Common Ground Collective

The Common Ground Collective is a decentralized network of non-profit organizations offering support to the residents of New Orleans . It was formed in the Algiers neighborhood of the city after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. [1]


Common Ground Relief, or Common Ground Collective, was founded on the ideas of Malik Rahim , a local community organizer and member of the Black Panther Party; Scott Crow, an anarchist organizer from Texas; and Sharon Johnson, resident of Algiers neighborhood on September 5, 2005. Other key organizers included Brandon Darby , Lisa Fithian , Jackie Sumell , Kerul Dyer, Suncere Shakur, Naomi Archer (Ana Oian Amets), Emily Posner, and Jenka Soderberg. [2]

Common Ground started with delivery of basic aid (food, water, and supplies) and an emergency clinic in Algiers. The Lower Ninth Ward , St. Bernard Parish , and Houma -where flood-protection infrastructure failed after the hurricane. [3]

Common Ground Health Clinic had its beginnings when four young days arrived in Algiers to few days after the hurricane. They started riding around bicycles where they needed medical attention. Locals were surprised to be approached in this way, since no representatives of the Red Cross had appeared up to that point. The medications offered first aid , led to blood pressure, tested for diabetes , and the symptoms of depression, and other diseases. [4]Common Ground Gutting in the Upper & Lower Ninth Wards. As of March 1, 2009, over 23,000 people having volunteered with Common Ground Relief, the most prevalent black neighborhoods, since most of the United States and Europe. [5] An ABC News Nightline report describes the volunteers as “mostly young people filled with energy and idealism, and untainted by cynicism and despair, and mostly white, [who] have come from across America and from the countries as far away as Indonesia. ” The health clinic was especially helpful to the residents of New Orleans immediately after the hurricaneCharity Hospital and other emergency services were not available. [6]

Common Ground Relief Initiated in September 2005. Its organizing philosophy is dubbed “Solidarity Not Charity,” reflecting the anarchist philosophies of many of its members. [7] [8] Some of the facilities Provided free to residents included debris removal, aid distribution centers, medical clinics roving, bioremediation for toxic areas, house-gutting, roof-tarping, building neighborhood computer centers, free Tech Support for non- profits , stopping home demolitions in the Lower 9th Ward , supporting community and backyard gardens, anti-racisttraining for volunteers, tree planting service, and legal counseling services. Common Ground volunteers established 7 health clinics and nearly 100 community garden projects within a year. [9]

Common Ground Relief can be one of the most multidisciplinary of all teams. There are (categories not mutually exclusive) nurses , doctors , psychiatrists , pharmacists , anarchists , herbalists , acupuncturists ,community organizers , journalists , legal representatives , aid workers , proletarian neighborhood members, EMTs , squatters , gutter punks , artists , mechanics , chiropractors , clergy, and so forth involved. A huge sign outside the door reads, “Solidarity Not Charity” and this statement exemplifies the perspective of those involved.
– James Chionsini, Common Ground volunteer, [10]

In early 2006, Common Ground Relief volunteers went to the unsanctioned clean-up of Martin Luther King’s Charter School in the Lower 9th Ward, which was subsequently reopened. [11]

Woodlands Apartment Complex

In May 2006, Common Ground Relief assumed the management of the Woodlands Apartment Complex , a 350 unit complex of buildings initially purchased by Common Ground Relief. Common Ground Relief management and management of the forest at pre-Katrina levels, helped create a union and a worker’s union with paid skills training. However, after 150 apartments were rehabilitated the owner, Anthony Reginelli reneged on the verbal agreement and sold the building to Johnson Properties Group LLC . More than 100 families were evicted from the property. [12] Common Ground Relief lost approximately $ 750,000 in payroll, landscaping, electrical, plumbing and carpentry expenditures. [13]


