California Wildfires Story Project

In the Summer and early Fall of 2018, StoryCenter and the California State Library joined with the public libraries in Mendocino, Sonoma, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Napa, Shasta, Lake and Yolo Counties in producing the California Wildfire Story Project.

StoryCenter brought a series of public oral history workshops to each community, and joined with filmmakers Kevin White and Stephen Most, in touring their recently released, Wilder Than Wild documentary film, on the issues surrounding megafires, climate change, and fire control and management policy, to screen their film at several other communities.

Summer 2018 Tour

Mendocino County
May 10-11
Ukiah Public Library
Excerpts from Mendocino Stories

Sonoma County
May 19, May 21
Rincon Valley Public Library
Excerpts from Sonoma Stories

Santa Barbara County
June 2
Carpinteria Branch Library

June 16
Montecito Branch Library

Excerpts from Santa Barbara Stories

Ventura County
June 23
E.P. Foster Library
Excerpts from Ventura Stories

Napa County
July 13-14
Napa Public Library
Excerpts from Napa County Stories

Shasta County
September 24-25
Redding Library
Excerpts from Shasta County Stories

Lake County
September 26
Redbud Library, Clearlake
Excerpts from Lake County Stories

Yolo County
September 29
Esparto Library
Excerpts from Yolo County Stories

 

“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 archive.org, with excerpts shared through this website and the websites of participating libraries in the coming year.

 

For information, contact Joe Lambert, joe@storycenter.org

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