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20 March 2012 – Saint George Day 2: On Medicaid and Zion National Park

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18 March 2012 – To Saint George, Seven of Us Go!

17 March 2012 – HALO Departs for Spring Break 2012!


Shock Therapy

Posted By Sarah, Mar 19, 2007

First day of work. Claire and I were dropped off in a sparkly new minivan in the lower 9th Ward at a Baptist Church – one of the only standing buildings in two blocks. It was an awkward way to start the day. It’s a small one story brick building. We met two law students from the University of Washington, Seattle and two organizers from the Peoples Organizing Committee who were directing the reconstruction effort for the church. Rock spearheads the gutting and reconstruction effort of the Peoples Organizing Committee and has single handedly rebuilt this church. Last week a group of High School students were volunteering with him and stole nearly all of his tools. He has an electric drill, two screw drivers, a monkey wrench, a hammer, a pair of pliers, rulers, a wheelbarrow and one knife to reconstruct this church. The organization has no money to replace the stolen tools.

Our project for the morning was installing light switches and outlets in the church. In a crash course Rock taught for very white law students how to do basic electric wiring – with limited tools. Admittedly, my first thought was “I’m going to electrocute myself”. But what are you going to do, say ‘no I won’t help rebuild your church’? So we did. And it was successful! After so many months in the library, accomplishing something concrete and immediately beneficial for others was a great feeling.

After lunch the four law students climbed aboard a bus of 50 Howard undergrads and went on a levy tour with Rock. The difference in the levies from the poor, black Lower 9th Ward, and the affluent Lake Ponchertrain area were shocking. Prior to the rebuilding, the Lower 9th had a 5 foot tall cement wall, less that a foot wide, as a levy. The Lake Ponchertrain Levy is a tiered 12 – 14 foot high structure with a park running along the shore about 50 yards wide as overflow. Since Katrina and Rita the Lower 9th levy has been increased to 12 feet but not fortified. The palm trees along the lake are now propped up with $1,500 braces – for each tree. Stunning.

Much more to come as the week progresses. Each day is a constant learning experience and words simply can’t do it justice. (But I’ll keep trying).