On September 15, 2014, a devastating fire destroyed 157 homes and 8 commercial structures in our town of Weed, California. Pushed northward by 45 mile per hour winds, the fire spread within minutes across the city. Heroic efforts by over 450 firefighters from Weed and surrounding areas, aided by CalFire crews and air tankers dropping fire retardants, saved many houses and prevented further destruction. They contained the fire four days later. On October 11, a local suspect was jailed on arson charges.
Even before this tragic event, the city of Weed and surrounding areas of Siskiyou County struggled both economically, and from the effects of changing climate. The county ranks 55th of California’s 58 counties in median household income, with an unemployment rate nearly double the state average.
Water based activities such as fishing and rafting are an important draw for visitors to Weed and Siskiyou County. This year’s drought negatively affected lake and river tourism throughout the state. In 2014, California firefighters battled over 5,000 wildfires, 1,000 more than in a typical year. Lightning storms in late July and early August started numerous local fires, leaving our skies smoke-filled and unhealthy. The Happy Camp fire burned for over two months, destroying over 134,000 acres.
As one of the coordinators of Earthdance’s international music festival charity events, I wanted to help produce a fundraiser. Our first idea, for music outdoors, didn’t leave enough time to organize before winter. And seeing an overwhelming community response to calls for donations, plus many other successful music events, dinners and various fundraisers, I decided to make WeedAid an indoor gathering with great music, and also thoughtful community conversation.
WeedAid features performances by Shasta Taiko, Human with Jeff Pevar, and Jerry Hannan, plus panels on recovery, rebuilding and re-envisioning the economy and environment as we all move forward. It is a free event (though we might pass a bucket around, obligating no one). And there’s even a great afterparty with World’s Finest that night at the Mt. Shasta’s Vet’s Club.
Local businesses and donors have generously answered the call through previous events and campaigns. So although we certainly appreciate local contributions to this event, funding also is an experiment – reaching out to my people, asking for help from the northern California and southern Oregon music festival communities.
Whether you can, or cannot attend, or live out of our area and would like to donate, please do so. All net proceeds will go directly to benefit fire survivors. We will create a video of the event to archive online afterwards.
From the fire’s ashes, comes a great opportunity to rebuild, stronger than ever. Please join us for WeedAid on November 22.