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Posts Tagged ‘good causes’

RECOPIED IN FULL: Emergency response in Crestline, CA

[Everything below is from my friend Rachel Manija Brown, reposted with permission from here. I have used the form on to contact the federal government; you can do the same.]

I have written a post which I have copied below. Feel free to link if you don’t have Facebook. If you do have Facebook, please share it.

Facebook Post

Please share this widely! I’m a resident of Crestline, CA and a former disaster relief worker for the American Red Cross. This is the worst disaster response I’ve ever encountered. One week after an unprecedented snowstorm, we’re in dire straits and getting very little assistance.

Crestline and other areas affected by the San Bernardino snow disaster need help. We need a FEDERAL disaster declaration, door-to-door welfare checks for people trapped in their homes, door-to-door help shoveling paths out of the snow, removal of 10’ and higher ice berms trapping our cars, reimbursement for disaster-related expenses, and permission to return to our homes if we need to leave the mountain to get medical aid or supplies. Please contact President Biden, CA Governor Newsom, and San Bernardino elected officials to urge this help. You can just copy the requests in this paragraph, but read on if you want more details about what’s going on – and my own story.

We are used to snow here, and most residents are well-prepared for a typical snowstorm. Crestline normally gets six inches to two feet of snow. We got over nine feet of snow. Individual residents are not prepared for that, and we are overwhelmed.

Some people are literally trapped inside their homes by snow blocking their doors. Others can leave their homes but not their yards because the snow is over their heads. Many streets are not plowed, so no vehicles can drive. When streets are plowed, the snow is pushed to the sides and forms 10’ – 20’ walls of solid ice which block cars and driveways. The official statement of San Bernardino is that there will be no help breaking down the ice walls or shoveling paths to homes – they are only willing to plow the streets. These are not normal ice berms and individuals cannot break them down! We need help with this.

Many people are running out of food, as the only grocery in Crestline collapsed due to snow and the one in the next closest town partially collapsed. The only food distribution is at city centers, and it’s not in the same places every day. Many people cannot get past the ice walls or walk miles through snow up to their waist or over their head to get to the food. Because the food distribution points rotate rather than being in the same place consistently, people are struggling for hours through the snow only to find there is no food there that day. The sites are announced over the internet the day before, but many people have their internet cut off due to the storm and have no way of knowing where the food will be. We need consistent, daily food distribution sites. We also need door to door food distribution as many people can’t walk to the sites. Remember, our cars are trapped and we can’t drive!

Residents are allowed to drive down the mountain (if they’ve dug their cars out), but if we leave, we will not be allowed back up. No one is saying when we will be allowed back, but officials have hinted it will be at least a week and maybe a month or more. So anyone who drives down to get medical help or food is trapped away from their home with no idea of when they can return. Because of this, everyone is afraid to leave, so we have no way of replenishing our own supplies and no way of lightening the load in general by going to stay with friends. Residents need to be allowed back up the mountain!

Homes and businesses are collapsing from the weight of snow on the roof. We have ten times the amount of snow we normally get in some places, and we need help with it.

As gas vents are blocked by snow and gas pipes are breaking from the weight, a number of houses have exploded or burned down. I have yet to see any assistance shoveling out gas vents. Again, normally we could do this ourselves, but not when there’s nine feet of snow and ice!

Supposedly help is here. None of us have seen it. We’ve seen National Guard helicopters circling, but no boots on the ground. If ever there was a time for a large National Guard deployment, it’s now. The American Red Cross has opened a shelter, but it’s in Redland – off the mountain and 45 minutes away from anyone who actually needs help. We need the Red Cross on the mountain, where they’re actually needed.

We would love to help each other and are doing our best, but we literally can’t get to each other. We are overwhelmed and need help. I am especially worried about disabled, sick, and elderly people who live alone. What happens to them if they don’t have close neighbors who can check on them? We need door-to-door welfare checks.

Here’s my own story. At the beginning of the storm, one of my water pipes burst. The water company contacted me and told me they were cutting off my water. I filled my bathtub and all containers. (I also keep emergency water.) They plowed my street just up to my water meter, turned off my water, and backed out rather than continuing to plow the street. That was a week ago and to date they have been the only official response of any kind I have seen on my street.

