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Two years after the Camp Fire, Paradise continues with an ambitious plan. Plus, how will California prepare for future wildfires?






November 12, 2020



Vol. 44, Issue 5 • November 12, 2020



Editorial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Second & Flume . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Guest Comment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 This Modern World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Streetalk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7




Downstroke . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Election wrap-up . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Trump mania . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11




Vison for Paradise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 California will burn. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16



November Events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Scene . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Film . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Chow. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Arts DEVO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Brezsny’s Astrology . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 ON THE COVER: PHOTO BY JASON CASSIDY

353 E. Second St., Chico, CA 95928 Phone (530) 894-2300 Website chico.newsreview.com

Our Mission: To publish great newspapers that are successful and enduring. To create a quality work environment that encourages employees to grow professionally while respecting personal welfare. To have a positive impact on our communities and make them better places to live. Editor at large Melissa Daugherty Interim Editor Jason Cassidy Contributing Editor Evan Tuchinsky Staff Writers Ashiah Scharaga, Ken Smith Calendar Editor Trevor Whitney

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NOVEMBER 12, 2020




Send guest comments, 340 words maximum, to gc@newsreview.com or to 353 E. Second St., Chico, CA 95928. Please include photo & short bio.


Covering Trump Tfeatured election issue last month (Oct. 8) a picture of President Donald Trump

SECOND & FLUME by Melissa Daugherty m e l i s s a d @ n e w s r e v i e w. c o m

he cover of the Chico News & Review’s

and hold the ideas up against the needs of the people to be impacted, then make our endorsements according to which leader against a red background with a pair of we believe will be most successful in the cartoon demon horns poking out of the top role. The choices are admittedly often of his head. With the accompanying headline left-leaning, because progressives tend to “Vote” and subhead “Your life depends on be, well, “progressive” when it comes to it,” the not-at-all subtle message was: The implementing changes to fix what’s broken CN&R recommends not voting for Trump in in society—and that matches the newspathe 2020 general election. per’s mission. We might not align as often The fact that this newspaper would with conservatives, but we have endorsed endorse Democrat Joe Biden over Trump some; when we haven’t, the split is just a undoubtedly came as no surprise to anyone disagreement. familiar with the CN&R’s op-ed pages. The With Trump, it’s beyond a disagreement. editorial staff has been very critical of the It’s beyond partisanship. It’s frankly beyond president’s policies over the past four years, the pale. As was pointed out in that same and the paper has historically recommended issue (see “Worst of the worst”), Trump’s progressive candidates for the office. policies and actions have been “disturbing.” What did come as a surprise to many was Most demonstrable are his failures to handle the demonic representation our current publicof the president. The reac“We’d rather health crisis, playing tion on social media was down the dangers and apologize to strong—with both positive of anyone who we communicability and negative responses: COVID-19 as it killed “Disgusting!!! Not classy offended . . . than nearly a quarter-million whatsoever.” “Love the have to apologize Americans while mockcover art.” “No longer ing those who took the for remaining supporting this paper.” disease seriously. “Accurate cover.” silent”. Post-election, Trump There were other consecontinues to hack away quences as well. Some advertisers pulled out out the foundations of our society with in response, and a handful of businesses have claims of voter fraud and conspiracies about asked for newspaper racks to be removed. Democrats stealing the election. There have been two main criticisms of Trump has been such an unkind, inept, the cover art: it’s an attempt to sow division dishonest and dangerous president that it by painting one “side” as bad; and/or it’s would have been egregious for this paper to portraying the president of the United States not address this in our endorsements. in a disrespectful manner. Finally, this was not a news story. Regarding the second point—point taken. Endorsements are informed opinions, and We may see public figures as fair game for this demon-Trump cover was a visual criticism and even brutal satire, but that doesn’t component supporting our editorial staff’s mean one’s feelings of offense aren’t valid. strong opinion that Trump was unfit to lead Regarding the first point, we’d like to and posed a danger to the health of the make a distinction that might be subtle to citizenry. The News & Review has a long some, but is critical to the editorial staff: tradition of criticism (hence “Review” in the The image on the election-issue cover and paper’s name), and when we take an editothis newspaper are not anti-Republican. rial stance it’s with the newspaper’s greater Conservative values and policies are not the mission in mind: “To have a positive impact issue at hand. Trump is the issue, and the on our communities and make them better issue goes beyond political beliefs. places to live.” During election season, this newspaper In this instance, we’d rather apologize reports on candidates whose policy plans to anyone who we offended (“sorry about are based on ideals rooted in their particular that”) than have to apologize for remaining place along the left-to-right political silent at the prospect of a second term with spectrum. We look into what each proposes Trump as president. Ω

Write a letter 4


Tell us what you think in a letter to the editor. Send submissions of 200 or fewer words to cnrletters@newsreview.com.

NOVEMBER 12, 2020

Burning questions How could Butte County become the site of a wildfire-related mass casualty event less than two years after 85 people were killed by the Camp Fire? I’ve been stuck on that question since Sept. 9, the day I awoke to a Revelation-red sky and learned that the North Complex Fire had leveled Berry Creek overnight. The day before, I’d taken a drive for the first time after having major surgery weeks earlier. I was on the south side of town in the late afternoon when I saw a giant plume of smoke hovering above the eastern foothills. My mind raced with the thought of the Ridge getting hit yet again. The lightning-triggered blaze had been burning for weeks in Plumas County, but what I saw from the valley told me the fire was closing in. After finding little news about its spread into Butte County, I checked Twitter and saw that the Butte County Sheriff’s Office had issued an evacuation order for Berry Creek, Brush Creek and Forbestown. That notice came suddenly. That is, BCSO hadn’t given those communities early warnings to prepare to leave. The first thing I did was contact a friend in Paradise who’d lived through the hell of the Camp Fire. I was worried because he doesn’t have a running vehicle. I was further concerned because he didn’t have electricity that Tuesday. PG&E had cut it on Monday as a safety precaution amid searing heat and developing winds. As I suspected, with his power out and view shrouded by pines, he didn’t know danger was afoot. I wondered how many other foothills residents were caught unawares. Early evening, with spotty information on whether the Ridge was threatened, I gathered a few provisions, including a lantern, and drove up the hill to his home. I arrived just before sunset. We sat on his porch, talking over the wind. Once darkness fell, the glow of the batteryoperated light illuminated the trees whipping in cyclone-like patterns. I feigned composure while envisioning the fire scaling the canyon and rushing into town as it had during the Camp Fire. I steeled myself for the moment we’d need to collect his pets and race down to Chico. I returned to Twitter every couple minutes, nervously scrolling for evacuation updates. Hours later, when it was clear that the Ridge would be spared that night, I drove home. The next day, several residents of the evacuation zone told me they never received any official warning or order to get out. No calls, no texts, no knock on the door. They’d found out incidentally or through word of mouth. Those folks were the lucky ones. They lived. Sixteen of their neighbors perished. Fourteen of them were residents of Berry Creek, population 1,241. How could this happen again? Another megafire, another failed evacuation, more death. The Los Angeles Times delved into that subject days later, highlighting a combination of factors: delayed response by BCSO, impediments due to power outages, and people’s reluctance to leave their homes. I’d love to say that the North Complex Fire was a fluke and how county government is stepping up efforts to protect the public from a future blaze of this magnitude. But I’ve seen nothing to suggest that’s the case. Clearly, whatever new protocols were established post-Camp Fire were not sufficient. Where do we go from here? My hope is that the Board of Supervisors calls for a comprehensive examination of the region’s vulnerability as well as new strategies to better inform the public during critical incidents. I’d suggest BCSO start by sending notifications about evacuation warnings and orders to residents throughout the county—not just those under imminent threat—as the recipients may be better able to pass along such messages to friends and loved ones within the affected regions. People shouldn’t have to struggle to find such information. Speaking of difficulties, this column is my first contribution to the paper since the July issue in which I penned the main feature on the end of the criminal case against PG&E for the Camp Fire (see “Final Reckoning,” July 1). I’ve been focusing on some pressing health issues that remain the priority, so you’ll likely see this byline only sporadically in the coming months. In the meantime, thanks to those who continue to support my colleagues’ work. Your donations are critical to the CN&R’s ongoing reporting and efforts to become a sustainable enterprise.

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Veterans must not be forgotten canceled or moved to virtual platforms [in response M to the COVID-19 pandemic]. But we can all still play

turn to be there for them. A few simple ways to safely reach out to the veterans in your lives year-round include: • Making a phone or video call; a part in reaching out to the veterans in our lives and • Sending a text or social media message; remind them that they are not alone or forgotten. • Sending an email; They are our mothers and fathers, brothers and • Visiting, while practicing physical distancing. sisters, aunts and uncles, neighbors, friends and If you want to do more for the veterans in your colleagues. At VA NorCal, we work with veterans who life, encourage them to look into the VA benefits they come from many different backgrounds, states and countries, belief earned. Veterans can apply for VA health care benefits by visiting their local VA medical center or outpatient systems, ethnicities and walks clinic, calling 1-877-222-8387 or visiting www.va.gov. of life. We understand that every veteran’s transition back into civil- Veterans who are in crisis, or loved ones who may be concerned about a veteran, can connect with the ian life is unique. Some require Veterans Crisis Line to reach caring, qualified respondlittle support when they leave the ers—many who are also veterans themselves. To reach military, while others struggle to the Veterans Crisis Line, call 1-800-273-8255 and press reintegrate back into civilian life, which can seem chaotic at times in 1, send a text message to 838255 or chat online at by veteranscrisisline.net. comparison to structured military David Stockwell I’m encouraging each of us to do what we can to life. While every person who has help by connecting with and expressing our thanks served in our nation’s military is The author is the Director of the to the veterans in our lives. On behalf of VA NorCal different, one thing is true about VA Northern and our many dedicated employees, thank you to all veterans: They served us and California Health deserve our thanks. Veterans sacri- our nation’s veterans for your selfless service to this Care System. Ω ficed for you and me. Now it’s our country we all love. any of this year’s Veterans Day events have either been


Who’s your pick— living or dead— for president? Asked in downtown Chico

Who’s your Local Hero? The CN&R is planning to end 2020 on a positive note with a special print edition (Dec. 10) that shines a spotlight on those who have given the most to keep our community intact during this most challenging year. We want your input! Who are your local heroes—those who worked hard for the community, made sacrifices, lifted spirits?

We are looking for essential workers (from teachers and nurses to baristas and clerks), volunteers, local business owners, performers, community leaders and any other heroes. Send us your nomination with 150 words or less explaining why they are your local hero—via email ( jasonc@newsreview.com) or mail (353 E. Second St., Chico, CA 95928).

Nominations due by Nov. 29.

Leonel CastilloFerreyra cashier/ front of house

Noam Chomsky. I’ve been reading a few of [his] books and first, he’s a linguistics professor [emeritus] at MIT, and then he started writing about politics so he knows a lot about money in politics and things that don’t get reported on.

Brett Warren student

Marcus Aurelius. He had the choice to have complete control, but he separated the Roman Empire into sections so there was not one person in power, but three people in power. And plus, he was a philosopher.

