Paradise’s not-so-ancient history lives in the memory of a few still alive who lived it, in the childhoods of their offspring, and in stories told to their grandchildren and great grandchildren. The long-standing families of the Ridge were among the pioneers we celebrate at our big festivals, Johnny Appleseed Days and Gold Nugget Days of Living History.
These folks can still recall the old sayings, like one relayed to me recently from our Corning outpost. (I only heard this saying once to date, so correct me if I don’t get the wording quite right.) It goes something like this, “The time to build a barn is before it rains.”
With the results of a couple big planning efforts unfolding presently, it occurs to me that we have not thought deeply enough about what we’re planning for. Resilience. Deep adaptation. Sustainability, which implies all too subtly that the way we live is unsustainable, which means we’re in a predicament that we can only manage one way or another, in smart ways or in stupid ways. Let’s pick managing the situation well, shall we?
We have a fire management predicament made worse by high density housing, years of drought, poor maintenance of infrastructure (power chief among the issues), and yes climate catastrophe, which produces violent storms from time-to-time.
We have an economic predicament, with insurmountable debt, held in check by confidence alone.
We have a civilization crisis with our aptly named “addiction” to oil, which is getting more expensive to produce as known high grade sources are depleting, etcetera, as the energy return on investment ratios slip down a cliff.
So what should Paradise do? Secure our food supply by rezoning residential properties to agriculture, especially along Ridge lines, and start building barns.
We should keep our irrigation district, and rebuild it to support farming. Our water supply for irrigation does not all need to go through the treatment plant. We have excellent water.
I support all grocery stores trucking food to Paradise, and I support Farmer’s Markets, and I support local food sold in grocery chains and local markets. I support them with my dollars, and when I can produce vegetables myself, I don’t buy that, but I buy what I cannot myself produce.
The people who pioneered Paradise produced most of their own food, and the rest came from what we would call local sources, California sources, with very little imported.
We’re as dependent on imports as exports now, and that’s scary in this time of uncertainty.
In Maui as I write, I’ve been reading about concerns for food security here. The scholars at the universities in Hawaii work with the legislators and with the local people, especially Hawaiians who can still recall the work of their great great grandparents, and the old tried and true ways of surviving on an island.
We’re not an island in the North State, and yet we are like an island, or can be, when the next shock occurs.
Just as sure as a great fire was predictable, other disasters are ahead for us.
What should we do? Secure our food and water supply as best we can and learn to produce our own food with the resources we have on the Ridge.
The vision is that simple, and without that perspective on food security, we set ourselves up for building barns during a storm.
Rebuilding Our Historic Plan was published in the Paradise Post on June 5, 2019.
Robin Huffman lived in Paradise, California from 1989 until she evacuated from the Camp Fire on Nov. 8, 2018.