Frieda Nixdorf is the WTR Network community coordinator. She is the creative and talented woman who usually curates the Work That Reconnects Newsletter.
However, this month, she’s had much more immediate concerns and very little access to electricity and internet service as her northern California community deals with power outages and fire danger. A couple of her fellow staffers at the WTR Network have stepped in to put this issue of the newsletter together and we wanted to share this update she sent about her situation. In this time of increasing collapse, many of us around the world are finding ourselves (or may soon) squarely and undeniably in the midst of the Great Unravelling. Our prayers for strength and resilience go out to everyone around the world who is facing such challenges.
“I was about an hour south of the Kincade Fire in a workshop with Michael Meade when participants began to receive calls to evacuate. A bit of chaos ensued so we paused to be in ritual and wrap the evacuees in song before they left. When the pinging of emergency notifications became too much, we silenced our phones. Michael shared this podcast recently in which he describes the experience. When the workshop ended, I found myself stuck in traffic, the highway flooded with evacuees. The drive home took nearly five hours, when it should have taken half that. I could see the panic, fear and grief in the faces of the folks in the cars next to me, their piles of belongings haphazardly shoved into every available space.
Power has been restored here for most of us in the foothills and they are predicting that we’re safe from more outages for the next week. Looking back, I now realize we’ve had seven power outages of 24-hours or more during the past month. This has been extremely difficult and a huge wakeup call for our community and others across the state. Recently a local city council member posted that we’ve had 10 days of internet access out of the past 30 days. The murmurings of power takeover are growing louder. Plans are being laid. We will not return to business as usual.
But this isn’t just about losing power. I’ve been visiting our local grocery co-op, which has managed to stay open because they’re on the hospital power grid. They’ve offered up their community room with free wifi (as per usual). Being there has been an interesting study as to how folks are coping with the situation – all the emotions and chaos of humans desperate to connect and communicate. Many of us have experienced what it’s like to drive through flames at one o’clock in the morning. We have lived with the uncertainty of whether or not we would find our homes unscathed upon return. Many of us have lost our homes. While the winds here have subsided, we are still in extreme fire danger. Meanwhile, our neighbors to west, north and south of us burn. In the southern part of the state the winds still howl. We are doing the best we can to bring kindness and comfort to our evacuees.
We can certainly camp out in our living rooms, no problem. We can adjust and tolerate the instability that our privilege has protected us from. But, in the midst of this breakdown of the infrastructure upon which we depend, we can’t sleep at night because we’re terrified that we’ll burn up, just as our one of our neighboring cities did a year ago, and another the year prior, both in a matter of hours. An unfortunate number of local businesses will not survive the repeated loss of revenue, wasted food, inability to place orders for fear of additional loss. A significant portion of our community scrapes by, from paycheck to paycheck and many of us are now scrambling to cover rent and feed our families. School children who rely on free school lunches have gone without. This isn’t just about reacting to the breaking down of our privileged infrastructure. This has been a severely traumatic experience and a major loss of stability for tens of thousands of people (or more) across the state.”