Monthly Archives: May 2008

Katrina volunteer shot by car thief needs help

A young rebuilding volunteer from Peters Township, Pennsylvania, a Pittsburgh suburb, needs help paying hospital bills after being shot in New Orleans.

Mark Smith, a 23 yer-old AmeriCorps volunteer, was shot several times while trying to stop a car thief, according to a recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The thought of any volunteer in the city to help rebuild being shamefully attacked, injured, or worse is no doubt sickening to anybody, but also especially despicable to we Katrina survivors who appreciate each and every volunteer effort.

A fund has been set up to help this young hero: Mark’s Fund c/o Community Bank, 4139 Washington Road, McMurray, PA 15317, and at Bayer Heritage Credit Union, 100 Bayer Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15205. Read the article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Could You Fill Up Your Gas Tank And Evacuate TODAY?

Suppose a major, destructive hurricane was headed for your home and you and your family had to evacuate NOW?

As the price of a gallon of regular gas has soared close to the dreaded $4.00 per gallon national average, do you have the money and could you afford to fill up your gas tank TODAY?
Please take a quick survey! Look for the results to be published here soon!


New Orleans Dirty Hands Are Busy

dhc1.jpgSince Sean Penn Dirty Hands Caravan landed in New Orleans on the last weekend of Jazz Fest, folks around the world had been trying to find out where they were and how and what they were doing. I figured the Hands had been too busy to write.

Determined not to let this mystery stump me, I did an exhaustive search online, and even by phone, calling campgrounds (assuming the group was still going from camp to camp). I even drove around as Jazz Fest was ending, winding my way through heavy post-Jazz Fest traffic in a futile search for bio-diesel buses with hippie-era paint jobs, and hundreds of young activists.

With no word from the Caravan, was there a possibility they got stopped on the highway by some overzealous anti-activist cops, who had refused them entry into this war zone, and the Dirty Hands mission may have been aborted?

Ironically and miraculously, I found them a week later – by going to church – because that’s where the Dirty Hands were arriving as I was on my wild drive through the wild after-Jazz Fest traffic the Sunday before.

Just as I thought, these Hands have been busy. They’ve been doing good works on a church-owned duplex on Washington Avenue in New Orleans’ Central City, and another building nearby on S. Saratoga St. – plastering, painting, cementing, laying tiles, and installing cabinets.

And, these “unofficial” Dirty Hands – renegades from Sean Penn’s army – really do seem to be a truly exceptional group that has a united, genuine, passionate comittment to their objectives. Steve said, “We don’t hear anything about (New Orleans rebuilding) on the news in California. We didn’t know there was so much that had to be done.”

Individually, the goals are as diverse and unique as the personalities will allow. For example, Sarah would like to stay and eventually open a montessori school for pre-schoolers in New Orleans. She got tired of “teaching celebrity kids” in California and wants to teach in a more down-to-earth setting here.

Then there is Adrienne, a 20 year-old who’d like to open some type of recycling operation to help clean the city’s environment of aluminum, plastics, and other trash, and there is Zach, also 20, who wants to start a sports program for local kids and young adults. So does Dean.

Texas Tony and the twelve were slated to leave last weekend, to be replaced by a second relief group from the Caravan, but those plans began to change last week. And those I talked to were in no hurry to end their two week stay, even a little disappointed that they may have to leave. Several are considering making permanent homes in this still-charming ravaged city.

Much of what they envision and what they want to accomplish is relying on the goodwill of actor Sean Penn or others, such as agencies and organizations willing to help reach goals of getting homes, offices, and the bureacracy of Louisiana.

Yet, the small army has made strides, putting their limited funds together to get a rental near the church.

The latest updates can be found on the group’s blog at www.dirtyhandscaravan.blogspot.com/


Sean Penn’s Dirty Hands In New Orleans

dhc.jpgPicture 010.jpgThey came, they saw, they…are still here.

Actor-activist Sean Penn’s personal pet project, the Dirty Hands Caravan had an objective to “empower young people to stand up for what they believe in”. It seems their mission has had a successful beginning.

Twelve energized, dynamic, amazing, talented, and dedicated young people out of about 150 on Sean Penn’s Dirty Hands Caravan had very quietly slipped into the fabric of volunteer rebuilding armies in New Orleans, and -like some advance scouts for a coming invasion – they have quietly blended in.

