Today’s (February 20) Community Conversation at the Mountain Ranch Community Center, hosted by Susan Galvan (President of the Community Club) was a great start to a promising commitment among Butte Fire survivors to reclaim and renew their community. Every one there was someone I would consider a leader in their community. Even though I didn’t get to say “hello” to every one I knew, I enjoyed seeing so many caring and motivated people. A special thank you to the AmeriCorps NCCC crew (sponsored by The Hive) who took notes for us and got a big dose of meaningfulness for all the work they are doing to help our community, one family at a time.
Even though the rain was pounding and the wind was howling, many were undeterred. Participants gathered at proctored tables and took turns answering three questions about the biggest changes experienced since the fire, strengthening community connections now, and paths to creating a community that is thriving and a good place to live. It was clear that even though more than one year has passed since the fire, many have not had the opportunity to heal individually, and it was difficult to start thinking about the community as an entity that needed to heal as well. However, after getting passed the lists of what was wrong, the focus began to change.
There was consensus that there was “deep loss of deep love” for the landscape and its familiar landmarks, for the togetherness that used to be experienced at events that are no longer happening, for the comfort of familiar faces at the grocery store and post office, and that much of what was gone was being replaced by fear of the unknown as well as fear that previous negative experiences were being realized once again. Yet, there was also a sense of opportunity on the horizon.
Participants agreed in the end that there was a path and they wanted to participate in paving its way. The “bricks” were named involvement, communication, infrastructure, neighborliness, safety, support, gratitude, resources, awareness, bridges, stability, opportunity, and comradery. Some commitments were made to bring back a meeting place for morning coffee, creation of a volunteer corps and community cooperative, creating a community plan, attending board meetings, sharing with neighbors, talking with those in charge of infrastructure, and much, much more.
The group will be meeting again on Sunday, March 26 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and you are always welcome to join us. If you can't wait to get involved and pitch in, please give us a call or contact Susan Galvan at 209-728-8208.