Better than a Championship

Invincible Bobcats helped resurrect a community

This morning, I suspect the players and coaches of the Paradise High School Bobcats are unhappy, but they should be proud.

What they gave the communities of the Paradise Ridge is something better than a Championship. I hope they know it. Through their disappointment, I hope they hear this.

In researching for Three Days in Paradise, I’ve come across dozens of old west mining towns in Butte County’s early days. Most of them are unknown.

I’ve found one thing separates settlements which become communities and those that fade into ghost towns. It’s schools.

All budding towns open bars, general stores, hotels and even a town hall. It’s the ones with schools that remain. Schools aren’t for the towns of today. They and their students are the town of tomorrow… the citizens, leaders, business people who will enrich and improve the town long after all the founders are gone.

Schools and the families they make possible, are the thing that separates a collection of buildings from a civilized town. Schools are how a town shows hope.

In the days, weeks and months after the fire, I interviewed dozens and met hundreds of survivors, recovery workers and public and private leaders. On camera and off they talked about, worried about, wondered about whether a community like Paradise could rise from the blow we had taken.

Yes, people vowed to rebuild, some businesses opened, but in whispers and wonders from across the spectrum I heard real worries from smart, informed people about the possibility Paradise would fade.

Then the schools re-opened in August, and it was a good sign.

But for many, it was the first game of the Bobcat’s Football Season on August 23 which made what remained of Paradise feel like what we remembered of Paradise. As survivors watched, coached and played in ame after game, our battered optimism reasserted itself.

Listening to the cheers of the crowds, watching the exploits of Harrison and Blood, Bettencourt and Hartly, Velasquez and everyone else made Paradise feel like a hopeful, happy place again. Through every regular season game, they won, finishing with a 10-0 record.

Their run helped us remember we could do this. We could clear the debris, claw through the heartache and remember those we had lost, and could have a town that felt like a place again. The Bobcats brought our eyes to the horizon again and let reminded us there is something more than ash in the future.

So they the players and coaches may not have gone to where they wanted to go this year.

But they gave us all something more dear. To do that you have to be something better than a champion.

You have to be Paradise Invincible.

 

We’re still here and we’re still listening

If you’re like me, the first anniversary of the Camp Fire was a cyclone of emotions.

There was shock that so much time had already passed and the shock that a whole year could feel like just a few days. The pain and bewilderment of the fire’s aftermath was made vivid again as the anniversary arrived, now mixed with an honest hope for the future and a bittersweet regret at all those who have been forced by economic and emotional circumstance to leave Butte County in the last 365 days.

And if you’re like me, only now are you really ready to talk openly. That’s why I’m writing today.

Since the one-year commemoration, I’ve noticed more survivors sharing their stories for the first time. I’ve also had more than a few say they will talk only to our Three Days in Paradise team, because we lived through it too.

I’m here to say we’re still here, we’re still listening, and we’re interested in hearing your stories as long as you’re content to share them.

While many documentaries have finished shooting and departed the county, Laura and I, along with our Three Days team, are still here. We’re living in Chico while our hearts remain on the ridge.

I know you or someone you know may have been too nervous or in too much pain to share your story of the Camp Fire over these last 12 months. Memories of the Ridge as it was may have been too much to talk about without tears.

Something about the first anniversary has prompted some people to finally share their experiences, and that’s why we’re still here.

We want to hear everyone’s stories. We want to know what happened to everyone, what is still happening, and where we go from here. And when our documentary series is done, when our interviews are donated to the Gold Nugget Museum, we want the world to hear our story and understand it as we do.

So if you or someone you know is only now wanting to talk, we’re here. If you find yourself chatting with loved ones over Thanksgiving dinner, at some Christmas party or some other holiday celebration, please keep us in mind. 

We’re here to listen.

You can contact us here:

Email:

Info@ThreeDaysInParadise.tv

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/ThreeDaysInParadise

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/3daysinparadise

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/threedaysinparadise

Find out everything at:

https://threedaysinparadise.tv

Or call 530-680-7125

Helping the Gold Nugget Museum and Three Days in Paradise

Hey friends, neighbors and readers,

We come today with the happy announcement long in the making: Our Three Days in Paradise production team has entered into an agreement with the Gold Nugget Museum to donate all materials contributed by the public to our production to the Museum poste haste.

That means anything you give to us to use in our series, to tell the local and larger stories of the Paradise Ridge and the Camp Fire, will find a home in the Gold Nugget. We’re proud and touched to be allowed to help in this small way to rebuild an institution that means so much to our Ridge.

