When Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast, it changed everything. Long-time deniers acknowledged the need for climate action, and once more the government’s inability to manage public emergencies was exposed. Millions were left without power, heat or communication with the outside world. As the rest of the country focused hard on holiday shopping, the people of New York and New Jersey were left out in the cold — literally. Refusing to sit idly by, community leaders, Occupiers and permaculture specialists are collaborating to set the stage for sustainable recovery in this hard-hit area.
A week before the arrival of superstorm Sandy, YANA (stands for You Are Never Alone), a community center and worker training facility in the neighborhood of Rockaway Park, opened its doors with the mission of bringing jobs, education and environmentally sustainable practices to a region already hurting from economic marginalization. Then, things got complicated.
Immediately after the neighborhood was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, and the subsequent flooding and fire, YANA reopened its doors with the support of Occupy Sandy volunteers and solar power provided by Greenpeace and became a hub of community recovery, mutual aid and solidarity.
Despite being housed in a badly damaged building, YANA and its volunteers have continued to provide hot meals, free medical treatment and legal counseling, acting as a donation distribution site and even training and dispatching canvassers and construction/demolition crews throughout the peninsula.
“The community has been very grateful to Yana for its relief hub efforts,” said Occupy Sandy organizer Sarah Baxendall. “Before the storm the neighborhood was less connected, now it’s more connected. Official agencies have donated lots of supplies and have been trained by our crew. FEMA especially. Sadly, the Red Cross has been very absent in this neighborhood.”
Even if you don’t live anywhere near New York, you can help YANA continue this invaluable work. In addition to everything else, they are currently in the process of rebuilding YANA, after it suffered severe damages from flooding in the storm. The group is currently engaged in Rebuild Stage #1: bio-remediation and installation of a new energy-efficient copper floor.
They are crowdfunding the money needed for the next stage of reconstruction and service, including funds for administrative needs, to compensate designers and engineers, and to provide funding to bring groups of permaculture and design students to participate in the rebuild.
HOW TO HELP: Check out the project’s donation page on WePay. No contribution is too small to support this revolutionary mutual aid effort. Just $5 helps to purchase plants for YANA’s green roof, while $10 helps buy supplies for eco-friendly bioremediation. The campaign has no deadline, so you can donate at any time. You can also help by spreading the word about YANA and Occupy Sandy among your social circles. Like or tweet about the crowdfunding effort directly from this page, or like YANA on Facebook to keep up with their progress.
All images via Occupy Sandy/YANA