And Another Thing

All my fault — or is it?

By: Susan Rushton
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I apologize. Everything’s my fault, and I’m sorry. I’m the primary abuser of fossil fuels, so all the fires lately are my fault.

The primary abuser of fossil fuels? Of course: Plastic’s everywhere in my house, from food containers and hoses to water bottles, pill bottles, cooking oil bottles, salad dressing bottles, window screens, bags, buttons, toothbrushes, pill bottles.

And I’m not alone, am I, in keeping the fossil fuel industry healthy and happy? You do too, don’t you? Because I do? And I’m so sorry. If I had only stopped myself, if I had only refused to be such a terrific role model worthy of imitation, we’d all see less plastic littering my house, your house and the landscape.

Geez, it’s appalling. All this plastic, all made from petroleum products.

Plus: I bought gas last Wednesday. See? My fault — I keep driving my pickup around and blithely burning what I have in the tank and polluting the air. It seems I do everything possible to warm the climate.

And the fires! All these gigantic fires, the smoke, the terrible air. As a result of my keeping the fossil fuel industry happy, driving my pickup with its infernal internal combustion engine: these fires are all my fault, too. I keep — you know — driving. I keep buying gas.

My fault.

Pollution, global warming, these fires — all my fault.

I’d better get to my other point, my real point. Or else you’ll stop reading and storm my house with torches and dogs. Since everything’s my fault.

Actually I just wanted to attract your attention, have you protest Oh, come on, Susan, these fires aren’t all your fault.

No, of course they’re not. I know that.

But I’m here to tell you that driving down into Auburn a couple of weeks ago, when I saw the smoke from the Pilot Hill fire, my heart stopped. It looked so close, right here, like just on the edge of Robie Point. And I thought here we go, dammit, here we go.

I‘m astonished that we’re only dealing with smoke. Only smoke. No fire. Why not? I don’t get it.

I’m also astonished that I hear no continuing uproar, no hullaballoo about prevention. If devastation can happen in Redding, Yosemite, Pilot Hill, Santa Rosa, Mendocino (and that’s just this year), what’s to prevent its happening here? Certainly I’m not the only one concerned. We agree the smoke and the plastic isn’t all my fault — so we must agree, must we not? — that I’m not alone in my anxiety.

Yes, I agree, PG&E and the county are working on cutting trees. But they’re only two organizations.

Hear me: This community crawls with volunteers/nonprofit groups/organizations of all genders, interests and ages. You can’t turn around without bumping into Lions, Rotarians, Soroptimists, AAUW members, SIRS, Elks, veterans, Clampers, Kiwanis, Masons, Navy Leaguers, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Hip Hop Congress members, Chamber of Commerce members, art groups, trail enthusiasts, business associations, high school students aching to get volunteer credit, runners, McCann Award winners, band members, horse people, neighborhood watch groups, church congregations.

Yow. Once I got started, I couldn’t stop.

And I haven’t even included the stressed and stretched fire departments.

Everyone in these organizations and groups live here for a reason: They love it here. It’s a great place, a great community. And nobody wants the place to burn.

Still … no major, loud, continuing uproar about prevention. Yet I can’t be the only one who passes fields of weeds every day. I can’t be the only one who worries about unnerving clots of undergrowth in the abundant tree-filled fields.

There it all is, all that fuel. Just waiting.


And I know, it’s an overwhelming task. But if we don’t start, it’s not going to get any less overwhelming.

So … wouldn’t it be a good thing for some Auburn-loving person or some Auburn-loving organization to organize people/groups/congregations to scrape away all that fuel? Reduce the fire danger? Eliminate the fire danger?

This is not a political rant. Not wanting Auburn to burn has nothing to do with politics. I know that we don’t all agree that climate change is real or that it’s human caused. But we can at least come together on this. As a community we can do SOMETHING about the abundant corners of fuel. We can all agree that we don’t want Auburn to burn.

I don’t want to lead the way. Not me, I’m no good at managing large groups or keeping track and I know it. But I see a need, and as I mention a couple of times above, I can’t believe I’m alone here.

But I know of lots of terrific organizers around here. So do you.

Yes, it’s a massive job. But the more hands the better. What better way to ensure this place stays liveable, ensure this place retains its beauty?

Please, someone, some group — step forward with a plan.

Susan Rushton’s opinion column appears regularly in the Auburn Journal. Her email is