A week and a half ago, when I first drove to Little Axe, Oklahoma, to take a look at post-tornado recovery efforts, the countryside was still in crisis mode. Mountains of rubble and garbage filled gravel roads and red dirt paths leading to the remains of homes. Neighborhoods that had been full of working-class houses were uprooted and dirty, unsafe tent camps were all that remained. Just 30 minutes away, the big NGOs and FEMA operated, bringing national attention to Moore – a badly struck area, to be sure. But not the only one affected.
The response to our work is overwhelming; we’re getting supplies and volunteers into areas that have either been under-served or neglected altogether by the major NGOs. Horizontal organizing, based off people’s needs on the ground, is making all of this possible.
As a non-hierarchical solidarity effort, multiple people share the work load. I am grateful to play a part in this work, but this is a community effort. And the community will continue to respond.
If you haven’t plugged into the People’s Response yet, please volunteer your services at OpOKRelief.net/volunteer. Get in the OpOK Relief group on Facebook and see how our teams come together. If your thing is food, consider feeding the displaced or those working to help them with Food Not Bombs – Norman, OK. Plug into our newOpOK Rideshare with your ability to transport supplies or request a ride to a worksite. Text @OKALERT to 23559 to be added to our cell loop for the latest.
Allowing residents and victims to shape the services they receive is an essential part of our disaster relief efforts. Find local organizers and community leaders on the ground in these locations, ask what they need, crowdsource and share information, and see what you can do to meet these needs.
Cooperative decision-making, participatory democracy, and mutual aid are tenants of anarchist society. OpOK Relief isn’t an anarchist group, but anarchism motivates my work within it. Anarchism is movement for a society in which the violence of racism, sexism, homophobia, capitalism, and coercion are removed from our daily lives. Anarchism is the belief in a world without war and economic poverty. Anarchism is a philosophy and movement working to build cooperative, egalitarian human relationships and social structures that promote mutual aid, radical democratic control of political and economic decisions, and ecological sustainability.
I believe that our work here today can create the kind of world that I carry in my heart. I believe that this work brings the best out of everyone involved, from the people on the ground to the people directly impacted by these storms. I believe that everyone has a part to play here, that anyone is capable of making a difference in these struggling areas.
I believe in solidarity. I believe in mutual aid. I believe in you. Join us.
Solidarity is our strength. #OpOK
Dr. Zakk Flash is an anarchist political writer, radical community activist, and editor of the Central Oklahoma Black/Red Alliance (COBRA). He is currently working with OpOK Relief to rebuild Oklahoma’s tornado stricken areas.