Occupy Sandy

In a conversation I had last night with a friend in NYC, she told me about how she’s been volunteering with relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy, which had been coordinated by the Occupy Wall Street movement. Apparently, the movement has been on the front line of organizing relief to those in need, and it’s been much more of a presence than the Red Cross or FEMA. A, my friend, grew up in Houston, so hurricanes and their aftermath are not a new thing for her. But for many people on the East Coast, the slowness of response from large organizations is a new experience. But I find it ironic that a movement vilified for being unorganized is actually more effective at providing help. Key paragraph from Katherine Goldstein’s Slate.com article on the movement and aid efforts:

So how did an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street, best known as a leaderless movement that brought international attention to issues of economic injustice through the occupation of Zucotti Park in the financial district last year, become a leader in local hurricane relief efforts?  Ethan Murphy, who was helping organize the food at St. Jacobis and had been cooking for the occupy movement over the past year, explained there wasn’t any kind of official decision or declaration that occupiers would now try to help with the hurricane aftermath.  “This is what we do already, “ he explained: Build community, help neighbors, and create a world without the help of finance.

A New York Times piece focuses on the Rev. Michael Sniffen, who is also involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, and is rector at the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew. Sniffen has opened up the church for donations and coordinated relief efforts. I think the last point made by Sniffen is at the heart and soul of the Occupy movement: “love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s the central statement to the new covenant of the New Testament. It’s about community building and working together as a community. And the organization is smartly using the digital tools at their disposal, even creating an Amazon.com wedding registry for donations of items. For donations and other information go here.


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