Private Sector Community Organizations: Existing frameworks for response and communication to help government response and community preparedness
| 10.09.2006 | 09:00:34 | Views: 3302 | ID:
Churches and other religious organizations are a good way to organize a community through an already existing social structure to help relay and disseminate information about local preparedness and community involvement. Federal, state and local governments can work with religious organizations to help construct local and regional preparedness and response plans though little federal money ever needs to be used since the organization has already been created by the religious organizations.
It is important that for state, regional and local preparedness programs to work - existing societal and governmental structures need to be used because creating new structures requires too much time for a culture to change without an obvious impetus, i.e. a war or famine that forces a society to change its ways. Terrorism, the threat of terrorism, or the threat of natural disasters, pandemics and other catastrophes, though scary to many people, offer little in the way of prompting long-range and effective change. Because religious organizations already have a communications network and societal structure in place, dioceses and parishes should work with state and local governments to find a way of creating community response best practices that are encouraged in the community by the churches. These best practices could also be advertised more broadly using federal money to help raise awareness about the preparedness and response campaigns while there does not have to be direct interaction between federal and religious leaders because most of the construction of the messages could be designed by regional, state and local governments. Ecumenical councils (conventions of many faiths) offer pre-existing inroads to creating dialogue between faiths to help continue preparedness and community response. A Christian church that is Baptist in one neighborhood might work with an Episcopal church in another that is already partnering with a Jewish Synagogue, a Muslim Mosque and a Mormon Tabernacle to help create a messaging and response volunteer group in case of a flood. (Because the town could be along the Mississippi perhaps.) By having the religious organizations coordinate with their communities, regional, state and local governments could provide valuable public service announcement money for advertising, as well as help provide bandwidth for communications and in case of emergency, use public service alert messaging along with the ecumenical responder groups. The old notion of separation of church and state could be a possible, and initial limiting factor to the idea unless clear guidelines are set in the beginning and it is understood that the federal government is not working to establish any one religion as being the best for a response - rather that it is helping to provide valuable services in the event they are needed. The size of service is proportional to the area - thus regional, state and local governments can only provide services such as public communications bandwidth and responder services as large as their geographic area. The federal government can provide a larger, cooperative and organizing framework for private sector organizations to amalgamate and respond to threats. Religious institutions provide valuable responder services because of their existing, internal structure of communication and community outreach that already exists.
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