“We don’t have the time to be in constant debate. We have to find solutions…  and we’re going to set the stage for a future that’s going to be brighter.” -Marko Bey

 

“We need to have a plan in place, and we need to practice these incidents before they ever occur. Preparation is crucial in this. Prevention response, recovery, mitigation- all are in a whole community response.” -Belinda Brown

 

The only way to address the health of our forests and ecosystems and the threats to our communities is through collaborative conversation. Therefore, building partnerships before disasters happen is crucial to our safety and existence. Marko Bey and Belinda Brown have been in the restoration work for over 30 years, and they continue serving communities through the Lomakatsi Restoration Project. Marko serves as Lomakatsi’s Executive Director, while Belinda works as the Tribal Partnership Director.  In this episode, Marko and Belinda talk about the best systems in implementing restoration and mitigation practices. They also share practical approaches to address collaboration mistrust among sectors and communities, equity issues, communication barriers, and raising sustainable funding. Tune in and join the #OneVoiceOneMindOneAccord movement for a more resilient today and a brighter tomorrow!

 

 

Highlights:

  • 08:20: How to Address the Need for Collaboration 
  • 14:07: How to Help “America’s Secret Family” 
  • 22:24: How to Manage Cross-Sector Collaboration 
  • 32:14: How to Handle Rural-Urban Mistrust
  • 38:42: How to Speak for the Ones Who Don’t Have a Voice
  • 45:39: How to Navigate the Mitigation and Restoration Work 
  • 52:06: How to Raise Sustainable Fundings   
  • 58:36: One Voice, One Mind, One Accord 

 

Quotes: 

03:27: “To get this good collaborative work done. It’s going to take all of us.” -Marco Bey

05:43: “We can have all the money in the world but we have to have a trained workforce to be able to put it on the ground.” -Belinda Brown

09:37: “The need to bring parties together to find that radical middle is centered around common values and zones of agreement.” -Marco Bey

17:54: “We need to have a plan in place and we need to practice these incidents before they ever occur. Preparation is crucial in this. Prevention response, recovery, mitigation- all are in a whole community response.” -Belinda Brown

27:34: “It’s way more expensive to suppress fire, but the mitigation, in the end, is going to cost savings for all of us.” -Marco Bey 

34:51: “It’s important that the local communities always have the answers for what they need…  Because at the end of the day, it is just us. We need to have leadership, political will, and the ability to come together before the crisis happens.” -Belinda Brown

36:51: “Advocacy gives far more power and influence than you may imagine.” -Jennifer Gray Thompson

39:10: “We could rethink some of the planning in how we develop. And now that we know more, maybe we can do better.” -Belinda Brown

42:13: “The most important thing we can do during these times of crisis is to listen to each other and validate those concerns, and then look at what we can do to stay solution-focused.” -Belinda Brown

51:51: “Navigating any kind of public funds is very skewed systemically towards counties and states that have a ton of money and skewed systemically against counties in states that don’t.” -Jennifer Gray Thompson

59:55: “We need more of the people who are willing to take the risks and for the community to step outside the box… It takes a lot of teamwork.” -Belinda Brown

01:04:55: “We don’t have the time to be in constant debate. We have to find solutions…  and we’re going to set the stage for a future that’s going to be brighter.” -Marko Bey  

 

Meet Marko Bey:

Executive Director and Lomakatsi’s Co-Founder, Marko oversees all aspects of the organization’s efforts, working in close coordination with the Board of Directors.  Marko’s central focus is on the program and organizational development, project procurement, planning, and operations. His other responsibilities include grant writing and fundraising, technical planning, and the management of cooperative agreements, stewardship agreements, and contracts.

Lomakatsi’s ten regional ecosystem restoration programs and associated workforce initiatives are a primary result of his work.  Most essential has been his leadership in the orchestration and formation of collaborative partnerships — partnerships that are strengthened by a wide variety of stakeholders, including federal and state agencies, Indian tribes, organizations, private landowners, and community members.

 

Meet Belinda Brown:

Belinda serves as Lomakatsi’s Tribal Partnership Director and operates within the framework of Lomakatsi’s Tribal Partnership Program and associated initiatives. Belinda works closely with Lomakatsi’s Executive Director and staff leadership to serve tribal communities in their efforts to restore forests and watersheds on tribal trust and ancestral lands. She serves as a community liaison, engaging with tribal elders, tribal councils, cultural resource monitors, and tribal department staff. Belinda also works to establish and promote effective working relationships among the tribal community, Lomakatsi, and federal agency and non-profit partners.

Connect with Lomakatsi Restoration Project: 

 

Transcription:

Jennifer Gray Thompson: Welcome to the podcast How  To Disaster. Today, I’m so pleased to bring you Marko Bay, Executive Director of Lomakatsi Forest Restoration project, as well as Belinda Brown, the Tribal Partnership Director for Lomakatsi. I asked them to come on today because the work they’ve been doing over the past 25 years is really important and it can be scaled elsewhere, and you can also use them as a resource. If you’re looking to contact them directly, please go to lomakatsi.org and find their contact information in the second slide of this podcast. I’m so pleased to welcome them here today with us on the podcast How to Disaster.

Marko Bey: Thank you. So appreciate the opportunity to come on and share After The Fire and all the great work of ReBuild North Bay Foundation. My name is Marko Bey, Executive Director of the Lomakatsi Restoration Project involved in natural resources and restoration work since 1987. Started out in an era of the reforestation era, which was the product of the big tree logging industrial forestry industry where clear cutting was a pretty big practice back then on public lands as well as private lands. So complete overstory removal of trees and then the replanting of single species that are now these plantations that are actually burning really hot is kind of the origin, and just looking over the years in western restoration work across multiple states. Ecological restoration is the practice of restoring and renewing degraded landscapes that are impacted. So that work entails everything from aquatic habitat work, to forest resiliency work, to work in systems across the spectrum. 

“To get this good collaborative work done. It’s going to take all of us.” -Marco Bey

So in 1995, after working for eight years in the private sector in the reforestation and forestry service industry. I helped to found the Lomakatsi Restoration Project, really, to build a bridge between hands off approach to ecosystems and complete industrial model of forestry. So the goal is to restore the land, create jobs, create resilient systems, and create thriving communities. That’s been our work for the last 26 years and I have a lot of background on the ground work as an implementer, a sawyer, a person applying fire. And over the last several years, really, since 2007 been more in a programmatic administrative role. Was really sorry to leave the woods on a full time basis. But yeah, a lot of time on the ground, a lot of time spent restoring fire adapted systems and working with communities. So that’s a little bit about my background and engaging with multiple partners across many spectrums to get this good collaborative work done. It’s going to take all of us.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: Absolutely. So Belinda, can you introduce yourself to our listeners and talk about how you came to do this work and how long you’ve been doing it?

