Friday, September 30, 2005

It's My Birthday and I'll Make Peace If I Want To

One of the few things I've been clear about this month is that I knew, deep in my soul, that I needed and wanted to be at the 2nd World Congress on Matriarchal Studies, which this year is happening in San Marcos (on the campus of Texas State University) and is themed "Societies of Peace." So, off I go, on my birthday no less (September 30th, baby!) to spend a wondrous weekend surrounded by some of the most brilliant and painstakingly righteous women that I know! (Big shout outs to Firesong, Frieda Werden, Bracken Firecracker, Millilani Trask and Andrea aka Gaia!)

The Congress kicked off on Thursday the 29th, but it's probably not too late to get out there to get your ears filled and heart sung, cuz it goes on 'til Sunday, October 2nd. Click here for more information and to register online. There's no registration cost because the folks putting this together adhere to the concept of the Gift Economy. Donations and other resource support will, however, be gladly accepted. See ya there, mujeres!

Here's schedule information:

Friday 30th September  Texas State University, San Marcos

  Opening ritual
  Part III.  Present Matriarchal Societies - Africa
9 - 10:30 a. m.      Panel 4:  North Africa
  Hélène Claudot-Hawad, France
"Woman the Central Pillar of Society"
  The Representation of Gender among the Tuareg (Imajaghen)/Sahara
  Fatimata welet Halatine, Tuareg (Imajaghen), Central Sahara
  Renouncing privileges: a Tuareg Woman in Modern Times
  Malika Grasshoff, Kabyle, Berber, Algeria/France/Germany
  The Central  Position of Women among the Berber People
of Northern Africa, exemplified by Kabyle Women
10:30 - 11 a. m. Discussion with the audience
11 - 11:30 a. m. Break
11:30 a. m. - 2 p. m.      Panel 5: West and South Africa
  Wilhelmina J. Donkoh, Akan, Ghana, West Africa
  Female Leadership among the Ashante
  Gad A. Osafo, healer, Akan, Ghana, West Africa
  Akan Healing Heritage – an Overview
  Cécile Keller, woman doctor/healer, Switzerland
  Matriarchal Medicine
  Dr. Yvette Abrahams, Khoekhoe, Namibia, South Africa
  Living in Our Natural World:
Indigenous Women, Power and Knowledge
  Bernedette Muthien, Khoisan, South Africa
  Beyond Patriarchy: The Khoisan and Partnership
2 - 2:30 p. m. Discussion with the audience
2:30 - 4 p. m. Lunch Break
  Part IV.  Present Matriarchal Societies - Asia
4 - 6  p. m.      Panel 6:  India, Sumatra, China
  Patricia Mukhim, Khasi, Northeast India
  Matriliny among the Khasi and Garos of Meghalaya:
  Challenges and Opportunities
  Savithri de Tourreil, Nayar, Kerala, Southwest India/Canada
  Nayars: matrilineal or matriarchal or a bit of both?
  How do they fit into a South Indian Matrix
  Peggy Reeves Sanday, USA
  Divine Queenship: Considerations from the Minangkabau of West Sumatra
  of West Sumatra
  Ibu Ita Malik, Minangkabau, Sumatra, Indonesia
  The Role of Minangkabau Women
6 - 6:30 p. m. Break
6:30 - 7:30 p. m. Lamu Gatusa, Mosuo, China
  A Sacred Place of Matriarchy: Lugu Lake – Harmonious Past and Challenging Present
  Danshilacuo, Mosuo, China
  Mosuo Woman – Environment, Pullulation, and Views on Own Culture
7:30 - 8 p. m. Discussion with the audience

