California Wildfires Story Project


“Climate is really running the show in terms of what burns.  We should be getting ready for bigger fire years than those familiar to previous generations.”  Park Williams, Columbia University

Tens of thousands of California citizens have had their lives destroyed by wildfires over the last decades, hundreds have lost their lives.  Millions of acres of our landscape, and the life that calls these forests and mountains their home, has been equally decimated.  The Top ten of the worse fire seasons of the last 60 years have occurred over the last fifteen years.  We can only expect this to continue, and what we do to prepare, to mitigate and to respond to these new and much more furious infernos is a topic of concern to everyone in California.

StoryCenter joins with the California State Library in organizing the California Fires Story Project to assist in 2018-19 with the efforts to capture the experiences of Californians affected by the fires, and the lessons they have drawn about planning and preparedness.   Using our Listening Station technology, as well as inviting independent oral histories, memoirs, short films, images and documents, we aim to collect a public record across the many counties affected by the fire, to be used to memorialize these experiences, assist with psychological and emotional recovery, and inform emergency planning and civic officials as part of their planning and preparedness efforts.

Our initial goal is a series of one day workshops in each of five counties, specifically affected by the fires of 2017.  We then hope to expand the effort to reach communities affected by fires in prior years, and to work with communities, through their public libraries, in providing public forums for sharing stories, and discussing the issues and themes emerging from the effort.   The collected stories will be housed as part of the California Listens archive at, with excerpts shared through this website and the websites of participating libraries in the coming year.

For information, contact Joe Lambert,

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