Belinda Brown: Thank you for that. Yes, my name is Belinda Brown. I’m a member of the Kosealekte Band of Ahjumawi-Atsugi Nation, otherwise known as the Pit River Tribe. I’ve been involved in this work since 1988. I came along in the reforestation, restoration error, and had a company from 1988 till 1995. So I was just finishing up my business as Marko was starting his. And back then, we didn’t have a lot of best practices in science, and we didn’t have the marriage of the traditional logical knowledge, the aboriginal knowledge with the agencies and the Forest Service like we have today, and the collaboratives. So my work has entailed Alaska, Oregon and Washington different businesses. 

“We can have all the money in the world but we have to have a trained workforce to be able to put it on the ground.” -Belinda Brown

My background though is Health and Human Services. And so working with tribes in Oregon, California and Alaska, and bringing those tribal interests and those tribal voices to the forefront in policy and legislation, and the ways that we interact in international affairs and consultation the government to government consultation that sovereign nations have with the agencies. So since 2000 with executive order 13175 in government to government consultation under the era of President Clinton, tribes have been given that opportunity to actually co manage, co invest and lead in restoration of their aboriginal tribal lands. In 2012 as I was on tribal council and leading California tribes that are in water wars, we invited Lomakatsi to help us develop our workforce capacity because we can have all the money in the world. And we have to have a trained workforce to be able to put it on the ground. So I came to Lomakatsi five years ago, worked as a consultant contractor, and then came on as an employee to continue to promote this work and to reach out to the regional tribes because we know that they are the first best stewards of the land, and they continue to be the first best stewards of the land. Our commission as tribal people is to take care of the land, the water and the natural resources. 

So Lomakatsi has been an action vehicle and a platform to elevate our tribal voices to unite our tribal sovereign nations, and to respond where we are asked and invited to come help. And for that, I’m just very grateful Lomakatsi is a hopi word that means life and balance. And everything that we do in Lomakatsi, is trying to bring that balance back. And politically, really bring all sides together. It’s going to be all hands on deck for this work. We always try to hit that sweet spot of the radical middle so that we can build common ground. We can build those partnerships and we can come in one voice and solution focused to the problems, the issues and the challenges that we face.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: I just want you to know, Belinda, that I’m totally going to steal the term radical middle because that’s where I am such a devotee. I love that term. I so believe in that sweet spot. I believe we’re capable of it despite all the rhetoric that somehow we can’t. I just don’t find, so thank you. So turn it back to Marko Bey to talk about the role of collaboration, which I think really builds upon what Belinda was talking about, and what Marko said before. I’d like to turn it back to you know, Marko, to talk more about the issue and the challenges, and the critical importance of collaboration because that’s often really the hardest part about doing this work is people become so siloed, or so married, or so invested in their own piece of how to attend to mitigation in post disaster that it’s hard with bandwidth sometimes to look up and say, I want to sit at the table with people who might consider strange bedfellows. But in spite, actually we are all in this together. So talk about that road to get that done, how important it is.

“The need to bring parties together to find that radical middle is centered around common values and zones of agreement.” -Marco Bey

Marko Bey: Sure. So thinking back to the origin of the need for collaboration around forestry issues before we were having these massive mega fires, there’s always been large fires. When I moved to Oregon in 1987, there were the 1987 fires, which were really large across northern California and Southern Oregon. So we’ve had large fires, there’s always that need for interagency collaboration between federal and state agencies. But really on forestry issues, there was a period of complete polarization. The table was not being attended by either side, so things were shut down. There were lawsuits, there were a lot of natural resource related issues. So there was kind of a need for collaboration, a need to bring parties together. And then that movement really was born of forced cooperatives in the early 90’s in Southern Oregon with the Applegate partnership. So really trying to have a conversation with industry, with federal agencies, tribes, non government organizations, community leaders. But as the wildfire issue has accelerated, a lot of the routes and models that we lay down, and I’ve been a benefit to this issue that we’re dealing with these mega fires. So the need to bring all these parties together to find that local middle, as Belinda says, is really centered around common values and zones of agreement. And those zones of agreement are developed around this. We all care about this landscape. We all care about the communities that are couched within this landscape. And we care about the ecosystem services, the habitat. 

So how do we come together to bring these joint skills? One example, I could share some examples, but the Ashland forest resiliency stewardship project is one where the community input on a community alternative. We wanted to address the wildfire issue, and we wanted to address the ecosystem resilience issue. And the mechanisms where it wasn’t the time when it was first rolled out, it was going to be a timber sale to reduce fire hazard, it was going to remove some of the largest trees that are the most fire resilient trees. And the revenue from those trees were going to help pay for some of the work. So with stewardship authority, which is what we operate under quite a bit in all our lands, mitigation and restoration work came about in the late 90’s, early 2000’s. We had a hand in promoting that authority, and that authority allows it’s collaborative in nature. And it’s a great tool for communities considering wildfire mitigation and a holistic approach. So we were able to utilize a stewardship agreement model, bring different players to the table who are actually folks that are signed on to the agreement, and then auxiliary partners that support the overall initiative. So through that work, we’ve been able to bring opposing sides together and lean on the skills of the people who built the roads, the people who know how to manage logging systems, but use that as an ecological forestry approach. So we have industry at the table. We have municipal fire departments in some of our projects. We have federal agencies, and through Belinda’s work, we have tribal partners. Each of those parties, the public, private and tribal partnerships bring a really important piece, overlapping skills, resources, a different way of viewing the issues we’re dealing with, and just continue to become a family and strengthen that work. I mean, not everybody’s on board, you’re always gonna have folks that have a really important perspective. 

