As I sit down to write this month’s column, we’re bracing for triple digit temps in Calistoga. With extreme heat, the threat of wildfires escalates with every degree the thermometer pumps up, right along with my anxiety. When I first moved here more than a decade ago, it was harvest, and not wildfires that dominated conversations this time of year. Now we can’t talk about one, without the other. However, there are organizations whose very missions are to combat such concerns through programs with fire safety and preparedness in mind.
The nonprofit organization, Napa Communities Firewise Foundation (NCFF), also known as Napa Firewise, has worked with communities to build Fire Safe Councils (FSC) throughout Napa County, in areas that are considered to be within high or very high fire hazard zones. Each FSC is a resident-run, grassroots operation comprised of community members who have banded together to protect the areas they call home, through outreach and fundraising to assist with wildfire fuel reduction in areas of need. Currently, there are 18 all-volunteer councils in the county, with more on the way. Each group holds regular meetings to engage the community and give people knowledge and tools to assist with preparedness. The councils also hold fire awareness events throughout the year and perform risk assessments to identify and target areas in the region that need fuel reduction.
This spring the Calistoga FSC created a Reflect to Protect campaign, which was sponsored by Bank of the West. More than 600 households applied for free reflective signage to make their homes easier to find during a fire crisis situation. The pilot program, which may be replicated with other FSCs in Napa County, culminated in August, when 35 volunteers from Bank of the West convened to install address signs at homes within the city and outlying areas of Calistoga, including Petrified Forest Road and Diamond Mountain. Melissa Fifield, senior vice president and head of corporate social responsibility at Bank of the West said in a release, “We are proud to come together with Napa Firewise on this innovative project to help protect our communities from the dangers of wildfires. Something as simple as installing a 911 reflective address sign can make a big difference in a crisis situation.” Christopher Thompson, Napa Firewise board president and a firefighter, cited “This is where the reality comes into play. If we can’t find you, we can’t help you.”
Also, this spring, the NCFF Silverado Fuel Break project brought together volunteers who worked to remove wildfire fuels to protect 1,000 properties near the area where the Atlas fire burned 153 homes in 2017. In addition to the 18 active FSCs, two more are underway, with an additional six proposed.
With the threat of wildfires ever-present, a new company has just the product to reduce stress. Local resident and entrepreneur, Doug Allan, who also serves on the city Planning Commission, together with his sister-in-law, Jamie Rothberg Diaz, created Calm Moment, a fruit-flavored CBD drink. Having leaned on wine more heavily than I would’ve like during those dark, home-schooling days at the onset of the pandemic, I can appreciate the need for any other alternatives I can get my hands on. It was during this same time that the idea for Calm Moment was born. Diaz, who also found herself struggling with the rigors of work, home and a young child during lockdown, was looking for something other than wine to help reduce stress.
Allan and Diaz were co-workers previously at Chateau Montelena in 2006 and came together for the venture, to create a CBD beverage that tastes good, with no artificial flavors or additives. To accomplish that, they turned to another local, Jim White, a food and beverage consultant who has created more than 10,000 products. Calm, which is vegan, GMO and gluten-free, and weighs in at only 70 calories per 12-ounces, can be found on shelves at Sprouts, Calmart, and Sunshine Foods Market. The duo is also working on bringing distributors on board to broaden consumer reach. The cans retail for $5 and sport four different flavors including pear lime, strawberry rose, pink grapefruit and black current.
A perfect union
In keeping with the feel-good vibes, local healthcare providers, OLE Health and CommuniCare Health Centers, announced merger plans in late August. If approved, the union would operate out of 17 sites and serve more than 71,000 patients across Napa, Solano and Yolo counties. The centers are federally-qualified and offer primary care services regardless of insurance and ability to pay. For patients, the merger means better access to a broader scope of services including comprehensive medical, dental, behavioral health, substance disorders, optometry, perinatal and nutrition programs. The majority of patients served by both organizations are on Medi-Cal and live at or below 200% of the Federal poverty line.
While all indicators show that stress and wildfires won’t be waning anytime soon, I feel more secure knowing that organizations and elixirs exist to combat some of the anxiety that descends this time of year.