Ten years ago this summer I was working as the Art Director of a camp in the mountains of Tucson, AZ. Each week a new group of kiddos filed in, ready for nature hikes and s'mores but terrified to be away from home. On one of the days between groups, I drove down into town to enjoy my time off. When the camp director called, I was sure it was to tell me to pick up some supplies before I returned, but instead I heard, "Don't come back--the mountain is on fire." The entire summer camp and many homes burned to the ground that week, and there was never time for me to go save any of my belongings. Ultimately, my loss was minimal—some clothes, my art supplies, camping equipment, and other miscellanea—things that mattered very little when I considered I was alive and safe and so were all our campers.
Today, as fires blaze across our state, I am reminded how lucky I was—how lucky we all were—to have lost so little in the face of nature's devastating destructive power. Many of our friends and neighbors here in Colorado have lost everything, watching helplessly as their homes disappear. However, if there is any good that comes out of a tragedy like the one playing out right now, it is that it reminds us of our common humanity, our commitment to helping our neighbors, and how much we can accomplish when we work together.
It will be months before the fires are completely out and the damage assessed, and at that point the focus will be on finding the best path forward to rebuild and renew. The Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act feels very similar—although we know it has been upheld, we won’t know the full implications for months or years. Using the new tools it gives us, we as a state must remain focused on finding the best path forward to improve our health care system. The key will be to do it together, concentrating on our shared aspirations for a better system than we have today.
If we could capture the camaraderie that comes from crisis and infuse it into our everyday lives, there is no telling what we could accomplish. What a gift it would be to feel invested in the health of your community every day, to feel inextricably connected to your neighbor, and to all work side-by-side to do more and be more. We each have the chance to shape our world and we can start today.
If you would like to donate funds or supplies to the fire relief effort, visit helpcoloradonow.org.