But for the most part, there are zones of agreement that we need to treat these forests. They’re overly dense through industrial forestry. They’ve been heavily impacted in the past. We have a lot of ingrowth, we have a real need to address the health of these ecosystems and these forests, and also the threats to communities. And the only way to get there is through a collaborative conversation, through memorandums of understanding, through people adding up, because at this point we saw with the fires of 2020, we have to come together. We’ve been laying the brickwork for this for many years through smaller projects. And now we’re scaling up across our basins to achieve a landscape scale, or create creative ways of thinking using that science, using practice and capacity to get this really important work done. Where do we invest, and how do we get there? So collaboration is really the center core of how we’re going to get this work done.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: Thank you so much for that. I truly believe that we have to treat it as an emergency, as a crisis. And we have to look at it like war, like we need to come together and it doesn’t matter. I don’t care if you’re a Democrat, or Republican, or an Independent, it doesn’t matter. Your politics don’t matter. To me, it’s your willingness to lean all the way into it in order to come out the other side. And so with that, I would actually like to turn it back to Belinda to talk about, specifically, what are the challenges getting people from all sectors to understand what I think you believe. I know that we believe, which is tribal leaders and tribal leadership actually need to be not invited to the table, but at the center of the table. Needs to be setting the table. That we need to look back in order to leap forward ecologically. And this will help in areas of health and human services tremendously, because equity is a huge issue in disaster. We know that the more disasters we have, the greater the inequities, and nothing gave us more evidence than that than COVID. But COVID was showing us that wildfires and other disasters already had been. So can you talk about your perspective and your work there, and why it’s so important.

Belinda Brown: Yeah. So tribal leadership in this arena is a crucial component as they gain the first best stewards of the land. And going back a little bit in the history of active removal, active genocide on our people removing us as the first best stores and removing that aboriginal fire, that land management tool that was used for time immemorial, and then discrediting our elders and our aboriginal knowledge of what best to do with the land when public agencies came about, when the Forest Service came about, when the BLM came about. And that trust responsibility was turned over to them to be the experts of the land. And now we know that isn’t so. Really kind gentle way the native people, aboriginal people get the giant, I told you so word, and how land management, and how Aboriginal knowledge should be at the forefront of everything that we do. We state that the land wasn’t just a vast wild land, it was very well cared for. It was our home, our pharmacy, our grocery store, our Home Depot, it was everything. So a lot of thought. And again, time immemorial practices kept that land base solid. And now in policy, in government and tribal government, executive order 13175 that wasn’t implemented until 2000. It’s all new. And how we use these tools in government, in government to government consultation is a process, a learning process, and it’s a steep learning curve because Native American history wasn’t taught in the public school systems. We are America’s family secret. 

“We need to have a plan in place and we need to practice these incidents before they ever occur. Preparation is crucial in this. Prevention response, recovery, mitigation- all are in a whole community response.” -Belinda Brown

In Oregon, there’s nine federally recognized tribes. In California, there are 109 federally recognized tribes. And that’s not even counting the non federally recognized tribes. In the United States, there’s 567 federally recognized tribes. And their sovereign nations, nation within a nation. So they actually have the ability to forge policy. And it’s all the tools of the trade of how to work with tribes. And so you have, for instance, a tribal liaison position in FEMA, tribal liaison position in the BLM, and tribal liaison position in the forest service. So across all these jurisdictions and all these departments, you have tribal liaisons. And if you look at a tribal liaison, job description, they may all be different. That’s part of the standardized protocols, policies and procedures that we need to be, let’s standardize some of this. And then our emergency response across jurisdictions, and communications, and mutual aid agreements. And California has an amazing agreement. I’m going to say it here, the California master of operative wildland fire management and Stafford Act response agreement. Now, we have that agreement. It’s like a MOU or MOA. We need to know how to use it, and we need relevant technical assistance. Sometimes in tribal communities, and that communication across jurisdictional boundaries to be able to formalize those mutual aid agreements that we need. So basically, we need to have a plan in place, and we need to practice these incidents before they ever occur. Preparation is crucial in this. So they’re the prevention response, recovery mitigation, all is in a whole community response. And that is coming down to Homeland Security and FEMA.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: So are you saying that there are specific ones that you think are best practices that can be applied into a more uniform implementation of how to do this technical assistance? How to work with tribes? And where would our listeners find that specifically, because one of our goals with this podcast is that people don’t continue to reinvent the process of recovery, and of mitigation and preparation. There’s no need to reinvent it on a person it already exists, and you have the opportunity to adapt and improve. So is that what you’re saying? I just want to make sure I understand.

Belinda Brown: Yes. Yes, absolutely. Tools are there. Sometimes, we don’t know all the tools of the trade, like the master stewardship agreement. And for California, and I’ll say it again, they have the California Master Cooperative, wildland fire management, and Stafford Act response agreement. It covers the years from 2018 to 2023. So you’re currently in that agreement. Maybe some people don’t know about that agreement, but it really crosses those jurisdictional boundaries. And a huge challenge for prevention response recovery mitigation, and that whole community response is jurisdiction. Who’s going to pay for the damages? So it boils down to money, and it boils down to how we are going to share that. Are we going to have a mutual aid agreement in place before this disaster happens? Because we know what’s going to happen. We know we’re going to have wildfires this year. And then being trained in the fundamental standardized protocols to be able to respond to the pandemic. We’ve been doing that, we’re running concurrent emergency response right now with the fires, land and fires, and with the pandemic. And there are standardized fundamental protocols that we all should be trained to be able to have the tools in our communities, to be able to respond. And that’s the local communities that need to be trained. We have to have the communication protocols, we have to have the ability to communicate across all jurisdictions. And hopefully, have those mutual aid agreements in place before that time of crisis comes so that we all know what we’re supposed to be doing, and that we can respond in a proper manner. So government to government, I think it’s really important that we invite the tribes. Government to government, I think it’s really important that we invite the tribes, and that we include them every step of the way. And actually lean on the leadership of that sovereign nation to nation agreement and ability to to consult. With Washington DC, if we need to move something on the local level, community level, state level.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: Thank you so much for that. Wonderful to see people like you who are on the front lines and doing this work. And I’m hoping that people come to you for consultation even more in other parts of the country, even more than they have to say, how are we going to do this? What are the best practices? What are the federal and state laws we need to be aware of? I just really want to tell you how much I admire your depth of knowledge, experience, and dedication to it because it’s desperately needed. I’ve actually turned it back to Marko at this point to talk about kind of going to revisit the role of cross sector collaboration, which is really a lot of what we’re talking about with Belinda is how to make sure that the tribal leaders are at the center of the table. You can invite them, I want them at the center, I want them setting the table and leading the way. But when you’re talking about collaboration, that involves the private sector. And I think that one of the things that we’ve seen happen in disasters is people don’t know how to engage the private sector in a way, or they struggle with it. It’s helpful that they can use their talent more than traditional philanthropy, which is, can you write us a check instead? Yes, right as to check, but also, you have specialized knowledge of systems, like the grocery industry has very specialized knowledge, it’s really actually helpful in disaster so that they’re invited to the table. But can you talk about your work, Marko, in that area, some of the challenges and opportunities.

