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Occupy Sandy Relief started their main hub in the Rockaways with a solar powered generator from Greenpeace.  Before long, the National Guard was relying on OccupySandy to distribute food and water.  The slow motion Red Cross sent a truckload of blankets on Thursday night, 10 full days after the storm. But hey, late is better than not at all. Occupy Sandy's direct action, with their motto of "Solidarity, Not Charity" and their ability to organize boots on the ground, is breaking down walls that have been used to divide us.

This is community organizing. It is apolitical and non-religious. There are a whole lot of progressive democrats in this effort, who may not call themselves progressive democrats. When we support them now, they may join us later.

(more below the fold)

Where FEMA Fell Short Occupy Sandy Was There – NYTimes, November 11, 2012
http://www.nytimes.com/...

Do you notice something interesting about what the NY Times published yesterday and what they were planning to publish on Sunday, Veterans Day?

The fine print at the end of the article states,

“A version of this article appeared in print on November 11, 2012, on page MB1 of the New York edition with the headline: The Aftermath: A Movement Moves to Relief.”
The file name in the web address is
“Where FEMA Fell Short Occupy Sandy Was There”, with a date of 2012/11/11.
What prompted NY Times to change the title and publish the web article 2 days ahead of the print article?
Occupy Sandy: A Movement Moves to Relief
ORIENTATION An Occupy Sandy collection-distribution center in Brooklyn.
By ALAN FEUER
Published: November 9, 2012

http://www.nytimes.com/...

ON Wednesday night, as a fierce northeaster bore down on the weather-beaten Rockaways, the relief groups with a noticeable presence on the battered Queens peninsula were these: the National Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Police and Sanitation Departments — and Occupy Sandy, a do-it-yourself outfit recently established by Occupy Wall Street.

Snip

This stretch of the coast remained apocalyptic, with buildings burned like Dresden and ragged figures shuffling past the trash heaps. There was still no power, and parking lots were awash with ruined cars. On Wednesday morning, as the winds picked up and FEMA closed its office “due to weather,” [as the Nor'easter approached] an enclave of Occupiers was huddled in a storefront amid the devastation, handing out supplies and trying to make sure that those bombarded by last month’s storm stayed safe and warm and dry this time.

Snip

Maligned for months for its purported ineffectiveness, Occupy Wall Street has managed through its storm-related efforts not only to renew the impromptu passions of Zuccotti, but also to tap into an unfulfilled desire among the residents of the city to assist in the recovery. This altruistic urge was initially unmet by larger, more established charity groups, which seemed slow to deliver aid and turned away potential volunteers in droves during the early days of the disaster.

In the past two weeks, Occupy Sandy has set up distribution sites at a pair of Brooklyn churches where hundreds of New Yorkers muster daily to cook hot meals for the afflicted and to sort through a medieval marketplace of donated blankets, clothes and food.

There is an Occupy motor pool of borrowed cars and pickup trucks that ferries volunteers to ravaged areas. An Occupy weatherman sits at his computer and issues regular forecasts. Occupy construction teams and medical committees have been formed.

Snip

 “It’s a laterally organized rapid-response team,” said Ethan Gould, a freelance graphic artist and a first-time member of Occupy. Mr. Gould’s experience illustrates the effort’s grass-roots ethos. He joined up on Nov. 3 and by the following afternoon had already been appointed as a co-coordinator at one of the “distro” (distribution) sites.

OCCUPY SANDY was initially the work of a half-dozen veterans of Zuccotti Park who, on the Tuesday following the storm, made their way to public housing projects in the Rockaways and Red Hook, Brooklyn, delivering flashlights and trays of hot lasagna to residents neglected by the government. They arranged for vans to help some people relocate into shelters. When they returned to civilization, they spent the night with their extra bags of stuff at St. Jacobi Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

Snip

When newcomers arrive at St. Jacobi — or at its sister site at the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in nearby Clinton Hill — they undergo an orientation course during which the volunteering process is explained and people are quickly introduced to the movement’s guiding spirit. There is sensitivity training (“We’re here to listen and be human”) and door-to-door training for those going into stricken communities.

Snip

Upstairs, contributions arrived around the clock, coming in by telephone or received in person by runners who hauled the goods from cars parked at the curb to a basement sorting space where everything was organized according to handmade signs (“Shoes Here,” “Drinks & Water Here”). Volunteer drivers shuttled these supplies to more than 20 “field sites” in the hardest-hit locations: Red Hook, the Rockaways and Coney and Staten Islands.

Snip

… one of the hot-line operators rushed into the room. It seemed the Red Cross was sending them — them! — a tractor-trailer full of fresh wool blankets.
“A tractor-trailer?” Mr. Smith exclaimed.

[emphasis added]

Facts:

1. NYTimes pushed their reporting of Occupy Sandy Relief forward by 2 days.

2. They toned down their title to avoid direct criticism of FEMA.

Interpretation:

We see that the national press and large organizations can no longer ignore the story of how Occupy Wall Street was able to step up and assemble rapid-response disaster relief teams much faster than the supposed experts at FEMA and the Red Cross. We can also guess that Occupy Sandy accomplished what they did at much lower cost. Where the Red Cross did not want donations of "stuff" that "staff" would have to sort through and organize, Occupy Sandy volunteers were happy to do that work, for free.

This is community organizing. It is apolitical and non-religious. There are a whole lot of progressive democrats in this effort, who may not call themselves progressive democrats. When we support them now, they may join us later.

1:12 PM PT: There are 3 Republican House seats in southern New York, in areas that were devastated by storm surge from Hurricane Sandy. Do we have any progressive candidates to put up in these districts the next cycle?

NY-03 Peter King (R) (Long Island, including south shore)

NY-09 Bob Turner (R) (Includes the whole Rockaway Peninsula - GONE - Redistricting)

NY-13 Michael Grimm (R) (Staten Island + part of Brooklyn water front - likely perp walk, being investigated by the FBI)


Originally posted to Occam was an Optimist on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 09:45 AM PST.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street.

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