Saturday, September 09, 2017

Hurricanes raise the issue of "radical volunteerism"

I’ve talked about “radical hospitality” (and “scruffy hospitality”) on these pages before, but I think you can add the idea of “radical volunteerism”.

The Red Cross has a rather detailed application form for the recent and upcoming hurricane disasters, here.

It appears that some of the gigs involve travel to a disaster location (Texas, Florida, etc) and camping out and working two weeks of 14 10 hour shifts.  So this would be a radical sacrifice for many people.

The Red Cross says right now it anticipates needs as far north as Virginia.  Does this mean shelters will be set up 800+ miles from the damage zones?  When would the people want to return?
No, this is not very easy for me to do; but I can get into more details on my own personal circumstances on a related Wordpress blog.  One problem is that I would need Internet access to keep the blogs going and respond to any issues.  In a disaster area, Internet service or wireless might not always work and hotel rooms with normal privacy would not always be available.  This sounds a little bit like short term military service, or perhaps the National Guard.

Churches tried to set these up after Hurricane Katrina.  Generally, when people got down to the Ninth Ward and similar areas, there was not a lot they could do.  Is Habitat-for-Humanity volunteer labor the solution; or is it better to depend on Walmart and large companies to provide immediate manufactured housing?  Walmart is very good at doing this.  So is the LDS Church.  Church youth groups also tried to help West Virginia flood victims in 2016 but for the most part the mountain people took care of doing their own rebuilding (sort of "Glass Castle" style), much more quickly than expected. 

On the "radical hospitality" side, it's well to mention that Airbnb is encouraging its host to offer free housing in Texas and in southeastern states.  I don't do Airbnb, because of the labor intensiveness, and it looks like I am downsizing into a smaller space (July 5) anyway.  I haven't seen Airbnb ask homewoners outside its system to offer space, and I don't think it would.  I haven't seen "Emergency BNB" answer the hurricanes yet.  

The radical hospitality issue long distance becomes much more relevance if there were an enemy-induced event (nuclear, for example) in one city, making an area permanently uninhabitable.  The US is not ready for that. 

What about moral obligations?  I know the libertarian argument.  Why should we support people deliberately living in danger zones?  But our economy depends on people being willing to live on coastal plains.  I was employed in Dallas for 10 years with no incidents.  What if the same job were in Houston now?  I agree, people can choose where they live carefully. In NYC, for example, Hell’s Kitchen is safer than Greenwich Village, because Hell’s Kitchen is higher (both have gay life).  Lower Queens and Brooklyn are very exposed, as we learned from Sandy.  Generally lower income people don’t have the luxury of living in safer places.

It’s easy to imagine a system of expected volunteerism, that employers could expect to see on resumes.  That might include openness to more radical stints involving sacrifice.. 

I can even imagine how in the future this could affect online reputation and the willingness of others to do business with you.  We’re already seeming examples of people being doxed or marked for engaging in hate speech (postings here Aug. 17 and Aug. 19)   Maybe indeed people could have to “earn” the “privilege of being listened to” to keep their presence  This might apply more to privately owned sites than just to social media accounts – and in fact, until about 2005, that was really what “online reputation” was all about, and what companies (like Cloudflare) could be more sensitive about again. 
I’d add one other no-no, besides “hate speech” as we usually see it (and which the Left is trying to expand as mere neglect) – that is “combativeness”, going outside the rule of law. 

Update:  Sept. 11

"The Survival Mom" on Facebook weighs in here.

Update: Sept. 12

Richard Cohen talks about breaking down our social bubbles with national service, also talks about th draft, which he doesn't think can ever come back.  But the problem is national service could be continue intermittently for all age groups if someone wanted o push it. 

Update: Sept. 14

WJLA7 in Washington reports on people doing 3-week volunteer camp-outs in the Caribbean islands but did not have a URL for the story.

Update: Sept. 24

There is an important article and discussion on The Survivor Mom's Facebook thread about the situation in SE Texas, with comments about the supposed ineffectiveness of the Red Cross, link here

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