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As some of you may know, Lucy Lawless was in the middle of filming Vampire Bats!, a CBS movie, when Hurricane Katrina was barreling towards New Orleans. She was one of thousands who were in the massive traffic jam exiting the city for the safety of Baton Rouge and elsewhere. In the short time she was in New Orleans, she fell in love with the area and its inhabitants, and the tragedy of Katrina struck a chord in her - so many of her friends were and are affected by it. On November 23 & 24, she went to NO for fundraisers, one of which was the New Orleans Louisiana Sheriff's 31st Annual Thanksgiving Day Celebration at the New Orleans House of Blues, the other a fundraiser in Jefferson Parish. Rest assured, Katrina's victims are never far from Lucy's thoughts, and she continues to do what she can to keep awareness of their plight alive.

Her website has her message for and about New Orleans, and further down the page, photos (and embedded video) of her November trip to the city for Thanksgiving.

Follow me to read her message below the fold.....

Ohhhh, New Orleans! How I love you.

It was wonderful to see the pulse quickening down in the French Quarter, but it is certainly an isolated island in a sea of darkness come nightfall.  There is no electricity in many areas, which is hampering rebuilding.  My N.O. friends tell me that while single folk are starting to get curious about returning, families won't start coming back till January and truthfully, for thousands and thousands, there is nothing but toxic waste to come home to.  The heavy metals deposited by flooding have covered miles with poison mud, now dried to a thick dusty crust.  Bulldozing kicks up a lot of mercury, arsenic etc. which is an added hindrance to recovery.

Today a Louisiana native came to stay with us till she gets on her feet.  She's relocating to LA.  She has lived here before and did not love it, but she is strong, talented and resourceful and she's going to make it.  

The police and emergency services begged me to keep talking about New Orleans.  They feel so alone and they fear that everybody has forgotten about them.  I'm afraid they might be partially right.  I am just sick at their isolation and their vulnerability.  Any kind word of support just makes them melt.  Forget any stain of corruption or rats jumping ship.  These officers and emergency personnel have remained at their posts through thick and thin.  Their marriages are under awful strain, their children are living far away.  In many, many cases their houses are destroyed and some have lost family members to the flooding and the pestilence that followed.

The wealth of a nation is not about having a Walmart at every off-ramp.  It is not about a free clothes iron with your mail-order vacuum cleaner.  It is about the quality of caring between strangers.  Last year, I visited Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries on Earth, where 80% of usable land floods every year.  I have seen poverty, and more pernicious inter-generational poverty, which destroys the fabric of caring even to the point of mothers throwing their 4-year-old children on the roofs of trains just to get rid of them.  I understand now that even the mother-child bond is eroded, destroyed or never develops where survival is threatened.  What hope then for the bonds between strangers?

Hurricane Katrina has lifted the lid on our own dirty laundry.  The poverty that we have too long ignored, the ecology that we have undermined further stressed inadequate infrastructures for the above and blasted out of the water the hopes and dreams of hundreds of thousands of people.

It seems a bitter joke that, like Blanche Dubois, New Orleans natives have come to rely on the kindness of strangers.  But to me this care is the glue that binds us in a social compact.  You cannot have civilisation where there is no trust/respect between strangers.  It proves the strength of a nation.  This is Unity.  It seems to me that this is something the United States should know something about.  This holiday season we could forgo the latest gizmo and pledge a gift to a stranger in our community, or in New Orleans or even overseas.  Every time we do this we add a thread to the fabric of care that binds all beings on this planet far more securely than all the political manoeuvring in the world.

Let us be Conscious.

Love always,
Lucy L

Lucy's fans number in the thousands and can be found throughout the world. Through their love for her and the generosity in their hearts, they continue to donate time, items, and money to Katrina's victims, and will do so until the need is no longer there. I write this diary not just to share Lucy's message, but to also let those affected by this tragedy know that they are not forgotten and will not be forgotten.

Read blksista's diaries as well, and keep hope alive.