Marko Bey: I guess I could speak on what the private sector that I engage with. We have a really unique model through our collaborative forest restoration and fuels mitigation work. So just to recap, where we’re working across thousands of acres, we’re setting the stage four good fire on the ground. And that’s a hard one for people to digest. So we need to reduce the density to more historic conditions. We need to do our fitting work in an ecological manner, and then set the structure of the forest, so that when we return fire to prescribed burning, it burns at low intensity and does its job. Or if fire were to come back from natural ignition or human ignition outside of prescribed burning, that it would burn at low intensity. So in order to get this work done, Lomakatsi is a non government organization, we’re a convener, we raise dollars, we have a whole programmatic team that are raising funds, acquiring federal state, tribal, and private philanthropic resources to get this very expensive work done that costs anywhere from 1000 to $2500 an acre to do mitigation fuels reduction type work. 

So as the convener and as a partner with other nonprofits and federal agencies, tribes, with these established agreements that have large scale long term projects, we’re able to layer in workforce development, youth training and employment, all these other social and economic elements to the restorative work. But the private sector, we really depend on in the service industry of forestry and timber. They’re not in the business of raising money, they’re in the business of doing work. We’re in the business of doing a lot of work too, but our job is to bolster and to continue to gird up their capacity and actually incubate additional businesses, and that’s a lot of the work Lomakatsi does, and a lot of the work we do in tribal communities. So the private sector is invested. A lot of them are in fire suppression. Seasonally, they work on wildfire suppression. But during the fall, winter and spring, they’re doing forestry and mitigation work. So how to keep that workforce employed is really important. So we have service providers. Unfortunately, over 75 in our area in Jackson, Josephine county that we do a lot of our work. And with the boom and bust of the big tree economy going away these service providers, their jobs were reforestation. Now, over the last 20 years, we’ve been transitioning in building the restoration economy, and more ecosystem restoration and forest resiliency work. 

So we want to continue to hold on to that capacity. Some that have been in business 40 years through these large stewardship agreements, and cooperative agreements that only nonprofits, tribes, or municipalities can enter into. We are business investors, we’re partners, we’re bringing matching funds to the table, we’re raising money to get this work done, but we need to have that muscle. And to establish local business and capacity to do the work, we have to maintain those businesses. So we’ve been successful in awarding a lot of those dollars to that private sector in forestry and fuels mitigation work. And organizations like Lomakatsi can do that with our partners, but the fire suppression community has capacity, they’re established. So in order to get this work across thousands of acres, we’re going to lean on them, and we’re going to need to keep them in business, we’re going to need to make this work viable. But at the same time, we see a huge investment from the private sector in wanting to be in the game. So there is definitely skin in the game in this work, and we’re proud to support the private sector outside of the industry we work in. There’s also the private sector, folks that care about their community, they want to put some sweat equity in the game, they want to have some strategic thinking around how we’re going to do this because it benefits them and the whole community. 

 

“It’s way more expensive to suppress fire, but the mitigation, in the end, is going to cost savings for all of us.” -Marco Bey 

So really, the model in Oregon rolled out through governor Brown’s wildfire response effort. And the committee that met over the last couple years is this concept of private and public partnerships. The one thing left out is tribal because tribes are not private, and they’re not public. So we center these private, public and tribal partnerships that all have resources, funds, skills, expertise. And it’s going to take that private sector along with our tribal partners, along with the federal agencies to get this huge lift of millions of acres that are prone to fire, prone to create the experience that we saw last summer. And we’ve seen over the last decade, it’s going to take all hands on deck, co investment, and folks at the table to creatively think how to do this. Insurance companies, utility companies, there’s equations in development on how to get this very expensive work done. It’s way more expensive to suppress fire. We know that the checkbook is relatively open there, and it’s very costly. But the mitigation, although it’s expensive, in the end, it’s going to be cost savings to all of us.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: For people who don’t know, it costs the federal government about $6 to respond to a disaster, for every $1 cost mitigates or prevents a disaster. So really, if you only care about the economy, it’s still in your interest to do this work. I just wanted to clarify for people who didn’t understand.

Marko Bey: Thank you for that. And I hope I addressed the private sector piece.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: It was magnificent. I’m not gonna lie, it gives me chills. I mean, it’s exactly what we’ve been talking about and really hoping for. And then finding thought leaders, having thought leaders in this area, every time I discover another one, I feel like I found a gem. And I have more hope. I have more energy for it. So yes, I think that that was wonderful. And how you address it well, there is an economy to be had. And skin in the game is really important, and beyond just response to or the freakout because we’re having these mega fires is the concept of what role do we all have to play, and responsibility to make sure that this gets done.

Marko Bey: One piece I do leave out and I talked about the service forestry industry, which is typically the folks that do the, what we will call a non commercial work. And what we mean by non commercial is there’s no product coming out of the woods that’s going to generate revenue, like logs or firewood. But a huge part of our infrastructure that we need to maintain from the private sector is our mill infrastructure as we process small diamond material. So these byproducts of ecological forestry, the byproducts of our hazard mitigation work, and then some stewardship, we’re able to generate commercial logs. And through these partnerships send those logs to the mill as non government organizations in partnership with federal agencies and tribes through stewardship agreements, and then that revenue generated gets put back into more fuels reduction prescribed fire mitigation work. So we really need to maintain that mill infrastructure. And a lot of it has downsized to small diameter which are being thinned around the larger trees. So the timber industry is going to be a really important player and has been an important player in this restaurant, effort done in an ecological way.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: And for those who haven’t seen the documentary, The West Is Burning, I highly recommend that you find that on PBS, I went on national and you can get it on demand. One of the things they talked about was how important it is to have a smaller diameter when the timber industry was initially set up. So they would take the largest, oldest and biggest trees. And this is a completely opposite plan. This is for much smaller diameter trees that are crowding the forest and are not. And this is a way of commodifying that product so that you can actually afford these expenses of fuel mitigation. So if nothing else, then cost neutral would be fine. We can live with that. But Belinda, I’d like to turn back over to you to talk about something that we think about a lot here at After The Fire. And that is, you are a tribal leader and you are a member of a rural community. 