Rebecca Charles

We need your support Our commitment to coverage and how you can help The Chico News & Review’s goal is to raise $32,000 by Oct. 30, 2020. When added to funds received through the Paycheck Protection Plan Loan, this will ensure that our team of dedicated journalists can continue working through one of the worst economic and health crises of the past century. With your recurring or one-time contribution, the CN&R can continue our award-winning coverage on the topics that impact the residents of Butte County, including COVID-19, the arts, homelessness, the fight for equality, and wildfire recovery and prevention.


I feel like we need FDR back. [He had] this warm, fatherly, encouraging “let’s all gather together” feel. He balanced the needs of the many with the imperative for order and power. And he had a good heart as well as mind for getting America through a crisis.

Jeffrey Fox

You can make a donation Online at: chico.newsreview.com/support Or mail a check to: Chico News & Review 353 E. Second St. Chico, CA 95928 (Please include return address, and do not send cash.)

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. If he could come back. Everyone’s like, “Yeah!” Both sides, right? I feel that he would connect the two sides, unite people and have great ideas. He always did.

Thank you from your local, alternative newsroom. Independent local journalism, since 1977. Now more than ever. NOVEMBER 12, 2020




The Oroville Dam Complex is operating safely with no urgent repairs needed, according to a comprehensive assessment report by dam safety experts released by the California Department of Water Resources on Tuesday (Nov. 9). The assessment began in January 2018, initiated by spillway reconstruction and issues related to the February 2017 spillway failure at the dam that prompted the evacuation of more than 180,000 people. Though no current needs were identified, the report recommends risk-reduction measures such as installing new water-pressure measurement devices and conducting a seismic stability analysis. The report is available online at the Oro-

ville Dam Safety Comprehensive Needs Assessment website (https://bit.ly/38t2ba8) and will be presented to the Oroville Citizens Advisory Commission in a virtual meeting Friday (Nov. 13) at 9 a.m. (https://bit.ly/OrovilleCAC).


Butte County has begun distributing $4.7 million to 310 small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The grants from the Butte Business Stabilization Program—funded through the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund (part of the CARES Act) and administered by 3CORE—range from $15,000 to $25,000 per business. The money can be used to make up for losses due to temporary business closures, loss of sales revenue and expenses to reopen safely. Fifty-one businesses have received grants so far, including Aonami Sustainable Sushi, Schroer Dairy, Upper Park Clothing and Growing Oaks Preschool. Steve Lambert, chairman of the Butte County Board of Supervisors, said in a press release that the board hopes these funds “ease some of the pain” that businesses have experienced during the pandemic.


Against a backdrop of rising rates of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. and locally, Butte County Public Health announced Tuesday (Nov. 9) the local deaths of both a young adult and an elderly resident of a senior living facility. The younger patient was in their 20s without any underlying health conditions, according to a news release, and died while hospitalized. The other was 75 or older. Public Health did not identify either patient. Public Health also announced that Butte County is trending toward a return to Tier 2 (red) and more restricitions on activities and businesses—possibly by Nov. 17—due to increased infection rates, particularly among school-age children. 8


NOVEMBER 12, 2020

The votes are (mostly) in An anxious election night in Chico; a contentious election week for the country

J Most United States. major media outlets made the call

oe Biden will be the next president of the

on Saturday (Nov. 7), after it was projected that Pennsylvania and its by 20 electoral votes would Jason Cassidy go to the former vice & Ken Smith president, giving him 273, or three more than jaso nc @ n ew srev i ew. c o m needed to defeat incumbent Donald Trump. kens @ Since then, Arizona n ew srev i ew. c o m and Nevada went the Democrat’s way, and at press time the total stood at 290 for Biden and 214 for Trump, with Georgia (leaning Biden) and North Carolina and Alaska (Trump) still too close to call. While the 2020 contest has turned out to be a referendum on Trump—who lost the popular vote by more than 4 million and becomes only the fifth president in the past century to fail in a reelection bid—the results in other races, locally and around the

country, have been much more mixed. The predicted “blue wave” didn’t really come ashore. Though many polls had forecast the U.S. Senate to shift to a Democrat majority, it likely will come down to January runoffs for Georgia’s two seats—both of which would need to be won by Dems—for a 50-50 split, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking ties. Democrats will retain control of the House of Representatives, but their majority will be less than the current 35. In the North State, Republican Congressman Doug LaMalfa is projected to win the District 1 seat over challenger Audrey Denney, with 56.9 percent of the vote (pending final certification by Dec. 11). In Butte County, voters chose Biden over Trump, 49.5 to 47.7 percent. In Chico, however, in the city’s first district-based council election, voters overwhelmingly went red, electing a slate of four ideologically aligned candidates and flipping the panel to a 5-2 conservative majority.

Nov. 3 snapshot Though dropping off a ballot on Election Day has been the norm during most years, 2020 is—by most measures—a strange beast. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rules were tweaked to allow mail-in ballots across the country. The prolonged count for that, plus a very high voter turnout in general (101,342 ballots and 81 percent turnout in Butte County, and nearly 160 million projected, or more than 66 percent of voting-eligible population, nationally—the highest in more than a century) meant a long counting process. Many contests were too close to call on Nov. 3, adding more stress to an already tense election. Anxiety ran high among many people the CN&R spoke to throughout Election Day after they delivered ballots at Chico’s various voting locations. Some expressed concern about nationwide rumors of voter intimidation and conflict at polls, which fortunately failed to manifest locally.

(Left) President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris with their families at a Nov. 7 victory event. PHOTO COURTESY OF BIDEN-HARRIS CAMPAIGN

“Not great” is how Shyanne Scott described feeling after dropping her ballot in the box outside of Chico State’s Bell Memorial Union (BMU). “Whatever happens this election will change our world forever,” she said, referring specifically to the presidential race. “It already has.” Solomon Smith, who voted for Biden at the BMU voter assistance center, said the primary issue that drove him to vote this year was police reform. “We all saw what happened to George Floyd, and stuff like that just has to stop,” he said. “Trump hasn’t reacted well to [ensuing protests and calls for justice and reform]. I think his biggest misstep is that there was a real chance to unite people, and that wasn’t done at all.” Smith said he’d personally helped a coworker register to vote, and that he’s spoken to many people who were eager to cast ballots this year after sitting out of previous elections. He also expressed worries shared by others that election results could lead to unrest, particularly since Trump continues to cast doubt on the validity of mail-in votes. Republican operatives are currently working to block some of those votes from being counted in some states, and Trump supporters have been hitting the streets for “Stop the Steal” protests and rallies all over the country, including Chico (see “Defeat and denial,” page 11). “People are so divided right now, I’m hoping that whatever the outcome is things will go back to normal,” he said. Frank Walker dropped his ballot outside the voter assistance center at Luna—the rental space adjacent to Sol Mexican Grill on The Esplanade in north Chico. When asked who he voted for, he pointed to a Trump flag flying from his pickup truck and said, “‘The Man,’ of course!” Walker said he pays attention to both sides of the political spectrum and researches both mainstream media and what he classified as “conspiracy theories,” many of which he claimed have proven to be true. He said any lingering doubt he had about this year’s big race was cleared up by the conservative conspiracy that a laptop allegedly abandoned by Hunter Biden at a Vermont computer repair shop proves his father, Joe, engaged in illegal schemes in Ukraine. As much as Walker and Smith’s expressed political views differ, both wished for a reunited country during these divided times. Walker related that a close friendship had been damElection officials gather last-minute ballots from drop-box at Butte County Library in Chico on Nov. 3. PHOTO BY KEN SMITH

aged recently by political differences, and said he nearly “came to blows” with that friend. “My best friend and I … if we’re at odds, this country doesn’t stand a chance. The people shouldn’t be fighting each other over politics. Whoever they are, we should stand with our neighbors instead of some guy in Washington.” Patricia Goodwin, a site manager for the voter assistance center at BMU, oversaw a group of 14 volunteers there who provided services including registering voters and replacing lost envelopes and ballots containing errors. She said people were lined up before the site opened at 7 a.m. on Election Day and estimated more than 225 voters had been helped by 1:30 p.m. Crystal Rocha, site manager at the Luna site, said about 150 people had sought assistance and voted there by mid-afternoon that

day. Other voter assistance centers were located at the Chico Masonic Family Center, Silver Dollar Fairgrounds and the Elk’s Lodge. Rocha and Goodwin both reported their sites didn’t experience any aggressive politicking, intimidation or disgruntled voters. “Everyone has been wonderful,” Goodwin said, while Rocha said the sentiment she’d most heard was that people were happy not to have to wait in line to drop their ballot. Ballot drop boxes were located outside the voter assistance sites, as well as the Chico Municipal Building, Chapman Elementary School and Butte County Library in Chico. The CN&R observed a steady stream of voters dropping their ballots at the library several times during the day, with a handful turned away after the box automatically locked at 8 p.m.

There were hugs all around at an election night party for local Republicans at the DoubleTree hotel in Chico. PHOTO BY KEN SMITH

The only party in town The biggest election result, locally, is the projected conservative sweep of the four open Chico City Council seats (mail-in and in-person ballots have been tallied—only provisional remain). In District 1, incumbent Sean Morgan beat Curtis Pahlka by more than 24 percentage points. Newcomer Kami Denlay’s 4,290 votes were more than the combined total between Steven Breedlove (1,529) and incumbent Mayor Ann Schwab (2,665) in District 3. Former Councilman Andrew Coolidge withstood a strong showing by first-timer Lauren Kohler to take District 5, with 2,048 votes to Kohler’s 1,743 and incumbent Randall Stone’s 545. And a close race in District 7 is most likely going to Deepika Tandon with 2,899 votes to Rich Ober’s 2,642. COVID-19 and related regulations limiting private gatherings and business capacities lead to a dearth of election night celebrations. The sole exception that the CN&R could track down was at Chico’s DoubleTree hotel, where more than 100 local Republican candidates and their supporters gathered in the bar and conference center. Those present at the hotel around 9 p.m. included LaMalfa, California Assemblyman James Gallagher (who was also re-elected) and several conservative City Council candidates. Despite projections showing Biden leading in electoral college votes by then, the party was buzzing with celebratory energy following the 8:30 p.m. posting of unofficial NEWSLINES C O N T I N U E D NOVEMBER 12, 2020

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Patricia Goodwin, site manager for the Butte County voter assistance center at the Bell Memorial Union on the Chico State campus on Election Day.

change and worked for it, that’s all there is to it.”


