Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Habitat for Humanity and the Corporate Conscience of American Companies

Saturday morning I went along with my wife and a group of her students to work at one of the many Habitat for Humanity houses still going up here in New Orleans. Then Sunday morning I woke up and immediately called my mother to thank her profusely for the effort she and my late father took to instill in me and my brother the importance of education. I only spent four hours helping to lay tarpaper on a roof, but since that involved what was essentially a half day of deep-knee bends and multiple trips up a sixteen-foot ladder carrying heavy rolls of tarpaper, Sunday morning my legs and lower back felt like knots of twisted steel. I’ve never been happier to be a law librarian and not a manual laborer.

But working on the Habitat homes is a worthwhile endeavor. They’ve been active all over the world since their founding in 1976, but since Katrina, they’ve been responsible for hundreds, maybe now over a thousand, homes here in New Orleans. We only pitch in every couple of months, but even over three years after the hurricane, there is still a non-stop stream of volunteers coming to town to help out for a day or two or a few weeks during the summer.

Besides my wife’s students, many of the other volunteers Saturday were employees of the GAP from all over the U.S. and Canada. I believe they mentioned that both GAP and Banana Republic employees (both chains are apparently part of the same corporate hegemony, along with Old Navy and maybe other stores - what the hell is Piperlime?)

have been coming to New Orleans recently to work with Habitat, and that the GAP has both donated money and underwritten, at least in part, I believe, their employees’ trips to New Orleans. Yeah, GAP! In appreciation, I promise from here on out to only buy my underwear from you. Yes, GAP brand men’s briefs are the most comfortable, stylish, and durable underwear I have ever had the pleasure of wearing.

And, from the Times-Picayune today we learn that for the first time in its corporate history, Starbucks is holding its annual sales meeting outside of the northwest and while they are here, two thousand or so of the employees attending will be helping out with various volunteer efforts in the city. The story mentioned that they needed something like forty-five buses just to get all their people out to the different places in town where their volunteering. Go Starbucks! Their Mint Mocha Chip Frappuccino® is detectably delicious (and is basically, come on, a coffee milkshake, right?). I don’t indulge regularly; in fact, I only have them once a year, and that’s because CALI editor extraordinaire Deb Quentel has started giving us CALI authors a giftcard as a reward for working the CALI booth at the AALL annual meetings. I usually gain about two pounds in the weeks after the meeting while I reap my Frappuccino® rewards.

If I hype up any more corporations and join Google AdSense, will ads for those companies start appearing here in the margins? I do have a lot of space in the layout that is going to waste and I need to bling it up.

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