By Pamela Noel
Even though we are still in the throes of fire, there are those who are turning their minds to the future. The questions of when and how to rebuild are already making their way around our community. We do need time to center and ground ourselves, and adjust our awareness to our new reality. Resilience in the face of what continues to come our way needs to remain a front and center concept as we move forward.
And, I might add, is the idea that this crisis can become a time of opportunity. This may sound premature at this juncture, but I see folks with ideas for the future on our social media pages already. The possibility here, is to envision how a community can contribute to its sustainable future. How can infrastructure systems support a community to reduce waste, restore small-town life, and respond to the needs of its citizens?
How can we come together and think about rebuilding “intelligently” to help create resilience? For instance, what could Greenville look like in the future, both honoring the past, and building smartly for the present and future challenges of higher temperatures, less water, and the presence of fire?
What kind of process could be developed with which to think about the many ideas in a way that all could benefit? No politics here … just community coming together to hold one another up as we erect those walls that will help establish place and home again.
Already I have heard of one Greenville citizen suggesting Building Green, Straw Bale House, Passive Solar Energy Book, Small is Beautiful—books that encourage and point the way towards greater efficiency in building and life. There are hundreds more, of course.
I have listened to conversations where folks are talking about highly efficient water heating, lighting and appliances, insulation, both passive and active solar, heat recovery ventilation systems, fire resistant structures and landscapes. I have even heard the word permaculture pop up in chats, an idea which is very dear to my heart…how do we create a life that develops resilience, and gives back more to the earth than we take?
Building To Coexist With Fire: Risk Reduction Measures For New Development, a 32 page publication by UC Extension Specialists Max Moritz and Van Butsic, talks about many of the concepts that could be part of any rebuilding of a fire devastated community. These two, who specialize in wildfire rebuilding and mitigation, have designed their publication for use by city planners, fire districts and communities to incorporate “community scale risk reduction measures when rebuilding in fire prone areas.” David Shew, retired 31-year CAL FIRE chief, and now wildfire consultant and architect states, “that the land use planning principals and design recommendations identified in this study are necessary steps to help increase resiliency to existing and future communities.” He further states that “this should become a much used reference for every planning and fire official who face wildfire impacts.”
I realize that everyone has their own way to process what has happened in our county. We express grief in different ways, and also will emerge from this state in one’s own time. It is my hope, however, that communities can come together with conscious leadership and open minds so that all can go forward with hope for the future, an example for others in building resilience, and knowledge that we are doing this together.