Thursday, September 01, 2005

Things Fussbudgets Think About

I don’t know if the “Think Globally, Act Locally” bumperstickers are still around but these are things that have been flitting around in my brain lately:

Hurricane Relief

While we are all focused intently on the situation at present, we need to be thinking and planning ahead. The refugees currently in the New Orleans stadium need to be moved, some of which will be taken to the Texas football stadium, others to other locations. They will probably be there for months. Other than food and needed medical supplies there will be many other needs. School supplies and school clothes will be needed in a week or so. Clean clothes and basic toiletries for everyone (soap, deodorant, toilet paper, tampons (in some cases), toothbrushes and toothpaste, shampoo, combs, brushes) will be needed for everyone. Not just for a few days but for the long-term future. Right now the Red Cross probably prefers that people donate funds so things can be purchased in bulk, so please donate. Some people will be able to stay with relatives in other parts of the country. Someone I know has a relative in hurricane territory and has offered to house their children for the school year so the parents can focus on rebuilding their lives without that extra worry. For others, though, there is nowhere else to go, and no one else to turn to.

I had already started stockpiling washcloths and bars of soap for Samaritan’s Purse Christmas shoebox campaign. I imagine there will be something similar here for those still in shelters. If you are a knitter, pick up a few extra skeins and some knitting needles (maybe the round plastic ones instead of the metal, in case there are security guidelines). Someone who knits for relaxation may be going stir crazy and those supplies are not likely to be included in the standard relief package. If you are in a toy store or a general retail store, pick up a board game, a pack of cards, a jigsaw puzzle. If you received something like this yourself but never used it, make a note of where you’ve put it so it can be passed on. Don’t throw out your old coats or sweaters; put them in a bag in the closet, provided they are still in good shape. Ditto with books, especially the ones in good shape. I imagine a makeshift library or informal book sharing system will be one of the first informal social networks set up (right up there with clothing sharing networks). By all means, donate as much as you can to the Red Cross now, but keep the holidays in mind. By then people will really be getting cabin fever. If it turns out such an effort isn’t required you can donate things to nursing homes, VA hospitals, homeless shelters, Toys for Tots, and so on.

Why think ahead and plan for this now? Because compassion fatigue will set in and by the holidays, and certainly after, we may have all emotionally moved on. It is human nature to do so. Because of their organizational structure and mission statements, national religious and civic groups will probably be tapped or volunteer to take on specific tasks. If it hasn’t already happened, there is a conference call going on somewhere to decide which denomination is collecting soap and which one is collecting toothpaste, or if everyone should pack complete “hygiene kits” (we do this for international missions and so have practice) and whether the Lions should continue to send used eyeglasses overseas or give the hurricane survivors first shot. These are the boring aspects of life that keep things actually going. This is part of the safety net.

Local Action

Mr. Jane gassed up the cars on Monday in anticipation of higher gas prices. Last night we sat down and figured out how we could manage on a daily basis without using our cars at all if there is a fuel shortage. We aren’t the only ones. Chris at Rowhouse Logic is doing something similar. Ma always told me to try to find living quarters within walking distance of public transportation, a grocery store and a laundramat. We are less than a mile from some form of each, in some cases much less, and less than a mile from the kids’ school.

We tend to buy nonperishables in bulk so we have a lot of bottled water (for school lunches), toilet paper, paper towels, cereal, canned soup, pasta, and such stored away. We have a freezer full of frozen veggies and ground beef. At any given time we could survive on what is in the house for a couple of weeks. It wouldn’t be fun but we could do it. One of my hobbies is quilting so we have enough quilts and laprobes around the house that if we got them all out this winter we could set the heat even lower than usual at nights. (I’m in survival mode not only because of the hurricane but because the water is off again today so I filled up some jugs last night for cooking and the cat dish.) One of the blessings of living in a house is that is usually means more storage space.

Our street doesn’t have a town watch or an official block captain. I’m the “luminaria queen,” though, and sometimes serve loosely in that capacity. (A local business provides luminaria supplies on Christmas Eve; volunteers set them up. If you do this sometimes your neighbors think of you as the block captain.). As such, I’m wondering if we could help the area save gas if everyone brought their garbage cans and recycle bins to one central location so the trucks don’t have to go all the way down the street (there’s no outlet on the other end). We have some elderly people, but their neighbors could do “can” duty for them. I wonder if there are other economy measures that streets and neighborhoods can take.

If you have children in school, keep in mind that Oct. 5th is Walk Your Child to School Day. Can parents get together and work out ways that kids could walk safely to school? In my school district children are forbidden to ride their bikes to school, due to theft and safety concerns. It might be time to revisit that, with fuel prices skyrocketing. School buses are not exactly energy efficient.

These are the things I think about, late at night, when I’ve finished worrying about the kids, the mortgage, world hunger, and whether I should just buy larger pants or aggressively try to lose weight.


ACM said...

jeez, here you are trying to save the recycling trucks some gas, and our national leadership can't even find their way to a minimal model of national sacrifice in support of a whole war!

keep up the good perspective...

AboveAvgJane said...

Maybe we should run for national office as a team. ;)