Originally posted to PatsBard on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 05:37 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Please Recommend (3.93)
    I've never asked for recommendations before, but I would like for others to get the opportunity to see and read Lucy's message.

    And I thank you for reading it, too.

    Bush - the ultimate example of the Peter Principle.

    by PatsBard on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 05:38:20 PM PST

    •  Done (4.00)

      It's been a real sticking point with me that Katrina is not only off the radar with the Administration, but in the progressive blogosphere as well.
      •  Every little bit helps (4.00)
        And though it may not get national attention, there are still ongoing efforts to help the Gulf region.

        In the meantime, here's GulfSails's Blog and a link to NOLA.com for more local news and happenings.

        Thanks.

        Bush - the ultimate example of the Peter Principle.

        by PatsBard on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 05:55:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  You and me both (none)
        The place is annhialated, and it's hard to get a diary on the issue to have any traction. I'm concerned that the ANWR drilling issue is now tied in with Gulf Coast relief, or the other way around actually. How do we elevate awareness?
        •  Not sure yet (4.00)

          But I've been trying to come up with an effective plan. IMO, it's got to go beyond politics and beyond people simply throwing money in the form of donations.

          It's got to become a movement. Somehow the true spirit of liberalism has been lost; and replaced by intellectual exercises in "progressive politics". The faith-based organizations seem to be the only ones committed to helping.

          ...and we wonder why the Evangelical movement is able to gain so much traction.

          Slogans and demands for the Dems to take stand up and action are all well and good, but what are WE actually doing insofar as rolling up our own sleeves and getting our hands dirty?

          We have to learn how to walk our talk again like we did back in the 60's.

  •  It's happening again (4.00)
    For the people of NO, it must feel like déjà vu all over again. Ignored, no place to go, turned away, left to die. And 3 months later, ignored, no place to go, turned away, left to die...

    How can America forget a whole city?

    •  I don't know if we forgot a whole city (4.00)
      or if we just thought/hoped the billions of dollars we sent through charities and the tens of billions of dollars our elected officials appropriated withour tax dollars would actually be spent in an efficient manner.

      I can't speak for every one, but between Katrina, Rita, the Tsunami, Pakistan earthquake, local food drives, hat & mitten drives, Salvation Army, homeless shelters, ect I'm tapped out.  My family has made less and given far more this year than any year in the past.  For some it's not a lack of caring, which seems only to be measured in money, it's really just becoming a lack of money.  I have charity on my credit card blance right now.

      I have contacted my represenatives and donated money but I am not sure what else I need to be doing to not be labled uncaring and forgetful.

      Does the devil wear a suit and tie, Or does he work at the Dairy Queen- Martin Sexton

      by strengthof10kmen on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 07:51:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Periodically contact your Reps and Sens (none)
        Try to keep an eye out for other Katrina/New Orleans diaries and see what the status is, and keep sending emails to Congress. I understand the money limitations well.

        Every little bit helps, even if it's an email to Congress, a note to some of the MSM outlets, or forwarding alerts/diaries/articles to your friends.

        You've already shown you care and haven't forgotten, and I thank you.

        Bush - the ultimate example of the Peter Principle.

        by PatsBard on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 08:34:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you (none)
          Just got home from a "Christmas" party with the kids I work with - poor, neglected, some recent immigrants. We had a couple of nice presents for each of them totally due to the generosity of many folks like you.

          Thanks for what you've contributed. It does make matter in individual people's lives.

      •  Don't take it personally (4.00)
        When's the last time you heard Bush or any other administration official talk about Katrina? Rebuilding the gulf coast? More than a sound bite? Isn't Karl Rove the Katrina Czar? What's the plan for fixing the levees?

        When's the last time you heard from FEMA? Seen the new FEMA guy giving briefings? Bush has had 5 televised speeches and 1 press conference on Iraq. Where's the FEMA report, the reconstruction plan, the "victory" for the gulf coast?

