Sunday, April 20, 2008

You all make me believe in humanity again...

Yesterday, we gutted the house of Gloria Guillard, a resident of the upper 9th ward in New Orleans. I just wanted to post some photos and say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to everyone who donated time, or tools, or respirator filters to make this happen.

While trying to pull resources from different sources for this project - I have been thinking alot about this kindof group effort giving; this 'potluck' problem solving. I think we get overwhelmed by most problems, because we're approaching them with only our own resources. In this instance, it took a dozen or more sources to bring all the necessary resources to the table, but for the most part - everyone gave something it was fairly easy for them to give.

Hands On, the non-profit I work for, doesn't run projects on the weekends - so they lent us their tools and one of their trucks for the day. Ten twenty-something friends, without any real wealth or resource, lent their labor for the day. A few sympathetic folks from across the country, saw a story on a blog, and donated a little money for filters. A neighborhood association, grateful for the hand - brought out lunch and water. Suddenly, a task that has been overwhelming one resident for 2 years, became achievable without demanding too much of any one person.

I think with all of our technology, self-sufficiency, iPODS, and self-checkout counters - the modern world has lost a little bit of community. We can appreciate it, but don't have a real grasp of the power of collaborative living. "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."

People are stronger together. Neighbors keep families afloat. And a neighbor-loving nation, can recover New Orleans.

A particular thanks to those who sent checks for respirator filters. Donating money to any cause in the modern day, takes not only a sense of philanthropy - but the power to overcome our nationally embedded sense of skepticism. So thank you to all of you for the leap of faith... and the cash.

The pictures!


This is what the house looked like before we arrived. Gloria had some friends help out with the gutting initially. They threw the top floor debris out the window (which saves alot of backache, dragging it down stairs), but it never got moved to the curb where the city could pick it up.

The house was partially gutted (above) and the upstairs was filled with trashbags (below) full of drywall and debris. In case you're wondering -- Yes. A trashbag full of drywall is 30x heavier than a trashbag full of anything else. I will note that we carried alot of these down to the curb, and the bags did not break. We could have been a Hefty Bag advertisement. It was pretty amazing.


Thanks again to those who donated respirator filters. I used to gut with just a dust mask. Your nose would run all day under your mask, trying to wash out the dirt; and at the end of the day - you would blow black snot for hours. After awhile, I developed an allergy to the mold and dirt in these houses that would make me nauseous, and give me migraines. These little pink 'pancakes' are expensive, but are so so needed. Way too many people gut without them.



This is Gloria Guillard, the home owner. She has lived in the upper 9th ward for 40 years. And was out at the house all day, hauling trash, pulling nails and sweeping up debris with us. She also refused to eat, until all of the rest of us had food on our plates.



I also want to take a moment to thank all of those who came out to work yesterday. Unlike the days right after Katrina, the folks in this picture are not full-time volunteers. They all have day jobs. They work for non-profits coordinating rebuilding efforts, they are tradesmen and school teachers; and they all gave up a Saturday to haul disgusting rotted mattresses and heavy bags of drywall to a curb all day... My heroes.

The "after" pictures. After gutting, the house is ready for electric, plumbing and mold removal. This process can take months. Every home that has electrical done has to be inspected by one of 4 city inspectors. So even if you finally got your Road Home or insurance payout (most are still waiting), and even if you find a contractor who isn't going to rob you and leave the job half done (most of them do), and even if you're not 757th on the waiting list of a good contractor - you could still wait 6-10 months just to have the house inpsected, before you're allowed to close up your walls.



But we do what we can...

Thanks again! I'm sure I'll have more giving opportunities in the future, for those who like to be involved. =)

1 comment:

Lara D (as opposed to H) said...

This is so amazing. I obviously haven't read your blog in months. I love the personal "thank you's" with the notebook paper signs. Very cool.