Thursday, August 9, 2007

Sisterhood is Powerful

Exactly twenty days from today the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina will be upon us. Twenty days--that's less that three weeks for anyone who's counting--and, as Irene pointed out a post or so back, a look at the national dailies turns up little coverage.

From what I can see on the front pages of the online addition of the major national newspapers, not a single one (from the New York Times to the San Francisco Chronicle to the Chicago Tribune to The Philadelphia Inquirer) would lead you to believe that we're still dealing with one of the worst crises our country has every faced down here in the Gulf. And that is the perfect reminder, if you need one, of why what's being created in the back rooms of this unassuming house will be so important: it's a way of providing perspectives that the mainstream media can't (or won't) provide; it's a way of telling the story like it really is, and by doing so, reminding those outside of the region that the struggle continues, in very human terms.

Today the participants are for the most part holed up in the office, continuing the process of story boarding, laying down tracks, and in a few cases darting back out into the field to find more voices to flesh out their stories. The time in these close quarters clarifies another central truth about why doing this work matters--because as much as these trainings are about impacting the media landscape, they are also about building community among and between organizers and activists. True, many of the participants who are here this week came into the process knowing one another at some level. But it has been fascinating to watch as bonds between them deepen, information is shared, and alliances form.

At the Ms. Foundation, that's how we believe real social change happens: by giving community based organizations the support and strategic opportunities to allow these important connections to be made and networks to form. That, we know, is how movements are built. It has been moving and inspiring to be part of that building process this week, the evidence of which can be heard in the raucous laughter and teasing that erupts around the lunch table every single day, and in the brief conversations that inevitably crop up as one participant overhears a snippet of another participant's work, and feels compelled to share her own experience with FEMA, or in battling a certain legislator, or wading through the morass of insurance red tape.

So, yes, we have brought these women together to give them the skill of radio production, to elevate their voices, and help impact policy. But we also know that once we are gone what they will need as much as anything else to keep this movement alive is the gift of each other's partnership. From where I sit, on that front as much as any other, this training has already has the markings of a bona fide success.

Meanwhile, if you'd like a look at what regional press and bloggers and activists who have the anniversary in their sights are talking about, here are a few suggestions: Our friends from the Institute for Southern Studies are blogging about the unseating of Mississippi Insurance commissioner George Dale, after 32 years in office (an African-American man, Gary Anderson, upset him to become the Democratic nominee). They also link to Ana Maria from A.M. in the Morning, who blogs from Katrina "ground zero" about the region's search for normalcy. The Biloxi Sun Herald reports that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will be back in the Gulf next week, leading a group of 15 House members on a tour of the region, just as she did last year, before the first anniversary. And nearly 6 weeks after Grist blogger Wayne Curtis broke the story, the AP is now picking up on the fact that the water system in New Orleans is severely compromised.

Oh, and in case you're wondering what the President is up to in this critical period leading up to the 2nd anniversary, well, wonder no more: as of today, he's on vacation for the next month.

1 comment:

Video Production House said...

Wow! Good tandem! I remembered my sister and I made some short film. She made the story and I am in-charge on video production house