Wednesday, September 2, 2015

IHL Film Series Presents Dr. Strangelove: Should We Still Be Worrying About the Bomb?

A scene from 1964's Dr. Strangelove, or:
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
More than a half-century after its original theatrical release, the absurdity and razor-sharp satire of Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb still provokes, entertains and frightens. The film, which will be screened at the Red Cross at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 9 as part of the International Humanitarian Law Film Series, finds new relevance following the recent deal to curtail Iran's development of a nuclear weapon, and in renewed debates regarding the humanitarian implications of nuclear weapons.

With Dr. Strangelove, Kubrick turns his cinematic lens toward the Cold War era's nuclear paranoia following the Bay of Pigs invasion and escalating tensions between the United States and Soviet Russia. The film begs the same questions today that it did five decades ago: What does it mean to have endless destructive power at one's disposal? What does war mean in a post-nuclear world? Is there actually anyone in charge of keeping us safe from nuclear annihilation?

The film garnered (and lost) four Academy Award nominations for 1964, and laid the groundwork for Kubrick's critically acclaimed, provocative filmmaking career. In confronting
filmgoing audiences of the early '60s with an image of nuclear warfare that was farcical, fearful, and laden with sexual innuendo, Kubrick brought both levity and cynicism to the discussion surrounding nuclear proliferation. As we navigate a world in which nuclear weapons continue to figure in global diplomatic agreements, both the comic and sardonic elements of the film still apply.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a global organization focused on reducing suffering caused  by armed conflict, with a particular focus on protecting non-combatants. This is achieved in part through implementation of International Humanitarian Law. Nuclear weapons raise a number of concerns under International Humanitarian Law. These concerns are primarily related to the impact these weapons can have on civilians and civilian areas, and to their effects on the environment.

The IHL Film Series will use Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove as a springboard to launch a roundtable discussion of nuclear proliferation and International Humanitarian Law immediately following the screening of the film. Snacks will be provided. To RSVP for the film presentation, click here. For more information on the film or the International Humanitarian Law film series, contact Tim Bothe

Monday, August 31, 2015

2013 Colorado Floods

On Sept. 9, 2013, rain began falling in a historic downpour that would ultimately result in flooding across more than a third of Colorado’s counties. Boulder County received a year’s worth of rainfall in a matter of days. The Red Cross sprang into action immediately and, despite the challenges of flooded roadways and damaged infrastructure, provided shelter, food and comfort for thousands of evacuees.

As the floodwaters receded, compassionate Red Cross volunteers fanned out to affected communities to deliver clean-up supplies, water, health services and counseling, while caseworkers met with displaced residents to ensure they had a roof over their heads, food and help planning out their journey to recovery.

The Red Cross continued to work closely with communities to help them recover over the months and years that followed.

Below is a library of links to stories about the various ways that the Red Cross helped.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Red Cross 'Family' Welcomed Katrina Diaspora from Coast to Coast - Including Here in Colorado

This week, in honor of the 10 years that have passed since Hurricane Katrina struck, we are remembering those whose lives were impacted, honoring the resiliency of the community, thanking those who stepped up to help and reflecting on lessons learned.

By Leila Roche
Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, most people remember the super-shelters and massive on-the-ground response in Louisiana and neighboring states – but many don’t realize that people evacuated all the way to Colorado (and beyond) to receive help and emergency relief.

Katrina made landfall Aug. 26, 2015. In the days following Katrina, survivors of the hurricane were bused across the country to find new jobs and homes. While a deluge of resources and volunteers were pouring into Louisiana and the surrounding areas in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Colorado Springs volunteer Tony Dal was one of the volunteers preparing a warm welcome for those coming to Colorado to start new lives.

Tony Dal Lago has been a Red Cross volunteer for about 15 years.
During Katrina, he helped evacuees who came to Colorado Springs
rebuild their lives and welcomed them into the community with open arms. 
“National [Red Cross] told the chapters to be prepared for evacuees, and we took note and did what we do best,” Tony said. “Just because we weren’t in Louisiana didn’t mean that we couldn’t be prepared to help here in the Springs. The Red Cross family was here to take care of them.”

The nationwide network of Red Cross chapters and volunteers made it possible for the Red Cross to mobilize a widespread response that helped Katrina evacuees from coast to coast.

“Some people were in a Red Cross shelter out there, and from there they were bused to different parts of the country,” Tony said. “The Red Cross family took care of them in the immediate evacuation area, and when they were transferred elsewhere the Red Cross was still there. Our ‘family’ was still there to care for them.”

The Red Cross partnered with other government and nonprofit organizations to set up a Consolidated Resource Center at America the Beautiful Park in downtown Colorado Springs, where evacuees arrived for assistance – needing everything from monetary assistance and clothing to jobs and housing. A similar effort took place at Lowry Air Force base in Denver.

“I’ll never forget that first big bus of people,” Tony said. “People were being bused in from New Orleans. They’d lost everything. You might think they’d be in bad spirits, but coming off that bus most of them were in good spirits. I think they saw we were there waiting for them. We were ready. And we wanted to help them right then.”

