Katrina summer action research

colist at comm-org.wisc.edu colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Mon May 8 14:05:04 CDT 2006

From: "David Chavis" <dchavis at capablecommunity.com>

Lance Hill
Southern Institute for Education and Research

(this will be of interest to researchers and students concerned with
post-Katrina issues)

Dear Friends:
So many of us are overwhelmed here in New Orleans by the basic research
tasks necessary to counter the racial injustices of the recovery.  To
address this need, I would like to float a proposal for this summer.
Many people plan to travel to New Orleans to engage in humanitarian
relief work--primarily gutting flooded houses.  To complement this
much-needed work, though, I recommend that we encourage out-of-town
groups to organize "Katrina Research Workgroups" to come down to New
Orleans this summer to research and develop brief and accessible reports
on social justice issues surrounding education, housing, homelessness,
employment, social services, resettlement patterns, community
organizing, the environment, etc  The mechanisms that reproduce
inequality and prevent poor African American's from returning are
sophisticated and not discernible through simple human interactions or
gutting houses.  There are a set of research imperatives that will help
demystify these processes and illuminate strategies for overcoming them.
The government and planning elites are not going to take on this work
and it the projects provide an extraordinary opportunity for volunteers
to place their academic skills in the service of humanity.

I envision these research working groups as comprised of experienced
researchers, perhaps graduate students working in partnership with
established scholars local community people to develop reports based on
community needs.  They could come for one week from the same area or
networked via the internet and perhaps stay at "common ground" facility
in the Ninth Ward and operate out of volunteered space near the
campuses.  We have five workstations, ten phone lines, meeting space for
20, internet connections and use of library resources, etc.  I am sure
that Loyola and Xavier might have some space as well.  The working group
would develop their own goals and research and writing plan from day
one, letting the expressed needs of local community members guide their
research agenda. Our own organization, the Southern Institute for
Education and Research at Tulane will be recruiting volunteers to do
research on ethnic conflict trauma stress in the wake of Katrina and a
long-term racial healing and reconciliation training program for schools
and communities.

I have already asked some University of Kansas grad students in
education to do a similar research project on schools this
summer--interview students and parents and do a survey of the charter
schools and new State-run schools. No one is "watch" these issues, or if
they are then there findings are making their way into the public
discourse.  It would be a great way to encourage voluntarism and
self-organized research in the service of social justice.  In all
events, we want people interacting and learning from local people who
have made it back, rather than gutting houses where they are isolated
from the community--or worse yet--locked in a room doing research all

Would a web site help with this--where people could sign-up for projects
and plan?  Any volunteers for the web site?  In the interim, please
forward this notice to interested educational and religious groups and
post it to all academic list-servs and related lists.

I would be happy to connect you to (1) local organizations that have
research needs and (2) local places to stay and work.


Lance Hill, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Southern Institute for Education and Research
Tulane University
Mail Room Box 1692
31 McAlister Drive
New Orleans, LA 70118
(504) 865-6100
fax (504)862-8026

lhill at tulane.edu

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