Skip to content
Who's in the Video

The organizer explains what he does to keep faith in rebuilding effort.

Question: How do you motivate a brigade when the goals seem unachievable?

Epstein:    I mean, that’s even a problem for me sometimes, I mean, I’ve been down 8 times and seen very, very little progress.  The biggest change that I’ve seen is that from the first trip, the houses that were lying allover the place have been cleaned up but that really kind of just creates an illusion of progress because someone who hasn’t been there before to see that will go to the Lower Ninth Ward and say “All you know, looks okay.”  Not knowing that there should be 12 houses in the area that’s completely grass now, you know, per block so you know, it is demoralizing to see that 3 years later very little has been done in this neighborhoods but every meeting… personally, every time I speak to a resident and just like communicate with them on a personal level it changes me and it gives me that motivation to keep going and you know, every time we rebuild the house and get one more family home, that’s really rejuvenating and what’s really been powerful has just been, has been the energy that comes from the group when we get back to New York City because you know, when we’re here everybody wants to stay involved because they realized that we’re dealing with the same issues in New Orleans that we are in New York, we just have to have a hurricane yet to expose those problems in New York so, you know, everybody comes in the meetings and they want to help and they want to stay involve and you know, one of our probably biggest problem right now is that we don’t have enough things to do to provide work for all of the students that want to stay involve, you know, which is a great problem to have and you know, we’re working on it and… but it’s a sign that we’re doing something right and you know people do get you know, do these motivation in New Orleans at times but usually day by day when things go bad, when we sit down and debrief, you know, even if it’s half the group is feeling like shit and half the group is feeling great, once were all come together, that energy is shared so no one is ever in their own little bubble of confusion and sorrow and despair or whatever because there’s always you know, brought back to the whole group and they get to express those feelings and bounce ideas of other people and by the end of every debrief like everybody is uplifted to a much more powerful and more hopeful place by the end of every meeting that we have.