What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and the Frankenstorm

This is where it all hits you.  That you have no outlet for your skills.  Last night a devastating storm hit the New York area and the eastern seaboard of the US.  Deaths, destruction, power failures, explosions, high winds, flooding...  "unprecedented damage and destruction" they are saying.  Yet here I sit, on a degree in post-conflict reconstruction and additional business/graduate work in reconstruction - all of which dove tail with disaster reconstruction.  The theoretical and logistical situations of the two are the same, the only difference is security; an additional factor in war torn areas that you don't have to deal with in disaster reconstruction.

In 2002 I organized independent flood clean up and reconstruction in Prague when most of Central Europe flooded.  I organized funding and donations from abroad, flew in supplies from the US to Prague by creating relationships with air carriers, set up a team of volunteer workers in Prague, and cleaned up several locations in the worst hit area of Prague, an area which was under 9 meters of water (about 25 feet).  We then helped fund, rebuild, and rejuvenate the area. 

I ended up in school after that and studied rebuilding in the historical perspective of World War II, then I worked on Iraq and Afghanistan for a couple years, and went back to school and studied current day issues of rebuilding from sociological and anthropological perspectives - rebuilding after war in Africa, but more pointedly economic development in general.  I went to Sierra Leone and walked around the country assessing needs and how to build society and economic infrastructure after the brutal civil war.   But back here in the US, these skills have gone unused.  They don't seem to be able to find a "market".  It makes me want to shake my fists and say "I can do anything - if someone will just give me the chance!"  The bottom line with it, is that what is about to happen in the New York Metropolitan area is something I have both experience and training in.  I have a lot to offer.

I have no outlet for these skills and experience though.  I am sitting at home in Brooklyn writing rather than troubleshooting, engaging, and problem solving ways to rebuild the areas destroyed by this storm.  Do I volunteer?  Do I just go out and try to get into the mix?  The mayor though has said everyone should stay home, home and interfere with trained workers.  I'm trained, but I'm not a worker.  How do I reconcile this within myself?  If I go out and volunteer I am then sacrificing my capacity to find work and pay rent next month.  I have no job, and despite every inkling within my heart, finding income has to be my priority - sadly, beyond helping others - if I can't eat myself I am of little help to anyone.  Why can't I find this kind of work helping others?  So here I sit, wasting my time venting to my electronic devise that my skills and experiences are just wasting away.

Could someone give me something to do?  I've tried to do it myself, but haven't gotten anywhere.  Could someone give me an outlet for my training and skills?  I can help.