Meet Your Neighbor
The expansion of the internet has left American life feeling a bit cold and disconnected. E-mail replaces phone calls between friends, teleconferencing is a substitute for in-person meetings and blogs such as this have become social gatherings for anonymous participants. Today's urbanite probably has daily contact with bloggers around the world, but does not know the first name of the guy next door.
In an interview of Mike Davis, author of The City Of Quartz and other books, the issue of social connectedness (or the lack thereof) came up. The images of Hurricane Katrina, according to Davis, should make Californians think long and hard about their earthquake preparedness and who will be the heroes of the day. Local, state and federal governments proved inept to handle the hurricane disaster, leaving local citizens to help each other.
Davis described a neighborhood in San Francisco that took preparedness into its own hands in a simple but ingenious way. The residents of the neighborhood recognized that if they are trapped under the rubble of their homes, it is their neighbors who will be their saviors. They met, laid out a plan and learned which neighbors have relevant medical and construction skills. Supplies are kept by each neighbor and each knows where and to whom to go if she is separated from her family.
Gotta love San Francisco for living the love thy neighbor commandment. This plan should be emulated throughout the nation, and definitely throughout California where the risk of an earthquake is greater than the risk of a terrorist attack. Doing so would not just give peace of mind in each neighborhood, but it might just change the social fabric of the country.