Solidarity, Not Charity

One of the most inspiring things I’ve seen in the last four years (college), was the sign outside the Common Ground Collective, a non-profit organization in New Orleans that offers legal and financial advice, FEMA guidance, alternative energy assistance, bioremediation, rebuilding and intentional media in the most impoverished areas of New Orleans. The sign read as above: Solidarity, Not Charity.
It’s easy to see why I liked it so much. It was New Orleans residents and non-residents alike working side by side, not out of guilt or pity, but out of strength, cooperation and sincerity.

I had the pleasure of working with some of these amazing people during my last trip down there. While I was staying with another wonderful group called Project Hope, we had some common jobs.

One of my favorite projects, which I worked on at several sites, was alternative bleaching inside flooded homes, in order to combat black mold (which is responsible for the so-called “New Orleans pandemic.”) They use what they call efficient microorganisms, which eat the mold on the studs and frame.

Another great project they are still heading is wetland restoration along the coast. There were and still are millions of gallons of gas, human and animal waste, trash, and abandoned property poisoning the animals and plants native to the Gulf Coast and the Common Ground Collective was one of the first and most successful organizations working on correcting those issues.

The devastation in New Orleans was so vast it is hard to explain. Many of the problems such as hunger, poverty, drug addiction and the housing crisis are still patent. Unfortunately corporations have done everything in their power to soak up the valuable downtown property while people are still struggling to get back to New Orleans and back on their feet. Thankfully, there are projects like the Common Ground Collective who are fighting for the rights of the victims of Katrina and refuse to let the city degrade into endless condos and strip malls. After all, it is the residents of New Orleans that made it the beautiful, and creative place that it was and is.

I am inspired and continually awed by the hard work and selfless determination displayed by these courageous people.

Happy Holidays and please take this moment to remember what this day is really about.