Artists Are Second Responders

Thank you is not enough.

How could those two small words possibly stand up under the weight of gratitude that our First Responders have earned from us? And yet, it is what we offer – in person, on road-side signs, in blog posts. We use those two tiny words to acknowledge how tightly we held to the strength of their calm courage to keep tethered to our belief that we could make it through. Thank you.

Now, as we begin the cautious pivot to recovery, we also shift our focus to a new cast of difference makers. We know that our artistic and creative community works every day to make our lives a little more beautiful, a little more thought provoking and a lot more interesting. But the past two weeks have reminded us that the creative community, wielding the power of the arts, will be critical to our recovery efforts, that in effect, they are our Second Responders.

The creative community was among the first to raise money for others, despite the hardships they may have experienced themselves. Artists have brought solace and teased out smiles at temporary shelters. Arts organizations have re-imagined their programs as opportunities to share stories and poignant embraces. And the creative community will soon be in line to work with our students as they are gently separated from trauma — their unwelcome new companion.

But perhaps most importantly, our creative community is reminding us why the arts are most essential in moments like this. The arts can help us sift through the fragile ashes that surround the edges of our Sonoma heart.  They will give voice and comprehension to our new collective consciousness.  As we begin to rebuild the homes, the businesses, and the new landmarks of Sonoma County, our artistic Second Responders will be at work cobbling back together the pieces of our souls, helping us pave the pathway to hope. 

So let’s work to keep our artists and creative organizations thriving. Because now is the time for more art, not less.  For more creativity action, not less. For more of the compassion that the arts can so uniquely engender, not less.

Let’s put our collective energy into ensuring that our creative community has the strength to help us all Build Back Better.

If we can do that, we will have picked up the baton from our First Responders, stepping up for our turn as caretakers of our community spirit. And there could be no better way for us to magnify those two small words. Thank you.

Kristen Madsen, Director

October 2017


Please visit our Fire Recovery Resources page for more information.