Disaster Collectivism: Stories of Empowered Community Action

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Through stories, guests and shared dialog, we will explore how we can collectively create a people-powered mutual aid response to climate and other disasters.

2017 was a record year for weather and climate disasters in the United States and we must now ask if this is a “new normal”, and what can be done to avert or prepare for the disasters to come. We must also look at how communities themselves can create networks of mutual aid and resilience away from relying on and complying with government, military and mega NGO dominance during disasters.

This strategy session will begin with 3 case studies from hurricane Sandy in NYC, the Tubbs Fire in Northern CA, and hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico along with guest speakers who have done on-the-ground work during these disasters. We will then move into a structured group discussion where participants will be asked to share their own stories and knowledge of community response and preparation to these kinds of crises.

Additionally, we will look at the notion of disaster capitalism, and using moments of crisis as opportunities to disrupt the dominant economic and institutional systems in a way that empowers frontline communities, as opposed to corporations looking to profit off of clean-up and rebuilding efforts.

Tom Llewellyn is the Strategic Partnerships Director at Shareable.net, and a lifelong sharer, commoner, and story teller. He’s an active consultant to community, municipal, and international initiatives, coordinates several annual global sharing campaigns, speaks internationally about real, equitable sharing, and is the co-editor of 2 books, “How to: Share, Save Money & Have Fun” (2016) and “Sharing Cities: Activating the Urban Commons” (2018).  Lately he has been busy producing a podcast series on the topic of Disaster Collectivism.
Mara Ventura is currently the Director of North Bay Jobs with Justice, a coalition of more than 20 local labor and community organizations dedicated to building power for workers across the North Bay. Before her time with North Bay Jobs with Justice, Mara was a labor union organizer for 6 years, supporting workers in various industries including homecare, healthcare, security and janitorial services. Before that, Mara spent 5 years organizing students in post-secondary education to fight for student parent childcare, veterans support, student loan reform, and for immigrant rights across all fronts. In her two years with North Bay Jobs with Justice she’s helped 500 waste workers win a union contract and raise environmental standards, and is working with a coalition to pass Zero Waste Ordinances city to city across Sonoma County. She’s also launched a Workplace Raid Defense program, and partnered with two community organizations to create a fire relief fund for undocumented immigrants called UndocuFund. You can reach Mara at NorthBayJobsWithJustice.org, on facebook, or at northbayjwj@gmail.com.
Lily Mazzarella, MS, CNS, is a clinical herbalist, Certified Nutrition Specialist, educator, writer and wellness consultant.  She is the owner of the apothecary and integrative clinic Farmacopia in Santa Rosa, CA. In over a decade of clinical practice, she has helped her client base and her community find natural solutions to overwhelming and “non-diagnosable” health problems.  Since 2006, she has been on faculty at the California School of Herbal Studies. Lily also served as an herbal consultant for doctors at Sonoma County Indian Health Services from 2006-2010, and has been an Expert Advisor to The Ceres Community Project since its inception in 2007.
Lily believes that our physical, mental and spiritual health is woven together with the health of our varied communities, and our planet.  When the disastrous fires of October 2017 hit Sonoma County, Lily utilized the infrastructure of her business to organize dozens of volunteers and allocate thousands of dollars in resources and donations to provide easily accessed holistic care to fire-affected individuals.  Since then, she continues to partner with other healthcare providers and community leaders to make on-going post-fire care available to under resourced communities.  She is a strong believer that plants as food and medicine make us more resilient, happier and healthier.

Susan Juniper Park is grateful to be living on beautiful Chochenyo Ohlone ancestral lands (aka Oakland, CA).  Originally from the Gyeongsang-Do providence of South Korea (where folks are known to be extra spicy) and long rooted in the East Bay, she is a radical activist who works at the intersection of social and ecological justice, practices anti-colonial solidarity, and facilitates group dialog.  She is also a garden-based ecological educator for Elementary School students and devoted to rekindling ancestral Earth skills.  Perhaps most dear to her heart, following a 20-year trajectory in healing and spiritual work, she is currently cultivating a justice-based, psycho-spiritual healing practice that honors the connection between individual struggles with systemic oppression, intergenerational trauma and displacement from ancestral lands.She is also a community organizer with the NorCal Resilience Network, an organization that is strengthening the connections between grassroots groups focused on community-based ecological solutions.  NorCal Resilience Network is a partner organization to the 2018 Permaculture Convergence.