The Era of Not Living with Fire is Over

This article contains the content from the 8/28/2020 Bioneers Pulse newsletter. Sign up here to get the newsletter straight to your inbox!

Indigenous communities have spent thousands of years living alongside fire as a crucial element to regulating ecosystems and promoting biodiversity.

We’ve entered an era that necessitates a healthier relationship with fire. Climate change is intensifying these disasters with drier and hotter conditions, as we’ve witnessed an unprecedented wildfire season in California wreak widespread destruction. Modern society has much to learn from traditional ecological knowledge — which may hold the key to coexisting with fire, rather than struggling to control it. Instead of associating fire with danger and destruction, what if we shifted our mindset toward embracing the renewal and rebirth that come from the ashes?

This week, we highlight the work of fire ecologists helping communities become “fire adapted” in a rapidly warming world.

Living With Fire: Dr. Crystal Kolden on Fire Resilience, Biomimicry and TEK

The California wildfires are razing through homes, cities, and ecosystems at a higher intensity than natural fires — and this problem is far from over. Dr. Crystal Kolden, a self-proclaimed “Pyrogeographer,” has spent years examining humanity’s relationship with fire through the lens of environmental conservation and land management. As an expert, Kolden has gained an intimate understanding of how society can adapt to the more frequent and intense wildfires precipitated by climate change.

In this interview, Kolden uplifts what she’s learned about creating fire-resilient communities, which could be the key to sustainably co-existing with one of the world’s most powerful natural elements.

Read more here.

Fire and Water: Land and Watershed Management in the Age of Climate Change

As climate change makes the environment drier and hotter, wildfires are worsening throughout California. This season alone, these fires have razed hundreds of thousands of acres and continue to spread rapidly.

Fire ecology experts are leading the search for solutions, which includes restoring the natural role of fire in ecosystems and combating the poor land management practices that have led us to this crisis. In this panel discussion from the 2016 Bioneers Conference, four leading fire ecologists discuss one burning question: How can modern society renew our relationship with the land to stop the wildfire crisis?

Read more here.

Nature’s Phoenix: Fire As Medicine | Chad Hanson and Frank Kanawha Lake

Contemporary Western fire science is integrating what Indigenous Peoples discovered over thousands of years of observation, and trial and error: fire is key to optimizing forest vitality and biodiversity. The merging of these two ways of knowing could signal the end to our misguided policy of fire suppression at all costs, and the beginning of an era of building fire-resilient communities with a new relationship to one of nature’s most elemental and fearful forces.

This Bioneers podcast episode features fire ecologists Chad Hanson and Frank Kanawha Lake.

Read more here.

Initiation by Fire: Life During and After a Major California Wildfire

The Ojai Foundation in Ojai, California, is a 42-year-old retreat center whose mission is to “foster practices that awaken connection with self, others, and the natural world.” The new co-directors, Sharon Shay Sloan and her husband Brendan Clarke, were invited to lead a transformation of the space. But disaster hit just weeks after they arrived. The Thomas Fire — one of the worst in California’s history — blazed through the education center’s 37 acres and destroyed 80% of its buildings.

In this interview, Sharon discusses the aftermath of the fire and how she’s leading the effort to rebuild Ojai from the ashes. This story holds deep lessons on being resilient in times of disaster.

Read more here.

Wilder Than Wild: Fire, Forests, and the Future

In 2019, Bioneers hosted a screening and panel discussion of “Wilder Than Wild: Fire, Forests, and the Future.” This compelling one-hour documentary reveals how fire suppression and climate change have exposed our forests and urban landscapes to high intensity wildfires – and explores strategies to mitigate their impact. In 2020, as multiple wildfires are torching large areas of California, Wilder Than Wild offers an invaluable overview.

Read the panel discussion and learn more about the film.

Additional Resources

  • California Fire Safe Council | This nonprofit organization leads community efforts toward wildfire risk reduction and resiliency, by bringing together citizens, community leaders, governmental agencies and corporations.
  • National Fire Protection Association | Firewise USA is a voluntary program from the NFPA, which provides a framework to help neighbors get organized, find direction, and take action to increase the ignition resistance of their homes and community.

This article contains the content from the 8/28/2020 Bioneers Pulse newsletter. Sign up here to get the newsletter straight to your inbox!

Keep Your Finger on the Pulse

Our bi-weekly newsletter provides insights into the people, projects, and organizations creating lasting change in the world.