Saturday  1st October     Texas State University, San Marcos
  Opening ritual
  Part V. Past - Historical Matriarchal Societies
9 - 11:30 p.m.      Panel 7:  Research in the USA
  Joan Marler, USA
  Old  Europe through  a  Matriarchal  Lens
  Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum, Italy/USA
  Black Madonnas, Cathars, and Witches – Peaceful Societies and Violence
  Vicki Noble, USA
  Those Without Husbands: How the Amazons Got Their Name
  Marguerite Rigoglioso, USA
  In Search of the Libyan Amazons: Preliminary Research in Tunisia
  Susan Gail Carter, USA
  The Matristic Roots of Japan
  and the Emergence of the Japanese Sun Goddess, Amaterasu-o-mi-kami
11:30 - 12 P. m. Discussion with the audience
12 - 2 p. m. Lunch Break
2 - 4 p. m.      Panel 8:  Research in Europe
  Annette Kuhn, Germany
  Transitions of Matriarchal Power in the Symbolic and Social Sphere in History
  Kurt Derungs, Switzerland
  Landscape of the Ancestress. Principles of the Matriarchal
  Philosophy of Nature and the Mythology of Landscape
  Kaarina Kailo, Finland
  The "Helka Fest" - Traces of a Finno-Ugric Matriarchy and Worldview?
  Christa Mulack, Germany
  Matriarchal Structures in the Hebrew Bible
4 - 4:30 p. m. Discussion with the audience
4:30 - 5 p. m. Break
5 - 5:40 p. m. Origin of  Patriarchy
  Heide Goettner-Abendroth, Germany
  Origin of Patriarchy -
  Criticism of Theories and a Suggestion for the Solution
5:40 - 6 p. m. Discussion with the audience
8 - 9 p. m. Evening program
  Max Dashu, USA
  Slides Show: Mother-Right and Gender Justice
  Lydia Ruyle, USA
  Icons: Sacred Images of the Divine Feminine Around the Globe

Sunday  2nd October      San Marcos, Texas
  At the Parks and Recreation Dept. Activities Center
501 East Hopkins
San Marcos TX 78766
  Opening ritual
  Part VI. Matriarchal Politics
9 - 11  a. m.
Big Panel: All of the lecturers are invited who would like to make
a short statement on this topic.
Discussion with the audience
11 - 11:30 a. m. Break
11:30 - 12:30 p.m. Developing  a DECLARATION
San Marcos River

3 - 6 p. m.

Public matriarchal ritual of
"The Circle of a Peaceful World"
All of the speakers and participants are invited.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Fort Worth Mayor Issues Urgent Call for Volunteers

The following news release was disseminated on-campus at the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center today:

(Fort Worth, Texas). Fort Worth workers and volunteers continue to care for Louisiana families nearly a month after Hurricane Katrina struck the Crescent City. Each day, hundreds of volunteers are needed to help support Katrina survivors. Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief urged all residents to find out how to get involved.

"Fort Worth has certainly faced its share of challenges. But no matter what we encounter, Fort Worth residents and businesses always stand firm to help those in need," said Moncrief. "Volunteerism is the backbone of disaster response. I applaud those who have already given up their precious time to help our neighbors, and I challenge others to find ways they can make a difference today."

Volunteers wanting to help in shelters should not go directly to the shelter sites but should call the local Hurricane Katrina Phone Bank at 817-392-7400. Volunteers are scheduled for four-hour shifts and are needed 24 hours a day. Shelter needs include child care, food service, computer assistance, sorting of donated goods, welcoming guests and assisting in moving guests from shelters to apartments or other interim housing.

Medical volunteers also are needed to assist locally. Physicians, nurses, pharmacists and emergency medical technicians interested in volunteering should register at to submit their license information and availability. Those within Dallas and Denton counties may register at this site as well.

For those unable to volunteer, a fund has been established to assist Hurricane Katrina evacuees in Tarrant County. Checks made payable to Tarrant County Relief Fund should be mailed to Tarrant County Administrator, 100 East Weatherford St., Suite 404, Fort Worth, Texas 76196. Donations can also be made online at the Tarrant County website.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Barbara Bush Relocated

[Thanks to Liliana Valenzuela for sharing the following "report".]

by Andy Borowitz

Former First Lady Moved to New Location Away From Cameras, Microphones.

