The wildfires of 2017 turned a spotlight on many inequities in our county: chief among them, the lack of concern for the safety of our Latinx community. As the fires broke out, safety information was unavailable in Spanish until bilingual radio station KBBF stepped in to fill the gap.
Overall, public attention has turned disproportionately to the dramatic pictures and sounds of rebuilding, while the loss of jobs and homes among immigrants and others who had fewer resources has been underreported. This includes the pressure on expenses like rent, which has jumped by double digits in the year since the fire.
Those issues gave rise to this project, funded by Internews ( https://www.internews.org ) which examined the region’s attempt to improve its future response to emergencies. We also provided critical fire safety information in Spanish.
Our chief concern is assessing whether the will exists to improve both the communication channels and the broader inequities that keep Sonoma County from becoming a place that welcomes all residents equally.