What’s on our minds

We share what we learn and what we’re doing so that others can learn from us and we can learn from others. Comments welcome!

“It’s been mobbed!”

Most disaster preparedness educators have a fantasy about people lining up to learn about disaster preparedness.

It’s our reality.

This past Saturday, we brought our Wildfire Board Game to the Steelhead Festival. This was a six-hour event put on by the Friends of Lake Sonoma. It was held at the Milt Brandt Visitor Center and Congressman Don Clausen Fish Hatchery in Geyserville CA, definitely the most beautiful setting we’ve been in:

The festival was somewhat eclectic. Vendors ranged from Fisheries and Wildlife agents demonstrating zebra mussel removal to the local archery association giving bow and arrow lessons, the local running store promoting running events, and independent artists selling hand-made crafts. All backed by live music and food offered by the Kiwanis Club, local restaurants, and two food trucks.

We were there with two game boards and, thankfully, three volunteers. Thankfully, because we were busy the entire time, and would have had no breaks if only two of us had been there.

The event photographer voiced it for us:

“I’ve been trying to get a picture of your booth, but it’s been mobbed!”

We played 45 games (possibly more, we lost count a few times) with 140 individuals racking up a total of 39 hours of learning time. The numbers bear out how busy we were: Given the approximate length of games and number of games played, our boards were in use 104% of the time. Not bad for what’s intended to be a quick learning snack!

This is what it looked like:

Now, we can’t claim sole credit for success. It was a beautiful day, and the event attracted thousands (final attendance estimates still pending).

In stark contrast to an another event we attended recently.

Three weeks earlier, we took the game to Farmers Market in Sebastopol CA. This is not a large market to begin with. That day, it rained steadily the whole time. Not only were there few market-goers, those that were there weren’t inclined to linger.

This is what it looked like:

Nonetheless, we played nine games with 11 participants for a total of three hours of learning time. (Our hope going in was at least five games, so we weren’t disappointed.) Our boards were in play a mere 26% of the time, the lowest number we have experienced.

So, what have we learned?

These events were part of our experiment in taking learning experiences to where people are. As opposed to trying to get people to come to special events such as preparedness fairs. From that perspective, both events were successful. They confirmed earlier data showing that our engagement rate correlates directly to the number of people in attendance. In other words, if there are people to attract, we attract and engage them. If they aren’t there, well, we can’t engage them.

Which bodes extremely well for our claim that our approach of games, fun and experiential learning gets people interested and inspired. Now we need to identify what types of events and locations are appropriate, and refine the game to suit different types of events and settings.

In the meantime, we claim bragging rights. When other disaster preparedness educators complain that they encounter apathy and can’t get people to engage, we can truthfully respond with, “We don’t have that problem!”

New dawn. New year. New chapter!

Leafless tree silhouetted against red sunrise clouds

This morning, dawn painted the sky of this first business day of the new year with promise. On this first business day of the new year, we painted our promise on the sky of a new dawn. We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve officially embarked on the journey towards independent 501c3 status!

This isn’t just a paperwork shuffle, it’s a declaration. A declaration of our unwavering commitment to empowering individuals and communities to navigate the stormy skies of crisis with creativity, resilience, and hope. It’s a declaration of our unshakeable belief in the transformative power of experiential learning, games and fun. It’s a declaration of our infinite confidence in the power of community.

We thank everyone who has helped to get us to this point, and invite you to join us in this exciting new chapter. Share this news, spread the word, and become part of the movement. Together, let’s paint a brighter future, one brushstroke of creativity and compassion at a time.

— Susanne, Garett & Lindsay
Creative Crisis Leadership Board of Directors

Holiday Puzzle 9 | What movie is this?

Disaster movies frequently take liberties with scientific accuracy for the sake of entertainment. Here are three short clips from popular ones.

What’s the movie?

For bonus points, what are the glaring scientific inaccuracies?



Open to reveal the answer

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

This film portrays catastrophic climate change effects, leading to a new ice age. While it raises awareness about climate change, the speed and severity of the environmental changes depicted are highly exaggerated, and admittedly so by the film makers. Climate change is a gradual process, and the sudden, extreme weather events shown in the movie are not consistent with the current laws of thermodynamics.



Open to reveal the answer

Twister (1996)

Centered on storm chasers researching tornadoes, “Twister” dramatizes many aspects of tornado behavior. For instance, the film shows characters surviving in extremely close proximity to violent tornadoes, which in reality would be far more dangerous and likely lethal.



Open to reveal the answer

Dante’s Peak (1997)

A film about a volcanic eruption in a small town, “Dante’s Peak” exaggerates the speed at which volcanic events occur. Additionally, certain scenes, like the one where the protagonists drive a vehicle across a lava flow, defy the actual destructive nature of lava.


So, don’t believe everything you see in the movies — there probably won’t be a film crew standing by to help if this happens to you!

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Holiday Puzzle 8 | Crossword disaster

Tis the season to be jolly and wise about the natural forces that shape our world. Our holiday crossword puzzle is a merry foray into the variety of natural disasters!

Open to the solution

  1. blizzard: Occuring during winter months, this disaster makes it difficult to travel (and may cause you to lose power)
  2. tornado: This type of disaster is typically mesasured by the “f scale”
  3. heatwave: A period of abnormally hot weather, keep your water and suncreen near by!
  4. earthquake: Disaster that occurs when two techtonic plates move suddenly
  5. wildfire: Natural or man-made disaster, resulting in extreme heat. Can move very rapidly and damage human and natural habitats
  6. tsunami: If you live near a coastline, you may be in danger from this large wave
  7. flood: Things are getting deep! When waterways overflow, you might be experiencing one of these
  8. volcano: Some may lay dormant for hundreds of years
  9. landslide: Can occur when a natural slope becomes unstable
  10. drought: A natural disaster where there is a extreme lack of water

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Holiday Puzzle 7 | Sequence of events?

When a disaster strikes, many things happen in order for aid to get to those who have been impacted. Here are some of the key steps, but in the wrong order!

Can you put them into the correct order?

  1. An event occurs.
  2. FEMA (and other federal agencies) provides federal aid.
  3. The President of the US declares an emergency.
  4. If state can’t provide enough help, they request aid from the federal government.
  5. If local authorities can’t provide enough help, they request aid from the state.

To get some hints, and to learn more about what it takes to get you aid in a crisis, read our article.

Open to reveal the answer

  1. An event occurs.
  2. If local authorities can’t provide enough help, they request aid from the state.
  3. If state can’t provide enough help, they request aid from the federal government.
  4. The President of the US declares an emergency.
  5. FEMA (and other federal agencies) provides federal aid.

There are many more steps in this process, This diagram shows just a few!

In general, help begins and ends at the local level. The state only gets involved if the local authorities needs help. The federal government only gets involved if the state needs help. To deliver aid to those who need it, both state and federal governments coordinate with local governments.

It is a complex but necessary process that aims to get aid to where it’s needed quickly, yet ensure accountability in the spending of tax dollars. Unfortunately, it means that it can take longer for people to get government help than many expect.

Fortunately, there are other sources of help, many of which arrive much more quickly!

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