BlogHer session: Community Assistance

BlogHer session: My rough typed notes.

Community Assistance:
Grace Davis, Hurricane Katrina

Accidental Relief worker. Sara Ford. From Waveland, MS. Because the de-facto home page for the town of Waveland, which took a direct hit
Medical supplies. Someone cashed in his flexible spending plan.
Sister Cities… and others with

Direct telephone

Dina Metha, from Bombay/Mumbai, India. Professional life has nothing to do with community assistance. But Tsumani hit.
three people on day 1
50 contributors on day 2
200 by day 3.
Meant to be a respository of information, resources, aid, etc.
used Blogger, the barrier to entry was

WorldWideHelp Group.
With Katrina, they set up a skype in line in new orleans. She managed a calling in India.

Have templates of what works. If we can use the blogher netowrk, we need people who can give us real information.

In 8 days got a million hits. brought the Blogger servers down at Google, who stepped up and gave us unlimited bandwidth.

We want to be loosely joined, not wanting to set up an NGO (non governmental organization)

Best Practices:
Grace’s 5 best practices tip
Hurrican Katrina Direct Relief – There’s not electricity in the situation. So it was a help-the-helper.
Blog isn’t a first responder (we need someone to get someone off the roof)
Had to be one dimensional in its mission.

Everyone we worked with had to be real. (spammers would write big long stories about what they needed). Needed to get things varified. Steel Magnolia Somone Powell. They were on the ground.
WOUld call fire department and ask, “Is this church real”

I didn’t have a paypal button on my website. My blog operated through mothers. SOmeone goes to the site and says, “I’m not going to go there because it’s a scam” (when

Tell the story. We did have stories to tell of people direct experience

People want to know why. And see pictures. I had a break point for images of Katrina. Had a flickr link, and gave accounts to epopole. People want to see pictures.

Worked with New and Old media. Get the word out through San Francisco TV KRON-TV that had a blog aggregator. Then he put her on TV. Led to good snippet on CNN, which led to NY Times article. Blogosphere was working with Moms, and mommybloggers. The Steel Magnolias didn’t really know what a blog was, but they felt they got it when it got mentioned in Southern Living (The Soyuth’s version of Sunset magazine)

Sara Ford:
Emergency Relief workers emailed and said, I would like to see the town, what it was like before. Request from emergency relief workers. People who volunteered and went there. You ond’t think about . Uncle’s advice, be a tourist in your home town. regret it, b/c was home previous November.
Spraypainted in the street the name of the street. Reason was to put the town in context.

Went well: daily updates. Mom was able to contact. ATF go to this location on the beach, this one cell phone tower was still up.

Be honest: This is what I can and cannot do. I am not a survivor site. These are the names of the local stations/tv sites/etc.

What didn’t work: Do not accept clothing unless you are very specific. I spent 10 hours doing triage with the clothes. So many clothes. “Business attire or winter attire” Books. Libraries are still gone. Entertainment.

Medical supplies: always needed. Everyday medical supplies. Go to Walmart and get 5 of everything. Imagine you are going to go on hike in wilderness for a week. What will you bring? Basic first aid, bug repellant, sunscreen.

Half of paypal donations. went to a soup kitchen. From a church group in Alabama that was there as of Wednesday.
It’s a totally different thing to be on the receiving end of a soup kitchen: humbling.
Other half went to the elementary school. which was on the beach, and was a concrete slab.

Dina Metha
Technology with Heart.
Blogs, Wikis, Skype.
Re: Blogs bveing blocked in India. Set up a google group. Then a wiki. Then picked up by press. Ban was lifted in 48 hours. They had blocked all of and We were sitting in our homes and did it. Bombay Blasts: Put up one post. How can we help you? Local people… phones down, used Skype out to call own family in bombay. SMS worked.

Should we become an organization? Aren’t you afraid of being sued… We have disclaimer up. These are people talking. We haven’t verified. you’ve got to bve brave.

No paypal button, please, unless you’re verified as microsoft blogger or something.

Wiki… need some monitors, had people working around the clock to clear out spam.

Communicaitons: we are still struggleling to work with people on the ground. use different sorts of communication that are available.

Comment: My husband is a ham radio operator. DId you cooperate with Ham operators? Yes. Preparedness and practice and they do it through a club. Everyone packs up equipment and has a field day for disaster prep.

hook up with the Ham clubs. also all terrain vehicle club that got in first.

so let’s have a field day and coordinate it with Ham Radio Club

Q: Appearance n look and feel that looks best?

Blogs as snapshots in time.
Blog in first 2-3 months: Helping in home town
6-9 months later: How nice you are helping those people in Waveland?

Q: Dave Winer: Katrina relief isn’t over yet. They need to help tell their stories.
Difference between problem-solving mode and theorizing mode. Let’s do something on the Lebanon problem. Watch how the problems are getting solved and taking notes.

Get SMS phones to blogs.

MSNBC’s Rising from Ruins:

Q: Telling of the stories. As a way of healing. Relief in a multimedia way. heart and soul and brain and code.

reuters Alert: working with people on the ground who are there.

RSS to SMS (feeds to celphones): need for flow both ways. links to come.

2 responses to “BlogHer session: Community Assistance”

  1. Shirin

    Nothing to do with Hurricane Katrina, etc… Did you ever find an email address or phone # for Sarah York who corresponded with M. Noriega?

  2. Susan A. Kitchens

    Hi there. I actually was contacted by her brother and have an email essay from him to post. It arrived a while back, but I see that I got a bunch of incoming hits re: this topic, so I see that This American Life replayed the Sarah York/Noriega piece again.

    Thanks for coming by and commenting!