One of the things that we see in America often these days is, and have for a long time, it’s not new, but it certainly has come to a bit of a head is this idea that rural communities don’t care about the land in the way that urban communities actually think that they should care. I think there’s a lot of misinformation about how people are attached to the land, and how we should enter into rural communities in order to mitigate or assist them pre and post disaster because there is this level of earned mistrust. And we have a lot of respect for those coming from California. When we go into Oregon, we know that we have to have very light hands and absolutely come up as helpers, never heroes, never saviors. We do not lead community recoveries for them, we are there to support their community, lead and design recovery. I’d like for you to talk about any strategies that you’ve learned about how to work with rural communities in a way that’s very respectful of and not and don’t make assumptions about who they are. Politically, we don’t make assumptions about their value systems with regard to their attachment or care of the land. I think we’ve lumped it all in one. And I think we’ve created a lot of distress. And tell me if I’m wrong, I’m totally open to that too.

Belinda Brown: Well, thank you for that. That’s just a good observation. Been in the political arena for a long time, rural, and we call these frontier communities. Actually, we have a hrsa designation, we fought for that. So we’re on the frontier. And the low numbers and population is really what keeps us out of the game in many ways. And rural places don’t have the million dollar homes on the hill like some other places have, but there still are homes. And I think that it is not correct that rural people don’t care rural people very much care about their homes, their safety and their livestock. And unfortunately, Northern California, Shasta, Lassen, Modoc, Siskiyou County is where our Pit River Tribe resides. Modoc County’s 86% public federal land. So you have more land than you have people, you have more cows, and you have people. And I think it’s really important, again, Lomakatsi has helped elevate this and given us a platform to create a political will. 

“It’s important that the local communities always have the answers for what they need…  Because at the end of the day, it is just us. We need to have leadership, political will, and the ability to come together before the crisis happens.” -Belinda Brown

So in government, again, politically, when we have a resolution from county supervisors, when we have a resolution from LTER City Council, when we have a resolution from tribal governments in Mohawk County, we’re going to leverage something, and we have before appropriations for our hospital. So bringing everybody together, again, that collaborative partnership effort, we work across two states, we’re putting in for disaster philanthropy preparedness mitigation now to put money down in the States. So when we have two states, two FEMA regions, US Fish and Wildlife region, five counties, five tribes coming together, that’s political will. So these rural communities sometimes sit and wait for what Washington DC is going to do. And that sometimes, isn’t the best solution. So again, Lomakatsi helps us come together and be solution focused. So we’re putting a project out there. We’re putting solutions out there that maybe we haven’t even heard from Washington DC yet, but we’re going to get funded because we all came together, and we are that collaborative. And we have all those resolutions and all that political will, and our congressmen, and our senators going to bat for us, we’re going to leverage what we need because we already won the game locally. And I think that’s really important that the community, the local communities always have the answers for what they need. 

And one of the stories last year that really touched me was a little place in Malala, Oregon, that their people went out and they bought that fire on their own. So just those farmers, ranchers, and community members went out, and they held that line, and they fought that fire, and they saved their community, we need to do more of that. Because at the end of the day, it is just us. And we need to come up with solutions that fit our need. We need to have that leadership and that political will and the ability to come together again, hopefully, before the crisis happens. But we need to know what every player on that field is capable of, and how we’re going to mutually benefit each other.

“Advocacy gives far more power and influence than you may imagine.” -Jennifer Gray Thompson

Jennifer Gray Thompson: I think you brought up something really important. And I just want to make sure that everybody really hears this that you cannot wait for Washington to tell you how it’s going to go. Washington is actually waiting often for us to say how it’s going to go. Because in our experience, we go to DC, and we go to FEMA, or we got our senators, we go to the OMB, or whatever agency it is. We show up regionally and multi sectored with specific requests that are database, because we know our community, we get a tremendous response. And what we hear from them is thank you, we want this to be multi County, we want this to be multi state, it’s a big bang for their buck there for their time, you will get better, you will get higher up decision makers, decisions will be made. And the federal government is always very slow. It’s not necessarily a criticism of them. But there’s a lot of reasons why that’s true. It’s giant, it’s huge. But you can go to Washington and tell them, you know wha?t It is that you want, you can do it by Zoom and tell them exactly what is needed. I just want to make sure everybody heard that, that they’ve given the advocacy piece, give far more power and influence than you may imagine. So don’t you know if you think, oh, I’m just a county supervisor from like a tiny county with 67,000 people in it. Well, you know what? Team up the three other counties, consumer welfare doesn’t care about your county lines. And even Health and Human Services issues, they don’t care about your county lines. And you can have inequity anywhere where these wildfire dangers are. So I have to be able to say just, I’m like, right on, Belinda, thank you makes me so happy. 

So Belinda, I’m actually going to have Marko also attend to this question. But first, I would like you to address it as we are based in Sonoma, and we, of course, are a very well resourced County. We do have multi million dollar homes up in our rural areas. I get asked this question all the time which is why are we allowing people to continue to live in the wildland urban interface. And should those houses, for example in Paradise be rebuilt. And I’ll be honest, I do not like that question. Because what I say every time is, Paradise was just like, what was to come? There are thousand paradises out there, so why don’t we instead invest our money in helping the people who already live in the, which is a lot of the American West, harden their homes, do their land fuel mitigation. Instead, why are we sitting back in judgment by saying, oh, you shouldn’t even live there anyway. So I’d like to hear your thoughts on that. Because I know that for me, I find it a little irritating and disrespectful. And I don’t think anybody means it when they’re saying that. But they also assume that people are not attached to place, home and community. That’s my soapbox.

“We could rethink some of the planning in how we develop. And now that we know more, maybe we can do better.” -Belinda Brown

Belinda Brown: That’s difficult. And that’s difficult, because I’m an aboriginal person. I’m going to be trying to be careful here and speak a little bit, though, for the animals and the wildlife that don’t have a voice. And we kind of took their territory, people kind of moved in on territory that maybe we didn’t think was really good. Maybe we could go rethink some of the planning and how we develop. And now that we know more, maybe we can do better. So again, it is our responsibility individually and collectively, to take all the good information that we have now. All the best practices that we have now, and really possibly rethink and redesign what we’re doing. And that American dream to some was American nightmare to others. And that’s where we need to come back to a base point of reference of, where do we go from here? And how do we all get there from here? 