Just days after former First Lady Barbara Bush made widely publicized remarks about people made homeless by Hurricane Katrina, the White House said today that Mrs. Bush had been moved to "a new location away from television cameras and microphones."

Mrs. Bush, who in talking about Katrina refugees said that "This is working very well for them" and that many of them "were underprivileged anyway," was transported to a facility where she will have plenty of food and water but no more media appearances, the White House confirmed.

"She will be much more comfortable in this new location, surrounded by armed guards on a 24-hour basis, than she was at her compound in Kennebunkport," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. "This is working very well for her."

Responding to a reporter who questioned whether Mrs. Bush would be happy being uprooted from her estate, Mr. McClellan said, "She was overprivileged anyway."

While the White House took credit for its success in relocating Mrs. Bush, some congressional critics argued that it did not act quickly enough to relocate the outspoken former First Lady.

"This was an emergency situation," said Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del). "They should have relocated her the minute she opened her piehole,"

For her part, the former First Lady remained out of view, but released the following official statement: "I am doing well, but I remain envious of those who were relocated after Hurricane Katrina - boy, do those folks have a sweet deal."

Elsewhere, President Bush mourned the passing of actor Bob Denver, calling the "Gilligan's Island" star "a great American and a role model for me personally."

(You can hear some of Barbara's infamous barbs here.)

Friday, September 23, 2005 releases new dvd series

The folks at have launched RECLAIM, a new poetry DVD series that features "the word and its voice." Each 1-hour segment of RECLAIM--four per year--will feature poet interviews, on-location poetry events, poetry videos, youth poets and much more.

I performed at Galeria de la Raza (the Mission District of San Francisco) last August of 04, and the rad Poetry folks were there to tape the performance and conduct some interviews at our "Pinta Tu Propio Mundo" ("Paint Your Own World") all-women poetry program. Leticia Linares-Hernandez, very pregnant, hosted and mc-ed the event, which featured some whoppers of the California spoken word scene like Pat Payne, Ariel Robello, and Genny Lim. You can check out excerpts from the interviews right here. You can see me in "Sueno Despierta", the performance work I've developed on the theme of dreams and post-sleep consciousness (the hypnopompic state).

Spread the word; RECLAIM the voices of poetic expression.

RECLAIM subscription benefits:
• You receive the DVD in the mail before it's released to the general public.
• Each DVD issue comes with a PTV exclusive 1-inch pin.
• Exclusive discounts and access to PTV productions.
• Includes a special poetry gift in each issue.

Include your address, contact number, email, and a check or money order.
Make your subscription payment out to: Rodríguez Productions c/s
Mail your subscription payment to: / Reclaim
                                                   P.O. Box 720016
                                                   San Francisco, CA 94172-0016

"Protest Jazz" concert and cd release party - Sunday, September 25th

Sunday, September 25th, at Arts Fifth Avenue (1628 5th Avenue), a cd release concert for LOVE'S BITTER RAGE, a Peace and Justice Suite by Fort Worth jazz pianist Johnny Case aka Jhon Kasen will be presented.

About Johnny Case:

Johnny Case was born August 24, 1947, to musical parents. Most of his childhood was spent in Paris, Texas, where he and his older brother, guitarist Jerry Case, became child performers on area stage, radio, and television shows. By late 1964 when the Cases relocated in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Johnny had become a pianist playing in dance bands.

Known primarily as a jazz pianist, Johnny has performed with such distinguished jazz figures as James Clay, Billy Hart, Marchel Ivery, and Colin Bailey. In 1983 Case played at a reception for Ornette Coleman at the opening of Fort Worth’s Caravan of Dreams. He has been playing jazz near-nightly at Sardines Ristorante in Fort Worth for over 20 years. Wow.

