Reblogged from the Huffington Post:
Occupy Sandy (an offshoot from Occupy WallStreet) uses social networks for grassroots relief
Kudos to Lucas Kavner, whose well-researched article demonstrates the maturity and contemporary leadership initiatives growing out of the Occupy Wall Street movement. In a world where twitter and facebook are powerful forces to share the shallow and the deep, the Occupy Movement is demonstrating the activist potential of the many-leadered e-way. And itʻs nowhere more clear than in this report about their fast and efficient work in the face of Hurricane Sandyʻs devastation.
“Occupy Sandy, an off-shoot of Occupy Wall Street, has undoubtedly been a leader in spreading the word about local volunteer and donation efforts online, and thereby spurring real, tangible responses. Though certainly not a well-oiled machine by any means — seamless organization is hardly expected, anyway, in a movement that sprang up so quickly — the group’s Twitter and Facebook accounts have posted up-to-date information about exactly what is needed and where. And while the Red Cross doesn’t take donations of individual household items and certain bare necessities, these very same needs have become Occupy Sandy’s primary focus.
Tweets and the Red Hook Initiative
Sample Occupy Sandy Tweets: “Red Hook Initiative needs bowls and paper plates for food”; “Sunset Park Volunteer Hub needs Ham Radios and Operators or VHF Marine Radios”; “If you have a car or truck and want to help transport donated goods & volunteers, link in by texting ‘@osdrivers’ to 23559.”
Occupy Sandy’s #Medics hashtag on Twitter found doctors for their hubs in Brooklyn and Queens. Hot meals are being prepared every day and night, with volunteers setting up makeshift food kitchens in the Rockaways, Coney Island and Sunset Park. And the network has even set up a wedding registry, via Amazon, so anyone who wants to send blankets, flashlights, dry goods, mini-fridges, batteries and toiletries from anywhere in the United States or around the world can easily do so.
On Saturday, a Brooklyn-wide relief effort co-organized by environmental group 350.org drew hundreds to the Red Hook Initiative, a nonprofit center-turned-volunteer hub from which people fanned out into groups and dispensed supplies to buildings like the Gowanus Houses, the public housing complex that has been without power for seven days and counting.”
The Power of Grassroots Leadership for Effective Volunteers
“Whereas the larger government organizations and nonprofits still need to fill out paperwork and trudge through various government red tape to get anything done, Donovan said, Occupy is able to act fast and quickly, without worrying about a lot of that same bureaucracy.
“Occupy can just call a church and say, ‘Are you willing to be a donation center?’ And then within four or five hours, you’ve got a donation center up and running,” she said.
On Sunday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city was overwhelmed with volunteers and suggested people donate money, rather than show up at a volunteer site. But as Occupy Sandy’s Twitter feed shows and organizers confirm, help is still needed in many forms.
Daiva Deupree is a volunteer working with Occupy Sandy and Recovers.org, the online hub that has helped organize Occupy and other, unaffiliated local relief efforts in badly hit areas. She said she’s just been liking organizations of Facebook, following others on Twitter and finding numerous opportunities to help.
“I signed up for the [Occupy] email and text list, and they’ll send things out that are so specific, like, ‘Go to this address, there are people who need help,'” said Deupree. “It’s really not easy, what they’re doing.”
She said the quick reaction time for these organizations has been remarkable, and Occupy’s Donovan stressed that this kind of immediate connectivity is something at which they’ve excelled ever since they began communicating from camp to camp during the height of Occupy Wall Street. Now, instead of protest, they’re offering relief.
Inter-Occupy and Localized Networks
“We’ve been able to mobilize very localized networks through inter-Occupy throughout the year,” Donovan said. “So when it comes to a point when there’s a lot of recovery that needs to happen, we know we can call on these networks of people and they’ll put their normal lives aside to be part of this effort.”
Itʻs a powerful force for change and recovery, with aloha in abundance to face a crisis.
So much for the critics of the Occupy Movement, who labeled the activists disorganized, immature, scattered. Organizing practical, civic-minded support for neighbors in trouble, Occupy Sandy is clearly modeling a new kind of follower/leadership with good old fashioned American altruism at its heart.