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

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.

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.

How it Burned: The Camp Fire from start to finish

Since posting the animation of the Camp Fire’s November 8, 2018 progress (from SimTable’s illuminating data visualization system) many people have asked if there was a way to see the entire fire.

I’ve now done some more digging on SimTable’s site and found two animations: one shows November 8 from the start of the fire until midnight. The second one shows the progress form about 5:30 p.m. on November 8 until the end of the fire.

I haven’t been able to find or tweak these links to show the whole fire in one animation at one constant speed.

With that said, here they are:

Day 1 from 6:44 a.m. to midnight.

Here’s the direct link:

https://www.simtable.com/apps/fireProgression/CampDayOne/CampDayOne.html?playback=240

And here’s the animation:

Day 1 (November 8) from 5:37 p.m. to Day 18 (November 25) 6:22 p.m.

Here’s the direct link:

https://www.simtable.com/apps/fireProgression/output2018/CABTU_016737_CAMP.html

And here’s the animation:

January Update 2 – A bit about Three Days in Paradise

Amid the tumult unleashed starting November 8, the geiser of information we are tasked to absorb is something beyond what any of us have experienced.

Keeping so many things straight… insurance claims, FEMA information, cleaning up our communities and most importantly remembering the over 80 people we lost, it is more than understandable a project like Three Days in Paradise has escaped your notice.

So for those far and wide, here’s a little bit about who we are, what we’re doing, and how (hopefully) you can get involved.

Three Days in Paradise is a documentary series not only about the Camp Fire but also the communities we all knew before the fire and what we’re working to rebuild. It’s being written and directed by an Emmy Award-winning local filmmaker, Christopher Allan Smith who lived in Paradise until November 8. Like almost everyone in town, he fled from his home with his family and when he returned only ash remained.

Since the week of the fire Chris and a small, dedicated crew has been shooting footage, interviews, doing research and gathering historical files to put the thousands of disparate threads in this story together in a meaningful, understandable way.

This project is eyeing two audiences. Those of us who live and lived in Butte County and experienced this disaster and those around the world who need to hear our story. So yes, we’re trying to make something to move everyone. Not only will we be touching on the topics we’ve all witnessed in recent years (worsening wildfires, longer fire seasons, the struggle to make Paradise, Magalia and Concow safe to evacuate and more) but when people see this, we want everyone to see our communities as we did. That way, they can  love the communities we knew before November 8, they can cheer and help our rebuilding afterward, and we can claw back from the fading past just a bit of what we lost.

We’re confident with Chris’ experience and the filmmaking talent available, both local and out of the area, we can create something to stand shoulder to shoulder with any production going on this subject. There are people working on Camp Fire documentaries with better resumes, but none with better experience to tell this story.

If you’d like to help, or make sure we include a story you think is vital, check out the links below:

There are two ways to get us footage.
1). Get on our computer and go to this link:
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.
Or…
2). Contact Chris below and he’ll get in touch about getting your footage.
Twitter: @3DaysInParadise
Chris’ personal page: facebook.com/RocketSpots
Or call 530-680-7125

The First Month and Next Steps

The next steps for Three Days in Paradise…

So I come to you today with an update and a few requests (see the CAPS below)…

Like many of my fellow Butte County citizens, the last few weeks have been a swelter of new developments, conflicting emotions and questions about the days to come.

Despite everything we’ve all been going through, it’s still hard for me to accept it was just 6ish weeks ago Paradise, Magalia, Concow and more were stolen from us by an inferno. But here we all are together in the aftermath.

Since then, I’ve been working on two fronts: 1). Getting my family a livable, safe place to live and some return to a feeling of normality and 2). Putting together the pieces on the filmmaking front to allow me (and many of you) to tell this story (now called Three Days in Paradise) in the most meaningful, compelling way possible. We live in an era where every new week drowns us in new media, and I’m committed to make sure our story is not lost in that sea.

1). On the personal front…
I’m happy to report my family and I are in an apartment in Chico. My sons are back in school (or will be after Christmas break).

2). On filmmaking front…
Because of the overwhelming response of all of you, things are very hopeful and I wanted to give you an update.

We know there are at least four other professional filmmaking crews in Butte County. One is from Netflix, the exact focus of which I’m not yet sure about. One is from Ron Howard’s documentary filmmaking division, purportedly focusing on the rebuilding of Paradise. One is from ESPN, about the PHS football team, and another is an advocacy film talking about the climate change aspects of these fires.

But as I’ve committed here, my story is the story of us all… what our community was like before, during and after the fire. We know our story best, and are in the best position to tell it right.

Here’s how that’s going:

Since November 15 (between helping my wife put our family’s life back together) I’ve been shooting B-Roll in Paradise, Magalia and Concow. I’ve also begun interviews and am lining up more in January.

I’ve also been in contact with several production companies and networks to find a way to get this production paid for in a full, professional way (which our story deserves) and to get it marketed and presented in the best way once production is finished. While it looks like Netflix is already spoken for, we live in an age of a million media players, so I have high hopes we’ll find something.

The plan now is to shoot through January and edit together a sizzle reel to give potential funders an idea of the quality we’ll be delivering. What shape that funding might take is still being worked out. It might be Hollywood-connected production companies, media-tech companies like Hulu or Amazon, more traditional art foundation grants (the Ken Burns avenue) or even a crowd funding source like Kickstarter or GoFundMe.com

If we do decide to the crowd funding route, we’re thinking now of creating a non-profit company which would fund the production of the series then take any profits and direct them towards relief efforts. But all of that is coming. We will be showing the sizzle reel online if we decide to go this route.

Know this: If I ever come to the internet for funding, I will make it 100-percent clear where the money is going even before I ask. I’m not doing this to get rich (which is true of every documentarian to be honest… a little documentary humor…)

SO HERE ARE MY REQUESTS (caps for emphasis)…

1). PLEASE KEEP SENDING ME YOUR STORIES. If you’ve experienced or heard something which touches your heart, sent me your story. You can email us at ThreeDaysInParadiseTV@gmail.com

2). PLEASE SEND ME YOUR VIDEO/PICTURES FROM THE #CAMPFIRE. Networks and streaming services are VERY interested in projects which can boast ‘never before seen’ video, and having a wide variety of video from your experiences will make this much more immediate and impactful.

3). PLEASE SEND ME YOUR PICTURES/VIDEOS/FILMS FROM BEFORE THE FIRE. I want to show Paradise, Magalia, Concow and more from BEFORE the fire. We are more than this awful disaster. I can convert video tapes or 8mm film and super 8 Film to HD video, and will do it for free. I can also convert slides and pictures at museum quality and will give you the digital versions if you allow me to use your pics.

Keep in touch with us. Find us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. Set your Facebook so you get notifications on our posts. We’re not going to spam you, but want you to be involved with us.

That’s all for now. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and see you all soon.