His politicization:

Johnny's new recording, LOVE'S BITTER RAGE, consists of new compositions dedicated to the victims of Latin American death squads trained at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia. Hearing testimony on CNN--presented by a survivor of state-sponsored terrorism in Central America--Johnny was stirred to learn more about the School of the Americas and how this institution facilitates the practice of torture and violence against vulnerable peoples in other countries.

In 2005, all of Johnny’s new productions have been issued under the "muslimized" name of JHON KASEN to demonstrate his compassion and empathy for the countless civilian victims of U.S. atrocities."

Concert details:
7:00 PM
1628 5th Avenue
Ft Worth, TX 76104
$10 per person

For more info about Johnny aka Jhon, go here.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

O, it felt so good

I did it, after all! I weathered (?) the heat and pedaled to work this evening. I made it in about 25 minutes, so the humid wannabe-wind might have been at my back. Speaking of which, it--my back--feels great after the big hoist up the final section of the ride. (It may not seem like it, but it's an uphill hike once you cross University on Lancaster. At least the scenery--Kimbell and Modern Art Museums--is pretty as i slave away at the crank, biking up towards my workplace.) I am feeling energized and content now, and not so much a car-dependent hypocrite. Yay!

World Car-Free Day - toda el dia today

Okay, I have to admit that I drove to two different places this morning before finding out--heard it on my car radio, ironically enough--that today is WORLD CAR-FREE DAY. It'd be really nice of me to bicycle to work tonight, but geez it's about 101 degrees at the moment, and I just don't see it happening without me having a mild heatstroke, al minimo.

Even so, I am a big fan of bicycles, the TRE (Trinity Railway Express), and DART light rail (Dallas). Yesterday, I returned from Austin via Amtrak, and it cost me only 22 bucks. I slept, caught up on lots of reading (Chuck D interview in "The Progressive" and some stuff from Audre Lorde's seminal _Sister Outsider_), and glimpsed a number of grazing cows along the way.

Here's a comprehensive website for more info on World Car-Free Day and related stuff. Download some cool videos here; I couldn't stop replaying "The Life of Animals"---it's hilariously cute.

And on the subject of roadside mayhem, how 'bout them freeway bloggers? The kidz at Miasma in the House of Bite Me tell us about a freeway blogging contest; hurry cuz the submission deadline is September 30th!

Two compelling freeway blogger messages that you too may choose to use:



Monday, September 19, 2005

20 Years Ago: Tragic Earthquake in Mexico City

Been talking about, hearing about Katrina and Roberts' confirmation process and FEMA and etc. so much that perhaps we've overlooked the 20th anniversary of the BIG ONE, the earthquake that devastated Mexico City (Tenochtitlan) back in 1985. How come the "Hispanic Heritage" celebrations didn't see to create commemorative events about this historical moment for Mexicanos. Just as many folks have a "where were you when JKF was shot?" story, many Mexicanos and Americanos (U.S.icans or Mexican-Americans) have a "do you know anyone affected by the earthquake of '85?" story to share.

For some insightful thoughts on the subject, read Patrisia Gonzales' essay "And the Earth Did Not Swallow Them", filed on September 19th. Patrisia Gonzales is author of _The Mud People: Chronicles, Testimonios & Remembrances_, which chronicles social movements and indigenous knowledge in Mexico. Together with her husband, Roberto Rodriguez, Patrisia also pens the weekly commentary series COLUMN OF THE AMERICAS.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Delta-Cajun-Creole - upsurge in interest and value

Anything even remotely related (culturally, socially, historically) to the Gulf Coast region impacted by Katrina is going to increase in popularity and monetary value---just you wait.

