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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.

Breaking Through with a Leader in Traditional Infrastructure

To further encourage you to take a look at the USC/workshop site and think about these issues, I'm going to mention a little story about myself and a fellow named Carl Blum. Carl is a nationally recognized civil engineer, and he is a central figure in the history of infrastructure in our county. Carl is also a man who once looked at me with great skepticism, but ultimately came to see the value of green infrastructure in Los Angeles, and a man who has helped enormously to bring it back into prominence.

Understanding the Psychology of Environmental Change

Here's a quote from a recent paper on mental barriers to facing up to climate change (and acting to reduce emissions) published at the most-recent convention of the American Psychological Association:

Infrastructure for the 21st century

21st Century Infrastructure logoI'm delighted to welcome you to my corner of the TreePeople universe and site. It's been thirty-eight years since I started this "project" we now call TreePeople. I'm boggled how it's grown up, and amazed and grateful for the continued outpouring of support and partnership from individuals, businesses, agencies and non-profits that has fueled our achievements.

TreePeople started by planting smog-resistant seedlings in local forests. We wanted to help our forests recover from air pollution from the city and from devastating fires. But after several years of planting, we realized our work was essentially putting band-aids on damage that started in the city. To really heal the forests, we needed people in the city to care more deeply. To do that, we engaged them in planting trees in their neighborhoods.

After decades of this work, people know us as tree planters. So they often are surprised and sometimes disturbed to learn that TreePeople has gone very deeply into water and infrastructure issues. Sometimes they even say we have the wrong name! I respectfully disagree.

But it's a fair question. Why have we made this leap into infrastructure?

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