Will a Landslide Bring It Down?
"I took my love, I took it down
The message was time-stamped at 4:18am on Valentine’s Day:
“Can we stop by? We were evacuated.”
Here in Northern California, we are growing accustomed to evacuations for wildfires. There were no wildfires burning last week. Instead, we had weeks of rain, followed by an extreme soaker that dumped 5 inches in one day.
I had visited my friend’s home the previous evening. I am helping him with a new non-profit organization dedicated to building sustainable housing solutions. I hadn’t visited his house in a few years. I had never seen his cozy library/office space before. We chatted for a long time, in a cocoon of energy that I didn’t understand in the moment.
I took my leave around dinner time. It was dark by then, but as I drove away, I could see large boulders in the roadway, slick with rain, along with mud and branches. Later, I questioned whether I should have alerted him to this.
As reported on the national news, a powerful mudslide ripped through his Sausalito neighborhood around 3am, sweeping away two houses and five cars. One house slid downhill into a second house, knocking it off its foundation. The first house carried one occupant, a woman sleeping on the second floor, as it disintegrated into a pile of sticks. Miraculously, she survived. My friend’s home was three houses away.
Many of the news photos of the scene include his house. He, his wife and daughter are fine. I still haven’t heard the full story from them. I know that they were cleared to return home around 5pm and their power was restored later that evening. As of today, they still don’t have internet. But they are happy to be alive and happy that they still have a home. Many homes have been red-tagged. Several people lost everything.
The neighborhood has rallied to support the victims. Within hours, people were asking what was needed and making offers of everything from children’s clothing to spare cars. It felt like it happened to all of us. And we desperately wanted to ease their suffering. Local, personal connections were quickly transformed into emergency support.
My friend has recognized the importance of local networks and decentralized resources, and is training in permaculture practices. He is committing his architectural talents, his energy and his time to creating a model for a different way of living. The vulnerability of overpriced 0hillside neighborhoods built on stilts was clearly demonstrated last week. I wonder what it will take for “civilized” humans to realize how unstable the foundations of our modern lives are.
Hence the title of this article. And this question also:
What do we see reflected in the hills of Sausalito?
I think back to the prior evening and feel curious about the serendipity of my visit. Only hours later, houses and cars were destroyed, possessions were lost and people were suddenly removed from homes. I suppose that we were shown the urgency of this sacred work of building sustainable housing. The proximity and timing sharpened the impression, on me at least, that the time is now to answer our sacred calling – whatever it may be.
My calling is to support others in their sacred work. I feel as though I have been activated this year, as I counsel many who realize that they can no longer postpone their dreams or ignore their soul’s pleas. It is my soul's joy to assist others in the creation of a viable, visible, grounded business that serves the greater good.
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