The Neville Brothers are going to find their music in high demand; Harry Connick Jr. is gonna have so many offers, maybe he'll do a celebrity appearance in a commercial for hip waders. What are hip waders? Well, i foresee hip waders as the next big hip hop fashion garment; they're the rubberized boots-to-the-hip often worn by rescue teams performing round-the-clock heroic evacuation feats in the high waters of New Orleans, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not at all wanting to undermine the growing national appreciation of all things Katrina could not, never could have, fully drowned or destroyed. Actually, I'm loving it that club djs in San Antonio are choosing to spin the funky Meters, Buckwheat Zydeco, and other Nawlins-area danceable music. I'm loving it that folks are wanting to celebrate the survival of the French Quarter by cooking creole and cajun cuisine in these post-Katrina weeks of September. I, for one, am planning to buy a tin of decaf CAFE DU MONDE coffee later this week. Yes, let's give to the Red Cross. Yes, let's say a prayer for the continued safety of all who are working so diligently to provide ongoing relief and support to the survivors of the storm o' 2005.

But, also, let's break out the dusty copies of Dr. John and Irma Thomas and Dirty Dozen Brass Band records. Let's wear our color uncoordinated Mardi Gras beads in September. Why shouldn't we sign up for voodoo history classes at the community college? Or get married down in the Mississippi Delta? Let's celebrate a culture and a city and a regional society that will not be buried by water, neglect, shame, or bureaucracy.

Que viva New Orleans! Que viven todos que estan sobreviviendo el huracan Katrina!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


[The following are excerpts from a journal kept by Susan F. Franks, PhD, which were written about her experiences volunteering with the Hurricane Katrina survivors over the weekend. Dr. Franks is an associate professor in the Departments of Family Medicine and Psychology at the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center in Fort Worth.]

Written at 1am.

Wow. I am exhausted. I just got home about 15 minutes ago; worked until midnight at 2 different convention center shelters. One was huge, tense, and more chaotic than the other. Outside the arena, people are milling around looking for people. Police and National Guard everywhere. Camera crews, news reporters. It took me 30 minutes just to get through to a place to park once I got there.

At the larger convention center, there aren't enough cots or blankets. People have to use towels. Some of the bathrooms don't work, and there is no shower facility. A fight broke out inside while I was there; police took someone away in handcuffs.

There are so many people. Many of them don't trust anyone because of what happened in New Orleans, and so won't even leave their cots or belongings to go get medical help, so most of what I did was convince people to get medical care. Lots of foot problems from walking so much and in contaminated water.

People get distressed when one of their family members stays gone a little longer than it seems they should. Some people got inadvertently separated. I worked with one 14 year old who is 6 months pregnant, who got separated from her family while she was at the hospital today for spotting. Her family got housing, and when she came back they were gone with all her belongings. No one could find where they went; mess-ups with the sign-in/sign-out sheets. We finally managed to locate them; I couldn't believe it. She was so relieved, but didn't want me to leave her until someone came to pick her up to take her to her family. Another 32 year old who keeps wandering around as she tries to deal with her grief over having lost everything and then holding her grandmother in her arms as she died; too frail to make it; and then her own 11 year old daughter is starting to have problems because she is concerned about what her mother is going through.

I go back tomorrow at noon, and then again on Monday at 8am. We work in 4 hour shifts, but I did 8 hours tonight. I'm tired now, and think I can go to sleep.

There are just so many people.


Sunday, Sept. 4

I was so tired last night, and surprised that I had trouble falling asleep. It was probably after 3 a.m. before I finally fell asleep. I'm tired today, but ready to go back. They need so much help. There's just not enough mental health workers volunteering.

People won't generally just start talking. I have to start by asking them if I can get them anything, then follow through on what I said I'd do, and then they will start opening up. Usually, it's not even until much later in the conversation that I'd find out that they had something physically wrong that needed attending to. Then, they are hesitant to go over to the medical section to get help. They don't want to leave their family members or their belongings.