Several of these unselfish premiere recovery volunteers desperately want to conquer the challenges, buy a house in Central City and stay here.

Steve, Sarah, Adrienne, Tawni, Dean, Ezra, Zach, Tony, Franny, Saffaron, Jonathan, Vince, along with the not-so-young Texas Tony all also want their family and friends to know they’re doing just fine in K-Ville.

With some outstanding goals, this small army is determined to make a difference in New Orleans, even if Sean Penn doesn’t make any sense in his choice of words. Need a writer, Mr. Penn?


Help creating your emergency preparedness plan

The Allstate foundation has paired up with One Economy to launch an initative to place emergency preparedness information directly into the hands of New Orleans residents.  They announced their community outreach plan this past Tuesday, May 14 during a block party at the Hope Community Credit Union in Central City.  The launch party was a huge success with food, music, sno-balls and cotton candy.  Even the children at Clear Head Learning Center joined in the fun with a dance to the hokey pokey.  They were absolutely adorable.

This is going to be an important program to protect the lives of our family and friends in the case of an emergency.  Allstate and One Economy plan to achieve their goal of giving each resident the necessary resources to form a personal emergency plan by offering their personal services.  They are offering to speak to organizations and church groups, train businesses how to protect their clients in the case of an emergency and hold public events educating people about emergencies.  The best part of the plan is that Allstate and Economy One are sending fellow organizations out into the communities to help people personally create their own emergency response.   Ultimately, they plan to be involved with 20 local non-profits and assist 100,000 people.  They have also created an online resource www.thebeehive.org/beprepared that helps families plan for all kinds of emergencies from natural disasters to diseases. 

 To take advantage of this awesome program, e-mail comm...@one-economy.com and someone will respond to help you create a personal emergency plan.  I just wanted to share this valuable resource.  I know I’ll be e-mailing them.

Louisiana Road Home Workshop

From the NEW ORLEANS SURVIVOR COUNCIL:

The New Orleans Survivor Council is a non-profit organization started by residents who are working to bring their people home. We will be having a workshop where residents who are going through the Road Home process will be able to learn about their rights, the appeals process, and the new elevation program from an attorney with the Loyola Katrina Law Clinic.

This workshop will be held twice, first on Saturday, May 17th at 2 pm and on the following Tuesday, May 20th from 6 pm – 8pm at the Lower 9th Ward Village at 1001 Charbonnet, on the corner of Charbonnet and N. Rampart. Transportation and childcare can be provided. For more information call 504-655-2715.

Check For Your Stimulus Check

Just wanted to share this with all the other KC folks out there: To check for your stimulus check and how much it is and all that, go to the link on the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=181665,00.html. cool


Dirty Hands In Your Face

dhc.jpgFOUND! In New Orleans, a group of volunteers from actor-turned-activist Sean Pitt’s personal crusade to save the Earth – the “Dirty Hands Caravan” – descended on the city during the last weekend of Jazz Fest. Several members who had traveled all the way from a California desert alternative music festival to K-Ville stayed in K-Ville.

KatrinaConnection.com has received thousands of visits, page views, and many thousands of hits from folks all over the world looking for updates (thanks). And (whew!) I tried hard to find out where the Caravan had landed.

With no major local media focused on them this group of twelve quietly decided to stay and help rebuild in the Central City area of New Orleans, a particularly damaged, neglected, high-crime section of this flood-ravaged town.

Through some miracle of divine intervention, the group appears to be based at my church where I had not been inside since LAST Sunday (the day the group was originally scheduled to get to New Orleans). And I have the pleasure of personally meeting the Dirty Hands I’ve been trying to find since last week!

So, anyone loooking for “in yo’ face” Dirty Hands this week can get an update right here on the KC blog, and I know they’re doing some good things here in K-Ville! Can’t wait to tell you about ‘em. Check back soon!

WOW! God is SO cool!


Then And Now

Anything sound familiar in our nation’s horrifying response to the horrifying disaster in Myanmar? Given the eerily ironic, deja vu feeling as our hearts go out to all those affected, KC won’t get involved in partisan politics, so you are invited to THINK PROGRESS for some outstanding reminders of where that feeling comes from. Thank God it’s not happening here and now.