Soon after, my internet cable broke in the storm. My 4G and telephone service also went out. I live alone and at that point I had no way whatsoever to communicate with anyone. I am five feet tall and my house was surrounded by snow over my head. I dug my way out of the house in the hope of making phone calls asking for help from a neighbor’s house. Then I discovered that the ways out of my property were also blocked. My driveway was under nine feet of soft snow, and my staircase, which is wooden and very steep, was under five feet of soft snow. Both ended in ice walls about ten feet high. Either way out was extremely dangerous.

I was so desperate that I climbed and slid down the staircase, then climbed the ice wall. I found a neighbor with internet and phone service, and began making calls for help. I explained to everyone that I spoke to that I had no communication whatsoever at my house and no running water, and that leaving my house was extremely dangerous. I requested help shoveling the staircase and for my internet and/or phone to be fixed so I could at least call for help. (I couldn’t move in with the neighbors or go to a shelter as I have pets and farm animals I need to care for.)

The response I got was disheartening. My internet company, Spectrum, offered me a service appointment ten days in the future. The San Bernardino official helpline took my number, but I never heard back from them. The plumbers I contacted about repairing my pipe so I can get my water turned back on were sympathetic, but they all lived in San Bernardino and worked in Crestline, and were not allowed up the mountain. One of them said that he has snow cats and a full crew and asked to come up to help shovel people out, but was refused permission to go up the mountain.

My neighbors shoveled a path up my stairs so I could get in and out without risking my neck. I still have no running water and no idea when that can be fixed. My car in under ten feet of snow and blocked by a fifteen foot wall of solid ice, so I can’t leave. I still have no reliable internet or phone service at my house. I am posting this from a neighbor’s house.

Please repost this to spread the word of the desperate situation and shocking mismanagement of this disaster. Please contact President Biden to ask him to declare a FEDERAL disaster. Please contact Governor Gavin Newsom of CA and elected officials in San Bernardino to ask them to send actual help, not just empty promises and false claims.

Thank you.

Rachel Manija Brown, writing from Crestline, CA on March 5, 2023.

Feel free to copy or reprint this anywhere with attribution.

Two fundraisers

One of these is a (mostly) happy thing, the other not at all.

The happier one first: Oghenechovwe Epeki is the first African editor to be nominated for a World Fantasy Award, and there’s a GoFundMe campaign underway to help get him to the con. (The slightly ungood aspect is that part of the fundraiser is to cover the unexpected costs incurred by visa and flight fuckery when he came to WorldCon for his Hugo Award nominations; more details at that link.) Jason Sanford, who’s running this campaign, has raised over three-quarters of the goal, but there’s still a bit to go!

The other, much less cheerful one is being run by Jim Hines on behalf of Lynne and Michael Thomas, the brilliant and much-lauded editors of Uncanny Magazine. Their daughter Caitlin suffers from Aicardi Syndrome, and she’s reached a point where there’s nothing doctors can really do but ease her passing. The campaign was set up to cover funeral expenses and to make it so that Lynne and Michael don’t have to worry about money in the final days of their daughter’s life or in the immediate aftermath; it has already blown enormously past its goal, a testament to the love and respect the SF/F community has for the Thomases, Caitlin included. But you can still contribute if you wish: money can’t ease their loss, but it can ease the burdens around it.

Are you, or do you know, an anthropologist?

Sharing on behalf of a friend, on the principle of “there’s a lot of anthropology in my fiction and so I probably have anthropologists among my fiction readers”:

The Department of Anthropology at Florida State University invites applications for full-time, tenure-track faculty positions in Biocultural Anthropology and Cultural Anthropology (TWO positions for that latter; three openings total). Email Jessi Halligan, jhalligan {at} fsu {dot}edu with questions or for more details.

And do feel free to spread the word elsewhere, if you know places it might be of interest!

It’s the final countdown . . .

