Meaning of Community in the Face of Disaster

This morning was the first time I ever gave more than a few pennies to charity. I’m not looking for any ‘good on you’s’ , but I want to share why this was the first time I donated.

Natural disasters happen all the time, and I don’t hear about half of them. In years past, I’ve always been a poor college student, and I still am, but I used that as an excuse to not help people who needed it. I think it was because I didn’t feel connected to them. Yet yesterday an earthquake devastated Christchurch and I feel connected to people in a country I’ve never visited.

I’ve heard their voice on twitter and in comments left on a blog post. Someone I respect has asked everyone to help if they can. This someone is a punk cabaret artist, Amanda Palmer. She grew her following with social media, talking with fans online and off. She’s built a community, not just between her and us, but the fans have become a community in their own right.

When Christchurch was struck and the stories started rolling in Amanda asked her fans to donate (and I did, because there were suddenly people halfway around the world I had a connection with that needed help). But it’s more than that. A 17-year-old fan posted how she and her friends were out getting ready for Amanda’s gig and that’s why she survived – her entire family was killed. Reading comments on Amanda’s blog where the 17-year-old Laura posted her story there have been at least 5 or 6 local fans post offerings of shelter, food, and clothing. Amanda herself offered to talk to the girl and offer any support she could. That’s community. When someone you may or may not know needs something, but they’re connected to you so you help them.

With social media, communities are being redefined, crossing political boundaries and continents. You build communities by talking with people. It isn’t something that happens 9 to 5. It isn’t something you act like you’re engaged in. To build a community you are either dedicated whole-heartedly or you aren’t and that determines if it works or if it doesn’t.


if you WANT TO HELP, please give money to the new zealand red cross:
+ new zealand earthquake-quick-facts HERE
+ where to get help/what to do HERE
+ google’s launched a people finder page HERE
+ use the #eqnzContact hashtag on twitter if you’re trying to find loved ones/let them know you are alright

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Author: Monica

punk rock ballerina. writer. adventurer.

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