        When's the last time you saw a balance of media coverage appropriate to the disaster that is still unfolding? Look at how much media has been devoted to the manufactured "War on Christmas" in comparison.

        When's the last time you heard your friends and neighbors talking about it? What's the percentage of Katrina related diaries here?

  •  Exactly! (4.00)
    "The wealth of a nation is not about having a Walmart at every off-ramp.  It is not about a free clothes iron with your mail-order vacuum cleaner.  It is about the quality of caring between strangers."

    You go, Lucy!

    "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people."- "V" in "V for Vendetta

    IMPEACH Bush

    by smugbug on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 06:07:24 PM PST

  •  I'm hanging in here. (4.00)
    So are most of my friends.  Some have come back and are picking up the pieces.  There is gratitude to be had in helping someone schlep a nasty, dead refrigerator out of their old apartment in Gentilly or in uncovering the backyard of another friend Uptown from all the tree limbs and broken lawn furniture.

    The media has a short attention span.  Don't believe everything down here is fine and dandy just because you don't see any footage on the cable news channels.  Sure, things are getting better...but slowly.  Slow progress is better than no progress.  We don't want overweening apathy to get in the way of any progress we're making though.

    New Orleans WILL rebuild because she is more than the sum of her architecture.

    by NOLAWitch on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 06:45:39 PM PST

    •  Habitat for Humanity has a good rep in my town (4.00)
      I just finished a 2 wk fundraiser for New Orleans Habitat at my work (U of I Library), and raised $819 for New Orleans Area HfH. I "sold" 29 necklaces to 20 people for donation checks to NOLA HfH. I work with good people. I hope Habitat does good work in NOLA as they do in Champaign County, Illinois.

      I love your city. I don't have relatives there, but it's our annual March vacation (for the French Quarter & museums, not mardi gras). Keep hanging in there, I've been heartbroken over all the stuff happening and not happening.

      If your local service workers don't get a living wage (including insurance) then your local social contract is *broken*

      by julifolo on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 11:51:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  as I mentioned (4.00)
    in another diary here, tonight, I saw a bushspokesturd go unchallenged on "hardball", when he assented that the american people are feeling a sense of resolve on the issues of the Iraq war, Katrina and the economy.

    and uh....I know that Kos' choice for a spokes on election analysis bowed out.......but I still think that the Dems could save their souls by focussing on bush Katrina failures, and the rich level of issues it involves.

    And so mebbe blksista should get a FP, after all.

    •  Yes, I agree (4.00)
      The Katrina debacle is ongoing proof of the Republicans lack of concern for the people they supposedly represent, and that, for all their blathering about National Security, we are no more safe now than we were before 9/11. All they've succeeded in doing is to make things infinitely worse.

      blksista's diaries help to keep Katrina and the aftermath in everyone's minds and hearts.

      Bush - the ultimate example of the Peter Principle.

      by PatsBard on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 07:18:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This War on Americans Should be Our Issue (4.00)
        It's like "the economy, stupid". Iraq is horrifying, but Bushco will be able to spin it as a "victory" and vilify Dems for opposing. See: Kerry swiftboating in '04, going back 30 years.

        Spying, torture, the Patriot Act are incredibly important, but they're not of much interest to most voters.

        An American city being devastated, people dying before our eyes on TV, and months later people who have lost everything still without help reveals so much about this administration's priorities and can really strike home with many folks.  It can happen anywhere, to anyone.

        I'm heartbroken at what's going on - and not going on - in New Orleans, and don't want to use that pain for mere political gain.

        But by focusing attention here, we can both impact the future of that city and maybe start talking about some real issues that affect most Americans' everyday lives. Like having a home and a job.

        There are a huge number of posts every day about fairly intricate political issues that most of the country will never understand, let alone care about. Important,  but - how about we put some of that enormous focus and energy here?  

        I love the "impeach" sticker campaign, but what if we changed the word to "Katrina"?

