Do you know what it means (to miss New Orleans)?

Looks like I’ll be headed back to New Orleans, again, this summer. Who knew it would call me back? Somehow I knew when I was there that it would be hard to ignore the difficulties I saw after heading home. The ongoing saga of its recovery seems to have become entwined in the Al Gore docudrama on global warming which predicts dire straits for the future of cities already engulfed by water. Naturally, this doesn’t help the recovery effort if people think it’s a lost cause. But that’s not for me to worry about–I’m headed back to help with the St. Bernard Project in June with a few other teachers from my school.

This seems to be part of so many aspects of my work, and the connection contains some serendipity. One of the teachers simply put out an email asking if anyone wanted to participate in the rebuild this summer, and I responded. This project clicked into the school’s Quaker practice of service, as well as my own connection to my own Meeting’s Peace and Social Concerns work.

No doubt it’s going to be tough work–June in NOLA means tropical conditions–but the connection is too strong to ignore.  If you want to help, you can buy a Home Depot card for me to bring to help support our supplies needs for the families we’ll be helping.  Just let me know–I’ll do the work!

Biking and violence

I’m actually a big fan of Critical Mass but I’m not a fan of the violence, no matter what the concern I have for the safety of cyclists, there is no reason to take out your anger on a motorist. I’ve participated in the Mass several times over the years, and almost witnessed one of my oldest friends get his leg crushed by a frustrated taxi trying to make his fare. As MLK Jr. said, “Violence will only beget more violence; only love can overcome hate.” It’s hard to practice this when, but once a month, you can ride safely through a metropolitan area and not be threatened by 2000 lb. crushing vehicles coming at you.

What’s so disturbing about this article is how biased in favor of the driver it is, despite its journalistic inclusion of both sides. No one coordinates the route before the ride, it’s simply the will of the Mass to control itself, the start and stop, the pattern. It’s a basic freedom guaranteed by our Constitution to peaceably assemble, so, to me, this type of gathering has its roots beyond this confrontation. In fact, I dare say the motorist will lose in the long run.

Freeways are basically the cars’ right to assemble and jam up a pathway from use–what about bicycles?