The Random Post (10.17.21)

I’ve veered away from a previous intention to channel to this website (first) and follow up that channeling with posts on social (later). No doubt there is some urgency on my end to reach people and create awareness of “Casey Miller – Public Figure” (clock is ticking) and I doubt that many look at my website with any kind of frequency. Lately, I let things land on social to get the ball rolling and do the light lifting. Thus, Ocean18 is a kind of void. The possible deficiency is that this longer writing usually reveals and engenders much more personal growth.

So much going on:

  • Structural management changes, coworkers on leave at the County, making the new normal which deserves to be a break the addiction of the “old normal” takes energy – it is deep work 
  • Targeted home improvement and the financing of these projects allow us to put our family to work – this is time consuming
  • Moving and managing family member in crisis – emotional, logistics
  • Kids MTB activities taking us all over the State of Oregon – travel & coaching
  • Shuttling the boy from school, work, getting to practice (including coaching those practices) has its own lifeforce draw – few opportunities for remote work

Compartmentalizing these activities so that I am “present” and “mindful”: the desire for equitable distribution of life energy to all the aforementioned experiences takes time in itself! Yet, I need to remind myself that these are blessings when put into context. It’s good to be so busy and to have generally good health and loving people in my life.

(Clockwise from upper left) My babies – dinner at Common Block Brewing, Medford. The food was incredible! The amazing Jessica Palma. Asst. emergency Manager. Passionate about our community – stellar work ethic! My wife combining dried flowers with pumpkins – class coming soon to Newport Florist. Reed gets a haircut (after school photos). Fortunate to film Oregon Coast Jazz Party, yet again! Sewing new Velcro onto the pop-up trailer panels: the tent on wheels.

I’ve also been feeling the tug to get my LinkedIn in page updated and am afraid to even look at it! Talk about denial. Ugh. Even my journal entries are all over the place for the last few months. Last night I committed myself to starting this day with a well thought out journaling, time management and “intention” session and now I am 4 hours into photo/video management and general wandering through life (finally a Sunday at home), the logistics of content management. It’s rather stunning how much time an “influencer” and multi-media communication specialist spends gathering, storing, and arranging content for future access and production.

HOWEVER, a BIG success this morning was FINALLY figuring out the technical issues preventing me from connecting an external microphone to my iPhone. So many videos, internet searches, purchases, cord swapping: two years of trouble shooting. Last week’s purchase of a new phone was driven partly by the desire to fix this issue that I thought might also be firmware problem unique to the Xs.  And, guess what?! Drum roll… It was my third-party lightning connector! I borrowed my wife’s official Apple connector and voila. Unbelievable, man. And soooooo glad to have this resolved.  The iPhone is quite useful for video projects and mystery has been solved.

We are #inthistogether – FEMA Region 10. I see the light at the end of the tunnel – still more complicated than I wish it was. I do have a post office box. However, its been 3 months since I checked it?! Ernest Bloch sign reveal commences. Unfortunately, while moving my sister’s belongings to the coast I swiped the neighbors van with the U-Haul truck. How much is this going to cost in increased insurance premiums?

Work has been hammers and it hasn’t changed much. It’s slightly less vigorous compared to previous months. It’s certainly less vigorous than post Echo Mountain Fire. The recovery process continues, and it is terribly slow. Intriguing how conceptual thoughts are so vastly different from the reality that follows. Thinking is not the doing. And the doing is what’s needed. We have been fortunate to have a Commissioner Jacobson dedicated to the task of recovery; our team meetings every other week include internal staff and members of our emerging LTRG and LCSD.  Thankfully, we also have a FEMA community and capacity building liaison to help us decipher, contemplate and strategize a forthcoming project that will provide a “lite” recovery plan. Other jurisdictions have a dedicated recovery director. In fact, one of the candidates for the new County Administrator is the recovery director for Marion County.

We are still in the process of selecting a new administrator.  If we had had such an individual – it might – help up us with the current task of restoring North County in the fire’s aftermath. The former Wayne Belmont our previous defacto “legal counsel/administrator” retired in July. The result was an interim administrator Kristin Yuille who replaced Belmont as lead counsel. However, she has not joined the effort of recovery project management. It is basically, Kaety and I who are conceptualizing the current trajectory inside our organization with adjacent work from our CORE team, Planning and Emergency Management. The process of recovery is rather nebulous. It is its own animal. An opportunity to work with OAPA, engaging stakeholders/community and creating a document that will help us wrap our head around recovery. A structural road map is going to be tremendously useful, IMO. We are currently working on an application (or letter) for technical assistance to the EPA/FEMA. The possibility receiving a piece of the pie ($500,000 across six jurisdictions) seems small. The process of identifying what kind of technical assistance is needed is extremely valuable to us as a mental exercise.

How do we measure and identify baseline community health? Think of the Otis area. Rural and unincorporated. There is need: child care, broadband, drinking water, road integrity, hazard mitigation, spiritual/mental health, etc.  All this soft and hard infrastructure are the building blocks of modern living. Yet, we don’t normally by function, measure, evaluate and restore these components in our communities by course. When presented with the opportunity to modify and provide funding to these aspects of our rural community – how do we do that? As County Government we are not the provider of many of the services needed and limited in or own capacity. Yet, here we are… doing our best as partner, as adjacent services provider to help oversee and support the mission.

In this moment – I am compelled to ask – why didn’t we just hire a recovery director? Would the County benefit from a position that could aid in community and capacity building? Unfortunately, I am not privy to many of our management teams conversations. But, I also recognize that this was never even proposed in the context of a public meeting and I have little recollection of how wildfire and COVID funding might have been utilized.

The state’s Disaster Response Fund has not had funds regularly appropriated, which also made it difficult to get resources from state agencies into the hands of Oregonians. With any emergency, it is hard to predict how and which communities will be impacted, which meant state and local agencies had to spend a lot of time understanding and researching local capacity and what resources existed within which agencies. Report Presented by the Governor’s Wildfire Economic Recovery Council

Philosophically/sociologically I have found the whole situation full of contemplative thought experiments. It is the wildfire and COVID that has pulled the levers of restorative processes.  Our rural neighborhoods throughout the County are experiencing housing shortages, poor internet connectivity, childcare and food desertification. I’ll admit that this is anecdotal for the most part. And that to me seems to be one of the problems. What is a aggregated measurement system for community health. What of our resiliency and preparations for climate change? What of equity for community health outside of disaster recovery?

We have thresholds – in the aftermath of disaster. Yet, intuitively, we know that many communities and struggling outside of the disaster case scenario.  Perhaps, we are all living in the in the disaster that is yet to come and the disaster that is currently incremental. Isn’t that the slow and devious nature of climate change? We are like the frog in boiling water. Echo Mountain Fire is casting a light on a specific crisis. Its is also casting a light on the crisis that existed before the fires that preceded it. Might we begin looking at and measuring community health now and into the future as a regular part of what we do? Let us not move forward in denial of establishing baseline as something we do as mature humans – reflecting periodically on the just how well we are thriving at any point in time. Might the Census be expanded to include proximity to food, water, housing, health care, internet, transportation. A real time and living analysis of livability at any point in time.  

I have witnessed individual discussions by our County Commissioners that suggest some feel it is not the role of the County philosophically and financially engage in bigger picture logistics. Others feels that the existence of these opportunities should be taken advantage of. We should recognize that our current Septic and Well Program is largely the work of Commissioner Jacobson. The result us that over 80 disaster effected properties have received over $300,000 to date. If she had not advocated for a staff person (through grant funds) and championed that process this would have been money left on the table and never distributed to the community.