Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Sun Herald: Students Push for Plan

The Sun Herald

GULFPORT - College students are pushing for a Franklin D. Roosevelt-like solution to the lack of both affordable housing and jobs in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The group is seeking legislation that would create about 100,000 jobs intended to bring those displaced by Hurricane Katrina back to South Mississippi and Louisiana.

They would be hired by a government agency run by citizens. They would rebuild homes, among other jobs, for around $15 an hour. The project follows the model of the Works Progress Administration created as part of the New Deal during the Great Depression by Roosevelt to help stimulate the economy by creating well-paying jobs that in turn allowed the workers to put money back into the economy.

"We are trying to get the Coast back to Aug. 28," said LeeAnn Gunn-Rasmussen, a faculty member at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College's Jefferson Davis Campus. She is helping with the project.

James Skinner, a student at MGCCC, said what has happened after the storm is a "human rights disaster." He said the elderly who lost their homes are facing particularly long odds of getting out of a FEMA trailer, but the plan is a possible solution. "Nobody is going to give the elderly a 30-year loan," Skinner said.

The grassroots effort began in December. Roughly 15 students gathered on Thursday night to plan, and organizers there said the idea is getting some interest from Congress. U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., has offered his support to the plan, Gunn-Rasmussen said.

At the meeting, James Crowell, head of the Biloxi branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the NAACP would push for the legislation both locally and in Washington. "The people that live here will rebuild their own cities and be paid for that," Crowell said. "We feel this is one way we can bring the labor force."

[click here for pdf] [click here for web link]

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Missouri Legislators Urge Creation Of Public Works Project to Aid Katrina Victims

For Immediate Release: February 22, 2007 [click here for pdf]

For more information contact:
Representative Jeanette Mott Oxford, 314-775-8940
Scott Myers-Lipton, 510-508-5382

Missouri Legislators Urge Creation Of Public Works Project to Aid Katrina Victims

(Jefferson City, MO, February 22) Today Missouri state representatives introduced a House concurrent resolution urging establishment of a federal plan to enable survivors of Hurricane Katrina to rebuild their homes and the Gulf Coast. Stating that “the federal government’s response to this unprecedented disaster has been ineffective and weak” and “emphasizes disparities of race and income,” the resolution endorses a civic works project to hire 100,000 Gulf Coast residents.

Nineteen months after Hurricane Katrina hit, over 200,000 Gulf Coast residents are still living in FEMA trailers. People wait desperately for their homes, schools, and hospitals to be rebuilt. Unfortunately, the pace of recovery has been painfully slow; in Louisiana 101,000 residents have applied for assistance to rebuild their homes, but only a few hundred have received checks.
Rep. Jeanette Mott Oxford (D-St. Louis City), lead sponsor of House Concurrent Resolution 34 said she and several House colleagues are frustrated and pained by the ongoing suffering of Katrina survivors. “Our nation has given more attention and funding to rebuilding Afghanistan and Iraq than helping our neighbors on the Gulf Coast,” Oxford said. “We believe a civic works project offers a viable way for Gulf Coast residents to participate in securing the future of their communities.”

Scott Myers-Lipton, professor of Sociology at San José State University, and one of the early proponents of the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project concept, argues that, "The Gulf Coast is in crisis. There is an urgent need to jump-start the rebuilding process. What is needed is a rebuilding surge in New Orleans and in southern Mississippi."

Prof. Myers-Lipton said he hopes other state legislatures will join Missouri in calling for the creation of a Gulf Coast Civic Works Project. The idea already has some state and national support ---- Sally Lieber, the Speaker Pro Tempore of the California State Assembly, is considering similar legislation; and Congressman Bennie Thompson, in one of his first speeches as Chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, highlighted that a civic works project to rebuild the Gulf is one of his three major goals for the committee.

Missouri representatives say their proposal is not a Republican or Democratic solution, but an American one. Oxford continued, “Indeed my own parents taught me that their lives were saved during the Depression by FDR’s Works Project Administration. Surely our Gulf Coast neighbors deserve a similar opportunity to find employment while rebuilding the local infrastructure.”


