While the media have turned their attention away from New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast (only to revisit stories on the anniversary), there are still thousands of people living through this disaster. It's the rich and the poor. It's white and black. It's New Orleans and Plaquemines Parish. It's the Upper Ninth Ward and rural Mississippi. The devastation is far and wide and is something that must be experienced to truly understand.
I encourage everyone to keep their eyes on www.katrinacollaboration.com for updates on future trips. It was intended to be a one-time thing, but having been down there you realize that even though you only make a small dent each time you go it's a huge step forward. The Web site will be updated periodically, and this fall we'll make another call for volunteers.
We hope to be able to accommodate even more next time around. And this time around we'll visit and work during months that aren't in the hurricane season and don't have 100 degree heat starting at 7 a.m.
Thanks to Pierce for helping put into words and pictures not only what the team experienced but everything else that's happening in N'Awlins. And thanks to my buddy Allen Wuescher, native New Orleanian, for helping me learn how to properly say the name of that fine city!
-- Joe Hansbauer Chairman, Give Back Cincinnati Project Lead, Katrina Collaboration
Making a Difference
Just as Katrina continues to remind us of her wrath, I am reminded every day of the destruction and despair as I traveled along with 43 strangers to New Orleans in August. Many thanks to Margo Pierce for her portrayal of what we saw, what we felt and what we lived while trying to bring hope to so many ("Katrina Lives," issue of Sept. 6-12).
I am privileged to have had the opportunity to see Pierce in action while on this trip and to say that her concern for telling this story accurately and with such conviction is hugely understated. While we were in the Upper Ninth building homes, she was talking to survivors, witnessing abhorrent destruction and carrying the burden of each of these people's stories. It was her job to tell their story so others would listen, and it worked.
We, as a group, carry the burden with us now -- it is our albatross to continue to share this horrible story with others. When our group first drove up into a nearly abandoned neighborhood, I could feel the tension and the silence. I said to myself, "Now I know why I'm here." It doesn't have to be a horrible story, though. May we, as a human race, learn from Katrina that life is perishable and that the lie we were raised with -- the lie that says that our country is indestructible -- be forever banished in our minds.
Our world is not the same. We are vulnerable. We are weak. We can no longer hide in our sandbox.
I challenge all of you to ask why you are here now. I challenge you to make a difference in this world. In all essence, that's the only reason we truly exist.
-- Tina Aileen Terry, Covington