It was a week before the Wine Country Fires devastated huge swaths of our northern California home turf that Lee Merschon contacted Burners Without Borders, an international relief group, to offer storage container living units (which he had designed for use on the playa at Burning Man) as housing for disaster evacuees.
Perhaps Merschon and his wife who live in Redondo Beach were thinking of the hurricanes that ravaged parts of Texas and Florida. But it was Carmen Mauk of Burners Without Borders and whose home burned down in the Santa Rosa fires who facilitated getting those containers, fitted out like tiny homes, trucked from “Black Rock City” to a commercial property in Santa Rosa.
About 75 people can be accommodated at “Oasis Village.” CannaCraft founder Dennis Hunter, who donated the space, said it would be “a respite and transitional location where people stay until they find a more permanent option.”
As reported in the Press Democrat and in a KTVU news video ,the windowless containers are each 40 feet long, 8 feet wide and 9 feet tall, painted with abstract swirls, and have small separate living spaces with locking doors. The “village” has a communal kitchen, showers, bathrooms, and also adjacent space for additional evacuees to park their RVs. Residents will have the much-needed opportunity to interact and share support and information with their fellows.
I love the fact that the people from the Burning Man community and CannaCraft “a family-owned, sustainably farmed, seed-to-shelf Northern California cannabis producer and distributor” came up with and executed this plan in just a few days.
As evidenced by the numerous fire relief benefits being produced by local theater groups, dance studios, poets, musicians of all kinds, and performance venues throughout Sonoma and Napa counties, it is obvious that culture as well as wine and natural beauty is what makes our region so special.
IMHO, it is the innovative heart and loving, generous nature of our creative artists and pot cultivators and ingesters (as medicine and for pleasure) that earn them the title of “second responders.” *
*My thanks to Kristen Madsen, Director of Creative Sonoma, for her Oct. 25 email titled “Artists Are Second Responders.”