Viable Solutions

Fixing the jobs and water crisis

The citizens of Southern California are waking up to the fact that this new, post-recession economy has shed tens of thousands of jobs, many of which will likely be gone from our community forever.  According to statistics compiled by the state, unemployment in the greater Los Angeles area is now approaching 13%. Thousands of people trained for and counted on these lost jobs for their livelihoods. 

 It's a scary, sad, painful, and dangerous time -- for us as individuals, and as a community. But the quicker we realize that the structure of the economy has changed, the quicker we can help people by capturing and investing in the new opportunities the crisis presents. 

It just rained, and once again we threw away billions of gallons of water

Los Angeles receives enough rainfall in a normal year to supply at least half its needs... if it was harvested, and managed well. But the rain that falls here, instead of soaking into the land, rushes off because we covered the city with concrete, roads, houses and parking lots. Therefore we spend billions of dollars to bring water in from distant regions and distribute it throughout the city, and we spend hundreds of millions more getting rid of the rainfall that lands here in order to prevent flooding.

The response to disaster -- why caring matters

Another fire -- the Sheep Fire -- is burning on the outskirts of Los Angeles. This will bring another outpouring of emotion from people in our city.

This explosion of caring is not an accident, and it's not something to be shrugged off or taken for granted.

It's something I've been observing for thirty-eight years in disaster relief. To not act is more damaging to an individual confronted with a crisis than to act. When you see something that disturbs you, the adrenaline is a physiological reminder to pay attention, to respond, not to shut down. Adrenaline at first serves as a wake-up call, and then as an energy source to power our response, but if that energy goes undeployed, then it becomes emotionally corrosive, like an acid.

Recovering from the Station Fire requires our healing hands

Fire and WaterBrush and forest fires are a part of Los Angeles' natural ecosystem, and we’ve grown accustomed to —indeed sometimes complacent about — the annual cycle of panic, evacuations, loss of property, and the mudslides and flooding that follow.

But the Station Fire is different.

The unprecedented magnitude of this fire — the largest in the history of the county— may have compromised the Angeles National Forest’s ability to continue to provide the LA Basin with up to 35% of its water, and protection from floods, for years to come.

Fire recovery is usually the job of government. But this time, because of the magnitude of this event, ordinary citizens have a huge role to play in helping to heal the damage and respond to the immediate threats to our well-being. TreePeople is preparing to help with this massive response, and not only in the mountains where, when the time is right, we'll work with the Forest Service to plant in areas that are most severely damaged or where the flood threat is greatest.

And, surprisingly, the action we need to take is also around our homes and neighborhoods throughout the city.

Here's why.

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