Rest of the races

tallies by the Butte County Elections Office that indicated a tentative victory for three conservative council candidates, which turned into a definitive victory for all four when the count was updated on Friday (Nov. 6). Facecovering-free attendees exchanged hugs and handshakes and feasted on finger sandwiches. Denlay stood near the center of the room, hugging husband Joshua Klingbeil and accepting congratulations from well-wishers. “I feel really good; I had such a great team and so many people working for us,” she said of her win. “So I feel like it wasn’t just a win for me but a win for everybody, a win for Chico.” Asked what her first objectives as a council member would be, Denlay said, “Anything I can do to put public safety first. We’ve got to take our parks back, we’ve got to take our downtown back.” Arguably the biggest winner in attendance at the DoubleTree wasn’t a candidate, but was a driving force behind the potential conservative council sweep—Teri DuBose. DuBose is the owner of Broadway Pawn and the primary organizer behind Citizens for a Safe Chico, a political action committee that raised more than $220,000—largely from developers, real estate companies and out-of-area donors—to support council bids of the four conservatives. The PAC’s objectives include banning syringe-distribution programs, controlling the city’s homeless population and bolstering the Chico Police Department to combat perceived crime increases. “I’m feeling super good about the way the community spoke,” DuBose said. “This is what they wanted and I couldn’t be happier, because it’s time for change. “From the bottom of my heart I love this city,” she continued. “I was born and raised here, and I haven’t liked what I’m seeing and what I experience on a daily basis. I wanted

In other notable local contests, Caitlin Dalby and Matt Tennis are the projected winners of the two open seats on the Chico Unified School Board, with 22,232 and 21,259 votes, respectively. The next closest candidate, Carrie Krueger, had 14,264 votes. There were only three measures on the ballot in Butte County: Measure D, which would provide a special tax for the El Medio Fire Protection District, was passing by a mere 29 votes; Measure E, the charter amendment allowing for Chico City Council members to be elected by district, was also barely passing with 21,570 yes votes versus 21,355 no votes; and Measure G, a proposal to change the minimum age of eligible Chico City Council candidates from 21 to 18, failed badly with only 36.5 percent voting in favor. In other council races in the county, Paradise voters chose a former mayor, Steve “Woody” Culleton, the incumbent mayor, Greg Bolin, and a newcomer, Rose Tryon, to fill its three vacant seats. Incumbents Melissa Schuster and Mike “Zucc” Zuccolillo (who entered the race under the cloud of impending criminal sex charges) came in fifth and seventh, respectively. In Oroville, incumbent Janet Goodson appears to have retained her seat and will be joined on the council by current Vice Mayor Scott Thomson and Krysi Riggs—the top two vote-getters. All of the state propositions appear to be decided at this point. Results for some of the more high-profile contests include no on Prop. 15 (update to tax law for commercial properties); no on Prop. 16 (affirmative action); no on Prop. 21 (rent control); yes on Prop. 22 (appbased drivers as gig workers); and no on Prop. 23 (new requirements for dialysis clinics). For complete unofficial election results visit the Butte County Clerk/Recorder site and the California Secretary of State election page: clerk-recorder.buttecounty.net and electionresults.sos.ca.gov Ω

The “Stop the Steal” ride made its way through Chico on Saturday morning (Nov. 7). PHOTO BY KEN SMITH

Defeat and denial Local Trump supporters rally behind dubious allegations of election fraud

Sthe from idling diesel engines filled air behind Raley’s grocery ounds of celebration and fumes

store on Notre Dame Boulevard at 10 a.m. Saturday (Nov. 7), as diehard Donald Trump supporters gathered to protest alleged corruption they believe is responsible for their candidate’s projected loss of the 2020 presidential election. The event was one of several socalled “Stop the Steal” rallies held around the country in recent days, a response to unverified claims of large-scale voter fraud that Trump has asserted since well before Election Day and continues to maintain as of press time. Fears that the sitting president will not accept defeat and allow a peaceful transfer of power led to election angst locally and nationally (see “The votes are (mostly) in,” page 8). The Associated Press announcement earlier that morning proclaiming Joe Biden had secured enough votes in battleground states to clinch the presidency barely dampened the festive atmosphere in the grocery store’s rear parking lot—where doz-

ens of vehicles lined up to caravan around the city of Chico—nor did occasional taunts from passersby celebrating Biden’s win. “Nice second-place parade, losers!” said one man waving a Biden sign as he drove past the assemblage. A passing car full of women danced in their seats as they loudly sang, “Na-na-na-na, hey hey hey, goodbye.” Attendees to the rally decorated their vehicles with American, Trump campaign and pro-lawenforcement “Back the Blue” flags, as well as hand-painted signs and slogans such as “Biden is crooked,” “Fear = Control” and “Jesus is Our Savior, Trump is Our President.” A woman stood to the side of the lot waving a sign reading “Stop Voter Fraud, Recount CA, Wake Up America” and decorated with symbols of the QAnon conspiracy cult, whose adherents believe Trump stands against a cabal of Satanworshipping, child-cannibalizing politicians and celebrities. Near the front of the caravan, several teenagers gathered around

a white pickup truck. When asked why they were attending the rally that day, a young man wearing a shirt emblazoned with a likeness of the sitting president throwing up middle fingers and the slogan “Trump 2020, Fuck Your Feelings” replied, “‘Cuz fuckin’ America, that’s why!” A small group of women directed vehicles to line up and kept the scene from growing too chaotic. One of them, wearing a “Messy Buns & Guns” shirt and “God, Guns & Trump” hat, handed out miniature versions of the Back the Blue flags. Directing the whole gathering was Robin McCrea, a local leader in the effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom. “There’s a lot of people that aren’t feeling happy about what’s going on in our state and our country right now, so we’re continuing to show our support and keep the

faith that justice will prevail and corruption will be shot down,” she said. “We are continuing to rally and support our president and hope America can continue to be a free nation and not succumb to socialist communism.” McCrea said there’s “so much proof it’s ridiculous” that illegal ballots led to Trump’s presumptive electoral defeat, saying she’s watched online videos of poll workers allegedly marking ballots and read reports of other malfeasance. She stated her beliefs that corrupt Democrats are bent on taking away Constitutional rights, and turning the United States into a communist nation. However, she stopped short of calling for violence and insurrection if the current election results are not overturned. “The people that are patriots will not destroy, loot or burn like the left. We will accept what we have to accept and no doubt put another candidate forward in four years … possibly President Trump.” Unproven claims of voter fraud and the belief that Trump should remain president have a lot of traction in Northern California, and not just among average citizens and fringe conspiracy followers. Congressman Doug LaMalfa, who retained the seat of U.S. Representative for California’s 1st Congressional District he’s occupied since 2013, has made multiple statements on social media casting doubt on national election results. On Nov. 5, LaMalfa announced on his campaign’s Facebook page

that North State lawyers affiliated with his office were involved in legal challenges against a Biden victory in other states. “We are fighting,” he wrote. The next morning (Nov. 6), he posted a more thorough rebuke of alleged electoral chicanery on his official Rep. Doug LaMalfa Facebook: “The circumstances surrounding this Presidential election point to a fraudulent outcome. The reports we’ve seen of non-residents, deceased voters, potential mail fraud, and partisan poll watching are deeply concerning and must be challenged. Every legal vote must be counted to preserve the integrity of our Republic and faith in our electoral system.” The congressman provided zero examples of these “reports” and, so far, no GOP lawsuits citing voting fraud—in states like Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin and Arizona— have gained traction with judges, with at least five cases thrown out due to lack of credible evidence. LaMalfa also announced that he’s joined several of his Republican colleagues in the House to send a letter to Attorney General William Barr urging the Department of Justice to investigate alleged voting irregularities (which Barr has since done). On Nov. 7, he posted to his personal Facebook page a slogan co-opted from those who’ve opposed Trump’s presidency the last four years: “#resist.” A request for comment from LaMalfa’s office was not returned as of press time. —KEN SMITH kens@ newsr ev iew.c o m

Robin McCrea, an organizer for Saturday’s “Stop the Steal” ride as well as the local effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom. PHOTO BY KEN SMITH

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Vision for

e s i d a r a P

Two years after the Camp Fire, hope emerges from the devastation


Ashiah Scharaga

ash ia h s@ newsr ev iew.c o m


harles and Jenn Brooks moved to the Ridge in the spring of 2004, drawn by the charming, affordable mountain town in the hills just above their college city. Paradise is where their two sons were born, where their family created fond memories at community events like Gold Nugget Days and the Parade of Flags. They’d take the boys to Dolly-‘O’ Donuts to celebrate after soccer games. During Christmastime, they’d pick out a tree from the surrounding forest. The Brookses found comfort from living a quiet life among the pines—hiking, fishing and enjoying the beauty of the outdoors. Paradise was home. Then the Camp Fire happened. Like tens of thousands of their neighbors, the Brooks family lost everything. Two years later, they’re still renting in Chico. But the Brookses are almost ready to come back home: Their rebuild should be completed early next year. “I wasn’t ready to give up on that [life],” Charles said on a recent afternoon in his downtown Paradise office. “I want that back again. And I want my kids to be able to [continue to] experience that.” That’s been the driving motivation for him, the founder of the Rebuild Paradise Foundation, a nonprofit established in June 2019 and dedicated to helping residents return to the Ridge and rebuild. Paradise is nowhere near what it was prefire. Dead and dying trees still loom over empty lots. Folks are still living in RVs on their burned-out propCHIP President Seana O’Shaughnessy (left) and Vice President Kris Zappettini at the site of the rebuild of Paradise Community Village, an affordable housing complex destroyed in the Camp Fire. PHOTO BY JASON CASSIDY



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erties. Many key recovery projects— such as road repairs, a town sewer, an emergency-notification siren system and tree removal—are in various stages of planning. But there has been progress. There are significantly more people back at home on the Ridge than there were one year ago, when only 12 homes had been rebuilt. Now, 445 homes have been completed and the town has issued 1,194 single-family housing permits. Even with the challenges ahead, the slow but steady progress has made town leaders hopeful for the future of Paradise. However, recovery will take time, and not everyone has the means—or feels safe enough—to come back.

Waiting for a lifeline Before the fire, Paradise was considered an affordable housing community. Folks were able to buy or rent decent homes with spacious yards in quiet neighborhoods for much less than equivalent housing in cities like Chico.

A floor plan and rendering of a home included in the Rebuild Paradise Foundation’s Residential Floor Plan Library, created to help residents save money and time in designing a home.

That affordability, coupled with the rustic charm and slower pace of life, is what drew many families like Brooks’ to the Ridge. It’s also what has made rebuilding and resettling there challenging for some survivors. Many homeowners are unable to rebuild currently due to the costs, said Town Manager Kevin Phillips—Paradise had a much older housing stock, and with new building codes and market rates, reconstruction can be costly. Relief is on the way, however. Through the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program, Paradise is waiting on $55.9 million dedicated to creating affordable multi-family housing. Camp Fire survivors who own property and are considered low to moderate income will be eligible for grants of up to $200,000 from a pool of $205 million from the state to assist in their rebuild. In the meantime, the town and community organizations have helped make the rebuild process smoother and more affordable. On Oct. 13, the Town Council extended until June 2021 its Housing Urgency Ordinance, which allows residents to live in an RV on their property with a temporary use permit. It was set to expire at the end of this year. “We’re hoping this [extension] is that lifeline for those individuals [who] aren’t able to [rebuild],” Phillips said. Meanwhile, Rebuild Paradise worked with architects to create several 750- to 1,800-square-foot home floor plan renderings, available to residents at a low cost (they can be viewed at rebuildparadise.org). So far, the plans, which are pre-approved by the town and Butte County, have allowed 40 property owners to save thousands of dollars, Brooks said. Rebuild Paradise will soon be adding more options to the library. The nonprofit also offers multiple grant programs, such as one that covers up to 50 percent of septic repair costs for lowincome households and “missing middle” gap financing. Another key resource it has offered is an interactive land map, created in partnership with Chico State to help residents save on surveying costs. Rebuild Paradise’s next endeavor is to work with partners to try to reduce insurance costs on the Ridge. “It’s a heck of a process [to rebuild], and that’s one of the reasons why we developed these resources,” Brooks said. “I totally get why people just said, ‘You know what, I just need to start my life over and I don’t have the time or energy.’ … But if you have the


desire and you want to come back, there are … organizations that are here with various resources to help.” Town leaders know that renters are a missing demographic with needs that haven’t been addressed, Phillips said. Staff will have to hire a consultant to help administer the federal block grant funds, which come with specific requirements, then reach out to developers interested in creating low-income and affordable multi-family housing. The town won’t know if the funding will cover all the lost units until a consultant can pencil things out. “The goal is to obviously get as many dwelling units available as possible,” Phillips said. “We’re hoping the multi-family support helps those renters that were here before the fire.” The town has received applications for Charles Brooks, executive director of the Rebuild Paradise Foundation, launched the nonprofit to help survivors rebuild by creating programs and partnerships to cut costs. PHOTO BY ASHIAH SCHARAGA

265 units of multi-family housing—of those, 216 have been permitted and 70 have been rebuilt. This includes Paradise Community Village, a project of the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP). It was the first affordable-housing complex completed on the Ridge, back in 2013, and it will be the first to return should its rebuild be completed as scheduled in November 2021. Kris Zappettini, vice president and director of rental housing for CHIP, said Paradise should be “very inclusionary” with housing, offering a variety of options for households that can’t afford high-end homes. CHIP already has drawn tremendous interest, even with Paradise Community Village’s projected completion date so far out. The complex will have 36 units, the same number it had before the fire, yet more than 140 households have expressed interest in applying. “We lost a lot of significant housing stock in the fire,” Zappettini said. “The

more we can invest in building the housing stock that’s affordable for that community, the better it is for the community.”

