Monday, November 5, 2012

Is the Occupy movement outdoing the Red Cross after Sandy?

The scene at St. Jacobis on Saturday was friendly, orderly chaos.  Unlike other shelters that had stopped collecting donations or were looking for volunteers with special skills such as medical training, Occupy Sandy was ready to take anyone willing to help. A wide range of people pitched in, including a few small children making peanut butter sandwiches, but most volunteers were in their 20s and 30s. A large basement rec room had become a hive of vegetable chopping and clothes bagging. They held orientations throughout the day for new volunteers. One of the orientation leaders, Ian Horst, who has been involved with a local group called Occupy Sunset Park for the past year, says he was “totally blown away by the response” and the sheer numbers of people who showed up and wanted to help. He estimated that he’d given an orientation to 200 people in the previous hour.
By midday, a line stretched all the way down the block of people who’d already attended orientation and were waiting for rides to be dispatched to volunteer. Kiley Edgley and Eric Schneider had been waiting about 20 minutes and were toward the front of the line. Like several people I spoke to, the fact that this effort was being organized by the occupy movement wasn’t a motivating factor—they found out about the opportunity to volunteer online and just wanted to help."

   Here we have a leaderless movement springing up to do one "simple" thing, providing help to those harmed by Hurricane Sandy.  It's people doing what they can at their own rate, where a bit of chaos is ok.  Notice how many people are willing to join in?  I do hope, however, that they are teaching food safety and such things that such an informal organizing might neglect.  The Red Cross has advantage of specialists, being able to pre-position materials and such, but it cannot be denied that ICA (although in this case a bit less Internet), works and helps people.

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