Part of Tony’s role during the Katrina at-home response was instructing new client caseworkers and supervising them at the Consolidated Resource Center for the Katrina evacuees that were bused to Colorado Springs.

During the Katrina response, Tony worked 6-hour Red Cross volunteer shifts on top of working his full-time job. Tony, who has been volunteering for about 15 years with the Red Cross and has responded to numerous natural disasters, says giving back is a primary function of being a part of a community – and that’s why it’s a priority for him despite working full time and having a family.

“You can tell a lot by a community and how they respond to a disaster,” Tony said. “For me, I wanted to give back to the community. I’d been in the military for over 23 years and decided to make Colorado Springs home. But that’s not just buying a house. I wanted to put down roots and give back to the community. For me, that is this area. And if someone drives into Colorado Springs, they become part of the community. [Katrina survivors] were being bused under very inauspicious circumstances, but it didn’t matter. They were a part of the community the minute they stepped off that bus, and it was my job to help them.”

According to estimates from the Current Population Survey, approximately 1.5 million people 16 years and older left their residences in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama because of Hurricane Katrina. Of those who evacuated, about 410,000 had not returned to their homes by October 2006. Many found homes in new states, including Colorado.

“Not everyone who came stayed,” Tony said. “Some did stay. But some went back home eventually. And others relocated. It didn’t impact what I was doing though. What was important was that the community open their arms to those in need and provide assistance as best we could.”

In the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, the Red Cross provided 13,200 families long-term recovery planning and advocacy services from trained Red Cross case managers. More than 200 organizations in more than 30 states received funding for recovery-related needs. And more than 8,200 families received recovery financial assistance that enabled them to return to home or work.

“The Red Cross is a family,” Tony said. “We’re here to provide a hand up. The goal is to get them to a point where they can start to recover on their own with whatever help we can provide them. We want to help them get over the shock, stand up on own and start moving forward – whether it’s Katrina or an apartment fire. We’re here to help our community.”

Read more stories and learn how the Red Cross responded to Hurricane Katrina: . 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Colorado Springs Volunteer Worked 'Just to Bring a Smile to Those in Need' in Wake of Katrina

This week, in honor of the 10 years that have passed since Hurricane Katrina struck, we are remembering those whose lives were impacted, honoring the resiliency of the community, thanking those who stepped up to help and reflecting on lessons learned.

By Leila Roche
Roger Bram delivers clean-up kits after the Black Forest Fire
in 2013. He has been a Red Cross volunteer for a decade.
Roger Bram, a Red Cross volunteer now living in Colorado Springs, celebrated his 10-year anniversary as a volunteer two weeks ago. In 2005, he went to his local chapter for more information and was signed up within hours. Little did he know that two weeks later, he would be tapped for his very first deployment: Hurricane Katrina. A decade and more than 20 deployments later, he still remembers it as the worst disaster he’s witnessed.

“Nothing can prepare you for that kind of devastation,” Roger said. “The town looked like a war zone. Everything was all over the place. All I could think was, ‘How do people survive this?’”

Hurricane Katrina made landfall on August 29, 2005. It became our country’s costliest natural disaster and one of the five deadliest hurricanes. Its effects were further worsened when Hurricane Rita made landfall on the Texas-Louisiana coasts less than a month later.

Roger was deployed soon after Katrina hit and spent six weeks in Louisiana. Much of his time was spent was a courier, driving volunteers between Baton Rouge and Lake Charles, La., where he was stationed for his few weeks prior to Rita hitting. Driving I-10 for hours each day gave him a unique vantage point. The water was still receding and the landscape was ever changing – revealing fresh devastation every day.

“Pieces of the buildings were on the ground … busted windows everywhere … Half the bridges and freeways were shut down because of the high water still,” he said.

When Rita hit just weeks after Katrina, the Lake Charles volunteers – including Roger – were evacuated from their hotel to Alexandria, La. On one of his drives, he went back to see the hotel at which he had stayed.

Roger Bram high-fives a soldier's son
while volunteering an exercise in Colorado Springs.
“It was a mess,” he said. “I’d never seen anything like it. Boats were all over. The hotel room windows were busted out.”

For Roger, the devastation he saw around him served to reinforce the mission of the Red Cross.
“Each day, I’d wake up and say it’s going to be a great day,” he said. “People would ask why am I in such a good mood. I would tell them I was still alive and breathing. You can’t be prepared for anything [like what we saw in Louisiana.] But they needed our help. That was it.”

During his six weeks there, he celebrated a birthday in the shelters and helped countless people – not just get from point a to point b. But he did what he could to help raise others’ spirits so they could continue to serve.

“I just wanted to bring a smile to people’s faces,” he said. “Whether it was a client or a fellow volunteer, if I can bring a smile to their face I know their troubles are gone for even a split second. That’s what we’re there for.”

Read more stories and learn how the Red Cross responded to Hurricane Katrina: .