As of me posting this, the Uncanny Magazine Year 9 Kickstarter has six hours to go. They’ve achieved all their listed stretch goals, but I want to note that the last priority in every Uncanny fundraiser is “pay the people who run the magazine.” Lynne Thomas and Michael Damien Thomas pay their staff before they pay themselves . . . but they’ve built Uncanny up to be one of the most admired publications in the field, and they deserve a reward, too. Not only that, but their daughter has had some serious medical expenses recently — so if you can back the Kickstarter, signal-boost it elsewhere, or both, please doe!

It’s raining auctions!

In addition to the ongoing SFWA auction (where you’ve got three days left to bid on the Rook and Rose book + tea sample package and the first, second, third, and fourth kaffeeklatsch seats), there is now also the Sunflower Auction for Ukrainian charity! There are tons of things on offer there, browsable via the tags, but my own contribution is a bespoke short story based on the folkloric source of the winner’s choosing. Bidding for that one runs almost to the end of May!

SFWA Silent Auction is underway!

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association is running a silent auction, and I’m in it! Prizes on offer are a package deal of a signed copy of The Mask of Mirrors and five Rook and Rose-themed tea samples, and a virtual kaffeeklatsch for which the seats are being auctioned separately: one, two, three, four. Bid on one of those + the first package, and you could potentially sip delicious book-themed tea while we chat! Or if those aren’t your cuppa (sorry not sorry), there are oodles of other great things on offer at the auction site. But you only have a few days, so bid fast!

If you’re wondering what the money will be used for, SFWA does a great deal to assist people in the field, from the Emergency Medical Fund to the Legal Fund to scholarships for marginalized creators to attend events like the Nebulas Conference. Over the course of my career, SFWA has managed to reinvent itself as a much stronger advocate within SF/F publishing — the closest thing we have to a union, and very much needed, as things like #DisneyMustPay continue to show.

Bag of Giving: epic Greek adventures for a good cause!

Last week I joined forces with Mike Underwood, Cass Morris, Marshall Ryan Maresca, and Dave Robison for an epic session of Agon as GM’d by Sharang Biswas. This turned out not to be the game I thought it was, not quite; I’d bought Agon many years ago at GenCon, but apparently it’s been significantly redesigned, I think for the better — the original edition looked very “grim ‘n gritty,” while the new version has a stronger aura of fun. We had a blast, and you can watch the results on Youtube.

The impetus behind this was Bag of Giving, a charity fundraising effort that’s pulling people together for interesting one-shots. Each month they pick a charity to support; for March it’s the The Hero Initiative, which helps comic book creators facing things like medical emergencies. But you don’t have to donate to that group specifically; you can choose any charity you like. (I’ll note, given the current situation, that we chose our charity well before the invasion of Ukraine. Donations to help refugees would not go amiss.) Then just send a screenshot of your donation, minus personal information, to contact at bagofgiving dot com.

To provide some incentive, every $5 you donate gets you an entry in a giveaway for a book bundle! The titles on offer for March are:

  • An Unintended Voyage by Marshall Ryan Maresca
  • Driftwood by Marie Brennan
  • Give Way to Night by Cass Morris (hardcover)
  • Liar’s Knot by M.A. Carrick
  • Shield and Crocus by Michael R. Underwood
  • We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen (hardcover)

We thank you in advance for whatever donations you make!

We’re not done yet

So Biden has won both the popular vote and the electoral college. Yay! This is, of course, an enormous relief to me.

. . . but if you think that means we can all now cruise along and not worry, think again.

We still have a pandemic to deal with, and it’s not magically going to go away because of an election. Neither is climate change. We need to fix our broken system of immigration, and demilitarize our police. There are countless problems that still need to be addressed, and the momentum for addressing them is going to come from us.

Especially since . . . y’all, this election should not have been remotely close. By any objective metric, Trump has been a disastrously bad president — the sort who should have been catapulted out of office without thinking twice. In previous decades, he would have been. Instead, the election was close enough that it took days to count the votes to the point where news outlets could cautiously say that Biden appears to have won. Because in addition to the problems I listed above, we’ve got a problem right here in our own body politic.