  •  Sorry... (4.00)
    we "can't afford" to rebuild New Orleans for the thousands of poor people who lost their affordable homes there and are now displaced-- apparently permanently.

    it's wayyyyy more important for we Americans to remove from power a powerless leader and bring democracy to Iraq.

    "Apparently, the person had been killed by a falling graveyard." Steve Coll The New Yorker

    by Superpole on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 07:17:49 PM PST

    •  Don't forget tax cuts and (4.00)
      bridges to nowhere.

      With new things to obsess over every day, New Orleans often falls out of the spotlight, but it definitely should not be forgotten.  There's a lot of disproportionate suffering going on there, still.

      Jumping on the politicalcompass.org bandwagon: (-3.63, -3.03) - Does that make me part of the right wing here?

      by someone else on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 07:23:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Absolutely recommending this diary. (4.00)
    We cannot forget about the people who have had their lives torn apart by the hurricanes.
  •  I was disturbed to hear... (none)
    that most of the people who have not as yet had anything done to help them get back to a decent living in New Orleans, do not want the Mardi Gras this year.  They think that it takes away from them and that corporate moneys will take away the dollars that they need to build back their neighborhood.

    It seems to me that the life blood of New Orleans is the Mardi Gras and that these people should be right in there making sure that some of the profits go to rebuilding their neighborhoods.  Am I wrong?  How can we help?

    The shrub needs to be pulled

    by libbie on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 07:20:27 PM PST

    •  What about the Saints? (none)
      The concern seems to be that money shouldn't be spent on frivolous things like Mardi Gras and saving the NFL team until people's safety is ensured and their basic sustenance is taken care of. It really is tragic to see parts of the city where life is close to normal, the older sections of town near the river, and just a few blocks away everything is destroyed and many homes uninhabitable.
    •  IMO it's a double-edged sword (none)

      On the one hand, it will boost the NOLA economy.

      On the other hand, it can - and probably will- do the opposite for awareness as the rest of the country will use it to convince ourselves that All is Well so Let the Good Times Roll in NOLA - and we can move on to the sexier stuff like Spy scandals, '06 races, and calls for impeachment.

      Problem is, none of that puts people back in their homes or the pieces of their lives back together.

  •  USA Today article 12/22 (4.00)
    Just today, there is an article in USA Today illustrating that NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have been much more effective in the small amount of progress that's taken place than FEMA has, and that FEMA is so despised in the 9th ward their employees have stopped wearing anything identifying them with FEMA.
  •  Xena is fighting for NOLA (none)
    Lucy...you rule. Totally.

    GOP = Spies, lies, borrowing & binging.
    Enough Is Enough 2006!
    Econ: -4.63 Soc: -6.92

    by MamasGun on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 07:55:46 PM PST

  •  We are our brother's keeper.... (4.00)
    ... I have been a one man band recommending this as the Democrat's theme for 2006. QUOTE THE BIBLE AT THEM. Make the distinction that the big difference between us and them is that we believe, as Lawless said, "The wealth of a nation is not about having a Walmart at every off-ramp.  It is not about a free clothes iron with your mail-order vacuum cleaner. It is about the quality of caring between strangers."

    Democrats
    Our brother's keeper.

    "What luck for rulers that men do not think." - Adolf Hitler

    by Bensdad on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 08:02:52 PM PST

  •  code pink's list of NOLA needs (4.00)
    Find it here:
    http://www.codepinkalert.org/...

    I find this to be very worthwhile. I plan to attack the after xmas sales and send NOLA a present :)

    I re-did my website! See how pretty DailyGranola.com is now.

    by OrangeClouds115 on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 09:04:54 PM PST

  •  Captain Future's Diary (none)
    New Orleans Christmas: Heroes and Villains

    It's about a story in USA Today and the effectiveness of charities and NGO's (non-governmental organizations) vs the ineffectiveness of FEMA and the government.

    Bush - the ultimate example of the Peter Principle.

    by PatsBard on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 10:14:45 PM PST

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