Five years after the Tubbs Fire became the most destructive in California’s history up to that point, Sonoma County residents have become accustomed to the anxieties of fire season. Some people remember being chased out of bed by bullhorns in the dead of night; others, like me, have tamer tales of shock. I was awakened by Thea Maria Carlson, who graces the cover of this issue, rapping on my bedroom window around 2:30 am on October 9, 2017. Together with her partner E Harris, she’d evacuated their community of Monan’s Rill—which, though spared from the Tubbs Fire, was burned by the Glass Fire three years later.
As both of those fires’ anniversaries draw near, it’s heartening to see how significantly the rhetoric has shifted away from (understandable) fear to something more proactive: a return to the indigenous practices of prescribed burning as a way of tending the land and working with rather than against this most powerful element. And so, even as our senses become ever more attuned to heat, dryness, and wind speed this fall, I hope we can balance the dread with some hope. To that end, I give you the Good Fire issue.
In Ursa Born’s Grow feature, read all about Carlson’s journey to becoming a “burn boss” with the skills and knowledge to help manage the land of Monan’s Rill as it regrows and rebuilds. I’m also delighted to feature cartoonist Brian Fies, who chronicled losing his home in the Tubbs Fire in the highly acclaimed graphic memoir A Fire Story.
Given some of these tragic stories, it felt natural to include a special section on healing. In mid-July, 12 Latina women spearheaded a project to bring attention to the often overlooked farmworkers and domestic workers who are fighting for basic protections and rights. Read on to learn about their mural, called Harvesting Hope After the Fires, and how to contribute to their cause. In the Heal feature, I explore the burgeoning movement of psychedelic cannabis therapy to help people release and process trauma.
These pages also bring you stories of local folks creating culinary heat; Sheila Shupe whipping up a batch of nourishing fire cider; and an End Bit with the one and only fireball of energy, Guy Fieri.
If you feel so inclined, I’d love to hear about how good fire manifests in your own life, and of course, any local hot spots you think we should know about. Thanks for reading.
Jess D. Taylor editor