March 6-8, 2019
University of San Diego
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Wednesday, March 6 • 2:15pm - 3:25pm
When the Firestorm Transforms: Becoming the Community Partner

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This interactive discussion session explores how crisis compels the crossing of borders and lessons for when there is no crisis. In 2017, the Tubbs fire, which grew to be the most destructive in CA history, burned through several neighborhoods in the Sonoma County seat of Santa Rosa and came within 3 miles of the Sonoma State campus. It destroyed the homes of our president, hundreds of employees, students, and community partners. Overnight, the university changed from being a service provider to being a recipient of service. The arbitrary and false barriers between “the University” and “the community” evaporated during the crisis. The fires didn’t respect the borders of the campus, the county, or city lines. Our interconnectedness with each other and with our natural and man-made surroundings was apparent. An ethic of care brought all of us together and no conversation began without authentic check-ins for months. It became clear that while the fire doesn't discriminate based on race, ethnicity, or income, power, privilege, and positionality mattered in the aftermath. Listening, acknowledging, and respecting voices or conversations that have been and are marginalized became the primary way to support healing while simultaneously, more academic approaches sprung up.

avatar for Merith Weisman

Merith Weisman

Director of Community Engagement & Strategic Initiatives, Sonoma State University

Wednesday March 6, 2019 2:15pm - 3:25pm PST