The following is a personal interview by Esther Sassaman:
Bloggers are known for strong political opinions and too much openness about their love lives. A growing number have taken the expressive power of the blog into new realms. Many bloggers of all interests and political viewpoints have debunked inaccuracies portrayed by the mainstream media, maintained compendia on rapidly developing stories more quickly than big broadcasters, and established their own live news services in conflict zones. Jacob Applebaum is one of this last category, publishing photojournalism from Iraq, Houston, and New Orleans that has often surpassed the news value, narrative power, and beauty of photography produced by longstanding news service photographers. Appelbaum went to Iraq in April 2005 as a photographer and to visit friends, and visited Houston’s Astrodome after Katrina to help set up a low power FM radio network and wireless service [http://www.prometheusradio.org] for details. He is currently in the poor, black Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans, administering a data center at the behest of community organizer and former Black Panther Malik Rahim.
Jacob’s photographs have gained a new audience with the Houston Astrodome series [http://flickr.com/photos/ioerror/sets/905698/], which has become widely distributed. I reached him on Tuesday, the second day of his stay in Algiers. We talked about the situation in Algiers on Tuesday, but also about his personal motivations for coming to activism, and his background.
You can read the rest of the interview off site.
Yesterday four people involved with cuwireless.net brought two VoIP phones, one for the media center and one for the community clinic. This should be really helpful when the flood of people coming home use their cell phones. There hasn’t been a large amount of discussion with cell companies but it’s probably safe to say that it’s going to become a whole lot harder to make cell phone calls in just a short amount of time.
If this effort has shown me one thing, it’s that grassroots groups have more power than they know.
Today Gert drove into Baton Rouge to meet Brent Nobles and the net result was a care package from Roland at Cisco. He sent radios, wacky first aid kits, masks, power inverters and the list goes on. Roland, Brent, Gert – you’re all a bunch of awesome people. Thank you.
Who needs tax dollars at work when we’ve got a fully functional community based on merit? No bloat here!
These two guys deserve more respect than I can possible express. They came in today with nearly $2000 worth of equipment and within a matter of moments they had everything ready to roll. We’ve got over a dozen laptops – both Mac OS X and Windows (Knoppix shall soon overcome!).
The two brought everything including normal telephones. I think the kitchen sink is actually still in their trunk but we’ve got a few of them so we’re good to go in that department.
These guys are my heroes. They’ve helped us complete a very vital part of our mission here, they’ve helped us bring the medical center online. The medics now have the ability to look up life saving information and stay in contact with their familes, friends or whatever they use the internet for these days.
We now have two separate internet connections that we can share out over wifi and tomorrow we’ll deploy the gear we staged tonight. I think we’ve got three EVDO cards in the general area (one is Justins and the other two are Common Ground gear). I wonder how many cards we can fit per tower, is anyone really familiar with how Verizon CDMA towers allocate slots with EVDO? How many cards can we use before we max out the tower?
If you’re in the area and you need an uplink just select essid “Common Ground” and enjoy!
Oh and don’t forget about the radiostation on 94.5FM!
Last night I talked to Chris Pirillo for his weekly show. You can hear the interview on their site.
This is the I-10 West. The highway is flooded and a few cars are abandoned. The red truck in the middle is backing up when they see how deep the water is.
The median is probably 4 or 5 feet high and as you can see, it’s totally submerged as it goes beneath the underpass.
The white streak is water being ejected into the highway from some sort of waste pipe. There were no warning signs. To return one was required (because of the median strip) to drive in the fast lane of the road. The right hand side when facing east on the west bound side. The road was of course covered random trash, tires, crashed cars and so on.
This caused me (along with any other drives) to drive into on coming traffic as there were no turn offs or on ramps. The hills on the return back were blind. I had to drive in the wrong direction hoping that no one was driving over the hill at the same time or I would have been in a head on.
The people that wrote Mad Max could take a page from New Orleans today.
Naomi Klein came today with Avi Lewis (husband and cameraman) and they interviewed Malik. I was really happy with the questions she asked, she really hit the important ones home. She asked about class, she asked about race, she asked about displacement, she asked about the help they received.
I’m really happy that Malik has the attention he rightfully deserves. The people on the ground here are in a fight to get the help they need and he’s the leader they love. I’ve heard people repeat over and over again that he averted people from dying, he helped them to eat, he helped them to be calm and he brought everyone together. They put aside their differences and became a community over night. He talked about the armed white men in the streets pulling their guns on every black man they could see. He talked about their efforts to calm everything and how it worked.
The man pictured above interrupted the interview to speak at length about how Malik basically saved his life and the life of the community with no outside help. He talked about the hell of the Superdome and how it was suicide to go inside. He actually took over the interview with his emotional response but everyone was listening to him. Cameras were rolling.
I was really happy at how down to earth Naomi was. She spoke to me about the project she’s doing. She does really impressive work and it’s an honor to meet someone who actually does things to change the world! When people tell me that I’m doing something worth while I think about the work that Naomi or Kalle Lasn (Adbusters) are doing, it makes me remember that I have much further to go. People like Naomi are an inspiration.
She’s filming for a documentary and I believe one of the main issues the film will address is the idea of displacement during natural disasters. I asked her what she meant and she discussed a number of subjects. One of them was how such actions could be viewed as colonialism (would this be called neo-colonialism?). Authorities often use disasters as a reason to rebuild “worthwhile” economic developments rather than homes for the displaced poor who once lived there. Perhaps this is the future of the parts of this city.
Really interesting stuff!
If anyone knows how to contact Verizon please tell them EVDO is down in Algiers, New Orleans. Apparently Verizon cell phones work but EVDO service is entirely disabled.
Update: Thanks to David Fine we had this reported and it magically works again. I wonder if it’s related? Anyone from Verizon know?