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Perspectives and Analysis on Rebuilding The Gulf Coast

by Jay Arena

author of

Driven from New Orleans: How Nonprofits Betray Public Housing and Promote Privatization


Grass roots activists salute and admire the good intentions that have brought hundreds of thousands of volunteers to the Gulf and the sacrifices volunteers have made to get here. Nonetheless, good intentions do not automatically produce good results.

Our message to volunteers is that if they want to help, they should come in the tradition of the civil rights activists of a few decades back and support the social movements fighting for an economically and  racially just recovery. A key part of this movement is the struggle for a mass DIRECT-GOVERNMENT-EMPLOYMENT  PUBLIC WORKS program–an initiative that they could also support in their own communities.  Participating in this form of volunteerism, what we call “Movement Volunteerism,”  will not get them a pat on the back from the Times picayune, the local politicos or the foundations—in fact they will deride them as “outside agitators”–but their efforts will be recognized and appreciated by working-class folks struggling on the ground for housing, jobs and justice.

You can also read an article that Mike Howells and myself wrote that elaborates further on the variety of ways the non-profit complex has abetted the disaster capitalist agenda in post-Katrina New Orleans.

Volunteerism Will Not Rebuild the Gulf Coast


Opportunities to Engage in Movement Voluntarism include:
C3/Hands Off Iberville. Contact: Mike Howells, 504-587-0080;
email: howellnow@bellsouth.net
Occupy New Orleans (Occupy NOLA): Contact Mike Howells, 504-587-0800; email info@occupyneworleans.us
Mayday New Orleans. Contact: Sam Jackson, 504-319-3300, email:
jackson-action@hotmail.com. Website: http://www.maydaynolahousing.org/
Mike Howells and Jay Arena are active in New Orleans public housing, and larger, right of return movement.