We’re looking to do two things: 1). Help rebuild the historical images of the Ridge from the 1840s to November 7, 2018 and 2). Create the most complete, fully sourced archive of Camp Fire related images, video, audio and more.

That means we’re looking for everything: Phone videos, home videos, historical pictures, Polaroids, modern phone pics, Beta Tapes, VHS tapes, slides, news station footage & 8 mm films… Everything.

We will scan or digitize you originals and get them back to you. We will then pass on museum quality digital copies to the Museum for their archives.

We came to this decision when we realized the needs to make our series… historical images and what we all saw and heard on November 8 and in the aftermath, matched neatly with what the Museum would be needing for the future.

There are a few ways to get us footage.

1). If you’ve got physical images or material… video or audio tapes, home movies, old pictures, anything, give us a call (530-680-7125) or email and we’ll set up an appointment (Info@ThreeDaysInParadise.tv).

2). Get on our computer and go to this link and send us material via DropBox. When asked, enter your name and email (this will tag each video you upload with your name so we know who contributed it). Only we will see the video you send. Here’s the link:
https://www.dropbox.com/request/XoKYqh7YQe5IHhPx1qPF

3). If you’re on an iPhone, select the photos and send us an iCloud link. You can send the link here: Info@ThreeDaysInParadise.tv

4). If you’ve got an Android, select the photos and send us Google Photos link here: Info@ThreeDaysInParadise.tv
Or…

 

Hello friends, neighbors and readers,

Chris here with a bittersweet celebration. Today we reveal the first images from what we’ve been working on since November of last year. It was a week after the fire that I shot the first images for what I hope will be the definitive story of our experience in the Camp Fire.

We are more than fire victims, and this story is more than of just one wildfire.

As I’ve been telling anyone who would listen, Three Days in Paradise is a documentary series not on the fire, but on us–the people who lived on the ridge, the experience we had with the fire, and what we’re doing to rebuild after.

So thank you all for your encouragement and the footage you’ve all contributed. We’ll be announcing more exciting things soon, but enough talk and waiting.

We welcome you to watch the teaser.

Our first teaser for Three Days in Paradise

Help Ron Howard Tell Our Story

Hey all,

Apologies for the delay/working diligently/update coming soon.

Today I’m here for a quick favor.

Since the Camp Fire, we’ve all encountered film and video producers of all types. Some have come to use us to tell their story. Others are truly here to help us tell ours.

I’ve come to know and trust the crew from Imagine, headed by producer Xan Parker and co-producer Lizz Morhaim for director Ron Howard. They are good people. But if you’ve been lucky enough to meet them, as hundreds of us on the Ridge have, you don’t need me to tell you that.

So here’s the deal. To tell our story in documentary form, they need images. So many of you have helped my project, so let’s help them. Without pictures, video, film and sound, telling our story will be tough. So please join me in helping them.

They need our help to find video (cell phone or other) and photos. If you have anything on the list below, please reach out to me, or upload your material to Dropbox: http://bit.ly/ParadiseDocSubmission
Home movies shot in Paradise – 2000s or before
Gold Nugget Days – 2018 or before
November 8 (Evacuation and down in Chico that night)
November 9 (wherever you were)
November 11 meeting with PG&E
November 28 community meeting
Your first time going back to Paradise after the fire
November 17 visit by President Trump in Paradise
February 14 visit by Governor Newsom in Paradise
These are good people. Helping them helps us.

June Update & Announcement: A Rough Stretch of Weeks

Our June update comes at a time where, and it could just be us, the summer is starting with some harsh blows.

Maybe this month is not much different from those since the fire, and the hardships could just be a coincidence. But some rough run of luck seems on a tear for many of the Camp Fire survivors (us included, see below). Regardless, we’ll all push on together.

As we’ve all heard, Phil John, chair of the Paradise Fire Safe Council (and husband to Paradise Unified School District’s Superintendent Michelle John) passed away June 11.

As with many of our emotions these days, to pinpoint just why this event hit us harder than others is difficult to say. Maybe it’s that it’s the kind of normal heartbreak we all feel, but absorbing it under the shadow still cast by November 8 places just a few more straws on the camel’s back.

Or for us working on Three Days in Paradise, it’s echoed by more ‘normal’ heartbreaks on the home front. Producer Laura Smith (my peerless wife) has seen her father pass away May 26–two weeks before her mother moved into assisted living with Parkinson’s.