One man spent all day at the hospital getting his blood pressure meds, and pain meds for a kidney stone. He got back to the shelter, and then left his cot to go to the bathroom. When he came back, someone had taken his cot, all his belongings, and his medications. The papers with the diagnosis and prescriptions were in with his belongings. His blood pressure was over 220, and he was so upset, angry, and agitated. He said he lost his business and everything he owned. He kept saying that just when he thought it couldn't get any worse, it does. What little tiny bit he had managed to salvage was taken. Yet, he didn't want to leave the shelter. I had to convince him to go to back to the hospital.

Their problems keep getting compounded. It's very sad.


Monday, Sept. 5

Yesterday, I thought maybe things were settling out. When I arrived around noon, there was so much less activity outside the arenas. But, it must be a function of the time of day, because when I left around 5 p.m., it was very crowded again with families and people’s belongings stacked on the sidewalk in trash bags. Yesterday, however, things were a bit more organized outside the Dallas Convention Center. Rather than have everyone entering at the same place, evacuees come and go in one entrance, volunteers line up to get registered at another entrance, and medical teams all enter at another. They wouldn't let people in without an official tag, but they ran out of these early, which created complications throughout the day.

Inside, things seemed a bit more calm, a function of people settling in to some sort of routine. However, now that people are starting to get registered for services there were extremely loud announcements calling for various persons to come here or there. These happen quite often, and when they do they are so loud that you can't even hear the person standing next to you. The overall noise level is still quite high. The clothing has not been organized and just really started coming in yesterday, so people still don't have shoes and other things here. Their feet are so swollen and sore.

It is so different between the Dallas Convention Center and Reunion Arena. Our job at the Convention Center is to walk the floor and try to identify people in need of mental health services; particularly those that need meds. Yesterday, I found a mentally retarded man who had been living semi-independently with his brother overseeing his care. His brother left early and he chose to stay, but had to be evacuated from his home by boat when the water got about chest high. He is clearly traumatized by his experience, and what he subsequently went through and saw at the Superdome. He managed to make it to Dallas with the help of some neighbors. But, at the shelter here, he just sits. He is not independent enough to go seek out shoes, clothing, food, or other items; and had no idea about getting registered for housing or services that he will need. He wonders how he can get his money, and hopes that the bank he uses still has it; that it didn't get flooded and the money ruined. He has limited understanding of how to live independently, and has no other family. He is so well-behaved and looks so pleasant that I wouldn't have identified him as someone who needed my assistance. I discovered him because I saw he needed help to open a small snack bag of Teddy Grahams. We started talking and it became obvious to me that he was mentally challenged. Today is his birthday; he turns 48.

People want to be touched. They want the human contact of reassurance and compassion. It is an overarching theme; that combined with not wanting to be abandoned. Several people I saw the day before came and found me as I worked. Some people sent others to find me if I didn't return quickly enough from whatever information I was trying to find for them. I never found the man from the day before that wanted me to come back and talk with him. He has MS. I kept going back to where I thought his bed was, and he was never there. There wasn't a very good organized accounting the day before of people coming and going. I'll try again the next time I'm scheduled to work there. I hope he is okay.

People want to be touched. It's such a simple thing.

And yesterday the infectious disease specialist told us that it looks like we are starting to see cases of diarrhea at the Convention Center. We are to stop touching people if it is not necessary. But, it is necessary, isn't it?

I'm at Reunion Arena today.


Sept. 5

I worked at Reunion Arena today. The contrast between there and the Convention Center is still so striking to me. Most of the people in need of psychiatric medication have been identified at Reunion, so they are stable but just need to be monitored and assisted. This probably changed today, since they were reportedly bringing in about 200 more people. I understand from the night shift that people are waking up screaming from time to time. One older gentleman became confused and disoriented last night. I suspect that he is demented, but I never had the opportunity to see him though I stayed an hour later than my shift waiting for him. No one knew where he had gone.

