Fire is release to permit rebirth; it’s a response to accumulation

Fires destroy, but the land will reawaken, and with it many of our homes. Our valleys and hillsides will recover much more quickly than we will, and will take on a character different than what we knew. Our cities, towns and rural areas will be new places. We will need to work at creating home for ourselves and for everyone.

This reflection was by a farmer whose vineyard was just destroyed by the ongoing California wildfires.  It’s hard to imagine being so philosophical after such a loss, but that’s what resilient people do.


Even harder is to realize that fire’s destruction is required for the rebirth of the area.  Just as any disturbance encourages and supports reorganization and innovation.

The accumulation of reserves and infrastructure (the A in our CLIMATED model of resilience) is always countered by the need to build new structures.  Any accumulation of reserves and infrastructure is always accompanied by the forces which seek to use that accumulation as resources to build new structures.

A tree grows rapidly, reaches maturation and then dies when it can no longer maintain itself. Fungi invade and change the tree’s wood into mycelia and mushrooms. The mycelia then provide nutrients for other organisms to grow and mature. Fire is a short-cut to breakdown of the accumulated reserves and infrastructure and release of the nutrients.

The vineyards and housing developments in Sonoma and Napa Counties in California provide reserves and infrastructure which are the object of processes like fire which breakdown reserves and infrastructure into resources for new growth.  The model below (explained in more detail here) shows the relationships between the eight qualities of resilience and the four stages of the adaptive cycle.CLIMATED model

Last night I dreamt I was a politician in a fire.  Fire was breaking out all around the town where I was running for office.  At first, I was trying to use the crisis to benefit my campaign.  When I quickly realized that wasn’t working, I soon just joined in helping put out the fire.

We all want to help our neighbors and put out fires when they are in trouble.  Later, when the crisis has passed, we can think about what led to the fire.

Perhaps, California’s fires will help people reconsider the over-building in a fragile ecosystem which provided the tinder for the fire.