Then there was the development I’ve announced to the crew and now I’m letting you all know. I’ve been diagnosed with Bells Palsy, a temporary condition brought on by a variety of factors. While it’s stroke-like effect on the muscles of a person’s face can be unnerving, my doctors have expressed their hope for a full recovery (though it could take up to six months).

So what does this mean?

In the long run, nothing. We continue to work. We continue to write and edit. We continue to plan for more interviews (on top of the dozens we’ve already done).

We are still convinced Three Days in Paradise will be a documentary on Butte County and the Camp Fire unlike any other.

But in the short run, it’s taken some rescheduling while we consult with doctors about the best way forward in terms of recovery and work. The sizzle reel we’d hoped to release in June will now be out sometime in July. The push for funding (including showcasing some editing passages of various episodes of the series) will now be a few weeks later than originally hoped.

So we work while we mourn. We work while we heal. We push on because as we know, that’s what we all have to do now.

Bittersweet Rebirth of Bobcats Football

So our Paradise High School Bobcats are on the front page of the Los Angeles Times.

It’s bittersweet to see their work and grit and hustle recognized, but under circumstances we would never choose.

Here’s an image of the front page, and a link to the story. It had me tearing up in the middle of a restaurant, so be careful.

The LA Times is not sold in Northern California, so yes see what we can do to get all the players/coaches their own copies.

The Surprises Guests at Paradise High School’s 2019 Prom

When things are just right, the world feels like a small town.

Filled with neighbors, friends and at farthest friends of friends, at these moments we  hold each other in our thoughts and exchange kindnesses large and small. Those moments are what make our small town lives, our journey through this chaotic world, bearable and even uplifting.

The world was a very small place last night at Paradise High School’s 2019 prom. A special collection of people put together a message for the students of PHS, with some of the biggest personas in sports, music and entertainment (yes, Steve Carrell apparently is that nice in real life) lending a hand.

No amount of description will suffice for letting you see it for yourself:

Paradise Prom 2019 – Celebrity Messages from schlicken on Vimeo.

Tell your Tales from the Paradise Ridge

Like many of my fellow Camp Fire survivors, I have been torn up since the morning of November 8, 2018.

The filmmaker in me… that part that’s worked to tell stories since Star Wars and Snow White and Ken Burns’ Civil War kindled my love of cinematic storytelling… wants to tell the whole story of what happened to our Paradise Ridge communities.

The citizen in me… that part of me who raised a family with my wife on Scottwood Road, took our boys to Paradise Elementary, watched little league games at Egleton Field and fled the town with neighbors and friends… wants to make sure the world remembers what befell us. I want our stories told whether or not it’s me telling them.

It’s that part, the town resident, that wants to help my fellow citizens tell their story to every worthwhile reporter, author, documentarian, director, etc. who cares to listen with respect. That’s why as we’ve been working on Three Days in Paradise, we’ve been looking to partner with other storytellers to ready to tell the story of the Camp Fire as we knew it.

Which brings me to Lizzie Johnson, the San Francisco Chronicle. She’s a reporter known for her coverage of wildfires. We’re happy to announce we’re partnering with her on a new initiative to capture your stories.

In a book she’s working on, Johnson is working to tell the story of the fire and what it’s meant to us all in facts and prose. In our documentary series, we’re looking to do the same thing in images, music and sound.

So we’ve created an easy to use document you can fill out to start telling your Camp Fire story. What happened to you. What you went through. What you saw and what we should all remember. We’ll be using those to get in touch and make sure your story is known.

So please take a moment to add your story. We want to hear it, and take it to the rest of the world.

And the Gracie Goes to…

As we cross the T’s and dot the I’s on some announcements coming up, we wanted to shine a special light on one of our team: Jenna Lane.

Lane reached out to us shortly after we announced this project to volunteer as part of our production team. With every project reaching to make something special, every ounce of hard work and talent needs to be assisted by lucky breaks and gifts of fate.

When Lane joined us, we knew fate was lending a hand.

See, she’s a reporter for KCBS 740 AM in the Bay Area. A great reporter, a hell of a researcher and the kind of team member you wish for on a project like this, she’s task oriented, optimistic and smart.

We’re saying that to say this: Congratulations Jenna Lane. In April she was recognized by the Alliance for Women in Media with a Gracie Award for her coverage of the Camp Fire. The Gracies recognize achievements in all forms of media across the country, so landing one is no mean feat.

We’re excited to get back to work with her and honored she’s here to help us tell the story of the Paradise Ridge and the Camp Fire the way it should be told. To get a taste of what she’s done to deserve it, take a listen here to some of the work she did in the wake of the Camp Fire.