Monday, February 19, 2007

Students Call for National Post-Katrina College Summit

Date: Sunday, February 18, 2007

Contact: Shanté Berry: 1-314-662-3519
Lauren Elliot: 1-404-849-7618
Victoria Chavez at +1-408-887-9981
Dr. Scott Myers-Lipton at +1-510-508-5382


SAN JOSE, CA -- Students from fifteen colleges, including Xavier, Tulane, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, San José State, Stanford, and University of Massachusetts at Amherst have put out a call to all college campuses to participate in a "National Post-Katrina College Summit" for April 9-14.

The Post-Katrina College Summit will be a nationwide, weeklong effort to raise awareness about the Gulf Coast through documentary showings, speakers, spoken word, teach-ins, rallies, petition drives, and other events. The Summit is an attempt to catapult New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast back into the national consciousness and to promote federal legislation for a New Deal-style program for the Gulf Coast.

Tasha Easton, one of the student organizers from San José State University, states, "We are the richest nation in the world; yet we continue to have Americans from the Gulf Coast deprived of shelter, employment, and the faith of their government. The Post-Katrina College Summit is part of our campaign to change this."

Working together as the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project, students and faculty are calling for federal legislation to implement a civic works program in the Gulf Coast, creating 100,000 jobs for Gulf Coast residents to rebuild their communities. The cost of the program, which includes job training, is estimated to be $4 billion.

The Gulf Coast Civic Works Project has already received support from some key allies, among which are Congressman Bennie Thompson, Chair of Homeland Security, and Cornel West, one of the country's most prominent scholars.

This last January, over 100 college students from 15 colleges and universities traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana, and Gulf Port, Mississippi as part of "Louisiana Winter." There they met with community leaders and residents of devastated areas to discuss the idea for a civic works project, and to hear directly from the residents about what should be included in the federal legislation.

The situation in the Gulf Coast is still grim. In New Orleans, over 200,000 homes were destroyed by Katrina. To date, only several hundred families have received funds to rebuild. Insurance companies have found ways to avoid making payouts, and residents can do little more to rebuild until these insurance companies come through.

The Gulf Coast Civic Works Project invites all student organizations from around the country to participate in the Post-Katrina College Summit. In addition to participating in the summit, students can also take action by gathering petition signatures, introduce resolutions to their city councils or state legislatures, and ask presidential candidates to focus their attention on the Gulf Coast.

Interested groups can contact the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project for ideas and resources. For more information, visit


Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Summit Strategy

Check out the new logo. A big thank you to Mark for sharing his talent!

After an incredibly successful "Louisiana Winter" in January, we have launched our next campaign: a National Post-Katrina College Summit in mid-April.

The Post-Katrina College Summit will be a nationwide, week-long effort to raise awareness about the Gulf Coast through documentary showings, guest speakers, spoken word, music, and other events.

The Summit is an attempt to catapult New Orleans and the Gulf Coast back into the national consciousness, and to promote federal legislation based on the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project.

Ten universities have already signed up to host a summit, and we are hoping for many more. If you are interested in hosting a summit, or know of someone who might be, please let us know.

Tied to the summit is a petition drive for 100,000 signatures, an on-line letter writing campaign to Congress, a campaign to get City Councils and State Legislatures to pass resolutions in support of the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project, and a Presidential Candidate Dispatch Team designed to question the candidates commitment to the Gulf Coast.

Our new campaign already has made the news. Click here to see the two-minute clip that recently appeared on CBS News in the San Francisco Bay Area. We hope you can participate in this campaign.

There is much to do and we need your help. Visit to join this generation's human rights struggle!

best, scott

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tell Congress not to abandon the Gulf Coast

From Guest Author...Diane Myers-Lipton:

Tell Congress not to abandon the Gulf Coast like State Farm Insurance has abandoned Mississippi!

As Congress debates the Iraq surge, George W. Bush says we need to demonstrate our commitment to Iraq, tell them to to demonstrate our commitment to aiding and protecting our citizens by rebuilding the Gulf Coast!

Move the debate back to the Gulf Coast. Tell Congress that one of the many things they can do it is to create 100,000 jobs for the Gulf Coast: Click here.