This semester, approximately 24 students from the Colleges spent Spring Break volunteering in New Orleans, including students in both Politics of Disaster, taught by Cedric Johnson, associate professor of political science, and Senior Seminar: Press Coverage of Katrina, taught by Linda Robertson, professor of media and society as well as many other students from the Colleges.
While there, many participated in the Rebuilding America, Rebuilding the Gulf Coast Conference in New Orleans. Afterward, they contributed to a video for The Gulf Coast Civic Works Campaign, a national effort to pass HR 4048: The Gulf Coast Civic Works Act, which would create 100,000 jobs for Gulf Coast residents and evacuees to rebuild their communities. The video can be seen online (http://www.solvingpoverty.com/).
“I think our government can step in and make a real difference here,” says Jacquelyn Sands ’09 in the video, in which she explains the purpose and benefits of HR 4048. “I’m here because I’ve gone on service trips in New Orleans and it really speaks to my heart and I hope that if it speaks to yours too… I urge you to support HR4048.”
According to a letter to President Barack Obama which is also included on the Web site, “…This crisis demands a powerful response. Despite the millions of hours volunteered by selfless Americans and the heroic efforts of residents, Gulf Coast communities still lack a robust and responsive federal partner in their recovery. As President of the United States of America we hope you will move to sign an executive order authorizing the Gulf Coast Civic Works Program in the first 100 hours of your Administration and request that Congress appropriate $6.7 billion for Gulf Coast Civic Works projects in your upcoming economic recovery plan.
The Gulf Coast Civic Works Program fits well within your plan to create three million jobs. The program would directly partner with communities to create 100,000 “green” jobs and training opportunities to tackle local recovery challenges and revitalize the region’s economy. Working with local officials and community organizations it would; rebuild and repair vital public infrastructure including schools, police and fire stations, hospitals, parks, roads, flood protection, and restore eroding natural flood protection like marshes and wetlands. This comprehensive approach will train a new generation of skilled workers, encourage green building techniques, promote local businesses and help communities build resilience to future disasters, securing vital national security interests along America’s Gulf Coast…”
The students and faculty of Johnson’s and Robertson’s classes also hosted a two-week symposium on the topic of rebuilding the physical and ideological structures in New Orleans. More information about the conference is available on the Daily Update. http://www2.hws.edu/article-id-11749