So every community, with its geographical differences with the people differences, with all the diversity, equity and inclusion, and that deep thought, and again, that collaborative partnership approach, that whole community approach to where do we go from here probably needs to be rethought. We all need to make changes in order to address this climate chaos that we’re in, and we got ourselves here. We got ourselves here, and we can get ourselves out, or we can mitigate damages. There’s changes that need to be made, and we need to think about the animals. Our elders tell us, think about the fish, the wildlife, the generations that are coming after us. Are we making decisions for those seven generations that are coming in the future? And I think when we stop, and we can get a little bit of that Aboriginal thought process going, we’re all going to be possibly gentler with ourselves, and maybe a little bit wiser about the decisions that we’re making for ourselves in our communities and where we build.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: So just in case, I always look at everything as learning moments. It’s probably because my history is a teacher. But I’m  curious, then I’ll go to Marko in just a second. How would you answer the questions that, I can be better. When I’m asked repeatedly, why are we allowing people to live in the WUI. People who were already there, that’s what I’m really referring to. If they want to restrict new growth into the movie, I have no issue with that. But it’s the matter of the idea like in floodplains, they do buy out. The federal government will do a buyout if it’s repeatedly flooded. But I worry about this sort of prescriptive, no idea that we should be more prescriptive about exactly where people live in a way that we don’t already do. I don’t know if I’m making sense in a way that I want to, but I hope that you can hear what I’m saying. I don’t even go into the rural American west and tell everybody to move. So what do we do?

“The most important thing we can do during these times of crisis is to listen to each other and validate those concerns, and then look at what we can do to stay solution-focused.” -Belinda Brown

Belinda Brown: Well, I think that conversation needs to happen. And listen, I think one of the most important things we can do during these times of crisis is really listen to each other, and just validate those concerns. And then look at what we can do to stay solution focused, because we can be at odds or we can disagree. But like we say, these wildfires, no, no jurisdictions, the pandemic knows no jurisdictions or boundaries, critters, wildlife, fish, they know no jurisdictions or boundaries. So what is the best answer for those individuals and communities? Well, obviously, you want to prevent the defensible space program. I mean, we can help everyone, we can make it more affordable, we can get together as communities. And in our rural frontier communities, it’s something that we can share with a little community where I’m at 182 people. So if we have a five person or six person work crew out there, and we have a little bit of funding, we can get a lot done. And we know the elders that don’t have the ability to go out and perform defensible space work. 

So how, again, as that individual and then as a community are we going to come to a place of agreement with what we need to do, and how we need to protect those communities? How we need to put those defensible space dollars to work. And more than anything, I think we need to get the science, and the politicians, and the tribal communities, and all these decision makers that your opinion leaders as you would say together and begin these conversations in a good way before that crisis hits, and come up with those solutions. It’s going to look different for every community. Sonoma is different from Los Altos, California. Ashland is different from Chico. I mean, those are just realities, and all the players are different. But in every community, you’re going to find a core group of people that really care about all of this. Like those six members that are the workers, you’re going to find your workers, you’re going to find your decision makers, and even the pose or disagree with what we think that all needs to come together again in that radical middle of, where’s our common ground? How are we going to protect our communities and homes? And what are the best answers here? How are we going to build those homes? Are they going to be made out of better materials that aren’t, that’s more fire resistant and resilient. Insurance like we were talking with your folks up there, you know how we can address that, and making sure that our communities and individuals are informed, or talking to each other, and that we’re following some standardized fundamental protocols of how to be safe.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: I think I’m going to, next time I get asked that question, usually by a reporter, I’m just going to give him your number, if that’s okay. I’m going to turn down my sort of defensiveness. Well, where do you want the people to go, like maybe we should just pay to mitigate the wild lands around them. But I hear you, and I think that that’s important, I will take that as my lesson for the day. I appreciate that. So Marko, if you would like to address the conversation, I just say, what we were talking about a moment ago about living in the WUI, and then I want to go into a conversation about, we have this huge challenging problem in front of us, that wildfire mitigation, and what is needed for organizations like yours to make sure that you are amplified, supported and expanded throughout the American West? So two very small questions.

Marko Bey: Thank you for that, Jennifer. Thinking about the last question that Belinda addressed, I had the opportunity to just ponder on it while she was sharing most of the West, and Oregon, and Northern California is the WUI. And we’re in the WUI, which has a different definition. When we think of a real wildland and an urban interface, what defines that, there’s also the wildland urban intermix, or the rural wildland intermix, like very rural communities like Belinda’s mentioning. But I think the key is, when I reflect back to some of the elders from our tribal partners that spent a lot of time visiting with Lomakatsi in the early days of our formation, sharing this model of these village sites, and they’ve been mapped out, and they’ve been there for thousands of years, they were put in position, they were put in places on the landscape where fire intensity was thought about, there was a thinking around mitigating fire because we were living in a dynamic fire dependent and fire adapted system, this is what shaped this place. It’s going to continue to shape this place. We could do a better job on planning and thinking about using the science on how fire burns, where it burns historically, how it’s moved across the landscape, and places we might want to have more creative thinking around where we build. 

But in the sense, we’re all in the WUI. I’m in the WUI. I own a home in the WUI. I’m out every morning. We do this across thousands of acres. I’m out every morning at 5:30 doing my own mitigation around my home. It’s kind of like an auto mechanic that never works on their own vehicle because they’re too busy working on everybody else, so I think there’s a way to balance it. And we have to get really creative about how we address the fire issue in the wildland urban interface, continue to do the work we do, be strategic about our treatments, our dollars when they’re invested. And these fires aren’t going to go away, people are going to continue to build in the woods, they’re going to continue to maintain their homes in the WUI. So let’s do good mitigation work around those homes. Those are community members. And let’s think creatively, like that place based model that Belinda talked about, that is the model, traditionally, logical knowledge, people learning to live with fire, people learning to apply fire and actually taking care of their home site defensible space, and their greater strategic areas that we’re going to ameliorate fire. We need their investment, we need their support for not just to benefit themselves, but the whole community. 

Now, the issue we run into to your second question is we have millions of dollars through these various federal and state programs, and they’re going to continue to flow. The challenge with organizations like Lomakatsi and non government organizations is with every large infusion of dollars to get these thousands of acres treated. There’s all this administrative, programmatic and operational overhead capacity needed. So leaning on our philanthropic partners, just the ability to support that capacity is going to go a long way to our mitigation and restoration work. We’re really good at raising dollars and putting money on the ground and doing it efficiently. The girding we all need as non government charitable organizations is just supporting our administrative and programmatic team, so that we could actually expand that team. So we do more of this work. And the challenge with the funding is, even you get your indirect costs paid for. I don’t want to get into the weeds about all the semantics for this, but that’s the kind of help we need as non government organizations to support our team, packaging these, and really to support our work with our tribal communities and our Latinx communities. Those are the communities that need our support in this fire recovery work. They are the marginalized communities, and they have a lot of solutions. And those are the people doing the work on the ground. They’re doing the creative thinking, the strategic thinking, so that’s the program we’re after.

