An abandoned Doukhobor settlement in the Kootenays of BC (photo by me). Doukhobors were a key part of BC history and had a strong sense of community.

Several weeks ago, I had a great conversation with author Rebecca Lawton about her new book, “The Oasis This Time.” We covered a broad range of topics and I was sad that not everything we discussed made it into the final version up at Earth Island Journal.

We were talking about wildfires, and how she and her family had been evacuated because of the wildfires in Sonoma County in 2017, and then when she moved to Oregon for a new job (after 30 years in Sonoma), they were evacuated again in 2018 because of wildfires.

One of the phrases she used regarding how they managed the fires is that they had to “community-up.” I’ve written about this before but in a more theoretical sense – seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones got me thinking about it when she said in an article that the best way to survive a disaster of any kind, be it wildfire or earthquake, is to rely on your neighbours. To “community-up.”

Lawton talked about how her Sonoma community kept everyone up to date via text message and how they had a network of people to share the burden with. She said that, even though she and her family were new to Oregon, the same things happened – the community banded together to deal with the wildfires.

It’s at times like this that I wonder what would happen if a disaster like that happened here. We hardly know our neighbours, and the ones we do know we don’t really like because they’re really noisy and inconsiderate. I wouldn’t even ask them for a cup of sugar, let alone to band together in the face of a fire.

But maybe things change when things get “real,” maybe old grudges are put aside and everyone works together towards a common goal. Not having been in that situation, I don’t really know. I don’t really want to be in that situation, but if we were I would hope we could rely on our neighbours as a help rather than a hindrance. I hope we could truly community-up.

I’m keen to hear other’s stories of community-up-ing. When in your life have you – and others – benefited from connecting with your community?

The Japanese Garden at Butchart Gardens, by me. Taken with my fisheye lens.

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3 thoughts on “Community-Up”

  1. I live in a village, so part of life here is being in touch with your neighbours. The woman next door has cancer, she and her husband are in their 70’s. The other neighbour is my age, 60’s he has multiple health issues as well. We all keep in touch, when you bake we all share the cookies, pies or whatever it is with our neighbours. I realized this is how we keep in touch. A few years ago we had some serious flooding here, everyone had their basements flooded, we all helped each other and others in the village that suffered more. Our village has a relatively new development just at the south end, people wave to each other there, but they don’t know the names of who they are waving too. I only know this as I walk a couple of dogs from the development. They all communicate on Facebook, that is how they do it. I moved here over ten years ago and I had a house warming as soon as I moved in, that was the smartest thing to do. I met all of my neighbours and they met me. We are a varied group of ages and beliefs, but when life throws trouble we are all there for each other.


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