Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane relief efforts

With the hysteria that the media creates over every impending snowfall and gust of wind, the recent catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina shows that is possible to underestimate the destructiveness and tragedy unleashed by Mother Nature.

The storm passed days ago, yet it is still nearly impossible to grasp the full impact of the damage left in its wake.

Hundreds, possibly thousands, of people in New Orleans, Mississippi and Alabama are dead. Countless homes destroyed.

A major American city seemingly is wiped off the map.

My mind cannot grasp this. New Orleans, home to 500,000 people (about the same population as Boston) is under water. For all the coverage on the internet and the cable news channels - there is no way this can be overplayed. A city is, for all intents and purposes, gone. Picture Boston evacuated, flooded and destroyed.

So what can we do about this tragedy?

Carrie called me at work this morning with what she called a "crazy" idea that came to her after deciding to donate money to the Red Cross. I don't think it's crazy at all.

Here's the e-mail she sent to the Putomayo record label, it explains the idea a lot better than I can:

"As a huge fan of both the music and corporate philosophy of Putumayo World Music, I thought that I would share the recent impact that your music has had on me.

My paternal grandfather was a native of New Orleans, and I often find myself thinking of him when I listen your “Louisiana Gumbo” collection. In fact, the sounds of “Louisiana Gumbo” and my memories of my grandfather have become intertwined since he passed away several years ago. The catastrophic effects of hurricane Katrina have left me not only thinking of the unfortunate people of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, but also of how devastated my grandfather would be to see his native home submerged under water and destroyed. This morning I put on “Louisiana Gumbo” in attempt to keep the spirit of New Orleans and its people alive in me. The soul of the album moved me to make a donation to the Red Cross in memory of my grandfather. I also intend to write letters to my relatives encouraging them to do the same – I thought I would include “Louisiana Gumbo” in the letters in hopes that the music stirs their hearts and minds the way it has mine.

This brings me to my suggestion, perhaps for a limited time a portion of the proceeds from your “Louisiana Gumbo”, “Zydeco” and other like collections could be donated to Mercy Corps, or another charitable organization that is supported by Putumayo World Music, to go to assisting the people affected by Hurricane Katrina."

This tragedy deserves everyone's attention. While donating money is a great start, we should all also take that extra step to think of ideas that might be crazy.


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