“Navigating any kind of public funds is very skewed systemically towards counties and states that have a ton of money and skewed systemically against counties in states that don’t.” -Jennifer Gray Thompson

Jennifer Gray Thompson: And I think most people who are listening to this, some of them are in disaster, and some may not be aware that the reality is that, if you want to be to be an administrator for like, we have a federal grants, we had to make sure that we matched it, we can demonstrate an equal match of resources in order to administer this federal grant for fuel mitigation. We have a CALFIRE grant for $1.5 million, but it required our organization to isolate and commit $200,000 in our own funds in order to do that. We believe that to abuse a cliche, there should be skin in the game. But at a certain point, these matches are not feasible, and they don’t actually fund the implementers who are doing it very well, they just don’t, and they don’t fund for Talent. We’d have no issue funding for Talent in the private sector or non governmental sector, except when it comes to nonprofits, which are the only ones really besides tribal nations who can even do this work or receive those funds. It’s kind of strange because you’re not supposed to pay staff if you run a nonprofit, but you actually can’t run a non successful nonprofit unless you can pay your staff and places that have the least amount of resources that need a tremendous amount of fuel mitigation. Counties that are not well resourced should not be required to do matches for those grants, they can’t do it, they can’t even, they need the capacity to even apply for them. And there needs to be a common app across all the major agencies too. There are things that can be done, and I actually have a lot of hope more so than I did even two or three years ago that will come to the fore. I don’t know if people really realize that navigating the federal or any kind of public funds, it really is very skewed systemically towards counties and states that have a ton of money systemically against counties in states that don’t.

Marko Bey: That’s really good, Jennifer, because that’s what we see. We work across two states over 15 counties, and it’s really different everywhere you go that the demographics, the conditions. But you brought up a good point that a lot of our funding has to be matched, it has to be non federally matched. Or in the case of state dollars, we have to bring additional private funds to receive those dollars. So that is a big part of what we’re hustling day to day to do is to leverage these dollars to layer. We were looking at one of our projects today, and we have like 15 funding sources to make this project whole and make it work from federal money, tribal, self determination funds, to state dollars, to multiple private foundations to get this project off the ground, then to leverage and layer that all together. It’s a huge amount of work, so the support is really needed in the development and the forecasting. 

So if you get to envision a project, where are the dollars coming from for the first two years, you’re gonna have to assemble that project. Like we just did on an amazing project, the West Bear all lands restoration project, we’re receiving some significant funds. We’re creatively using private and philanthropic funds from one of our partners, sustainable Northwest. We’re bringing additional private dollars to Lomakatsi. We’re leveraging FEMA funding through the mitigation grant program. We’re utilizing NRCS dollars to the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. We’re leveraging Oregon Department of Forestry funds. We’re bringing in some tribal dollars, and then small private foundations. So you have 15 grant agreements or awards for one project. That’s a pretty large project, 27,000 acre area. We’ll treat about 6000 of those acres with the funds in house. But then who’s going to administer those funds? Who’s going to have to report on all those grants? Who’s going to have to oversee accountability on the financial end. That’s the staffing and the support we’re going to need in order to do this fire mitigation work. We have the skills, the boots on the ground. We have capacity with our service providers. We have great technical staff, programmatic leaders, but we need that undergirding to keep ourselves hold, operate these great programs. It’s really challenging.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: It’s really challenging, and you’re not trying to buy a Lamborghini with this. None of us are in this thinking, we’re going to come out of it millionaires. That’s not it at all. We’re just saying that we need to send changes that make this like 27,000 acres really impressive, and it’s just a tiny bit. Like 10 million acres burned just last year in 2020, and we don’t even know what we’re up against this year. So in that sort of war mentality of how do you like, during World War ll, we paid in America for child care for every woman so that she could go to work. And now, it’s something that we don’t do. But we had to think creatively in order to get through that period of time, and we really do need that. We’re not limited by capacity, creativity, or willingness. Sometimes, we’re limited by willingness. But I think last year may have blown that we are very limited by how to actually stamp it. So I appreciate you bringing that up. It really is a huge issue.

Marko Bey: One of the comments, Jennifer, I just realized when I said it’s challenging, I’m not pouting. This is what gets folks like us out of bed in the morning. We’re making a living, not killing at this work. The people that we work with, we’re passionate about it. We care about it. But I wanted to share one quick story. There was a fire that happened in late April in one of the areas we’ve worked, it’s within the Klamath Reservation Forest, the Fremont went even National Forest [inaudible] Oregon, pretty rural. They implemented a project with a tribal workforce in partnership with the Klamath tribes several years back, and that fire was a human cause fire, and it burned. They had all their resources on it. Very early pre fire season, but it was dry. And the areas that weren’t treated are really high intensity, standard placing, or schoolwork. A lot of big trees in the area that we treated. We thinned it, we commercially ecologically thinned it using local operators. We did an A to Z project. 

Meaning, we did all the marketing, the prescription, we did a whole training around it. And then we burned the slash and then we burned. That fire came back into that stand and it stayed completely on the ground. It burned low intensity. All the pine is still there. We just recently did a community tour of that area through a tribal workforce program. It was amazing to see the results of the fire next to the area and the fire that had been unburned or earned. And that’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking to set the stage that our communities can be more resilient. Our ecosystems can sustain because we care about these large old trees and the diversity, and that people have good meaningful paying jobs, good livelihoods, right livelihoods, working in their communities, caring for their land and caring for their community.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: And no one says that we don’t want to be accountable for the funds that we get. We want public funds to be accountable, and we’re just asking for a little more streamlining, a little more sanity, a little more funding and a little more realistic approach to doing this work. I know that from the first time that I met you, which was Ashland, out by where the fire started, the Alameda fire and the ponds, we are all out there in a circle with public sector leaders. I learned the term mild fire to prevent wild mega fires at that meeting, and I was impressed. But then by you and Belinda, and the work that you’re doing, I felt very fortunate that we happen to have this mutual connection, your communications director. I just want to really say that I’m very happy to have you on this podcast and to amplify what you do. And I’m really hoping that we find points, alignment and opportunities to work together over the next decade many times. I really think your model is exactly what I would like to see more of everywhere. I really want to thank you for that. I want to go to Belinda really quickly for her closing thoughts, and then I’m going to come back to you one more time, Marko Bey, for your closing thoughts.

