Katrina Commemoration – 3 Steps to Make a Change

Everyone should be well aware that today, tonight, marks the 1 year commemoration of one of the greatest, most catastrophic, most revealing natural disasters in the history of the state of Louisiana, the history of the United States, the history of the Planet Earth. It was great in size because the amount of people, land, and property both directly and indirectly effected. It was catastrophic because of the damage done to people’s lives, minds, and possessions. It was revealing because it caused people to revisit some of the harsh realities that exist in neighborhoods across this nation’s cities, cities across this nation’s states, and states that are nation’s members. This event has a name that will forever be burned into our memories: Hurricane Katrina.

Throughout the last few weeks, many people have been pondering this tragedy. The SuperSpade has looked at this from many different angles since its occurrence last August. As people reflect on everything that happened before 29 August 2006 and everything that has happened since, I’d like to ask people to use this as a motivation to become more active participants in our communities so that in times of need, we can rely on one another, help one another, and be present for one another.

It’s no secret what I think about the local, state, and federal government’s response to the storm. Instead of continuing to frame such an attitude as a platform for more complaining, I look at it as a platform for action. With that said, here is the SuperSpade’s 3 Point Plan for Community Action:

1. Pay Attention
2. Plan your Position & Purpose
3. Proceed to Act

We’ll be dealing with these in detail for the rest of the week. I encourage your participation in this discussion and in how we can effect positive change on our future.

One Love. One II.


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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at MoveOn.org. I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

2 responses to “Katrina Commemoration – 3 Steps to Make a Change”

  1. Brandon Q. says :


    I think you hit the nail on the head as it pertains to the 3 point plan. I have two points. One, this disaster could have been preventable not just due to having more adequate levees, but also having less of what I like to call, “social segregation,” whereby we live in a bubble unless forced to by a negative situation.

    The visceral human connection we have to each other transcends the networks of our families and our friends. As such, if more of us were active in our communities, we could actually be pro-active and not reactive.

    Secondly, paying attention is so deep man. And what is so bad is that a lot of folks claim to be too busy to keep up on the world’s ills. And while we can’t read the news all day every day, we simply can’t afford to not be informed.

    Hurricane Katrina let us know that the social materials we use to build our communities can no longer be made with the same feel-good, politically correct mess of the past.

    G, I appreciate all the work you put in for looking at this issue from various angles. And unlike most, you see the hope for change and not just the despair of disaster.

  2. Garlin II says :


    I’ll take your second point one step further than that. Many of us say we’re too busy to keep up with the world’s ills as well as the good things going on in this world. Allow me to be completely clear here: ignorance and apathy are just as negative whether the things you don’t know or care to know are ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Being uninformed on either end of the spectrum is something we cannot afford and should not accept.

    Thankfully, we can combat this by working together, helping one another, and educating all those we come in contact with. That is the basis of a proactive community.

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