Dr. Gabriella Lettini, SKSM students Kashka and MarySue Foster,
and Danny Glover discuss the Katrina ordeal
It has been four years since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, but the spiritual, political and economic implications continue to swirl. Starr King students joined in this complex conversation last month as the documentary film, Trouble the Water – along with its executive producer, actor Danny Glover– came to the school for a screening and panel discussion.
Trouble the Water, winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Documentaries, is “about ordinary people becoming extraordinary and heroic,” Glover said at Starr King. “The Katrina tragedy revealed conditions that pre-existed – inadequate transportation and health care, the failure of government to respond. There are many communities today where these same conditions exist.”
The screening and discussion event was organized by students and faculty of SKSM’s Masters in Religious Leadership for Social Change (MASC) program, in collaboration with the Graduate Theological Union’s CARE program.
MASC student Tyson Casey, one of the organizers, said the event was meant as “a continuation of the commitment we made at the GTU Poverty Truth commission last year.” He added that “the people affected by the (Katrina) disaster embodied the spirit of religious leadership for social change – compassionate engagement.”
Another student organizer, Kashka, said he’d been looking for a way to bring social activism and spirituality together. He was especially moved by two New Orleans residents, Rev. Dwight and Trudell Webster, who spoke on the panel with Glover. “They spoke from the heart; lifted people’s consciousness”, Kashka said, adding, “People forget that the bulk of the work is left to do.”
Events like this serve as an important teaching tool for students”, according to Rev. Dr. Gabriella Lettini, Director of Studies in Public Ministry at Starr King. “We wanted this event to embody our model of permeable walls in our communities, where we connect the work we do at the school with important social justice issues outside the school.” She added, “It’s important for students to move out from the model of helping others, to a model of collaboration.”
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