And that problem is quite simply white supremacy. Not just in the active, obvious, neo-Nazi sense, but in the creeping sense where fifty-seven percent of white people voted for the most incompetent president most of them have seen in their lifetimes. You can’t just blame it on QAnon conspiracy theories — and the reason those conspiracy theories are meeting with such an eager audience is, at its root, still white supremacy. Fred Clark at Slacktivist (himself a white evangelical) has for years now been charting out how much of American white evangelicalism is driven by white supremacy: built on a base of justifying slavery, continued in the opposition to the Civil Rights movement, and now desperately seeking grounds to say that no really, they’re still the good guys by embracing overheated lies which tell them at least they’re better than those Satanic baby-killers underneath the local Pizza Hut. Imprisoning immigrants at the border? White supremacy. Our inhumane carceral system? A replacement for Jim Crow laws. Housing policy? Time and again, looking for ways to keep people of color out, to keep them down. And it’s no accident that the voter suppression efforts disproportionately hit those communities. I’m not going to say there are no other factors playing into this mess, but white supremacy is the poison at the root of this tree.

If you are glad that Trump is on his way out of office, thank the black voters, the Latine voters, the Asian voters, the Native American voters. Because if it had been left up to white people, he would have won with ease. Sure, 42% of my own demographic looked at the corrupt, incompetent, pathologically dishonest bigot and said, “please, let’s not.” But that’s not enough. It isn’t remotely enough. We’ve got to leach this poison out, and that means getting more white people to take positive action.

As soon as I’m done posting this, I’m going to go donate to the campaigns for Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, who are headed into runoffs in Georgia. I’m also planning on writing more letters through Vote Forward, which specifically seeks to encourage underrepresented demographics (such as voters of color) to step up to the ballot box. You can donate to Black Lives Matter, the Native American Rights Fund, LUPE, and more. Give your support to the people white supremacy wants to keep down. The more power they have, the stronger we all will be.

Support me in the Clarion West Write-a-thon!

I’ve been doing a lot of teaching with the Clarion West writers’ workshop this year — first an in-person workshop on writing fight scenes; then four one-hour online workshops on different small worldbuilding topics during their free offerings in April; then a six-hour online workshop on worldbuilding more broadly in May — and now I’m partnering with them in a different way, by participating in their write-a-thon. This raises funds to cover their costs, including scholarships for marginalized students, so if you can spare a little for them, please do! You can either sponsor me at that link, or browse the list of participants and choose someone from there. I’ve pledged to do a whole pile of stuff: forty thousand words on the second Rook and Rose book with Alyc (uhhhh, 40K together; not 40K for my half), revision on The Night Parade of a Hundred Demons, and two short stories completed. Wish me luck . . .

The RAICES fundraiser returns/continues

UPDATE: I just received copies of the UK trade paperback of Turning Darkness Into Light. I’m offering five of those for $25 each — higher than the usual trade paperback price, but it’s a month before the book’s release, and I figure this is good incentive for people to donate.

Last year I ran a fundraiser for the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services in Texas. Since then, things have only gotten worse, with the United States government operating concentration camps to imprison immigrants.

The fundraiser technically never ended, because it’s always a good time to donate to RAICES. But after a year, it has naturally slipped off people’s radars, so I’m officially renewing it. The plan is the same as before: I’m “selling” books, i.e. you donate the money to RAICES and get books in return.

It goes like this:

1) Peruse the book list below and find one or more books you want.

2) Contact me to verify those books are still available (I’ll update the list, but stock sometimes changes quickly).

3) Once I’ve confirmed, donate to RAICES and send me a copy of the receipt (with your personal information blacked out).

4) I mail you books, signed and personalized if you wish.

I’m willing to ship internationally, but because of the cost involved there, I’ll ask you to PayPal me money to cover shipping expenses. (I’ll cover shipping with in the U.S. myself.)

I’ll note that at this stage my stock is very skewed toward the end of the Memoirs of Lady Trent, and toward foreign-language editions. Sadly I haven’t sold any of my novels to a Spanish-language publisher, but if you have any interest in practicing your German, Romanian, Polish, or Russian, I think any and all embracing of foreign languages is an appropriate response to this kind of xenophobia and bigotry.

Current total (including 2018): $1005

As of it tailing off last year, the fundraiser had netted $790 for RAICES. I’d love to see that clear a round $1000 if possible — can you help us get there?