Fears linger Paul Wright and Christina Seashore awoke the morning after they closed on their home to see amber skies and falling ash. It was like they were back in Paradise again on Nov. 8, 2018. Except this time, they were in Chico in September 2020, and the raging fire was the North Complex. That wildfire would trigger evacuations within the Camp Fire burn scar. “That was a really surreal thing,” Wright said. “It was like, ‘Whoa, is [buying] the right decision?’ That jarred us. But we know we’re safe in Chico.” Like many survivors, Wright, Seashore and their two children moved around quite a bit after their home burned to the ground. They considered rebuilding, but the family found the prospect to be daunting financially and emotionally. They felt there was no clear picture of how to move forward and get the financial support to do so. “We had to make a choice: We couldn’t rebuild and keep ourselves housed with the way our insurance works and what appeared to be the costs,” Seashore said. Coupled with that are their fears of wildfire safety. During several visits to their property, Wright said, they’ve noticed dead and dying trees and overgrown brush and weeds along the way. Phillips said the town is working with partners to make progress on fire breaks in danger zones outside town and to educate residents on weed abatement and fire safety in landscaping and homes. However, risks PARADISE C O N T I N U E D

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always remain in a forest community (see “California will burn,” page 16). On top of everything, it’s been hard for the family to process the trauma from the Camp Fire. Seashore is an artist who lost 20 years’ worth of work and her studio. “Every time I would go up there, it was just reliving so much pain and grief about what’s lost,” she said. Over time, Wright added, the family decided, “Let’s just settle here [in Chico], let’s have some closure with this, even though it’s not the ideal place. “The psychological impact, just because our family’s already super sensitive … it’s just been an insane ride.” September marked less than a month after Phillips took on the role of town manager, having previously served as manager of the Paradise Irrigation District. The town was placed on evacuation warning as the North Complex Fire raged through the foothills. This time, Paradise escaped destruction. But the fast-moving blaze took 16 lives and wiped out nearby Berry Creek, just as the Camp Fire devastated the Ridge two years earlier. Wildfire safety is a key component in the vision of Paradise’s Long-term Community Recovery Plan, which was finalized in June 2019. It’s a blueprint for recovery including specific projects related to safety and the rebuilding and improvement of the town, funded by a grant from the North Valley Community Foundation’s Butte Strong Fund. It was created with resident input and completed with dozens of partners, including housing, economic development, arts and culture, and other community organizations; public agencies; churches; schools and universities; and utility companies. Phillips said all of the town’s current

Kevin Phillips became Paradise town manager less than a month before the North Complex Fire threatened the town this year. CN&R FILE PHOTO



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projects are in line with the long-term plan, which is “solely focused on that rebuild and bringing people back up and making sure there are resources that are available for individuals [who] are here.” He added that the town is moving forward on almost all of the tier 1 projects—designated as the highest priority to residents and most critical for physical recovery and fire safety. This includes an emergency notification system with sirens. The town received grant funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and hired a firm to create a design, which is being finalized, Phillips said. It currently includes 18 sirens that can not only sound alarms but can communicate voice messages. These would be linked with text-message, phone-call, email and radio alerts in a system managed by the Paradise Police Department in collaboration with the Butte County Sheriff’s Department. The town has to apply for a second FEMA grant to fund the construction. “Our goal is to have an early warning system in by next fire season … to give [concerned residents] a little bit of a comfort knowing that if something were to happen, there’s a way to be communicated to,” Phillips said, “even in the circumstances of having no power and no internet and no cell phone service.” He is confident that the state treeremoval program, the delay of which has frustrated councilmembers and residents, will begin before the end of this year. “That will give everybody much more

Paul Wright, Christina Seashore and their children, Dresden (holding Mowgli) and Milora (holding Sweet Pea), relocated to Chico after losing their Paradise home in the Camp Fire. PHOTO BY ASHIAH SCHARAGA

comfort,” he said. “That will eliminate not only the hazards of a tree falling but also the hazard of that tree being a fire danger.” In addition, the town has received millions of dollars in funding for roadway repairs and upgrades: $77.3 million from the Federal Highway Administration and FEMA to repave roads damaged during the Camp Fire and $1.8 million from the Economic Development Administration to conduct a study of the town’s road systems with the goal of improving evacuation routes, another tier 1 priority. Road repairs likely won’t begin until 2024, however, as utility undergrounding has to be completed first.

‘All eyes’ on Paradise Councilwoman Jody Jones, who was mayor during the Camp Fire and its immediate aftermath, said it’s the Town Council’s priority to help the people who were in living in Paradise before the fire

Rebuild help:

The Building Resiliency Center, known as the BRC (pronounced ‘Brick’), is the first place to turn for questions and financial assistance opportunities regarding rebuilding. It’s at 6295 Skyway in Paradise. Call ahead (872-6291, ext. 411) to make an appointment. More info: makeitparadise.org/building-resiliency-center

come back home—but the road to recovery is going to be long. The town has to consider the fact that many people have chosen not to return, and has to find ways to encourage new people to move there. “Give us five years, and we’ll have all brand-new streets, we’ll have a sewer system, all the homes that will be built will be brand new, there will be new businesses in town,” she said, adding: “It’s a process, and it’s going to take time. Good things are worth waiting for.” Phillips said the town is looking at how to partner with all of the groups focused on recovery to adopt a shared vision and market Paradise not just locally but regionally, “to see if there’s a way we can draw people up [who] are looking for this lifestyle that we can offer.” For Brooks, it’s impressive what the town has been able to accomplish in just the past year. Builders and contractors haven’t slowed down, even through the global pandemic. Similar momentum has propelled him forward, even during a long rebuild process for his own family. He pivoted from a job in sales to running the Rebuild Paradise Foundation full-time. Brooks knows the recovery is going to take generations, he said, but he wakes up looking forward to his work, inspired and motivated by his fellow Paradisians and the progress everyone has made. “I think the most amazing thing to me is that despite every challenge that the world has thrown at our community, people still have the pioneering spirit and are figuring their way through this,” he said. “If those of us who are figuring out and working through this path can help others return and share our lessons learned and how we got through it and help support others, that just shows the strength in our community.” While Wright and Seashore have purchased a home in Chico, they’re still Paradise property owners. Right now, the prospect of returning is painful. But Seashore said she still has hope. They’re waiting to see how the community evolves and are getting involved in other projects to help survivors recover in the meantime. What she wants for the town she loves—where she’d breathe in the fresh mountain air and delight in seeing deer outside her living room windows every morning—is for it to be safe. “It’s important, in my eyes, that there’s a new understanding of what it means to be stewards of the land there,” Seashore said. “There could be an amazing revolution of an earth-sustainable community. This is the opportunity right now to do that. All eyes are on Paradise.” Ω MORE


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We are here to help!

COVID 19 has been stressful for many of us in Butte County as well as for many others around the world. Stress over a prolonged period of time can cause or make worse pre-existing conditions people might have as well. As a result, people can experience a significant increase in mental health challenges (anger, depression, anxiety, and fear) as well as increased substance use (drugs and or alcohol). If you or someone that you know is struggling with any of these issues there is help available. Reaching out for help is not a sign of personal failure or weakness. It is the right thing to do. Every day, millions of people face challenges related to mental health and substance use. You are not alone, and we are here to help. Butte County Behavioral Health has a mission to "Partner with individuals, families and the community for recovery from serious mental health and substance use issues and to promote wellness, resiliency and hope."

Now, more than ever, it is critical to pay attention to your mental wellness. If you or a loved one would like more information on local treatment and services, dial 2-1-1 to speak with someone for assistance.

Need help? If you have Medi-Cal and are interested in accessing services with Behavioral Health for mental health or substance use treatment or if you are in crisis: Please call our Access line (available 7 days a week 24 hours a day). 800.334.6622 or 530.891.2810 Services are provided in Chico, Paradise, Oroville, Gridley. Support can be provided by phone, video, or in-person Additional resources are also available at buttecounty.net/ behavioralhealth

800.334.6622 or 530.891.2810 www.buttecounty.net/behavioralhealth/

November 12, 2020



California will burn Multiple approaches—including removing fuels, addressing climate change, rethinking suppression and returning to proven tribal methods— needed to manage wildfire in the state by

Evan Tuchinsky evant@ n ewsrev iew. com


on Hankins respects fire. For the better part of two decades, as a graduate student as UC Davis and professor at Chico State, he’s studied how wildfires burn and move. He knows their patterns, their behavior—and changes to both in recent years. He also understands the dread of fire season. Hankins lives in Forest Ranch, among Butte County’s communities in the wildland-urban interface. The day of the Camp Fire in 2018, instead of delivering a scheduled talk on fire ecology at the Chico Creek Nature Center, he evacuated his home. This September, Hankins monitored the North Complex Fire with similar anticipation.



