Monday, December 11, 2006

Katrina's Aftermath

I've long had a Google query checking in the background for news items mentioning "geodesic" and "mosque" in the same story. Usually, it comes up empty handed, but today it provided a link to an interesting article in ReasonOnline, from which I'll supply this excerpt:
In addition to Common Ground, secular organizations such as Emergency Communities, the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund, and Four Directions have joined a multitude of small church groups in the region to provide services where government and big aid organizations fell short. When necessary, they simply ignored the authorities’ wrongheaded decisions: pushing supplies through closed checkpoints, setting up in unapproved areas, breaking the rules when it made more sense than following them.

Their organizers, as well as their volunteers, have little experience with relief work. They live in tents or sleep on cots in repurposed churches and community centers. Volunteers run the gamut from hippie dropouts to middle-class students on spring break, and the outposts they’ve built are filled with things you’d never expect to see anywhere near a relief effort: free acupuncture, vegetarian cooking, cross-dressing volunteers, a giant geodesic dome. Despite their inexperience and occasional outlandishness, they are organizing and delivering some of the most effective relief work in the area. [Italics mine]

What's especially telling, in light of my angle on things, is this sense of surprise at seeing a "giant geodesic dome" in any way associated with any relief effort, and in December of 2006 no less -- a measure of our degraded IQ as a culture by some accounts, including mine.

Still, what the article chronicles, people taking responsibility, getting the job done, gives me hope. The keyword "mosque" is in connection with Common Ground, a focal NGO in this story, and which got started in one in Algiers, a neighborhood of New Orleans.

Related reading:
Satire @ Math Forum
Dwelling Machine Prototypes