We now have the extra task of attending to the volunteers as well. We are to walk around the break areas and see how they are doing. Today, a National Guardsman broke down crying during his break. It is an emotionally intense time for everyone. It doesn't help much that the procedures change day by day. When you arrive for a new shift, none of the routines are the same as the day before. Understandable, but some added stress to have to re-learn how everything is supposed to work. We finally have a managable system in place to keep more consistent track of people, their diagnosis/situation, and how it is being managed.

You meet inspiring people from time to time; I'm amazed at the resilience that some can have in the face of such adversity. I spoke with a 91- year- old woman as I helped her fold the blanket for her cot. (She's particular about how blankets are to be folded; there's a right way to do it I learned.) It's also encouraging to hear the bits of tangible progress being made by our efforts. A child was able to climb the steps to get to the bathroom area today, with minimal assistance. She has been afraid and unable to climb steps since the stairs in her home washed out from underneath her feet during the evacuation. The police have assisted us in desensitizing a young man to police presence in the shelter.

Still, other problems are more subtle. Some seem not able to psychologically grasp that there is nothing left to go back to. Today, a schizophrenic woman tried to insist that I contact her pharmacy to find out about her prescriptions. She got separated from her son in the evacuation, and her stability seems tenuous without him by her side. I worked with a gentleman who previously worked on Bourbon Street as a saxophone player. He is holding out on leaving the shelter, thinking there may be some work for him in New Orleans and he will be able to return soon. His wife and severely mentally retarded brother are here in the shelter with him. They will probably get an offer for housing very soon. I believe that he is too anxious to leave the security and support of the shelter. He is almost constantly speaking with a volunteer, just to keep distracted. He will need help to transition out.

There are some who may have needed services before leaving New Orleans. I worked with a woman who suffered brain damage years ago in a car wreck. I'm not certain she was functioning successfully before all this. She was so happy she was being helped at all she hugged me and kissed me on the cheek.

The outpouring of gratitude from these people is humbling. We are constantly being hugged, kissed, and thanked.

Thanked for being decent to another human being.

That says a lot.


Saturday, September 03, 2005 initiates Katrina survivor housing assistance service too!

For those of us in the South who can offer free housing (temporary and transitional) to Katrina survivors, here is another great site that facilitates the connection of those who have a spare room, extra apartment, couch or floorspace to offer with those who desperately need a roof over their heads as soon as possible:

Hurricane is a new "civic action" initiative by the Democracy in Action folks at

Last time I checked, over 1100 people had posted an offer of free housing in the N. Texas region within 100 miles of Dallas. Way to go, D/FW! I also noticed that quite a few folks offering housing admitted to being low-income and, often, single moms with limited means.

It really seems that there is a major outpouring of support by those who have little for those who themselves had very little before Katrina.

Katrina evacuees can connect with folks offering housing opportunities

[Thanks to Zkot Pen , world traveler and poet, for this useful lead.]

The Open House Project was created this week in order to help Gulf Coast region evacuees who were forced to leave their homes or lost their homes in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Hurricane Katrina struck the US Gulf Coast on Monday 8/05/05, leaving thousands dead. President Bush is calling the storm "one of the worst natural disasters in the nation's history". Hurricane Katrina is "the worst disaster in the 120-year history of the American Red Cross", its CEO and president said today. Federal disaster declarations cover 90,000 square miles along the U.S. Gulf Coast, an area roughly the size of Britain. As many as 400,000 people have been forced to leave their homes.