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Chico State professor and wildfire expert Don Hankins found lesser Camp Fire impacts at Butte Creek Ecological Reserve, where he conducted prescribed burns. CN&R FILE PHOTO

“We’ve packed up several times and kind of left things packed up and moved out of the area several times for this part of the season,” Hankins said by phone last month. “And I know I’m not the only one—I’ve talked to people I know in Magalia who’ve done the exact same thing. “It’s not exactly the best way to live, being like that. But until we get a handle on things, we know we can’t trust that our

forests aren’t going to burn down around us.” Indeed, besides the coronavirus pandemic, wildfires have defined 2020 in California. Cal Fire reports, as of Nov. 2, a tally of 8,834 fires—burning 4.15 million acres, killing 31 people and destroying or damaging 10,488 structures. Some 4,400 firefighters were battling 23 active fires across the state and responded to 28 new

ones that day alone. “The forecast for November predicts warmer and drier than average weather across much of California,” Cal Fire advised on its Daily Wildfire Report online (fire.ca.gov). “Many areas in Northern California, as well as the Southern Coast and Los Angeles Basin, will remain at an above normal potential for significant fire.” This year’s fire activity already has

surpassed historic marks. The total more than doubles the previous high in records dating to 1987; the August Complex Fire, which scorched five counties northwest of Butte, is the largest in state history with more than 1 million acres burned. The North Complex Fire ranks No. 6 at nearly 319,000 acres. In fact, the seven biggest wildfires in state history have come since December 2017. The Camp Fire of Nov. 8, 2018— California’s deadliest—does not rank among the top 20 in size even though it leveled the town of Paradise among 153,000 acres of devastation. Amid the statewide smoke of summer and autumn, debate on fire prevention flared publicly, breaking largely along political lines. The apex moment came Sept. 14, when President Trump and Gov. Gavin Newsom met for a briefing in Sacramento and laid out their divergent views: Trump pointing (vaguely) to forest management, Newsom to climate change. Hankins sees validity in both perspectives. So do other experts in the field, including botanist Wolfy Rougle, forest health watershed coordinator with the Butte County Resource Conservation District, and pyrogeographer Zeke Lunder, a Chico-based mapper and analyst of wildfire for Deer Creek Resources. They agree that only a comprehensive approach will address the issue—and prevention measures must take into account California’s long history by drawing on practices from this country’s first wildland inhabitants, Native American tribes. “It’s not an either-or debate,” Rougle said. “Climate change is happening, and it’s exacerbating the effects of our forest management. If we’d been managing our forests perfectly this whole time, we’d still be contending with some fallout from climate change; and if we still had the climate of the 1700s but we’d been suppressing fire [as we have] for the past century, we’d still have a lot of problems here in California.” Among the biggest challenges is overgrowth—of both vegetation and civilization. Accumulated underbrush and flammable trees make for tinderbox conditions on hot, dry, windy days. Lightning strikes, human ignitors and, increasingly, aging electrical infrastructure create the sparks. Meanwhile, Californians have developed communities in deep wooded areas, with increasingly tragic results. “The scale of the [woodland-urban interface] problem exceeds our ability to manage it,” Lunder said. “We will never be able to cut enough brush and trees to keep all the poorly planned foothill and

A wildfire camera shows the fast-moving Bear Fire as it roared into Butte County on Sept. 8. IMAGE COURTESY OF ALERTWILDFIRE.ORG

forest communities safe from the accelerating wildfires. ... “All the money in the world can’t save these places when the winds howl.”

Critical conditions Though wildfires have intensified the past few years, the upward trend started earlier. Scientists tracking data over the past 40 years found fire season globally increased by eight days from 1979 to 2019. Additionally, there were eight times more fires on average in California during the summer between 1972 and 2018, and in western U.S. forests, 10 times more land burned annually in 2003–2012 versus 1973–1982. Researchers for ScienceBrief Review culled that information and more from 116 studies for a report, released Sept. 25, titled Climate Change Increases the Risk of Wildfires. They concluded that “land management alone cannot explain recent increases in wildfire because increased fire weather from climate change amplifies fire risk where fuels remain available.” Wildfires are behaving differently, too. Blazes travel at unprecedented speed, such as how the Camp Fire whipped through Paradise at around 100 mph—at points spreading faster than 275 mph. The recent Bear Fire, renamed when incorporated into the North Complex Fire, burned a swath 30 miles by 25 miles—in the process leveling the community of Berry Creek—over the course of 24 hours, Sept. 8-9. “People ask me, ‘Are you surprised

by what you’re seeing?’” Hankins said. “Well, I am because I haven’t experienced this before, but it’s to be expected that it’s going to happen.” Most people know the “fire triangle” of fuel, oxygen and heat, “which give you the ability for a fire ignition to happen,” he explained. A spark hitting wood or vegetation, with the right dry air or wind, produces wildfire. The Camp Fire traces to faulty PG&E wiring near Pulga, the North Complex to a lightning storm over the Plumas National Forest. A second triangle shapes wildfire behavior: fuel, weather and topography. “I would say half of [the North Complex area] hadn’t had fire on it in the last mapped fire histories, going back 120 years,” Hankins continued. “You’ve got a lot of accumulation of fuels, the topography [of mountain forests], and then you’ve got the weather—and the wind and those drought conditions are the big factors feeding into it.” Rougle got a bird’s-eye reminder of the topography recently when she stood on the summit of Humboldt Peak at the northeastern border of Butte County. Surveying the Lassen National Forest, she saw a “vast, unbroken canopy of dark conifers across the landscape, as far as you could see, until you hit a rock. “You should be able to see a lot more light hitting the forest floor,” she said. “A hawk flying over the Sierra Nevada should be able to see the ground a lot more. But she can’t today.” On her drive to the summit, Rougle saw

a healthy copse of black oaks in a burn scar. Historically, she said, these ranges probably held more hardwood trees such as oaks than conifers such as pines. “The overdensity and the overdominance of conifers relative to the historical forest is a result of fire suppression,” she added. “If you want more hardwoods in the mix, you allow fires to burn.” California’s forests widely have been described as “tinderboxes” due to the preponderance of flammable tree species, tightly packed, with loose materials strewn on the floor. As Lunder points out, another hot zone is our foothills—one of “the most productive places in the world to grow brush and trees.”

Fighting fire with fire Seated with Newsom in September, Trump—as he has done on other occasions—blamed California leaders for the wildfires. The president decried the state’s forestry practices (though Newsom countered that 57 percent of the state is federal land, with just 3 percent of forests state-owned). The governor acknowledged that Trump made a commitment to fund prevention measures such as the removal of underbrush—what the president imprecisely called “raking” forest floors when he and Newsom, along with then-Gov. Jerry Brown, visited Paradise 10 days after the Camp Fire—but couldn’t get Trump’s concurrence on climate impacts. PREVENTION C O N T I N U E D

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Many people hear the term “forest management” and immediately think of logging. Timber-harvesting is one component, but the tableau is more expansive. The U.S. Forest Service defines the term as “focus[ing] on managing vegetation, restoring ecosystems, reducing hazards and maintaining forest health to include the ecology as a whole.” Hankins, as a fire scientist hearing the debate play out, takes a similarly holistic view. “Climate change is a factor that certain people, for some reason, don’t want to recognize … and we do need to be paying attention to it. But at the same time, we do need to recognize that our way of stewarding the land, or managing the land, hasn’t been effective, either,” he said. “We, particularly in our forested ecosystems in the state, have over the last 120 years sought to increase the number of trees in the forest at a time when the climate is shifting to a warmer situation. When you have that warmer situation with more trees, you have a greater risk of drought stress on those trees, disease outbreaks, those kind of things, that combine to make the recipe for what we’re getting now—and that is the correction factor of having fire back in the landscape.” By “back,” Hankins references the 19th century and earlier when Native Americans were the proverbial land managers of California. Those include Chico’s Mechoopda Indians, but also ancestors of Hankins’ in the Osage and Me-Wuk tribes. Indigenous people long have used prescribed burning to augment vegetation fires that occur naturally from lightning strikes. Hankins has studied these practices extensively, taught them widely—including to firefighters in Australia—and for 13 years has utilized controlled burns to manage Chico State’s ecological reserves. (See “Feet to the fire,” CN&R, Dec. 6, 2018.) “That’s how a lot of those fine fuels were traditionally managed, going way back into indigenous times,” Hankins said—this intentional burning combined with gathering tree limbs for firewood and, to a certain extent, animals grazing. “In today’s context, very few people are picking up branches and using them in that way,” he added, and public aversion to fire has steered prevention policy away from prescribed burns. “So in the course of a 10-year time period, you end up with a lot of material that’s on the ground,” Hankins continued, “and while you have some decomposition that occurs and you need to have a little bit of organic material to cover the soil, the rate at which it’s accumulating is faster than the rate of decomposition in these areas. 18


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A prescribed burning operation at the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve. PHOTO BY JASON HALLEY, FOR CHICO STATE

According to botanist Wolfy Rougle, about 25 percent of the Camp Fire burned at “stand-replacing intensities”—meaning nearly all conifers were killed at once. PHOTO COURTESY OF WOLFY ROUGLE

“You have to have some process of removing it—and fire is the natural tool to do that.” Current conditions make controlled burning difficult, though, as those 10-year periods have multiplied—tenfold in some spots, such as remote Sierra Nevada lands. Monumental brush-clearing operations would need to precede such burns. Moreover, 20th century priorities shifted the paradigm to fire suppression. According to Pro Publica’s recent California Burning series, scientists estimate that between 4 million and 12 million acres of California forests burned in prehistoric times. In the past four decades, state agencies have only applied prescribed burning to a tiny fraction of open lands— an average of 30,000 acres a year from 1982 to 1998 and 13,000 a year from 1999 to 2017. A February 2020 study published in Nature Sustainability found the state would need to burn 20 million acres to rebalance. Indigenous tribes used fire with broader intentions, Rougle said: to make acorns bigger, beargrass stronger, greens sweeter, redbud straighter. Over time, the local ecosystems adapted to these applications and even “came to rely on the right kind of fire at the right time.” That time frame, late summer and early fall in most of the state, has turned into our red flag season. Nowadays, Rougle added, “agencies are realizing the importance of fire, but most agencies’ primary goal is just fuel reduction. … Reviving Native burn traditions that are good for the land could require rethinking fire season and allowing more flexibility in how burns are permitted. “Of course, this requires greatly increasing the number of fire practitioners we have, because right now there aren’t enough trained folks in the state to both fight the bad fires and light the good ones at the same time in different ends of our 700-mile-long [state].”

No end in sight? Lunder, who has worked prescribed burns with Hankins at Chico State’s reserves, supports integrating traditional practices into modern firefighting. “Indigenous knowledge is really the original science,” he said. “It is based on thousands of years of observation, experimentation, refinement and adaptation. We disregard it at our own peril.” He’s also concerned about communities in the wildland-urban interface. Structures, not just trees and foliage, represent fire fuel. Continued development—and PREVENTION C O N T I N U E D

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rebuilding—exacerbates conditions, he said. In 1998, as a wildland fire planner at Chico State after working for the U.S. Forest Service, Lunder prepared a report that laid out conditions for a catastrophic fire in Paradise. The town comprised thousands of independent landowners: many wishing privacy, most with distinct lot layouts and with differing desires and abilities to clear brush. “If you wanted to clear the creeks in Paradise, you [may] have to cross 10 different properties in 500 feet,” Lunder said by phone. “And you can’t even get in there with a chipper or a big brush-cutting mower.” Even those who thinned fuels lost homes in the Camp Fire, he noted. “If your neighbor’s house catches on fire and is less than 50 feet away, yours is going to burn down, too, because of the heat,” Lunder said. “And, so, if people go back and build all these houses on these tight lots, it doesn’t really matter what we do with the vegetation if there’s a windPyrogeographer Zeke Lunder, a wildfire analyst and mapper driven fire and embers everywhere.” Deer Creek Resources, sees ongoing risks for residents in Lunder compares the situation to cen- for wildland-urban interfaces. tury-old cities trying to adapt to modern cN&R filE phOtO transportation. It’s tough to put bike paths and bus lanes into municipalities not built for them. Same for cities now at fire risk. on a statewide initiative for a comprehen“Insurance companies are the only sive approach to fire prevention; the effort institution ... willing to say, ‘No,’ to is so new, it doesn’t have a formal name continued development or settlement of or standing. It involves other fire experts, the high fire hazard areas,” he said. “We including indigenous practitioners of preshould be talking about a managed retreat scribed burning. from the most flammable places, and Rougle’s agency, the Resource making plans how we can redesign them Conservation District, continues to work after they inevitably burn. We’d be way with agencies such as ahead of the game the Butte County Fire if we’d have made Safe Council on proja plan to redesign ects like safeguarding a post-fire Paradise evacuation routes and 20 years ago—we forest health. Since the knew it would federal government eventually burn, controls less than 40 just as we know percent of county land, Marin, Cohasset aligning what she calls and Placerville will “such a patchwork” of now.” owners remains a chalImpacts go lenge. beyond the fire “We can’t reverse itself. As Cal Fire climate change in a warns in its recent gubernatorial admindaily update: istration or several “Although wildfire human generations —pyrogeographer Zeke lunder damage can be probably,” Rougle immeasurable, the said. “We can make danger is not over after the flames are put decisions that leave future generations out. Flash flooding and debris flows, struc- with less of a problem. If we dedicated the tural damage, road instability and damaged funds and the political will and the social trees are just some of the dangers that exist license, we actually could reverse generaafter a wildfire.” Butte County residents, tions of bad forest management in a couple particularly in Butte Creek Canyon, know of gubernatorial administrations. It just these aftereffects too well. takes getting people out in the woods [to Hankins told the CN&R he’s working see for themselves].” Ω

“We knew [Paradise] would eventually burn, just as we know Marin, Cohasset and Placerville will now.”

