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The Little Red Schoolhouse - Cobb CA
The Cobb Area Council - What a great idea!

[Quick update - Dandelion Farm has escaped harm from last week's Clayton Fire, although nearly 200 homes were destroyed. Yesterday we had another flare up, just around the bend from where we are staying and we were thrown into full evacuation prep for a short time, which we turned into a full scale household fire drill, testing our preparations to pack up and leave with a 30-minute notice. The fire brigades jumped on it quickly, so only minimal damage done, for now.]

One of the more interesting developments to come out of last year's wildfires here in Lake County has been a surge in local cooperation.  Of course there was the initial burst of heroic energy and enthusiastic neighborliness. This has now begun to mature into a deeper, more long range process as we put our shoulders to the deep rebuilding process and as we recognize that the new global climate realities mean that we have to build a community culture that respects the constant threat of local wildfires.  

The flip side of this new reality is that  we have to take direct local responsibility for our response - it has become crystal  clear in this situation that the "government," federal, state or even local, is not going to "take care of" this situation and also that we each simply can not just take care of our individual needs.  There is too much for any person, or family or group of neighbors, to deal with. This has manifested particularly in the establishment of the Cobb Area Council (CAC).

The CAC is an example of a formal  "Municipal Advisory Council," which we set up last month via a  quirky provision of the California State Code, section 31010.  This law allows any County Board of Supervisors to establish by simple Resolution a formal advisory body for any unincorporated area (i.e. not already a legal city or town). We just had to draw a line on a map outlining the area we wanted to include - how cool is that!


 
 
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The Clayton Fire in Lower Lake - 6 miles from the Mountain Of Attention
It is now nearly a year since the Valley Fire and as I write today the fire season has begun in earnest here in Lake County. After anxiously watching several small fires around the county flare up and be stopped over the past few weeks, the new Clayton Fire has been burning for three days now, (4,000 acres as of this morning) destroying much of the little town of Lower Lake, about 20 minutes from us.  The sickening familiarity of the "emergency drill" is now in full swing - the news conferences, the official emergency declaration, the marshaling of local help (setting up shelters, rallying church and local nonprofit service groups, the donation process) the County Supervisors and State Senator addressing the community, the compulsive monitoring of Facebook and Calfire websites.  The Lower Lake Methodist Church, where we have held several Town Meetings in the wake of last years fires, is gone, as are the offices of Habitat for Humanity. We are nervously waiting to hear from our dear friends at Dandelion Farm, which just barely escaped last year's fires and is now directly in the path of this new one. 

This new fire has already been attributed to arson (from the latin ardere to burn - as in ardor) with a suspect arrested yesterday. But across the state other, even larger fires are raging (the Soberanes Fire near Big Sur is now over 75,000 acres, with one fatality already and they say it may quadruple in size and burn for another month). Even if that turns out to have been caused by some accidental spark, or "natural" cause, it is still directly related to the massive earth system changes now underway caused by our continuing psychotic dissociation from the natural earth world that has left the ground here in California parched and primed to explode. Is that not arson also?