In February 2021 we are co-hosting some workshops (one in Bairnsdale, one on zoom) with Psychology for a Safe Climate, Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action, and Environment Victoria. The workshops are designed to help people explore and respond to their feelings about bushfires and climate change more broadly.
FireFeels arose from two friends writing letters to each other about how they felt about the bushfires ravaging Australia in 2019/2020, and climate change more generally.
We then decided that our political representatives who have the power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and thus prevent such situations worsening need to know how we feel. So we sent the letters to them.
We encouraged others to do the same by sharing their experiences of the bushfires, written as letters to their Members of Parliament, because we felt that we, and the Australian public, were being gaslit by our leaders. We thank those who have contributed so far for sharing their stories and experiences.
Fast forward to the Northern Hemisphere’s summer in 2020, and Australia’s Black Summer was replayed on the other side of the world. Our hearts go out to the Americans, human and not, suffering with catastrophic fire conditions, chronic smoke pollution and a pandemic.
We’re now broadening the site to publish everyday people’s feelings about fire in the bush, whether that be uncontrollable wildfires or preventative and restorative fire like cultural burning.
Bushfire can be absolutely devastating in both the short and long term, and 2019/2020 shows the terror a changing climate has in store for us. Too often though, after the flames have subsided, the media cycle forgets, and bushfire management is so often focused on technical, managerial and hierarchical ways of tackling the issue. Everyday peoples’ personal experiences can be glossed over. Social media does not give us the space to dwell on these experiences. This site is set up to help bear witness to the ongoing, place-based, changing relationships we have with fire in these times that some are calling the Pyrocene.
Everyone is welcome to contribute by sharing some writing, art, videos, or anything else that expresses how you feel and/or tells your story about forest fire. Maybe you’re angry. Maybe you’re sad. Maybe you’re both. Maybe you’re numb, maybe you feel guilty, shocked, devastated, depressed, anxious, overwhelmed, outraged… Maybe you can’t breathe. Maybe worse.
To contribute, please email your content to FireFeels2020@gmail.com, and let us know how you would like it attributed – i.e. your name, or anonymous, and any copyright for images (please make sure you have the right to use any images you provide us with). By default, if you send us your own images, we will licence it with creative commons CC-BY-NC-SA, meaning that others can use and adapt your images so long as they also licence it creative commons, attribute you, and do not use it for commercial purposes.
The idea is to give you the opportunity to explore, express and share your feelings and your story. We won’t publish anything that is discriminatory (e.g. sexist, racist, homophobic, class-ist, etc), that targets people on a personal level, that constitutes climate denial, or that we know to be factually inaccurate. Having said that, nothing apart from our two personal letters on this site represents our views, and we take no responsibility for what others have written.
We will share your piece on twitter, and you can follow us for updates, @Fire_Feels
In love and rage,
Blanche and Mandy.