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This is your paper, and we will continue to serve our community together. Thank you. ChiCo.newsreview.Com November 12, 2020




Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays Meriam Park

FRI13 THE LARAMIE PROJECT: See Thu, 11/12. Stream online through Nov. 15. Fri, 11/13. $5. Online event, Chico State. showtix4u.com/event-details/40363

MERIAM PARK DRIVE-IN: Movies three nights a week at The Barn in Meriam Park. Tonight: Kung-Fu Panda. $25/car (4 or less); $35/car (5-8 people). Fri, 11/13, 7:15pm. Meriam Park Drive-In, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com/ drivein

SAT14 THE LARAMIE PROJECT: See Thu, 11/12. Stream online through Nov. 15. Sat, 11/14. $5. Online event, Chico State. showtix4u.com/event-details/40363

MERIAM PARK DRIVE-IN: Movies three nights a week at The Barn in Meriam Park. Tonight: Raiders of the Lost Ark. $25/car (4 or less); $35/car (5-8 people). Sat, 11/14, 7:15pm. Meriam Park Drive-In, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com/drivein


NOVEMBER ALL MONTH Galleries & Museums 1078 GALLERY: We Live Here Now A Contemporary Craft Exhibition of New Work, a contemporary craft exhibition by partners Mattie Hinkley and Jacob Troester showcasing the artists’ explorations in clay, fiber and wood in reference to common domestic goods, featuring allusions to housewares, furniture and architecture. Through 11/22. 1710 Park Ave. 1078gallery.org

BEATNIKS COFFEE HOUSE: Pique, a collection of dark shadow boxes by Kandis Horton-Jorth. Through Dec. 31. 1387 E. Eighth St.

CHICO ART CENTER: The Art of Remembrance, an art and altar exhibition honoring the tradition of El Dia de los Muertos. All are welcome to participate. Through 12/13. Also: Open Studios Art Tour continues online. Through July 31, 2021. 450 Orange St. chicoartcenter.com

GATEWAY SCIENCE MUSEUM: The museum is physically closed, but it’s still offering its Gateway at Home series of virtual activities. csuchico.edu/gateway

NAKED LOUNGE: Art by Scout The Wise. Through Nov. 118 W. Second St.

PARADISE ART CENTER: The Hope of Daffodils, a virtual group show in remembrance of the Camp Fire and in recognition of rebuilding efforts. Through 1/1. Paradise Art Center, Paradise. regeneratingparadise.org

VALENE L. SMITH MUSEUM OF ANTHROPOLOGY: Virtual exhibits. Currently online: Unbroken Traditions. More to come. Meriam Library, Chico State. csuchico.edu/anthmuseum

Events BLUE ROOM DARK SEASON: Visit the theater’s Patreon site patreon.com/BlueRoomChico and sign up to to watch already filmed productions of Treasure Island and Blue Stories, plus an ever-growing list of vintage



NOVEMBER 12, 2020

performances from 1990s on. Blue Room Theatre, blueroomtheatre.com

FARMERS MARKETS: Butte County’s markets are open and selling fresh produce and more. Chico: Downtown (Saturdays, 7:30am-1pm & Thursdays, 6-9pm); North Valley Plaza (Wednesdays, 8am-1pm); Chico State University Farm (Fridays, noon-4 p.m.). Paradise: Alliance Church (Tuesdays, 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m.). Oroville: Riverbend Park (Saturdays, 7:30am-2pm); Dove’s Landing parking lot (Wednesdays, 9am-2pm). downtownchico.com; chicofarmersmarket.com; orovillechamber.biz/calendar

IN FOCUS FILM FESTIVAL: This year’s feature is Bang The MERIAM PARK DRIVE-IN: Movies three nights a week at The Barn in Meriam Park. Tonight: The Breakfast Club. $25/car (4 or less); $35/car (5-8 people). Thu, 11/12, 7:15pm. Meriam Park Drive-In, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com/drivein

PUMPKIN SPICE COMEDY: Open mic comedy on the patio hosted by Sam Mallett. Thu, 11/12, 8pm. The Lab Bar and Grill, 250 Cohasset Road, Ste. 10.

VIRTUAL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT UPDATE: A briefing on local development including road improvements and other projects followed by a Q&A via Zoom. Thu, 11/12, 12pm. Free. Online event, Chico Chamber of Commerce. chicocacoc.wliinc18.com

Drum and will be accompanied by a talk from filmmaker and cultural anthropologist Dr. William Nitzky, whose research focuses on the cultural heritage of the Yao minority of rural southwest China. Sun, 11/15, 4pm. Online event, Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology. csuchico. edu/anthmuseum/events/film-festival.shtml

THE LARAMIE PROJECT: See Thu, Nov. 12. Sun, 11/15. $5. Online event, Chico State. showtix4u.com/event-details/40363

LIVE MUSIC AT SECRET TRAIL: Briggs and Yurkovich. Sun, 11/15, 3-5pm. Secret Trail Brewing Co., 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120. secrettrailbrewing.com

TURNER CAKE CONTEST: Decorate a cake that recreates one of painter Wayne Thiebaud’s prints in honor of his 100th birthday. It doesn’t have to be edible. Take a picture of your cake creation and post it to Instagram using @janetturnerprintmuseum and #TurnerCakeContest by Friday, Nov. 13. Winners will be announced on Nov. 15. Sun, 11/15, 2pm. Online event, Janet Turner Print Museum. csuchico.edu/turner/



FORENSIC ARCHITECTURE: Zoom conversation with Israeli

CITY COUNCIL MEETING: The city of Chico’s council meetings

architect Eya Weizman, part of a CSU-wide series featuring conversations with artists, collectives and curators whose work is critical to current re-imaginings of the art world, and the world at large. Connect at cpp.edu/platform-csu-art-speaker-series Thu, 11/12, 12pm. Janet Turner Print Museum. csuchico.edu/turner/

are open to both in-person and remote participation. Citizens wanting to speak in person are encouraged to sign up using Engaged Chico (chico-ca.granicusideas. com). You can also send comments either through Engaged Chico or you can email them during the meeting to publiccomments@chicoca.gov. Tue, 11/17, 6pm. City Council Chambers, 421 Main St.

WRITER’S VOICE – FRED ARROYO: The author and Middle Tennessee State University writing professor discusses literary writing as a craft. His writing won him an Individual Artist Program Grant from the Indiana Arts Commission, and his fiction is a part of the Library of Congress series “Spotlight on U.S. Hispanic Writers.” Zoom ID: 817 8740 5025; Password: CRAFT Thu, 11/12, 3pm. Online event, Chico State. csuchico.edu/engl

NORTH STATE SYMPHONY PRE-CONCERT TALK: For its 20th anniversary season, the symphony has gone virtual. Six smaller-scale performances are planned for the school year. The program on Nov. 19 is Gypsy Strings, and tonight is a pre-concert talk with conductor Scott Seaton. Tue, 11/17, 7pm. Online event, North State Symphony. northstatesymphony.org

THE LARAMIE PROJECT: Chico State’s Music and Theatre Department present Tectonic Theater Project/Moisés Kaufman’s play about the1998 kidnapping and severe beating of Matthew Shepard, a gay man, outside of Laramie, Wyoming. Tectonic Theater made six trips to Laramie over the course of a year and a half, and conducted more than 200 interviews with the people of the town. Please be advised that this play contains descriptions of homophobia, violence and murder. Stream online through Nov. 15. Thu, 11/12. $5. Online event, Chico State. showtix4u.com/event-details/40363


Chico State Department of Music and Theatre (online event)

THU19 MERIAM PARK DRIVE-IN: Movies three nights a week at The Barn in Meriam Park. Tonight: Stand By Me. $25/car (4 or less); $35/car (5-8 people). Thu, 11/19, 7:15pm. Meriam Park Drive-In, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com/ drivein


So is the CN&R calendar! Submit virtual and real-world events for the online calendar as well as the monthly print edition, at chico.newsreview.com/calendar


North State Symphony (online event)

NORTH STATE SYMPHONY – GYPSY STRINGS: For its 20th anniversary season, the symphony has gone virtual. Six smaller-scale performances are planned for the school year. This month: Gypsy Strings, with works by Brahms, Schumann, and Klughardt for trio, quartet and quintet. Special guest artist: John Chernoff (piano). Thu, 11/19, 7pm. Online event, North State Symphony. northstatesymphony.org

FRI20 MERIAM PARK DRIVE-IN: Movies three nights a week at The Barn in Meriam Park. Tonight: Madagascar. $25/car (4 or less); $35/car (5-8 people). Fri, 11/20, 7:15pm. Meriam Park Drive-In, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com/ drivein

WILD & SCENIC FILM FESTIVAL: Watch a selection of 12 short films about wildlife, wild places and the people who maintain them. Friends of Butte Creek brings the touring show to Chico for a virtual screening. Fri, 11/20, 6:30pm. $12. qudio.com/event/buttecreek/register

SAT21 MERIAM PARK DRIVE-IN: Movies three nights a week at The Barn in Meriam Park. Tonight: Jurassic Park. $25/car (4 or less); $35/car (5-8 people). Sat, 11/21, 7:15pm. Meriam Park Drive-In, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com/ drivein

SUN22 LIVE MUSIC AT SECRET TRAIL: Bob McDaniel. Sun, 11/22, 3-5pm. Secret Trail Brewing Co., 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120. secrettrailbrewing.com

TUE24 THANKSGIVING WITH ANGELS: Free, hot, to-go meals for hungry people. Tue, 11/24, 6pm. Free. North Valley Plaza Mall parking lot, by Trader Joe’s.



A silent weApon

PUMPKIN SPICE COMEDY: Open mic comedy on the patio hosted by Sam Mallett. Thu, 11/26, 8pm. The Lab Bar and Grill, 250 Cohasset Road, Ste. 10.

