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Listening Project:

Gulf Coast Listening Project (GCLP)

National Office Director: hwalters@yancey.main.nc.us; 828-675-4626
2965 White Oak Rd., Burnsville, NC 28714, U.S.A.

Rural Southern Voice for Peace (RSVP) is currently conducting the Gulf Coast Listening Project (GCLP) and there will be opportunities for you to get involved in your own community!

GCLP is addressing issues of poverty, race and human needs that were raised in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. GCLP citizen coalitions in three cities - Birmingham, AL., Columbia, S.C. and Atlanta, GA - are now conducting in-depth Listening Project interviews with survivors of Hurricane Katrina. These interviews are enabling evacuees and survivors to share their thoughts and feelings about their Katrina experience, their immediate and unheeded needs and their solutions and ideas for a more just and compassionate nation. Interviews are also addressing long-term issues of race, poverty and human needs.

GCLP will also involve young people. Teenagers will be interviewed and younger children will be given the opportunity to tell their stories and express their feelings through drawings.

As is the case with all Listening Projects, our listening is not done in the manner of a typical interview. We listen and ask questions not just to get answers, but to give the Katrina survivors an open, trusting and caring space where they can go deep into their concerns, fears, anger, hopes, needs and wisdom. . As listeners we are truly blessed to bear witness to the Katrina survivors whose voices, experiences and courage can continue to be a catalyst for change in our country. We will also take pictures of the people we interview.

What We Can Do Together

GCLP organizers in Columbia, Atlanta and Birmingham will apply what is learned from our interviews to local justice education and action campaigns. If you are in one of these cities, you can call the GCLP coordinator at the numbers given below.

GCLP regional and national sponsors such as the Fellowship of Reconciliation, ACORN, SOS and AFSC/SERO will help initiate this work regionally and nationally. Wherever you may be located, you too can get involved by developing GCLP programs described below:

  1. Media campaigns will carry the voices of Katrina survivors to the American people.

  2. Educational / artistic displays of interviewee photographs with inspirational quotes, as well as children's drawings of their Katrina experience, will be made available for viewing at public institutions, churches and wherever you and other citizens arrange for a respectful viewing.

  3. Community dialogue. The results of our interviews will become a focal point for citizen dialogue in communities throughout the country. YOU can organize one in your hometown! GCLP will provide materials and training for these programs including the facilitated dialogues. Dialogue will be conducted in the manner of the Listening Project and will enable people in communities throughout the nation to go through a reflection and discernment process on civil rights, human needs and other social justice issues including the ongoing needs of Katrina survivors. Dialogues will conclude with individuals and groups considering actions for social justice that they will engage in.

Other Ways to Get Involved

If you are a member of an organization with a local, regional or national membership that cares about social justice - ask that organization to sponsor GCLP. For example, ask your church to sponsor a study group and dialogue on the social and spiritual implications of Hurricane Katrina. Ask your local library to sponsor a showing of Katrina drawings and picture stories? Would a civic organization you are a member of be interested in promoting GCLP dialogue or sponsoring showings of Katrina photos, .stories and kids drawings? Can you educate and promote GCLP within a national organization you are a member of so it could in turn encourage its wider membership to consider a GCLP education action program.

First step is to contact us so you can become informed about GCLP and we can decide together the best strategy and timing for you to get involved. Contact RSVP's Herb Walters at hwalters@yancey.main.nc.us; 828-675-4626.

Thanks to Our Local Coalitions

Birmingham Project coalition includes the National Conference for Community and Justice, Greater Birmingham Ministries; Birmingham Friends Meeting, Jefferson County Health Department and the Beloved Community UCC church. Coordinator is Peter Furst, p_furst@yahoo.com; 205-595-9768.

Columbia, S.C. coalition includes the Columbia Friends Meeting (Quakers), the Consumer Education Council, Christian Action Council, Carolina Peace Resource Center. Coordinators are Rebecca and Harry Rogers, harryrogers@carolinapeace.org; 803-252-2221.

Atlanta coalition includes the Institute for Survival and Beyond, ACORN, Georgia Rural Urban Summit, Atlanta Trinity House, American Friends Service Committee, SOS (Save Our Selves), Our Lady of Lourdes Church and others. Coordinator is: Joe Seyoum Lewis: lewisjoe@bellsouth.net; 404-247-2872 (cell); 404-247-2872 (office).

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