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Signs of Life: Surviving Katrina benefit photography book

Posted 28 August, 2006 in Books & Publications

Signs of Life hurricane katrina benefit book cover

Brown & Baker Books press release:


An Extraordinary Photographic Collection of Survival: One Sign at a Time

Brown & Baker Books is pleased to announce the publication of SIGNS OF LIFE: SURVIVING KATRINA ($23.95 paperback). SIGNS OF LIFE is a moving collection of photos of the hand-made signs that appeared in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina. Profits from sales of the book will go to two organizations still working in the area: Common Ground Relief and Hands On Network.

Hand-made signs—spray painted on houses, on cars, on refrigerators—were some of the first "signs of life" to appear after the flood waters receded. The signs range from the sacred to the profane, from defiant to defeated, from frightening and encouraging. The signs reveal a powerful story of those who survived the deluge.

Compiled by Eric Harvey Brown and Lori Baker, New York–based photographers and writers who volunteered in the Gulf Coast after the hurricane, SIGNS OF LIFE shows not only the traces of the violence of the storm, but also that much devastation remains one year later. The pictures in SIGNS OF LIFE come from more than forty photographers—including local residents, relief volunteers, and those just passing through. The images were found on and other photoblogs, and have been donated by the photographers for use in the book.

The messages in SIGNS OF LIFE remind us that everyone has a story to tell. "It’s impossible to speak for the people who lived through Katrina. Far better to let them speak for themselves," says Rob Walker, author of Letters from New Orleans. "That’s exactly what these sad, hopeful, funny and enraging images capture—and it’s exactly what SIGNS OF LIFE is about."

"SIGNS OF LIFE is not your typical art book. Yes, the images are poignant, even beautiful," says author/illustrator Josh Neufeld, who wrote the foreword. "These are documentary photos, a recording of history, giving voice to those who left, those who stayed, and those who were left behind."

SIGNS OF LIFE: SURVIVING KATRINA is available for purchase at

All profits go to the following organizations:

Common Ground Relief is a grassroots volunteer organization that was formed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to provide immediate aid to residents in the Gulf Coast region and long-term support in rebuilding their communities in just and sustainable ways. Since September 2005, Common Ground has an average of 150-300 volunteers on the ground at any time and a network of over 8,000 volunteers. They have provided relief to 70,000 residents in seven parishes including Orleans, St. Bernard, Plaquemine, Terrabone, St. Tammany, St. Charles and St. Marys.

Hands On Network brings people together to strengthen communities through meaningful volunteer action. We are a growing network of a half million volunteers changing communities inside and outside the United States. Since September 2005, Hands On Gulf Coast has: mobilized more than 2,500 volunteers from nearly every state in the country; provided over 270,000 hours of service; gutted more than 660 houses; and delivered volunteer labor valued at $4.86M.

I know the editors personally, and when they say 100% of the profits are going to these organizations, I believe them. Buy the book from Lulu, more info at!

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