‘KKK’ burned in yard of New Orleans area family

An African-American family in the New Orleans area are victims of a hate crime so hideous, it’s not been seen or done in years. But it sends a loud message to the new homeowners…and America (Full story and video)

In post-Katrina America, it’s sad that the incendiary injustice done to New Orleans before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina somehow prevails today in the form of racism or prejudice toward some of the city’s survivors, who, by all rights, should have overcome in 2005.

From nationally-recognized nooses in Jefferson Parish to the behavior in this story, the New Orleans area, that proverbial melting pot of American culture, must overcome all biases, welcome and strive to bring any and all of its area Katrina-surviving residents back, and work together to ensure a better quality of life, uncluttered by racism or prejudice, in order to return in glory and assume a rightful spot in America.


Community Block Party and Laptop Raffle

This Tuesday, May 13, there is going to be a Community Block Party at  the Hope Community Credit Union,

1726 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd, from 3:00 to 5:30.  It’s hosted by the Allstate Foundation to kick off their new initiative to help people with their personal emergency plan.  It should be a fun way to mix up your Tuesday afternoon, plus there is a raffle for a FREE LAPTOP.  Who could pass that up?  I just wanted to pass the word along about this neighborhood event. 

Embrace The Rain

Mississippi native and award winning novelist Michael Holloway Perronne has released his most personal book yet, Embrace the Rain, a novel which explores post-Hurricane Katrina life in the small coastal town of Long Beach, Mississippi.

“Almost three years later the area is very much in recovery,” Perronne, a coastal Mississippi native, says. “As much as I love, and will always love the city of New Orleans, the complete and utter devastation of many coastal Mississippi towns was virtually ignored by the national media. It’s one of the reasons that I felt compelled to tell the story of the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the forgotten survivors of the storm.”

Perronne himself felt compelled to leave his home in Los Angeles to move back to the area last summer to spend some time with his family. “During the storm, days went by when I didn’t know how members of my family were doing and if they had even survived. All I could do was watch the news coverage to get some sort of sense of what the situation was down there.”

The book also explores some of the cultural and demographic changes the area is facing with an influx of Latinos since Katrina. “It’s fascinating what’s happening there now. You take an area which culturally has not seen much change in an extended period of time and almost hit a fast-forward button. I think it’s been good for the area’s citizens to be exposed to new cultures, but I can also see it’s been a struggle for some.” It’s this struggle that’s highlighted in the book and told through the eyes of the Mexican-American Santos family who moves to Long Beach, Mississippi after Katrina due to the exploding construction industry.

In Embrace the Rain, a forbidden teen romance and the violent act of a desperate boy forever binds a community. One year after Hurricane Katrina devastated the small coastal town of Long Beach, Mississippi, two families with deep roots in its Southern traditions are desperately trying to rebuild the way of life they have always known. But some, including the Mexican-American Santos family, are bringing a large dose of previously all-but-unknown cultures to this insular community.

Perronne’s debut novel, A Time Before Me, was a finalist in Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award in 2006. His other works include Starstuck: A Hollywood Saga and Falling Into Me. Originally from the South Mississippi and New Orleans area, the author now calls Los Angeles home and is hard at work on his next novel, A Big Easy Christmas. For more information on Embrace the Rain, please visit the book’s website at www.embracetherainnovel.com or www.michaelhperronne.com.

187 Down, Then Up Again In The N.O.

Why did the television and newspaper media in New Orleans have to put a negative spin on things when the FBI and the police released the latest 411 on crime in New Orleans, the headlines blared out: “Violent Crime On Uptick In New Orleans”, etc.

The BYLINES say that MURDER WAS DOWN in the first quarter of 2008. That sounds like good news to me. I’d bet for every shooting they report in New Orleans, there’s somebody who didn’t lose their life because of a stranger’s kindness. And violent crime is in every major city.

Now, don’t you think a HEADLINE like “MURDER RATE DOWN IN NEW ORLEANS” would be better for a city paper or TV station?

oops. Just as quick as I said that, here it comes again. Now the perps don’t want witnesses to the violent crimes of armed robbery and rape. The second quarter don’t look so good, with about 30 murders so far since April 1. BBL…gotta go get some more ammo for protection.