On August 13, 2021 Ally Coffee announced the decision to forgo exhibiting at the Specialty Coffee Expo scheduled to take place in New Orleans, Louisiana. This difficult decision presented an opportunity to connect with the coffee industry in another way, and in our original statement we announced our intention to use part of our 2021 Expo budget to support select non-profit organizations working with coffee producing communities. However, this announcement preceded Hurricane Ida and the destruction it wrought across communities throughout the Caribbean coastline and islands, the Gulf Coast, and the Eastern Coast of the US and Canada. Our hearts are with the people affected by Hurricane Ida, and this dire situation is one that compels action to support the ongoing relief and recovery efforts on the ground.
The people of New Orleans were prepared to welcome us warmly for the Specialty Coffee Expo, and seeing the immense damage brought upon their city and state just weeks ahead of the scheduled event is painful even as an observer. For these reasons, we have decided to use part of our donation budget to support the ongoing relief and recovery efforts in Louisiana.
We have selected a community-based organization with roots in New Orleans that is directly impacting the people affected by the hurricane throughout Southeast Louisiana. We’re proud to support the work of Imagine Water Works and their Mutual Aid Response Network, part of Mutual Aid Disaster Relief.
Imagine Water Works is an organization based in New Orleans that has been operating since 2012, focusing on issues of climate justice, water management, and disaster readiness and response. Their work centers marginalized communities and the belief that “people who have been pushed to the margins are the exact same people who know how to build a better future for themselves and their communities, even when the future feels uncertain,” according to their website.
Imagine Water Works also leads the Mutual Aid Response Network in Louisiana, which activates during floods, storms, and other natural and manmade disasters. The leadership of this organization represents a diverse collection of people including Native, Creole, queer, and transgendered individuals, all of whom are deeply connected to their home community of Lousiana.
Mutual Aid Disaster Relief is a grassroots disaster relief network based on the principles of solidarity, mutual aid, and autonomous direct action. The group has grown from a number of independent community-driven movements centered around social and climate justice, and today represents a large decentralized network of mutual aid funds and community action organizations.
The work that Imagine Water Works has done with their Mutual Aid Response Network following Ida has already been significant. Some of their accomplishments in the first week following the storm include:
- Directing over $90,000 to mutual aid funds around Southeast Louisiana with $105,000 committed in total for disbursal.
- Partnering with CORE to set up a FEMA paperwork support site with computers, portable power, WiFi hotspots, and support on site to help with FEMA applications.
- Receiving and distributing supplies including food, medicine, childcare needs, menstruation products, cleaning supplies, and more to neighbors in need.
- Continuing to amplify other grassroots efforts responding to the disaster.
Recovery from this disaster will be a difficult road and Ida’s effects will be felt long after the initial work is complete. By selecting a locally-based organization built on the principles of community action and mutual aid, we feel our contribution will have a direct impact prioritizing the people who are most in need. We encourage everyone who finds themselves in a position to be able to do so to contribute to the relief efforts of their choosing.
To donate to the Mutual Aid Response Network, led by Imagine Waterworks, click here.
While this donation to Imagine Water Works wasn’t part of our original announcement, the scale of Hurricane Ida’s impact and the immediacy of the need is undeniable. We are still committed to supporting organizations impacting coffee producing communities, and are continuing our research to determine which organizations align most closely with our purpose and values. We look forward to sharing news with you in the coming weeks about our decision.