Report from Brooklyn #1: So much to say about Sandy

Giant list of community-based response resources, donation sites, volunteer sites:

Far Rockaways, Brooklyn / Photo by Silas Howard 11/1 5pm

#1 White people and folks with privilege, step up and keep it up.

The communities affected most critically and who are getting the least state support are majority people of color and working-class or poor communities. Surprise! Folks in Rockaway and Far Rockaway, Red Hook, Chinatown/LES, Astoria [the US’s most ethnically diverse zip code] and even Staten Island have been left without electricity or transportation. That means: no cooking, no hot shower, no working ATMs or EBTs, no heat, no lights, no cell phone. And that’s just if your home wasn’t doused in filthy water. Oh, and there are no subways or gas for cars [if you have one] to “evacuate” with. Folks with resources — especially white folks — don’t worry, you’ll get more resources. Now is the time to share.

#2 Transformative Justice is about stepping up where you are and taking direction from people who are affected

I’m stepping up in Brooklyn because that is where I live. I encourage you to step up where you live. My neighborhood [Crown Heights] was thankfully very untouched by the storm, and I have access to all the resources a single cisgender white child free person could: time, digital know-how, networks, vehicles, ability — actually, if I saw myself and I was not stepping up, I’d honestly wonder Why Not? I’m directing energy and resources to community-based organizations because people are there saying what they need and getting help that is not otherwise forthcoming. [Donations to the Red Cross are not on the list, by the way.] What do people need? Look here for an updated list for each donation site [] and prioritize blankets candles flashlights batteries water food socks towels printer paper baby items: diapers etc., pet food. Many other people are also stepping up and I’m blessed to be among them. Shoutout to Ariel Speedwagon, Emmet Moeller, Heather Acs, Leah Todd, Silas Howard… video of Rockaways distro with Silas, Heather, and Ariel cameos below!

#3 Emergency Relief is not about making your life easy / Gleaning is powerful

This is not your opportunity to get rid of some summer dresses and heels you don’t want with the convenience factor of someone picking it up for you. This is about you feeling thankful that you have kept extra blankets or still have your flashlights you bought for IDA and giving them away now. Please know that your donations are incredibly helpful but only if its stuff cold people in the dark need.

7-11/Shell gas station at Brooklyn Ave and Atlantic. 2 blocks from my house. 6pm 11/1.

#4 Transit, Peak Oil and Bicycles

I’ve never been happier to be a bicyclist since the transit situation is not affecting me at all. By the way, the situation is that a very few trains are running, some stations are still soaked, the 100-year-old wiring in some subway lines is being completely replaced, and lines are forming for up to two hours for busses that can carry 60 people to replace trains that used to carry 1000. Getting from Manhattan to Brooklyn is a shitshow. Taxis are charging double+ fares–if they can get gas to run on. Starting overnight Weds-Thurs gas stations began running out and there are only a few places left that even have gas — and the NYPD is in charge of gas disbursal because it’s so violent and scarcity. At some stations you can only get $20 worth, at others only 1-2 gallon canisters are allowed. However, bike riding is awesome because there are way fewer cars on the road, and I’m loving it. Here’s to what the future is going to look like, folks. Oil is running out and if you use it, enjoy it while you can…

#5 Not Another Katrina

I was blessed to be connected to many grassroots organizers these last few days; one, Imani Henry, was organizing a mass run from Flatbush to the Rockaways, and had “Not Another Katrina” in his email. Lets we forget that poor and folks of color get abandoned by the State. FEMA — no show in the Rockaways. Red Cross? Hardly. National Guard? Didn’t show up to the community meeting. The stories are real, and they are real people’s lives. Imagine your grandma stuck on an upper floor of an apartment building because she can’t walk 12 stories of stairs down. Imagine your friend cleaning polluted water off her walls. This is all happening in Brooklyn now.

Donations at Brooklyn Public School IS318

#6 Communities are awesome and people want to contribute

This AM I had contacts for four people with cars and not enough donations for all that people power. By 11am, thanks to Kristyn O’Reilly and co at the school, there was a school in Williamsburg that had self-organized a donation site, and I sent the cars up there along with all over Brooklyn, then out to the edges of the borough. This is not to self-congratulate, but to say that *folks are excited to help* and small grassroots efforts to coordinate folks can and does make a big difference — and people want to do it! I’m so glad that my practice transportation coordinating for Work Hard / Stay Hard and logistics for Heels on Wheels Roadshow is being put to good use.

#7 Ableism and Capacity

I’m so excited to see people stepping up everywhere and I also want to say: that is not an option for everyone. Some folks are PTSDed by hurricanes and some folks bodies are not going to be on front lines just because of the bodies they are in. These folks are still important, ability is not a measure of value, and taking care of ourselves is critical to our movements! And, if you’re chillin at home just watching netflix kinda feelin lazy or confused, but could go volunteer–DO IT NOW. Even if it’s a long bike ride.

#8 Abundance and Scarcity

I went into the grocery store looking for chick peas and they were out of that [and black beans] and then I went to get gas and there was no more. In a place of easy market abundance like NYC it’s easy to forget that things come from somewhere and that can stop. Translate that slight, minor disturbance to YOUR WHOLE LIFE BEING SUDDENLY WITHOUT and it’s clear why immediate, community, grassroots response is invaluable. We are not separate and alone, and the people in our cities are not strangers to ignore. If and when the State fails–as racist capitalism means it must–there are other ways to help each other.

#9 Where The Fuck Is the GOP? Oh, right…

The biggest election our nation has is happening in three days and interestingly, there is no mass response from the party that knows it can’t “take” the Northeast anyway. However, in Ohio, a swing state, Romney is handing out goods. I know this election is, in KRS-One’s words, “the lesser of two evils” and even still I do not want to live in a country that elected Mitten. Right now, it’s not clear how folks without electricity in their districts can vote. You know, the single unalienable right that upholds our so-called democracy.. that millions of folks on probation and/or who have served felonies can’t do anyway?

#10 Dyke With A Clipboard

My highly-capable friend Roo once referred to people like she and I as Dykes With Clipboards — capable individuals who find coordination easy and thrive on the high-speed action that organizing individuals into large projects entails. I have never been more clipboard-identified, nor am I anything but grateful to be a DWC. It’s time to use what we have, people. Are you in NYC? Can you help?

So much more to say like about capitalism, racism, how we live in the most abundant country on the planet and where the hell is all the abundance now … but hey, it’s time to stop 🙂