Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Jon Rose, Waves for Water and the Promise of Coordinated, Bureaucracy-Free Relief

"Aftermath" is a funny term.  I've been hearing it a lot lately.  "In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy..." blah blah blah.  But really, the storm is the beforemath.  What we consider the aftermath is the actual disaster, the math.  Most people get this on a gut level, which makes the use of the term "aftermath" even more bizarre.  If we all get that the aftermath is the actualmath, maybe we can change our terms.

One of the things we've been scratching our heads the hardest about during the last week is how best to allocate our donations, how best to organize volunteers, how best to meet the needs of those in need.  As mentioned here before: the hard bit is trying to figure out who to trust, which donations won't be hampered by bureaucracy, who will be around for long term restoration and who is really on the ground and can help people in dire need in the most significant immediate ways.

Some New York and New Jersey surfers gathered tonight to figure out just that problem, to come together as a community of shared interest and sensibilities to figure out a strong, coordinated response to such a huge catastrophe. At Cafe Colette in Williamsburg, Jon Rose of Waves for Water put forward a seemingly comprehensive plan involving a ground-up, community-based configuration that relies on person-to-person connection, networks of information gathering and an on-the-ground flexibility matched with a strong organizational ethic to meet needs.  In less hyphenated English this translates to local people passing on pertinent information about specific needs to local people who have the amassed resources to help as immediately as possible.  Waves for Water has already procured two warehouses, one on Long Island one in New Jersey, and is now trying to tap the collective knowledge to get those warehouses flowing with the most necessary and timely items distributed by local people armed with local knowledge.   The big question then became "how long you thinking of sticking around?"  To this Jon responded that he is in it for the long haul, ready to be on the ground utilizing and funneling our community energy in the most efficient manner for the better part of a year.

It was a pretty energizing meeting for a small community already energized.  The idea that there might be an accessible information center for volunteers and a somewhat guaranteed distribution point for donations answers a lot of questions.  The promise that it might be banked on for longer than a couple months ups the ante.

A Meeting of Like Minds

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