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September 13, 2005

Back from vacation and thoughts on Katrina

By Charlene Li

I'm climbing back into the bloggin’ saddle after a long, restful vacation (and a very hectic first week back!) Thanks for all of your patience during my absence, but now I’m back and have a ton of stuff I’m itching to write about.

First things first - I want to capture some of my thoughts from Hurricane Katrina – my heart and condolences go out to everyone impacted by the storm, and especially the people who have lost their homes, family, and friends in this tragedy. One of my colleagues at Forrester lived in New Orleans and shared her many emotions at a recent company meeting -- relief that her family was safe, anger at the slow response, grief that so many people had suffered, and finally, guilt that she and her family had been so lucky. Her words and emotions brought to bear the tremendous trauma that people will be living with for years, if not decades.

There are so many items that I can’t begin to hope to cover all of them, but I’d like to share just a few things of note.

First, as someone covering media, my hat goes off to the brave and resourceful staff of the The Times-Picayune and nola.com who continued to publish online even as their offices were flooded. There’s no doubt in my mind that the publication played a crucial role in the aftermath of the disaster, providing valuable information to its about neighborhood conditions, people that needed rescuing, and most importantly, as an outlet for citizen journalism. The newspaper industry magazine, Editor & Publisher, has an excellent piece on how the newsroom had to make  a “paradigm shift” in Katrina's wake.

Second, Recovery 2.0 is another great development, which seeks to use technology more effectively in times of crisis. It was initially proposed by Jeff Jarvis and is now taking form online at recovery2.org and in person at the Web 2.0 conference on Thursday, October 6th at 7pm at the Argent Hotel in San Francisco (you don’t need to be attending the conference to participate).

Third, I was struck by the racial, social, and economic divide exposed by the disaster and I began to think of my own community. I may only be able to give monetarily to help Katrina victims, but what am I doing to help others within my own community, to prepare in the case of a disaster, but also to help bridge that divide? I encourage you to take a part of the empathy that you have for all the people who have suffered in Katrina’s wake, and to apply it to your own communities. It’s too easy to drive by beleaguered schools or unemployed people begging for money and jobs, and just shrug and say, “It’s too bad, but there’s nothing I can do about it.” I know that I’ve been inspired to do more for my community and I hope to make a difference, one small step at a time.


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I encourage you to take a part of the empathy that you have for all the people who have suffered in Katrina’s wake, and to apply it to your own communities.

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