The following is a statement by John Doherty, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Sanitation, about the department’s response to Hurricane Sandy.
Galison argues that the categories of wastelands and wilderness are far from dichotomous; that their relation is far more intriguing (and disturbing) than a binary of purity and corruption. Removing parts of the earth in perpetuity – for reasons of sanctification or despoilment – alters a central feature of the human self, presenting us in a different relation to the physical world, and raising irreducible questions about who we are when land can be classified, forever, as not for us humans
What we perhaps did not realize, as we geared up our initial response, was how deep the partnerships between all stakeholders would become. As months went by and debris washed up piece by piece, the scenarios and plans turned to real action. The action became more routine and the coordination more efficient. What has happened, in the three years we have worked on this issue, is that we now have a solid network of marine debris responders in our Pacific states.
f you look at enough photographs of disasters, you will see people posing with high water marks. It is a genre of photography onto itself: over and over, they will point to the mark, put their bodies in front of the mark, or photograph the high water line alone. This post explores the possible roles that the visual culture of post-disaster high water marks play, especially given the prevalence of the genre across disasters, geography, and time.
A telling discourse of hoarding emerged in the immediate aftermath of the storm from relief distribution hubs that collected and freely distributed food, clothing, and other material goods to those in need. In these cases, the concept of “hoarding” highlighted the differences–and politics–between equitable and equal distributions of goods.
“We were the first ones there. And not only were we the first; we were the best. You know? We were the first responders in areas that nobody knew about– like I went to Sheepshead Bay and Arlene Avenue. It’s strange because if you’re driving up and down it, you wouldn’t notice them. But there were maybe a couple of dozen small houses. Nobody else knew they were down there. Our sanitation guys knew where every little nook and cranny was.”
Not only do natural (and unnatural) disasters produce a lot of waste, they are also extreme but oddly quintessential events where practices, behavior, and cultures around waste and wasting, as well as their inverse–repairing, fixing, rebuilding–move to the fore. In the weeks proceeding and following the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy making landfall in New York City and surrounding area, Discard Studies will feature a series of articles about the complexities of disaster and waste, broadly defined. This article looks at the material and emotional nature of waste during disaster.
By Zoltán Glück Originally published in Tidal on March 13, 2013 In the days and weeks following Hurricane Sandy the inequalities at the heart of New York City could scarcely be missed. While hundreds of thousands of public housing residents went without heat, hot water or electricity, Mayor Michael Bloomberg rushed to get the stock […]
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