Unlike typical wildfires, Megafires cause an extreme loss of resilience and ecological community; this loss of resilience stems into the human world as our capacity for surviving crisis in a way which leaves us able to consider and work towards climate solutions deteriorates with each coming and worsening crisis. This work is an analysis, exploration, and reflection of an ongoing Wildfire Survival Kit project made in response to the Bootleg Fire and the resulting air quality crisis over the entirety of the Portland Metro Area. Leaning on the teachings of community based eco-activism artworks and innate understandings unveiled through Ecopsychology, this text explores material methods for communicating and extending access to an amplified process of healing through engagement with post-fire spaces and offers healing strategies within the throws of fiery Climate Crises to better allow communities to cultivate a greater capacity to key into the systematic natural ecologies which accelerate healing and kindle regrowth in all beings.
The 2021 wildfire season led to near-uninhabitable air quality in the Portland Metro area; in addition to a raging global pandemic affecting respiratory capability, we were forced to hunker down in our homes in an attempt to simply survive. Those of us with existing respiratory issues – already worn from the daily exertion forced upon us during the height of the pre-vaccine Covid-19 pandemic – were made especially ill and debilitated by this Climate Crisis.
When the smoke began entering my home, I became extremely sick; I remember trying to sleep and trying to breathe; I remember feeling helpless, ill, and drowning in anxiety, fear, and anger. I remember laying in front of my air purifier hoping that that would be enough and having no idea how to survive this crisis which has become a yearly occurrence in my life.
In collaborating with the soothing elements of rain, wind, and sun, Wildfire Survival Kits is a body of work which stems personally from this crisis, being used as guidance for understanding how I can provide aid and encourage personal connections with one’s ecological community; this work offers strategies for communicating and extending access to an amplified process of healing through engagement with post-fire spaces. In translating my own experience into a positive collection of supportive objects and information as a guide gifted to others without cost, I am offering healing strategies within the throws of fiery Climate Crises to better allow communities to cultivate a greater capacity to key into the systematic natural ecologies which accelerate healing and kindle regrowth in all beings.