The Boles Fire was sudden and intense, a tragedy that will forever be a turning point in the history of our town of Weed. In its aftermath, the community came together with great strength, to raise money and provide assistance to fire survivors and others affected.
Our WeedAid event takes place more than two months after the day of the fire. Cleanup crews are hard at work, and initial shocks are subsiding as the town begins to heal and recover.
What can we learn from other communities, and from people who have been through this elsewhere? Our panelists will share stories from their work following 2005’s Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi , 2010’s earthquake in Haiti, and 2012’s Hurricane Sandy along the US eastern seaboard. Outside panelists will present their wisdom in conversation with the community.
Burners Without Borders
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, causing 2,000 deaths, over $100 billion in damage, and leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless. Word of this disaster reached participants then attending the Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert at the time. Instead of returning home after the festival, a group formed quickly, raised $42,000 in two days, and headed east.
In the eight months that followed, Burners Without Borders volunteers based in Pearlington, Mississippi provided over $1 million for reconstruction and debris removal and played a major role in revitalizing the area.
In December 2005, Carmen Mauk became Executive Director and helped establish the organization as an ongoing project. Since then, BWB has assisted with disaster relief efforts throughout the world – for example, in 2008 Carmen traveled to Peru to help with rebuilding after a devastating earthquake.
Today, BWB volunteers are taking on disaster relief and community initiative projects throughout the world – from Mexico to Nicaragua, to the Philippines, to Reno, Nevada. Through its Community Grants Program, awards from $100-$1,000 are given out in April for a variety of diverse civic projects that make a positive impact.
Senior Project Manager
Rebuilding Union Beach
Video: Rebuilding Union Beach
Brenda Zimmerman’s current project provides storm-resistant, ecofriendly, modular homes to families in Union Beach, New Jersey who lost their homes during Hurricane Sandy. She first came to the area as part of Burners Without Border’s hurricane relief efforts. Previously, she spent 15 months in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake as a Country Director for Haitian Earthquake Relief and Director for GrassRoots United (since renamed as Haiti Communitere), supporting NGOs such as Hernow.org.
Volunteerism has been a lifelong passion, and she spent 15 months in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. As a founding member of a micro NGO, the programming focused on a green building demonstration property, community development projects, and medical logistics and mobile clinic & cholera response.
In New Jersey, after Hurricane Sandy, she has managed over a half million dollars in individual assistance programs, putting private philanthropy dollars into the community and coordinating FEMA supported repair programs. Brenda secured a product donation from American Standard for over $30,000 to offset program costs for the sustainably focused, modular home rebuilding program called Rebuilding Union Beach.
She has extensive experience as a liaison for the community for Federal and State programs, insurance claims support, and bringing student classes in for long term studies from both Princeton and Rutgers University.
A featured performer at WeedAid, Jerry traveled to New Orleans in 2008 with the Dirty Hands Caravan. At that year’s Cochella Festival, actor Sean Penn made an announcement from the stage seeking volunteers, and 120 people boarded buses the next day, heading east to help in rebuilding the city.
Once they arrived, the caravan volunteers worked with grassroots group Common Ground to assist in rebuilding efforts. Tasks ranged from building demolition to delivering food to tent cities which suddenly appeared, to house homeless residents.