“My former neighborhood feels like a cemetery” Fear of fire did not prepare Paradise residents

by Leslie Layton

My childhood home is a pool of ashes contained by a cement foundation. The air in this once-Edenesque place smells almost acrid. The barn my father built from oak planks is a pile of rubble, with trickling aluminum melted into place on the ground.

At some point during the Nov. 8 Camp Fire that destroyed my hometown of Paradise, Calif., the white aluminum streams were trickling downhill as if headed toward the creek. No longer. There are almost no signs of movement on this still Sunday, Dec. 9. My former neighborhood feels like a cemetery. read more

Camp Fire was a “climate disaster” Tiny temperatures changes mask dramatic changes underway that call for action

photo by Leslie Layton
Chico State Professor Mark Stemen

by Leslie Layton

2.3 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s how much – or how little, depending on your viewpoint – that the daily average temperature increased in recent years in the Paradise area.

That little temperature increase is what it took to create the environment for a deadly fire that would stun Butte County with its heat and swiftness, demolish almost 18,800 structures, kill 88 people and change the lives of almost every area resident. read more

Camp Fire changed lives: a survivor’s story "This is what being a climate change refugee feels like..."

photo by Andrew Meyer

Allan Stellar with Angel

by Allan Stellar

That awful, awful day.

On that awful day, when Paradise was engulfed in flames, I hugged my yellow lab Angel goodbye. I woke up early, 5 a.m., and decided to leave for work without our normal early morning hike. I lived in the foothills, at 2,000 feet, some 37 miles from Chico where I had work to do as a home health RN.

I had lived in this off-grid solar house for a decade, enjoying the yip yap of coyotes in the country and sleeping on the deck under the stars on hot summer nights. Angel watched me dress that morning with an eerie gaze. It was as if she knew something was going to happen. As I left, I promised I would be back in the afternoon to take her for a hike. read more

Parking lot now a pop-up encampment County residents struggle to help tide of people displaced from Camp Fire

photo by Karen Laslo

First day of Camp Fire

by Leslie Layton

At Chico’s Walmart parking lot, you see the new homeless: Several hundred people, some living out of RVs, some out of cars, some out of tents, some with nothing more than a few blankets. This is what a community borne of disaster looks like: Food vendors who want to give, not sell. Guitar-strumming teenagers, scientologists, massage chairs and chaplains.

This is where many displaced people who were already living on the edge – of canyons, of finances, of California’s blue political culture –lodged when the Camp Fire swept through their communities, and here as elsewhere, disaster response has been underway. Chicoans pull in with boxed donations and trailers hauled from other cities deposit piles of used clothing and worn shoes. read more

Butte County represented at SF march Chicoans join call for action on climate change

by Guillermo Mash

“Sustainability is not stealing from our children’s future” — Ali Meders-Knight

Before heading home from the Peoples Climate March in San Francisco, about 40 Chico-area residents gathered at their mural for a group photo in blue T-shirts designed by the Chico 350 organization. The T-shirts featured an outline of the state of California on fire, overlaid with the caption, “California is burning – vote out climate deniers.” read more

Mechoopda design to become part of S.F. street mural Butte County contingent prepares for global action on climate change

photo by Karen Laslo

Ali Meders-Knight shows her painting next to the Mechoopda basket (lower right) that provided inspiration.

by Leslie Layton

When Ali Meders-Knight was asked to provide mural art for the local contingent at the upcoming San Francisco march for climate action, she thought of the basket designs used by her Mechoopda ancestors.

She thought about historical descriptions of the Northern Sacramento Valley, when birds and butterflies were so numerous they sometimes blocked any view of the sky.

And before that day was out, she had a painting that will be used as a template for a mural panel at San Francisco Civic Center. read more