The concept of The Open House Project is simply to provide one thing: a meeting place for people who have extra space in their homes (or rental properties) who are also able to lend that space to those in need during a time of crisis, such as Hurricane Katrina.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Friday evening at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center

i sit here at some public-acess computers (thanks to Dell!) at a FWISD athletic center in southeast Fort Worth (Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center) where an estimated 600 evacuees from NOLA (New Orleans, LA) are scheduled to arrive, and, i'd say, about 300-400 are already here. meals have been distributed, people are setting up tents, spreading sleeping bags on the main floor, and quietly regaining some equillibrium.

throngs of Fort Worthians, bless their souls, are dropping off bags and boxes of dry goods (toiletries to clothing to bottled water).

a woman, who i'm assuming is the volunteer coordinator, is shouting commands and suggestions to a flurry of newly-arrived folks who want to offer a hand. we show up to make a donation and then we don't want to leave; that's the spirit, eh? Black Baptist church communities, some in matching t-shirts, bustle about with a sense of reassuring familiarity and hearty laughs. i see "official volunteers" with badges hanging from their necks, representing the City of Fort Worth, the FW Independent School District, the Red Cross, and other agencies.

i see people walking around with heaping plates of hot food and drinks, perhaps the first hot complete meal they've had in days. a person overseeing the buffet line shouts out to other volunteers standing around, wanting to be of service: "extend a hand, start a conversation, welcome these people to Texas!"

everyone here wants to give just a little bit, well, actually, we want to give a lot...but we don't want to be pushy or invasive.

i decided one thing i could help do was hang out near the computers (all have high-speed internet connections) and offer assistance if folks need to search for information.

i created the FAVORITES lists on each computer here, adding websites which i think might be relevant to these evacuees:  housing, jobs, news...

whether young or old, everyone seems calm and surprisingly content. i notice the sharp smell of aftershave and other aromatic body products, as folks emerge from the showers, walking around in fresh clothes. they must feel so much better now.

i am enjoying the company of young 14-year old Kevin, who sits at the computer to my left. he is happily occupied with an anime tv series website, downloading dozens of images and printing them on the HP printer, and he is nonstop describing each series character and detailing the narrative of this mythological tale. he has the biggest smile, as he describes the one MRE (meals-ready-to-eat) he received just earlier today. i keep prodding him to eat something more substantial, a little fresher, on the tables just three yards behind us. i ask about his family, and he indicates that his mother and brother are elsewhere in the center; he seems not to be worried about them or anything else, as his gaze remains fixed on the Japanese drawings on the screen.

he is in his own reverie of survival, even as slices of dinner pizza cool at his side....

[The Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center is located at 5101 C.A. Roberson, Fort Worth TX 76119. This facility is located in southeast Fort Worth at IH-20 and Wichita Street (east of IH-35W).]

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Halliburton, redeem thyself

Dear Halliburton:

You have reaped the benefits as war profiteers in Iraq. We have witnessed your gluttonous grab of U.S. contracts
for the "rebuilding of Iraq", in a no-bid situation. Yeah, we have also read about Cheney's ties to your favored positioning
in these post-911 years of "fighting terrorism." Okay, these connections, such blatant cronyism, are certainly no secret
and of course are not above reproach.

However, inasmuch as our outrage--about your exploitation of the U.S. occupation of Iraq-- continues to seethe, we have a small favor to ask.

Your subsidiary, KBR, could be of great service to those suffering in New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf Coast region
right at this moment. According to your website: "KBR provides a wide range of engineering, construction, operations and maintenance, logistics and project management services to three markets: upstream, downstream and government & infrastructure."

KBR even has documented experience--mostly in Asia--working on projects to "deliver clean water, flood protection and other essential infrastructure to millions of people."

Wow, what credentials. I'm impressed.

But, how about impressing me even more. What is stopping you from considering the gift you could capably offer
by providing services to the Katrina-devastated areas of OUR OWN COUNTRY? Pro bono. Free of charge.

I took a glimpse at a very informative resource online and it is pretty obvious to me that your coffers of profit aren't doing too badly this millennium.

So, how about a leg up for the people of New Orleans and surrounding communities? How about sending a KBR response team down there to help save Americans on U.S. soil? How about making a sober effort at showing us taxpayers that you can
play Good Samaritan in a moment of crisis for your fellow countrymen and women and children?

I recommend you act swiftly. Your reputation could use some damage control itself.

Halliburton, redeem thyself.


Tammy Gomez