Stories of Fire:
A Pacific Northwest Climate Justice Atlas
Erin James, Jenn Ladino, Teresa Cavazos Cohn, Stacy Isenbarger & Leah Hampton
funded by Mellon Foundation Just Futures Inititative
2021 - present
Every word, every image, every memory of wildfire carries a story. A story of fire engages our deepest emotions and asks us difficult, sometimes painful questions. In the Pacific Northwest, our wildfire experiences also overlap or contradict each other, complicating how we relate to our neighbors and to our changing landscape. Faced with so much complexity, we often simplify or suppress important stories. Traditional maps, media coverage, and even our personal conversations about wildfire can be limited or miss key connections.
Stories of Fire is a community-sourced project that hopes to reimagine our shared wildfire story and future fire resilience. The project is divided into three parts:
Community Workshops, with online tools
Stories of Fire: A Pacific Northwest Climate Atlas, a book atlas that will gather and interconnect narratives, maps, and community resources.
Using storytelling, visual art, and unique, nontraditional maps from across the region, the Confluence Lab will seek a wide variety of voices as contributors to each part of the project, foregrounding social and environmental justice and traditionally underrepresented rural perspectives.
Confluence Lab members Erin James (English), Jennifer Ladino (English), Teresa Cohn (Human Geography), and Stacy Isenbarger (Art + Design), in partnership with local communities, are the primary leads on Stories of Fire. Our in-residence fellow, Leah Hampton, will write the narrative backbone of the book atlas.
This Atlas is one of a suite of projects under the umbrella of the University of Oregon’s Pacific Northwest Just Futures Institute for Racial and Climate Justice (Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, $4.52 million). The Institute will create a regional network that works toward racial and climate justice through pedagogical and community engagement initiatives.
Funding for this project made possible from generous grant from the Mellon Foundation’s “Just Futures” Initiative for the Pacific Northwest Just Futures Institute for Racial and Climate Justice, University of Oregon.
In November 2022 the Confluence Lab partnered with Coalicion Fortaleza and Our Family Farms to lead a fire resiliency and map-making workshop in Oregon’s Rogue Valley. The 2020 Almeda Fire impacted the Rogue Valley/Jackson County area profoundly, and local nonprofit organizers invited a Confluence team to the area for an afternoon of inter-organizational reflection, information sharing, and map making.
The resulting maps of organizations and county resources will be completed and digitized by a Confluence graphic designer at the University of Idaho and given back to local Rogue Valley organizations to help with their future fire resiliency planning and messaging.