FRI27 A CHRISTMAS CHAOS: A frenzied take on the Dickens classic PHOTO BY LAURA LAROSE (VIA FLICKR)

SHORT-ATTENTION SPAN THEATER Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, tradition is out the window this holiday season. If you want to share yuletide joy with others and attend a seasonal performance in public, you’ll have to do something like meet up in individual cars, stay inside those cars and not linger too long before returning to quarantine. That’s exactly what Chico Theater Company has planned for their upcoming production, A Christmas Chaos, showing Nov. 27-19. This frenetic rendition of the Dickens classic is only 10 minutes long and will be presented under the stars behind the theater drive-in style, where carloads of revelers can tune into the performance as it’s broadcast to their vehicle’s FM radio.

performed in just 10 minutes. The show will be outside in the rear parking lot, drive-in style. There will be four showings per evening starting every 30 minutes, Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 19. Reservations required due to limited space. Fri, 11/27, 7pm. $10. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheatercompany.com

SAT28 A CHRISTMAS CHAOS: See Friday, Nov. 27. Sat, 11/28, 7pm. $10. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheatercompany.com

SUN29 LIVE MUSIC AT SECRET TRAIL: Peter Wilson with Bob Littell. Sun, 11/29, 3-5pm. Secret Trail Brewing Co., 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120. secrettrailbrewing.com

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SCENE “The Window” (multiple wall-hung ceramic pieces). PHOTO COURTESY OF 1078 GALLERY

Art duet A collaboration in wood, fiber and earthenware

Tthe1078 Gallery, We Live Here Now, reflects recent history of artists Jacob Troester he title of the latest exhibit at Chico’s

and Mattie Hinkley. After carrying on a two-year long-distance romantic relationship— by she in Virginia, he in Robert Speer California—they ended up in Chico, happily living and making art Review: together for the last sevWe Live Here Now shows through Nov. 22, same eral months. day as the closing That happiness is reception, 1-4 p.m. reflected in this exhibit. Gallery hours: FridayIt’s a collection of nearly Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The 1078 is practicing 70 mostly small, whimsocial distancing and sical sculptural pieces not allowing more than made from some comeight people in at once. bination of earthenware 1078 Gallery (that is, fired clay), fiber 1710 Park Ave. and wood. These ele1078gallery.org ments are mixed and used in a variety of clever ways, some as standing sculptures, others as wall pieces. What’s especially interesting is that, while the artists have named the many pieces in a separate list, they have declined to indicate which of them made what. When I asked Hinkley about this, during a recent interview at the gallery, she said it wasn’t intentional, but rather the result of their working so closely together. “Over time we’ve moved closer together, both emotionally and artistically,” she explained. Hinkley’s specialty is working with wood, but she has studied and trained in several disciplines, including illustration and ceramics. Troester, who is a Chico native, has a similarly diverse artistic 24


NOVEMBER 12, 2020


background that includes fiber arts as well as ceramics. A Chico State grad, he currently works as the technician in Butte College’s ceramics lab. The couple shares expertise with earthenware and often works together on ceramic figures. They freely mix and combine their core elements, so that a piece made to look like a vase made from woven fiber (“Basket Vase”) is actually made from clay. My personal favorite is “Um & Pillar,” which features a cremation urn perched atop a 4-foot-high cherry wood pedestal. Hinkley said she built the piece following the death of her beloved 17-year-old dog as a way to memorialize his life. When I asked Hinkley what she wanted viewers to take away from the show, she replied, “We want people to experience joyfulness and comfort with our work.” At the same time, the couple is well aware of the privilege they enjoy “of being able to devote time and resources toward creating

Jacob Troester (with broken heel and knee) and Mattie Hinkley at the opening reception for We Live Here Now. PHOTO BY CARLY HAYES

artwork centered around craft practices and ideas of home,” as they write in their artists’ statement. They continue: “We recognize that we live within an unfair system in which many, many people have never known—or have been stripped of—the safety, comfort and security we hold dear.” In response, they will donate one-third of the income from this show to the group

National Bail Out, which is focused on reform of the bail system that has played such a major role in mass incarceration. They’ve made their artwork affordable, with prices ranging from just $36 (for a unique ceramic cup) to $600, with most coming in from $100 to $300. This is a good opportunity for folks to add some delightful handmade art to their homes. Ω


Small-screen signposts More streaming and dreaming with CN&R film critic

Iyearmoviegoing in this highly fraught continues to be mostly a matt almost goes without saying that

ter of “streaming in place.” Be that as it may, perhaps a little more could be said, and by Juan-Carlos maybe should be Selznick said, about some of the rewards and benefits, large and small, emerging from the altered circumstances of contemporary film experience. I miss watching movies on a big screen in a theater with an audience as much as anybody, but I’ve also been enjoying the increased access to cinematic benefits provided by video for many years now. Those benefits have been both expanded and magnified in this year of lockdowns and confinements. For me that has meant, among other things, more freedom and variety in the viewing choices I make, as well as the increased urgency and heightened sensitivity in the actual viewing. One way of showing what I mean might take the form of a side-


See page 7 for details.

ways top “10” list—not as a list of recommendations but rather as a set of signposts along the improvised pathways of my own viewing in 2020: Cat Videos: I’ve been hooked on ‘em for a long time, but I only see the ones that my sister in Seattle sends me. There’s so much comic inventiveness in so much of what she sends me that I’ve begun to think of the videos as tiny film comedies, a thriving movie genre in its own right. Ready for some football, Mr. DeMille? I watch a lot of NFL games, especially the 49ers and other West Coast teams. I especially enjoy the rich visual spectacle of games played on turf in autumn sunshine, and more often than not I put the nattering of broadcasters on mute. And in recent times, the multifaceted camerawork and onthe-fly editing often give the live broadcast a near-cinematic dimension. Perry Mason, re-imagined? HBO’s prequel/revisionist tale of the early career of fictional legend (played here by Matthew

Rhys) makes almost no real sense as a character study, but as a somewhat gruesome tabloidstyle period piece (Los Angeles between the first and second World Wars), it’s often fascinating. Mason’s loyal secretary Della Street (Juliet Rylance) is here a feminist/crimefighter; investigator Paul Drake (Chris Chalk) turns up as a black cop who’s too honest for the era’s LAPD; gusts of corrupt atmosphere blow in from Chinatown and other classic hits; a lurid version of the real-life, glamorous evangelist

Aimee Semple McPherson (Sister Alice McKeegannearly, played by Tatiana Maslany) steals the picture from Mason. Absurd, but also very hard to resist. We just jammin’ here! There’s an 11-minute YouTube segment from the film of a 1984 George Thorogood concert in New Jersey. It has Thorogood doing his signature cover of John Lee Hooker’s paired talkin’ blues, with “House Rent Blues” sliding into “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.” The opening lyric, “I’m gonna tell you a story,” is directly addressed

Tatiana Maslany as Sister Alice McKeegannearly in HBO’s Perry Mason.

to the front rows of the audience, and what follows is not only the story the songs tell, but also the story of the band’s performance (including a guest cameo from Elvin Bishop) complete with running commentary from Thorogood and explicit nods to the musical history that walks alongside this blues genre. It’s a straight-up music video, but filmed and edited with such intelligence and wit that it also comes to life as a festive short story in movie form. Ω

Chico Home Brew Shop has what you need for fermentation projects. We also have supplies for cheesemaking, sodas, and kombucha. Gift certificates available.

We have: • Yeast for beer, wine, cider, and more. • Ingredients for beer makers at all levels. • Equipment for fermentation and bottling. • Kegs, hook-ups, draft systems, sanitizers. • We have years of experience! 3130 Hwy 32 #2, Chico •

chicohomebrew • Tues-Sat 10am-5pm • Fri 10am-6:00pm • 530-342-3768 NOVEMBER 12, 2020



CHOW Wal Riek, owner of Black Wal Street, in his home kitchen. PHOTO COURTESY OF BLACK WAL STREET CAFÉ

Scrumptious side hustle Black Wal Street Café serves up comfort, soul food through social media by

Ken Smith kens@ n ewsrev iew. com



NOVEMBER 12, 2020

AousRiek found himself suffering from a sericondition that afflicts many young people s a freshman at Chico State in 2014, Wal

when they first strike out away from home: He missed his mother’s cooking. Black Wal Rather than despair, Street Café @blackwalstreetcafe Riek committed to honing on Instagram his own culinary skills. He spent hours in the kitchen and at the grill, taking what he’d picked up from his mom, combining it with new techniques and exploring different spices and ingredients to come up with his own takes on the classic barbecue, soul- and comfort-food dishes he loved.

“I went through a lot of trial and error, but before long I started making some magnificent dishes,” said Riek, who comes across as a pretty humble guy until it comes to describing his own cooking. Riek’s friends— themselves hungry students deprived of home cooking—were happy to serve as guinea pigs, and Riek’s food soon became the centerpiece at parties and Friendsgiving celebrations. People began encouraging him to start a business based around his creations, and in 2017 Black Wal Street Café was born. “Cafe,” in this case, is a virtual construct rather than a brick-and-mortar one: Riek conducts business via word-of-mouth and social media—these days primarily through Instagram—then cooks the food for pick-up. He also caters events throughout Northern California, including regular gigs in Sacramento and the Bay Area. Regarding the name of his endeavor, Riek said it dates back to his playground days in the San Diego neighborhood of City Heights, where he grew up. “Some older kids started calling me ‘Black Wal Street’, obviously because my name is Wal, and I thought. ‘OK, yeah, that sounds like a cool nickname.’ “A few years later, in junior high, I learned about what happened in Oklahoma,” he said, referring to the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. Back then, that city’s predominantly black Greenwood neighborhood was the wealthiest African-American neighborhood in the United States and known as Black Wall Street. On May 31, white mobs attacked black residents’ homes and businesses, and at one point used private aircraft to drop firebombs on the area. After two days of violence, 35 square blocks were destroyed and between 150 and 300 people were killed. “Once I learned there was some important history behind it, it felt important to keep the name,” Riek said. Though in 2018 he took some time off from selling his dishes, he revived the venture late last year. He’s kicked things up a notch in recent months “as a side hustle during Covid times” and this time around is looking to appeal to patrons beyond the college crowd. The Black Wal Street Café experience begins with a visit to an Instagram page Riek maintains (@blackwalstreetcafe) to peruse what can only be described as food porn. The pictures of perfectly grilled chicken and ribs, and videos of buttery shrimp sizzling in a pan and a huge tray filled with creamy, slightly crisped-at-the-top macaroni and cheese, are downright tantalizing. Riek usually serves food on Saturdays, sometimes Sundays, and orders must be received by Thursday night. Payment is accepted via Venmo, Cash App or Apple Pay, and diners are asked to submit their order

in the comments section while submitting payment. Riek then shops for ingredients to meet that week’s orders, spends a day cooking and alerts customers when their meals are ready for pickup (usually around 6 p.m.) from his house in The Avenues. The cafe usually maintains a regular menu containing items like barbecued chicken (sold as combos with two sides, $13 for three pieces and $17 for five), barbecued ribs ($25 for a full rack, $15 for half) and Cajun-style fried catfish (three large pieces and two sides for $18). Sides like mac & cheese ($5 and one of the best-selling items) and dirty rice (deliciously seasoned and cooked with ground beef and chopped bell peppers, $3) are available individually, and Riek’s delectable biscuits ($1 each) or cornbread ($2 per serving) complete any meal. Some weeks, the cafe offers specials. Recent examples include creamy Cajun pasta (spicy and containing sausage and shrimp, $12) and “Rafiki” fries—seasoned french fries topped with grilled chicken, steak or shrimp and drizzled with barbecue and chipotle sauce. Rafiki, Riek explained, is another of his nicknames, and he often applies it to his specialty items. Besides school, Riek’s main gig is at an assisted-living facility, but his side hustle is arguably where his true passion lies. Asked if he’d like to make the endeavor a full-time project he said, “Oh yeah, I think about it all the time.” And, he has a plan. “Everyone I know says Chico doesn’t have enough places that are open late with good food,” Riek said. “I’d like to open a shop where people can come enjoy themselves and get a good, real meal at like 10 or 11 at night. “I’m looking to get a trailer and start doing that,” he said. “If that does well, and I know it will, then I’d eventually like to open a restaurant in the downtown Chico area.” Ω Chicken drumsticks on the grill. PHOTO COURTESY OF BLACK WAL STREET CAFÉ

