On getting things done in a disaster:
A few days ago I saw a blog post showing a local Brooklyn startup company named BioLite which recently launched a product that’s basically a small portable camp stove with an ultra-efficient burn rate and an attached thermal-electric USB charging station. In the power outage caused by hurricane Sandy the guys at BioLite had come out of their offices in DUMBO and were offering hot coffee and phone charging using their handy little stoves.
I had been out to the Far Rockaways and seen the devastation out there, very reminiscent of Katrina, and I saw the hard work being done on the ground by Occupy Sandy, and I knew immediately I needed to connect these two amazing, yet disparate groups.
So I did. I tweeted at BioLite and asked if they were interested in donating some units for the effort in the Far Rockaways. And then I got in touch with Occupy Sandy to coordinate getting these delivered to where they’d make a difference.
We all set a time and a place to meet up, and today we loaded up a loaned van full of these stoves and took them out to the Rockaways. Two representatives from BioLite demo’d the safe use of the stoves to ten representatives of Occupy Sandy, who’ll in turn share the 20 or so stoves with whomever needs them, to heat up donated soup, and charge cell phones, or just to keep their hands warm.
FEMA didn’t coordinate this. The Red Cross didn’t organize this. This is just one cool company and a bunch of concerned citizens pooling their resources and skills to take care of neighbors in a disaster zone.
And that’s how I’d recommend helping, if you’re looking to help. Don’t text Red Cross $10. Instead, check out the Occupy Sandy website. They’ve even hacked Amazon’s Wedding Registry service to facilitate shipments and donations. If you’re local to the disaster area, even though your lights might be back on, know that it might be weeks or longer for areas like the Rockaways, Staten Island, and Jersey Shore, and it’s going to be a brutal winter.
This is not to say that FEMA or the Red Cross don’t do good things. But in a time like this, what’s really needed is smart motivated individuals like you and me to just say, “What’s needed? I’ll make it happen.”
Special thanks again to BioLite for the innovative stoves, and Occupy Sandy for the sweat and boots on the ground. Amazing people!