Wednesday, September 27, 2023

After The Fire USA

Yesterday I had the honor and fun of being the opening keynote speaker at the three-day 2023 After The Fire USA Wildfire Leadership Summit, a national (and even international) gathering of fire prevention and recovery experts that happened to be held less than an hour from my home! I didn't promote it ahead of time because it was invitation only, and an impressive group it was.

Photo of me in my red work shirt waaaay up on the stage, taken by and stolen from Jennifer Gray Thompson, who I hope won't mind. My talk mostly comprised readings from A Fire Story, chosen to set the stage for the rest of the three-day conference.

I read from A Fire Story, trying to tie into some themes such as resilience and "who cares for the caregivers?" that I knew would be addressed later in the conference. Organizer Jennifer Gray Thompson opened the event with a quote from Rebecca Solnit's book Hope in the Dark: "Inside the word 'emergency' is 'emerge'; from an emergency new things come forth. The old certainties are crumbling fast, but danger and possibility are sisters."

That seemed apt.

People said I did a good job. The speakers and panels that followed me were interesting and even important. Maui was on a lot of minds. I knew a few of the attendees, as either fire survivors or fire experts or both--and it was good to see them again. Made a couple of new friends. A great afternoon.

A reverse angle on the room, also by Jennifer. This was at the Hanna Center in Glen Ellen, Calif., and the back of the room opened up onto a patio where vendors set up tables. Perfect weather for it.

Later today, I'll be Zooming into a graphic medicine class at San Francisco State University to talk about Mom's Cancer. Yes, there are now classes in graphic medicine, a whole burgeoning field of medical humanities that didn't exist before 2010 (and I was there!). And yes, it can be difficult shifting gears from Fire Story yesterday to Mom's Cancer today. I'm not complaining--it's a privilege that anyone wants to hear from me at all--but I've got to get into the right headspace lest I start babbling about world's fairs or giant robots.

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