“We need more of the people who are willing to take the risks and for the community to step outside the box… It takes a lot of teamwork.” -Belinda Brown

Belinda Brown: Well, my dream is really having a Western Regional coalition. I mean, from the west coast that comes together and really with one voice, one mind, one accord provides those solutions to Washington, DC. So thank you very much for what you’ve done in response to the events in your area. And we are placed at the base. The tribes I think, well I know we’re placed based and we have a lot of the solutions. I think being able to, again, thank you for this opportunity to have a voice and then to really listen to each other and be able to connect, be able to stay fundamentally sound in the protocols, the standardized protocols that we know, and to practice more of the efforts that we need in prevention mitigation recovery response. Oregon just declared a state of emergency. 19 counties are in drought right now. So with that, we will be able to access mutual aid. So it’s kind of staying ahead of the curve. And being out there taking the risks, having the courage that you have to do, what you do, and we need more of that, we need more of the people who are willing to take the risks and the community steps maybe outside the box. And like you keep referring to, maybe sometimes that means strange bedfellows. But if we’re asking DC to all work together, if we’re asking the Department of Homeland Security Department of Health and Human Services, the USDA, the Department of Interior, US Army Corps of Engineers, we’re asking all of them to work together as a team also. So it really takes a lot of teamwork. I kind of look at it like sports. I’m a sports mom. We have that East West game going on all the time. I really do believe that the West has the answers, and we need to be able to provide those answers to decision makers, to funders so that we can go home and put that money to work on the ground. Keep people employed, keep communities safe, keep forests resilient, keep the Fish and Wildlife alive, and keep our children motivated to take care of this earth for those generations that are coming. And we just need more people like Jennifer to help us and to get that word out there.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: That’s so funny, coz I’m staring at you. I love her. I want thousands more Belinda’s. So I’ve come from you, thank you so much. Like that’s actually in all sincerity. Why I get up in the morning is to meet and amplify and work with people like you and Mark. It’s been the most inspiring years of my life to meet people like you. I’m excited for the future of what we might be able to get done together. I know that I want to ride in your car, so thank you for driving. Thank you, and thank you for being on the podcast. Alright. And Marko, I’m going to go right back to you for last, any closing thoughts or anything you want to say to finish out the podcast?

Marko Bey: Yeah, thank you, Jennifer. So thank you again in all your efforts with ReBuild North Bay, andAfter The Fire, this initiative moved forward, and was good to meet you. We were heavily impacted. Personally, in our organization, we had three of our 64 staff lose their homes. We were on a weekly finance meeting with our team on Zoom because we’re in the COVID period. We were on lockdown, basically. But during that meeting, one of our finance team members said, oh, my god, there’s a fire coming up to the back of my house. And this is a video made of fire ignition, right around the origin of the fire in Ashland before it blew North at Bear Creek and it shifted. And then she said, I gotta go. And as she left, one of our other team members lives in the neighboring town of Talent. And within 10 minutes, he’s like, I think I’m gonna have to evacuate. So we were seeing it just on a Zoom call, and then it happened. And realizing how vulnerable we are, we’ve worked in that riparian zone for decades, and we’ve done restoration work, producing blackberries and replanting. And who would have thought that fire would have burned the way it did and ignited communities wind driven, and moved through that from Ashland all the way into Medford. 

“We don’t have the time to be in constant debate. We have to find solutions…  and we’re going to set the stage for a future that’s going to be brighter.” -Marko Bey  

So we are seeing in an unprecedented time what we’re witnessing, and organizations like yours and the work we’re doing in Lomakatsi. We have great partners. Work with the Nature Conservancy, the Southern Oregon forest restoration collaborative, the Forest Service, and the BLM are many tribal partners. And we’re living and breathing this stuff day to day. I think these are the solutions, these are the conversations we need to have. And we’ve inherited a really intense impact from years of mismanagement. We’re not here to play the blame game. It’s to say, to own what we’ve done as a society, and then to find solutions to be solution focused. I think that that’s where we’re coming to, and it does cross the aisle. When I testified in 2019 wildfire resilient communities, the desert island subcommittee, and we were there with the Forest Service and some other expert witnesses, the IOS came together right in that meeting, it was agreed that we actually do need to do this good mitigation work. And yet, it does need to be ecological. So it could be supported by all of our partners. I see it happening. The media might not portray that it might trade polarization. I know you and your work, you find those moments where some really special shows up. Whatever we’re going to define that as were people talking from different perspectives, and they’re coming up with solutions. And you feel that synergy in that energy in the room, that’s the point we’re at now. We don’t have the time to be in constant debate. Have to find those solutions. 

I’m excited to be part of this time, even though it’s a difficult time on the planet. It’s a very exciting time. I think we’re going to set the stage for a future that’s going to be brighter. So thank you for this opportunity. I’ll just share one more quick thing. Our crews have an interesting model at Lomakatsi. Our crew spent the whole summer on fire, even down in California, they were on many, many incidents starting in June, all the way to the end of October. And when they came back, post fire recovery fell by fire, Jackson County Office of Emergency Management, we got to get some stabilization along this creek. We have salmon coming up. Sedimentation issues. So that crew and from a whole season of fuels reduction work from basically October all the way around to October, and then fighting fire all summer, and then right into mitigation. And that’s the need we have. We need to have a community workforce, a community team that can respond quickly, be in place, and be able to address these issues. And that’s the capacity we need to build across the west. And to continue to build with our agency partners, the private sector, our tribal partners, and create NGOs, like ReBuild North Bay, and our other NGO partners. So thank you for the opportunity to share a little bit. I know we didn’t cover everything.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: It’s the opening conversation, we’re here for the long haul. I don’t know if you would use this, but after our fires, we had a couple of nonprofits like the Sonoma Ecology Center, and some others who went out and did a lot of waddling. I named them at that point first responders for the earth. We have public, we have firefights, everyone has a role to play and a lane that they can make a huge difference in. But it’s that willingness to collaborate and come together. And it’s all of the values that you and your organization are exactly what we want to support and have many more conversations. I hope this is just the opening one. And if anyone, again, wants to look more at the programs that you guys do and the amazing work that you’ve done in your visioning. They are welcome to visit lomakatsi.org. And again, thank you so much for being on the podcast How To Disaster.

Marko Bey: Thank you, Jennifer. I like the first responders of the earth, I will use that one now.

Jennifer Gray Thompson: It’s just true. I love things that are true. Thank you.

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