Monday, March 05, 2007

Ant Hill

BonaResponds was all over the place today. One of the benefits of having such a large group of volunteers is that we can split up and work on many sites at once. While the optimal number of volunteers varies by both people and job, it is generally between 6-12.  

Some agencies like, indeed seemingly crave structure and hierarchy, BonaResponds does not. In fact few things with BonaResponds are structured in the traditional sense and team creation is no exception. So as we walked into the disaster area today, we broke into groups of various sizes and began work at homes throughout the neighborhood bordering the Enterprise High School.

The job I stopped at happened to be immediately across from the high school. The house suffered some relatively minor damage to the roof, but there were many branches down around the house and on the back shed. The residents and some family and friends were already working on the yard when we walked up and offered our services.

Working with the residents always makes the work more fun and this was no exception. In quick fashion the group picked up the downed branches and hauled them to the front yard where an excavator with a giant claw will lift it into waiting trucks to haul it away. There was however one major task to tackle, the back yard also had a shed with the parts of three trees across the roof. This was going to be a big job, but due to the tight proximity to two fences and the patience needed to carefully remove trees, it was a job that only a few people could efficiently do. Thus, rather than stand waiting for branches to be cut, the team separated further and only two (Anthony and I) stayed and the others went to work on other jobs further into the disaster region. Effective team size 2.

Taking the trees off the shed turned out to be a longer job than expected (or I was more incompetent than people give me credit for). Climbing trees is however one of the few things I can do reasonably well so we tried to attack the three trees from the above. Unfortunately, I again showed my ineptitude and after several attempts yielded the floor (or more appropriately roof) to Joe, the son of the homeowner. Of course he succeeded in a matter of minutes and the shed was cleared. Hauling out the branches provided an opportunity to talk get to know the homeowners who were remarkably nice people who graciously invited us back for dinner. 

After the house was done, Anthony and I walked taking pictures looking for other BonaRespond team members. And did we ever find them!! They were everywhere!

Have you ever stopped and watched an ant hill? Ants are amazing. They all work together but apart. Apparently without communication the ants all work in unison. They keep busy going to and fro, carrying things larger than they are, and pretty soon they have moved a huge pile of dirt and debris and created a home.

Why the sudden interest in ants? Because as Anthony and I walked down the hill towards Reese Street and looked ahead all that I could imagine was what we were looking down on a giant ant hill. I had to stop to take it all in. 

Laid out ahead of us there were people dressed in brown t-shirts seemingly everywhere. All of the other BonaRespond volunteers had, without any order being given, congregated in the midst of the worst hit area of the neighborhood. People in brown shirts scurrying up and down the slopes, people in brown shirts rolling tree trunks down hills, people in brown shirts dragging branches to the curb, people in brown shirts stooping to pick up debris, and people in brown shirts lifting spirits everywhere.  
A quick count showed that there were about 40 (or a possible 47) within a quarter mile area.
The largest contingent of these worker ants was at two houses next to each other on Reese street. It was a huge job. At these two homes alone there were over 20 BonaRespond members, several local Church group members, a few football players from Enterprise High School, and many neighbors, friends, and family as well as some professionals with heavy equipment. It was amazing.

These lots, which had been totally covered with trees only a few hours before was being cleared. Slowly and surely it was being cleared. The land was again becoming visible. The piles out front grew in anxious anticipation of an overworked excavator that was struggling to keep up with this onslaught of human muscle and determination.

By the end of the day, the lots and lots were cleared. The warmhearted volunteer ants (people) had won.

1 comment:

Tribuzzi said...

Ha ha ha thats awesome! GO Ant People!