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Sustainability, Mutual Aid, and Liberation


Sustainability, Mutual Aid, and Liberation
Chris Lempa
Black Oak Presents
Winter 2009

“The mutual-aid tendency in humans has so remote an origin, and is so deeply interwoven with all the past evolution of the human race, that it has been maintained by mankind up to the present time, notwithstanding all vicissitudes of history.” - Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid

“Mutual aid is neighbor (government to government) helping neighbor when there is a need for additional resources, people, equipment, etc.” - Pinellas County Auxilliary Communications Service

With natural disasters turning cities into ruins, now is a good time to think about the rebuilding process. Initially I agreed with [former] Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert that rebuilding the disaster prone area didn’t make much sense, but I have changed my mind. Done correctly, New Orleans, Louisiana; Greensburg, Kansas; and other devastated cities can become models of sustainable development and Mutual Aid. This article will focus, loosely, on New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina.

The first step would be to keep the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) as far away as possible. Ideally, the USACE should be disbanded since it has caused much more harm than good. It is a bureaucratic entity and is very vulnerable to political trends and whims. For instance, George W. Bush would have been able to attack the USACE’s budget and programs even if Bill Clinton had allocated full funding for those projects. That is a major problem. There are plenty of independent architecture and engineering firms that focus on sustainable building that can replace this antiquated agency.

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