A few days ago The New York Times published an article entitled: "Occupy Sandy: A Movement Moves to Relief." I read a similar story two days later published by the Associated Press.
The gist of the stories was that veterans of the Occupy Wall Street movement acted quickly to fill the void left by traditional and governmental relief agencies for those in the areas of Nassau County, Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens most devastated by Sandy.
As the article reported:
“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 ferry volunteers to ravaged areas. An Occupy weatherman sits at his computer and issues regular forecasts. Occupy construction teams and medical committees have been formed.” (See the full NYTimes article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/11/nyregion/where-fema-fell-short-occupy-sandy-was-there.html?pagewanted=all)
And that is just a small sample of what they are doing.
I felt encouraged when I finished reading the article. How heartening that these young organizers were applying the skills they’d developed in 2011 while building a movement to help those left destitute in Sandy’s wake. And I was so impressed that they did it in the most powerful way possible, through direct face-to-face contact with those they were helping.
I feel that one-on-one interactions are the key to reaching people. This is one of the ideas that motivated me to start the Rosenberg Fund for Children. I was aware of a number of progressive foundations funding social change organizations. I thought this was good and important work, but who was going to help the families of the dissidents these groups were working with, when those activists got in trouble? Rather than help organizations, I wanted to help organizers, by aiding their children.
At least one of my parents’ comrades criticized my RFC strategy. He said it was just a “feel good” project, as opposed to real, radical organizing. He implied that my parents might not approve. It is hard to imagine that anyone today would criticize those engaged in the Occupy Sandy effort in the same manner. This is a way for the Occupy movement to demonstrate what it stands for most effectively, and show that a more just and humane system is possible. They are making a powerful political statement through positive action.
And on personal note, I can never know for sure what my parents would think of the RFC project. They might not approve, but one small item leads me to think otherwise. The only physical evidence taken from my parents’ apartment and used by the prosecution at my parents’ trial was a tin collection can labeled “Save a Spanish Republican Child.” While it is unclear how this was evidence of criminal proclivity, it did indicate that my parents were helping to raise money to aid the young victims of Franco’s fascist victory in Spain. So I bet my parents would applaud both Occupy Sandy and the RFC.
[Photo from https://www.facebook.com/OccupySandyReliefNyc/photos_stream.]
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