Common Ground Collective eventually split off into multiple independent organizations-Common Ground Relief, Common Ground Tech Collective, New Orleans Women’s Shelter, RUBARB Bike Collective and the Common Ground Health Clinic . Thomas Pepper is the current operations director of Common Ground Relief. [14] In September, 2007, Common Ground Relief shifted its focus from direct relief to rebuilding. In January 2008, Common Ground Relief Purchased Property in the Lower Ninth Ward for its headquarters and long-term volunteer housing. Common ground Relief’s primary mission is the short term homepage of skilled volunteer groups (around 50 volunteers), who participates in projects which include wetlands restoration, bioremediation and community garden construction, a free legal clinic , an advocacy center , a job training program for local residents, a lawn maintenance service, a collective media, drywalling and other rebuilding work. Common Ground Relief has been established in the United States and is now being planted in storm-ravaged bayous east of New Orleans and to grow ornamental trees, ground covers, and shrubs to be planted in the Lower Ninth Ward.

Antor Ndep Ola is currently the Executive Director of the Common Ground Health Clinic.

Former Director of Operations’ FBI

Brandon Darby , train Director of Operations of Common Ground Relief from January to April 2007, [15] HAS admis to serving as an FBI informed in the months leading up to the 2008 Republican National Convention . According to Democracy Now , Darby testified on behalf of David McKay of Midland, Texas who was arrested at the convention RNC on charges of making and possessing Molotov cocktails . ” [16] [17]During the trial McKay’s attorney alleged Darby was acting as an agent provocateur .

See also

  • List of anarchist communities
  • Nothing About Us Without Us


  1. Jump up^ Mizell, Billie (2006-03-02). “Fifty Dollars and a Dream” . Alternet . Retrieved 2006-05-06 .
  2. Jump up^ Crow, Scott (2011-10-23). “Black Flags and Windmills: Hope, Anarchy and the Common Ground Collective” . PM Press . Retrieved 2014-03-19.
  3. Jump up^ DeRose, Jason (2005-09-23). “Anarchists Providing Medical Aid in New Orleans” . National Public Radio . Retrieved 2006-03-19 .
  4. Jump up^ Shorrock, Tim (March-April 2006). “The Street Samaritans” . Mother Jones . Retrieved 2006-04-25 .
  5. Jump up^ Capochino, April (2006-04-17). “Common Ground Volunteers Racial Bridge Divide” . New Orleans CityBusiness . Archived from the originalon 2006-05-22 . Retrieved 2006-04-25 .
  6. Jump up^ Hamilton, Bruce (2006-01-09). “Algiers health clinic crucial fills post-Katrina niche” . Times-Picayune . Retrieved 2006-03-19 .
  7. Jump up^ Crow, Scott (2006-03-13). “Anarchy and the Common Ground Collective” . . Archived from the original on 2006-05-22 . Retrieved 2007-12-17 .
  8. Jump up^ “What Lies Beneath: Katrina, Race, And The State Of The Nation (publisher’s overview)” . AK Press . 2007-02-15. Archived from the original on 2010-12-21 . Retrieved 2007-12-17 .
  9. Jump up^, Aug. 2017, Eye of the Storm: Scott Crow on Revolutionary Infrastructure.
  10. Jump up^ Common Ground Collective (2006-01-06). “Solidarity Not Charity”(PDF) . Common Ground Relief Volunteer Handbook . Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-10-20 . Retrieved 2007-12-17 .
  11. Jump up^ Dyer, Kerul (2006-03-16). “New Orleans School Clean Up Begins!” . Common Ground Collective site . Retrieved 2006-05-06 .
  12. Jump up^ “Hundreds Face Eviction in New Orleans” . Democracy Now . 2006-09-27 . Retrieved 2008-03-28 .
  13. Jump up^ Drummer, Marina (2006-12-31). “Notes to Financial Statements” . Community Futures Collective Site . Retrieved 2008-03-28 .
  14. Jump up^ “Just And Sustainable New Orleans: Common Ground Relief” . KNYO. 2007-11-29 . Retrieved 2008-03-27 .
  15. Jump up^, Mar. 9, 2007.
  16. Jump up^, Jan. 5, 2009.
  17. Jump up^, Jan. 6, 2009,Prominent Austin Activist Admits Infiltrated He RNC Protest Groups as FBI Informant.

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