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Thread: Habitat For Humanity
April 28th, 2008, 11:05 AM #1
Habitat For Humanity
I just returned from New Orleans. I volunteered to work for Habitat For Humanity in the 9th Ward, building houses for those who lost them during Katrina. It's something I've wanted to do since the hurricane but never did. But it's never too late to help! This was one of the most amazing, inspiring experiences of my life. I'm now planning to go back and work again, but this time I hope to bring my whole family.
I write about ethics in my books. I write about action and choice. We are what we do in this world, no more. Though my time there was short, I feel as if I've actually done more in four days than in many of my past years.
April 28th, 2008, 11:27 AM #2
April 29th, 2008, 12:56 PM #3
Hey, if you're in need of work our new house has a few upgrades that we want to add . . .
May 6th, 2008, 09:33 AM #4
They do a lot of good out here too Gary. I often take a walk around the block every hour and half or so, and have got to chatting to lots of people who work in the business park where I do. I got chatting to a chap who who was telling me how he helped pressure hose an elderly couples house roof down recently, and they insisted on paying him. He was livid, he was not doing it for the money, the fact is the couple is in their eighties and he had the time so he thought he would do them a favour.
It does raise the question about what motivates people to do things for other people for nothing. I did counselling at a lay-clinic for 12 years, and it was tremendously rewarding, to watch people change. It is the best when someone is helped and they appreciate it, I hated it though when people would come in and expect this or that and feel it was their right to your time. I also worked for 2 years for a community service organisation that goes around helping farm workers, teaching them health and hygiene, the door method of farming etc. that was eye opening and exceptionally rewarding.
So what motivated you, Gary, to give of your time???
May 6th, 2008, 10:05 AM #5
I feel very fortunate. I'm lucky in many respects. I feel bad for those who are suffering. I just wanted to help.
May 6th, 2008, 11:30 AM #6
Excellent. I've always wanted to do it, but haven't managed it yet. But it's terrific that you're doing it. Katrina and its fallout was the first moment in my life when I was ever ashamed of being an American, and I'm still very angry about it. Do you know if they are fixing the levies properly out there, with the Dutch model? I haven't heard anything about it lately.
May 6th, 2008, 11:58 AM #7
It was great KatG. Truly great.
From what I was told, the levies are no stronger or better than they were before Katrina, and another big hurricane and swell would wreak as much damage as it did the last time.
It was also interesting to hear how much animosity the displaced victims have for FEMA, and how much love they have for Jimmy Carter, Americorp and Habitat for Humanity.
May 6th, 2008, 02:11 PM #8
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I grew up in Nova Scotia where the Acadians are from. When they were kicked out of Nova Scotia by the Brits back in the day, many of them sailed down south and became the 'Cajuns.
Huge portions of Nova Scotia are as much as 200ft below sea level and the only thing that keeps it from flooding are the dykes that the Acadians built all across he province as much as 400 years ago. Couple that with the fact that most of the dykes are built along the Bay of Fundy (which is home to the highest recorded tides in the world), and that Nova Scotia is hit with hurricanes annually (mostly where the dykes are) -- that's some damn impressive 400 year old technology. They're basically enormous dirt piles with controlled irrigation systems.
There are Acadian/Cajun dykes all across Louisianna. The fancy new Dutch system stills pales in comparison to the Acadian dyke. So why not just expand them?
May 7th, 2008, 11:26 AM #9
Because the people who made them 400 years ago are gone.
Obviously, effective dirt dykes could be extended in many places on the coast. But a city/port/oil station the size of New Orleans is going to need something else, and the Dutch are pretty good at this too. I'm outraged, but not surprised to hear that they aren't bothering, though. I don't know if it's a wound that will ever heal.
May 7th, 2008, 12:07 PM #10
The French Quarter is thriving again. And downtown looks perfectly normal. Like usual, it's the poorer areas that haven't be revitalized. So many of the former inhabitants have relocated. They didn't have insurance. They had no place else to live. So they left and never came back. The 9th ward is empty. Wal Marts, Burger Kings, whole shopping malls, churches and schools, all abandoned and never rebuilt.
Looks like a war zone.
And we spend billions building roads in Baghdad.
May 7th, 2008, 12:42 PM #11
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Who isn't bothering?
My question is always: when does personal responsibility for personal safety overtake the sense of entitlement to government responsibility? Barely 500 people built a system out of dirt piles and simple wooden sluices to protect themselves that's lasted 400 years across an area 10 times the size of Louisiana.
I'm curious about some of the wording used here, though. Not to be overly callous or disrespectful to those still suffering from the effects of Katrina, but is it truly fair to call them victims?
People have been swinging the death rattle on New Orleans for generations. It's been common knowledge that it was basically unprotected and doomed to suffer from an Act of God. If you live deliberately ignoring the warning signs all around, is it really fair to call you a victim? Doesn't that cheapen the reality of true victimhood? If the people of New Orleans were duped into believing they were safe, that would be one thing. But there's ample evidence to suggest that virtually everyone knew this was a probability. And it's a democracy. It's not like there's no channel through which to force change.
The people of Iraq, by comparison, are the actual victims of a stupid and unjust war predicated on lies and superstitions. There's no Act of God here -- just plain old human idiocy. They deserve recompense, and they deserve it from those who made them into the victims they've become. The people of New Orleans, on the other hand, lived in a danger zone and knew it and did basically nothing about it and now everyone's running around shocked that something bad happened??
It seems like rather inappropriately constructed blame, don't you think? Seems rather like the voluntary ignorance and wishful thinking that lead to the disaster in the first place, nay?
Where does the responsibility lie for the failure? I think it's a hard case to argue that the inhabitants of New Orleans that have been displaced are victims of much more than their own inaction and the uncaring forces of nature. It's like using a condom you suspect is broken and being surprised at the resulting pregnancy, or staring at the schoolyard bully and being shocked that he hits you. Yes, the government response was lacklustre at best, but that's hardly surprising, is it? It's not like they can appear compassionate in their PR campaign while saying "You all knew this was coming and now you're demanding recompense? WTF?"
stir stir stir...
May 7th, 2008, 12:54 PM #12
Mind this is a much smaller situation than NO. Only a few hundred homes and businesses ruined. No deaths. I still find it odd though, that people would build million dollar homes in a guaranteed flood zone and then look to the government for assistance.
May 7th, 2008, 01:04 PM #13
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Every form of refuge has its price.
Look at all the people living in Florida or all the people moving back into New Orleans or the people in Galveston or the people in Oklahoma or the people living on the beaches in Hawaii. There is no safe place in the world though some are less risky than others.
Take GW's own New York. With the seas rising, shouldn't everyone get the hell out of there?
I live in a desert where the population continues to grow exponentially while the sources of drinking waer continue to shrinkinto oblivion. Anyone with any sense would get the hell out of here.
But, then, name a place they could go.
May 7th, 2008, 01:16 PM #14
May 7th, 2008, 01:37 PM #15
Fung, you are one callous bastard.
The ignorant, the uneducated, the poor are victims. They had few alternatives. They weren't insured. They didn't have summer homes to go live in. They lost their jobs, their homes, their pets, their families.
Habitat homes aren't gifts. The people who are entitled to them must put in 700 hours of labor in the community, be able to put up a cash downpayment and be able to demonstrate that they can handle the debt service on the low interest federally subsidized mortgage. They have a stake in the homes.
The fact that people from all over the country volunteered to help build these homes is fantastic. They see the pain and suffering, and how unfair it all seems.
The commercial profit centers got back to speed very quickly. The disadvantaged neighborhoods are still a disaster.