For many Chicago residents, Puerto Rico is not just another humanitarian crisis...it's personal. Many fundraising and awareness-raising efforts are being done to help Puerto Rico, but none are as heartfelt...or as tuneful...as these two efforts from Chicago area musicians.
One is from Artists Against Hate, a collection of local artists who organized an Inauguration Day Protest Performance earlier this year. Now, thanks to founder Dawn Xiana Moon, Artists Against Hate has united several Chicago-area musicians for United After the Storm, a collection of songs to benefit victims of Hurricane Maria (and available for purchase via Bandcamp). Other Chicago-baBandcampcians who contributed include Chaz Hearne, Liz Chidester, Mister E. Machine, Common Shiner, Dhaea, Jeff Brown, Jeannie Tanner, Kyle Greer, Matthew Skoller, Flabby Hoffman, and Maya Kuper & Paul McComas.
If you're looking for an opportunity to hear live music and donate towards Puerto Rico relief efforts, Dawn Xiana Moon will be playing at a benefit organized by NA'AU Fitness on October 27th at Uncommon Ground, located at 1401 West Devon Avenue. There's a $10 suggested donation, and other musicians include Monika Ryan, Phil Circle, Resounding Wayves and Angie Squared. There will also be a silent auction, and the organizer has a separate Crowdrise campaign towards Puerto Rico/Hurricane Maria relief.
One of the main reasons why relief efforts for Puerto Rico have been making major waves is that Puerto Rico is part of the United States. In light of the past year's events, many people are choosing to move away from divisiveness and towards mutual cooperation. As Dawn explains in a statement,
Puerto Rico is on the brink of becoming a serious humanitarian crisis. Right now 1 million Puerto Ricans are still without running water and 3 million are without power - but I'm still reading stories about how people are helping each other...But it's also hitting a point where if we don't help, people are going to die...I organized the album compilation because we have a moral imperative to help - Puerto Ricans are people and deserve help on that basis alone, but they're also American citizens, which I only emphasize because surveys keep showing that people are more willing to help when they realize or are reminded of that.
Bringing attention to local efforts to drive social change is the driving factor for this blog. Although many donors and nonprofits are making an effort, there needs to be a greater collective effort, especially on the federal level. As Dawn explained to me:
- Puerto Rico's economy was crushed by a $73 million dollar debt before Hurricane Marie, and rebuilding the island will cost an estimated $95 billion.
- Puerto Rico is also considered part of the United States, and Last Week Tonight's John Oliver has featured pieces on the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico as well as Puerto Rico and other US Territories
- To provide some numbers - FEMA has a budget of $14 billion per year; the Coast Guard is over $13 billion per year; United Way (the largest nonprofit in the world) only has a $3.7 billion per year budget. The United States military, in contrast, has a $600 billion yearly budget
With so much devastation happening in an American territory, efforts towards Hurricane Maria relief for Puerto Rico should be encouraged...including motivating your senators and representatives to push for federal help. If you wish to find your legislator, you can use the US Senate and House of Representatives websites or the Countable smartphone app.
And if you can't make a major donation, consider purchasing Artists Against Hate's United After the Storm, or attending the 10/27 Fundraiser at Uncommon Ground. Those may seem small....but small efforts can make a large impact. And you'll also hear some great music as well.
[Special thanks to Dawn not only for her hard work in assembling the benefit album and driving relief efforts but for providing background and photos for this post]
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