A PARADISE BUILT IN HELL
Rebecca Solnit, California reads, USA
2012, 2 min (selected excerpt)
In the aftermath of disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, or the Loma Prieta Earthquake, author Rebecca Solnit collected hundreds of interviews and spent time in various disaster zones. What she found is contrary to what the media often reports: in times of crisis, humans have shown themselves to be deeply communitarian, altruistic, brave, and improvisational.
Here Solnit, author of California Reads selected book A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster, shares her thoughts on how we function within and what we really need from society. She speaks about our common desire for love and agency, a desire to contribute a voice and to be heard. While many believe that disasters turn us into chaotic and stampeding herds, Solnit asserts that times of crisis provide rare openings during which she has witnessed astonishing acts of humanity. These openings, she says, provide the building blocks for a truer and healthier democracy.