ARTS DEVO by JASON CASSIDY • jasonc@newsreview.com

NEW DAY RISING! I’m sure most everyone who

reads this column is not a fan of Donald Trump, so since I’m preaching to the choir at this moment when most major outlets have announced Joe Biden as winning the presidency—with Kamala Harris as the first female, first black and first Asian-American vice president—let’s celebrate the fact that the divisive one is on his way out. As Andrew W.K. says: It’s time to party! Some headlines, Tweets and other lines to get you in the mood: “Biden beats Trump”—The New York Times President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect “Joe Biden triumphs over Trump as voters Kamala Harris. repudiate divisive, bullying president”—WashPHOTO COURTESY OF BIDEN CAMPAIGN ington Post “America won: Voters stopped an authoritarian populist from destroying the country’s democratic institutions”—The Atlantic “Maybe worth noting that Democrats are 3-0 this century when they have a black person on the ticket, and 0-3 when they don’t.”—Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight “We kept the republic! … It’s a time to heal and a time to grow together. E Pluribus Unum.”—Nancy Pelosi “It’s a history-making ticket, a repudiation of Trump, and a new page for America. ... Onward, together.”—Hillary Clinton “Scientists relieved as Joe Biden wins tight US presidential election”—Nature Magazine “President-elect claims mandate on climate change, systemic racism, more”—Fox News “We have not only voted out the most corrupt, dangerous president in modern history but have the opportunity to carry out the most progressive agenda our country has ever seen. Let’s get to work!”—Ilhan Omar, U.S. Representative, Minn. “Anybody who’s like ‘well that was a pretty good showing for Trump!’ should consider how Hillary Clinton was treated as the World’s Biggest Loser after an election with the same Electoral College margin as this one. But where she won the popular vote instead of losing it by 5 [million].”—Silver “Donald Trump has wrapped up his round of golf, during which Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election … dozens of onlookers lined the road to Trump’s Virginia club after the race was called. Some of their signs read, ‘You’re fired’ and ‘Pack your shit and go.’”—CNN “Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process.”—The Real Donald Trump’s Twitter feed “18:01, 7 November 2020 ... Add Biden as president-elect”—Wikipedia addition by user SSSB As relieved as I am at this moment—on what should be declared International Mental Health Day—I have to remind myself that presidents, legislators and Supreme Court justices, even those whose ideas and policies I support, aren’t the ones with the power. Most every meaningful change in the history of this county—from workers’ rights to civil rights—has been the result of “we the people” demanding it. As Howard Zinn put it in an editorial in The Progressive more than a decade ago, “Those rights only come alive when citizens organize, protest, demonstrate, strike, boycott, rebel, and violate the law in order to uphold justice.” Even though our guy and gal will soon be the country’s leaders, it’s up to us to show them where we’re going. The work will come. Today we celebrate this positive change and the hope it brings. On Facebook, my friend and Chico State English professor Rob Davidson posted “New Day Rising”—the lead-off track from Minneapolis punk greats Hüsker Dü’s 1985 album of the same name—and it is just the spark the to get the party started. Sing along:

New day rising New day rising New day rising New day rising New day rising (new day rise, yeah!) New day rising New day rising (new day rise!) New day rising New day rising (new day rise!) New day rising (new day rising!)

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November 12, 2020

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November 12, 2020



FREE WILL ASTROLOGY For the week oF NoV. 12, 2020

Find us online chico.newsreview.com

C H I C O ’ S

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “Love can’t always do work,” wrote novelist Iris Murdoch. “Sometimes it just has to look into the darkness.” From what I can tell, you’ve been doing that recently: looking into the darkness for love’s sake. That’s a good thing! You have been the beneficiary of the blessings that come through the contemplation of mysteries and enigmas. You’ve been recalibrating your capacity to feel love and tenderness in the midst of uncertainty. I suspect that it will soon be time to shift course, however. You’re almost ready to engage in the intimate work that has been made possible by your time looking into the darkness.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Author


Barbara Kingsolver says, “Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say.” That’s always valuable advice, but it’ll be especially useful to keep in mind during the coming weeks. You’re probably going to feel more pressure than usual to tell others what they wish you would tell them; you may experience some guilt or worry about being different from their expectations of you. Here’s the good news: I’m pretty certain you can be true to yourself without seeming like a jerk to anyone or damaging your longterm interests. So you might as well say and do exactly what’s real and genuine.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): “The violets

& E N T E R T A I N M E N T

in the mountains have broken the rocks,” wrote playwright Tennessee Williams. I think that’s a poetic but accurate description of the feat you’ve been working on lately. You’re gently smashing through stony obstructions. You’ve been calling on your irrepressible will to enjoy life as you have outsmarted the rugged, jagged difficulties. You’re relying on beauty and love to power your efforts to escape a seemingly no-win situation. Congratulations! Keep up the good work!

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Cancerian

rapper Vince Staples says, “I feel like it’s impossible to be completely yourself.” Why? Because ideally we’re always outgrowing who we have become; we’re moving beyond the successes we have already achieved. There is no final, whole, ideal “self” to inhabit and express—only more and more of our selfness to create. Staples suggests we’d get bored if we reached a mythical point where we had figured out exactly who we are and embodied it with utter purity. We always have a mandate to transform into a new version of our mystery. Sounds like fun! Everything I just said is an empowering meditation for you right now.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): “I am my own

sanctuary and I can be reborn as many times as I choose throughout my life.” Singer-songwriter Lady Gaga said that, and now I offer it to you to use as your motto. According to my analysis of the astrological omens, it’s a fabulous time to be your own sanctuary. I invite you to rebirth yourself at least twice between now and the end of November. What’s the first step you’ll take to get started?

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): The National


Football League is a giant socialist enterprise. It earns billions of dollars of revenue, and shares it equally with each of its 32 teams. So the team in Green Bay, population 105,000, receives the same payout as the team in Chicago, population 2.7 million. I advocate a comparable approach for you in the coming weeks. Just for now, distribute your blessings and attention and favors as evenly as possible, showing no favoritism toward a particular child or friend or pet or loved one or influence. Be an impartial observer, as well. Try to restrain biases and preferential treatment as you act with even-handed fair-mindedness. Don’t worry: You can eventually go back to being a subjective partisan if you want. For the foreseeable future, your well-being requires cordial neutrality.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): “Who is to

decide between ‘Let it be’ and ‘Force it’?”

by rob brezsNy asked Libran author Katherine Mansfield. I mention this because you’re now hanging out in the limbo zone between “Let it be” and “Force it.” But very soon—I’m sure you’ll have a clear intuition about when—you’ll figure out how to make a decisive move that synthesizes the two. You will find a way to include elements of both “Let it be” and “Force it.”

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): “I hold

a beast, an angel, and a madman in me,” wrote Scorpio poet Dylan Thomas (1914– 1953) in a letter to a friend. That sounds like a lot of energy to manage! And he didn’t always do a good job at it—although he did at times tap into his primal wellspring to create some interesting poetry. I’m going to use Thomas’s words in your horoscope, because I think that in the coming weeks you can be a subtle, refined, and mature blend of a beast, angel and madperson. Be your wisest wild self!

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21):

Activist and author Rebecca Solnit writes, “The grounds of my hope have always been that history is wilder than our imagination of it and that the unexpected shows up far more regularly than we ever dream.” In my astrological estimation, her grounds for hope should also be yours in the coming weeks. The future is more wide open than you might think. The apparent limitations of the past are at least temporarily suspended and irrelevant. Your fate is purged of some of your old conditioning and the inertia of tradition. I encourage you to make a break for freedom. Head in the direction of the Beautiful Unknown.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): The

famous Leaning Tower of Pisa doesn’t stand straight, but tilts at an angle. Why? The soil it was built on is soft on one side. So the marble-and-limestone structure began to tip even before it was finished. That’s the weird news. The good news is that the tower has remained standing for more than eight centuries—and has stayed intact even though four major earthquakes have rolled through the area. Why? A research team of engineers determined it’s because of the soft foundation soil, which prevents the tower from resonating violently with the temblors. So the very factor that makes it odd is what keeps it strong. Is there a comparable phenomenon in your life? I believe there is. Now is a good time to acknowledge this blessing—and enhance your use of it.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Even if

you tend to pay more attention to what’s going wrong than what’s going right, I ask you to change your attitude for the next three weeks. Even if you believe that cynicism is an intelligent perspective and a positive attitude is a wasteful indulgence, I encourage you to suspend those beliefs. As an experiment—and in accordance with astrological potentials—I invite you to adopt the words of activist Helen Keller as your keynote: “Every optimist moves along with progress and hastens it, while every pessimist would keep the world at a standstill. The consequence of pessimism in the life of a nation is the same as in the life of the individual. Pessimism kills the instinct that urges people to struggle against poverty, ignorance and crime, and dries up all the fountains of joy in the world.”

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Research-

ers in the U.K. found that 62% of the adult population brags that they’ve read classic books that they have not in fact read. Why? Mostly to impress others. George Orwell’s 1984 is the top-rated book for fake claims, followed by Tolstoy’s War and Peace, James Joyce’s Ulysses and the Bible. I hope you won’t engage in anything like that type of behavior during the weeks ahead. In my opinion, it’s even more crucial than usual for you to be honest and authentic about who you are and what you do. Lying about it might seem to be to your advantage in the short run, but I guarantee it won’t be.

www.RealAstrology.com for Rob Brezsny’s EXPANDED WEEKLY AUDIO HOROSCOPES and DAILY TEXT MESSAGE HOROSCOPES. The audio horoscopes are also available by phone at 1-877-873-4888.



NoVeMber 12, 2020

November 12, 2020



e p o H d l i u B & Support

CHIP is rebuilding Paradise Community Village! Destroyed in the Camp Fire, Paradise Community Village returns to its former glory as a 36-unit affordable housing community in the fall of 2021. Help support this project and other critical affordable housing projects in the region.

Help us reach our end of year goal: $100,000 FunDing Priorities: • Construction Costs for Paradise Community Village • expanding Affordable Housing in Paradise • strengthening CHiP

To support CHIP or learn more, please visit chiphousing.org/build-hope CHiP is a Chico-based nonprofit that provides healthy, sustainable, affordable housing and related services to qualified residents in Butte, tehama, shasta, glenn, Colusa, sutter, and Yuba counties.