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November 2005
Listing Hope
By Maureen C. Wyse

I had spent days reviewing articles, listening to sound bytes, watching news broadcasts, and viewing devastating pictures—animals forever trapped in houses, abandoned people, toxic water, and everything else. At the same time, I was personally forced to search for a new apartment and, of course, the first place I turned to was Craig’s List. And while I surfed postings, I found that Craig’s List was not only helping me, but the entire Gulf Coast.

Craig’s List woke me up. Despite hours of searching through mainstream news- printed testimonies of desperation, and seeing tragedy breed tragedy, it wasn’t until surfing Craig’s List, that I was finally really struck by the disaster. The highlighted red “New Orleans” link to the right of the screen diverted my apartment search. And as I clicked, I entered a world of loss, longing, and at times, the last moment of hope for many hurricane victims. The once “people” link, where you could find friends, a date, or a roommate, is now a “missing persons” link, posted with pleas such as, “looking for my family” and “[so-and-so] where are you???????” The housing link is now a link for people desperately looking for available shelter around the country. I have seen the images of the Astrodome, people crying and making pleas to media cameras all over the Gulf, but reading about a blind man’s request for his seeing eye dog was somewhat harder to stomach.

Yet, the positive seems to be outweighing the negative. Craig’s List has worked hard in their efforts, adding a Baton Rouge site and lists of resources from other cities lending a hand in the relief. Relief organizations not only post their services every day and on every different category—housing, pets, people, jobs—they are also directly contacting individuals who are posting their desperation. And concerned individuals across the country are using the site to offer what they can—a temporary shelter, a foster home for cats and dogs, a transport vehicle—to displaced residents. Plus, Craig Newmark, yes the Craig, has hope for the relief efforts [see Sidebar].

Visit neworleans.craigslist.org to view the Craig’s List New Orleans website. To find your Craig’s List community, visit www.craigslist.org.

Craig’s List and Katrina
The Satya Interview with Craig Newmark

 

Started in 1995, Craig’s List began as a small Internet community for San Franciscans to help one another out, with free listings for those searching for jobs, friends, used furniture, or apartments. Since its modest beginnings, Craigslist.org has expanded to hundreds of towns and cities, creating local virtual communities all over the globe. Perhaps unexpectedly, Craig’s List became a wonderful source for those affected by the hurricanes in the Gulf. Reminiscent of the fliers papering lower Manhattan after 9/11, the New Orleans Craig’s List site became a heart-wrenching and inspiring online network for those searching for lost loved ones or scrambling for shelter.

Taking time out of a busy New York trip, Craig’s List creator, Craig Newmark, spoke with Maureen Wyse about this beacon of hope.

Being somewhat removed from the situation, Craig’s List brought to life for me the despair in the Gulf. How has reading through the different pleas affected you?
Personally I found them pretty moving. There are a lot of real stories about people’s [losses], but I also saw a lot of people who wanted to help. I found that equally as moving. People just didn’t hesitate.

The listings for New Orleans are stunning. Have you heard of many success stories?
We’ve heard a bunch. Basically people who have been able to locate their relatives and people able to get housing and jobs in other cities. It’s all been a bit of a blur.

Craig’s List has become a beacon of hope for hurricane victims—a far cry from the small online community you started in San Francisco. Did you envision anything like this would happen?
No, I honestly never had a clue. I started something simple. And when people asked for more, we did it. Which continues to this day, we take suggestions—we try to figure out which are good, which could help people—and then we look for more suggestions. People still surprise me in a big way—new things keep happening all the time.

Craig’s List has served so many and helped many in times of need. What has moved/inspired you the most?
Things like what we’ve been talking about—when people really help each other out. Now and then I will [also] see someone find a lost pet, like a lost dog, and I like that a great deal.

How do you think your efforts could be furthered?
I’m not sure. Private efforts have been much more successful than governmental ones and we’re talking about how we [can] respond faster and do better next time.

Is there anything else you want to say about Craig’s List and hurricane relief?
This illustrates that we are a lot more than a classified ads site. We really do have a culture of trust happening, and we are pretty proud of that.

neworleans.craigslist.org > pets > LOST SEEING EYE DOG
last modified: Mon, 12 Sep 16:10 CDT
LOST SEEING EYE DOG
Date: 2005-09-12, 4:10PM CDT

I am helping a blind man staying in the shelter near our church find his seeing eye dog. The dog is a yellow lab who was last seen in his house wearing a collar and a rabies tag. He has a microchip under the skin behind his ears above his neck. I hear they aren’t scanning any animals that are picked up though. He answers to the name of Jake. I have a picture. He has kind of a two-toned nose—pink on the top and black on the bottom.

This original posting from the New Orleans Craig’s List inspired Satya to inquire about Jake. Heather, the relief worker, responded joyfully that Jake had been found and was reunited with his human friend James.


 


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