Community solidarity shows another world is possible

Community actions in the aftermath of the floods have shown the potential for human solidarity in the face of disaster. As the flood waters began to roll across the Lockyer Valley into Brisbane, so too did the stories of individual heroism and bravery. Of much greater interest, however, was the speed with which local people began a largely self co-ordinated, and efficient, clean up effort.

Before the government had time to react by setting up volunteer teams, much of flood affected Brisbane had already been reached by a “civilian army” of thousands, eager to do whatever they could to help. Volunteers cleaned whole streets—homes and businesses of people they had never met—while others organised equipment, food, transport, communications and resolved to return the next morning to do it all again. Social networking web sites were used to co-ordinate suburb wide clean-up operations so no house was missed and no person’s talents left unused.

The striking feature of the first few days of the flood clean up was how normal it seemed for so many ordinary people to be working together towards a common goal. Competition, selfishness and the other “values” of the market economy we are encouraged to emulate fell by the wayside—proven to be useless in the face of a genuine test of community resolve.

By Paul Gibens


Solidarity meetings

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