may be able to impact that 
through our efforts.  Please help by submitting organization information 
and by passing this message to others.  And the more quickly we act, the 
more impact we may have.

Randy Stoecker
moderator/editor, COMM-ORG
rstoecker at

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