Saturday, August 30, 2008

08.30.08 - It's not about a hurricane. It's about America.

Mayor Ray Nagin is calling the coming hurricane "the storm of the century" and it is nearly impossible to believe that he's talking about Gustav rather than the Katrina/Rita combo that hit the Gulf Coast starting exactly three years ago this week. Right now Gustav is moving over western Cuba after already taking more than 50 lives in Haiti. As residents again evacuate the coast, in what looks like a much more prepared and organized series of events than the sister storms that took over 1500 lives in the state of Louisiana alone, I'm still thinking about the previous damage and destruction and how far we have to go to right those decades-old wrongs made evident in New Orleans and places close. When I can figure out how to post pdf links here, I'll include some essays I have been working on about the rights to the city and problems and opportunities held in infrastructure. For now, though, the cause of the week is this: Trouble the Water.

Last night my friend Deirdre and I went to see this film followed by a Q&A with Danny Glover who is one of the executive producers. It was not well publicized so sadly there were less than about 50 folks in attendance and very little press. The film, produced by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, who also produced Fahrenehit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine, is a phenomenal collage of amateur footage and expert documentary made from inside the ninth ward both pre- and post hurricane. Kimberly Rivers Roberts bought a $20 video camera a few days before Katrina to record family occasions and ended up stuck in New Orleans with no transportation and no money to evacuate, taping the locals' view of the disaster. She and her husband, Scott Roberts - dead broke as Mr.Glover explained it - spotted Tia and Carl and their professional film-making equipment on the side of the road as they were trying to leave the city and approached them about selling their footage to make some cash. The collaboration starts then, and the team together show a side to the ninth ward and to the hurricane disaster that is more intimate, moving, and real than anything I have seen so far. The small crowd with us applauded, cried, and yelled in turn.

If you are in LA, we saw it at the Sunset 5 down the street from my house - go quick, as movies seem to last there only a week. The website - - not only has a page that shows all the openings in all the states where it will be showing, it also has a very comprehensive "Learn what you can do" tab with numerous links to organizations that are still working to rebuild and promote the larger cause of equity. The film was shown this past week at the Democratic National Convention and will be shown next week at the Republican National Convention. They have also screened it for numerous non-profits and faith-based initiatives and seem to be keen on sharing it with other interested organizations. Please go see the movie, do what you can, and report back. That's this week. Thanks.

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