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