I have a new citizen activist obsession:
Doing everything I can, from now until it happens, to convince Salem's Mayor, City Manager, city councilors, and general citizenry that making the Civic Center buildings earthquake-ready is a moral necessity.
For several years I and others have been advocating this. See:
"Earthquake readiness: will the Salem City Council choose to save lives?"
"Salem citizens: save lives by sending an email to the City Council"
"Why a new Salem police facility could cost many lives"
"Open letter to Salem's Police Facility Task Force"
But today I went over an earthquake-readiness tipping point after looking over a terrifying, moving, and utterly persuasive Vice piece -- the 5-part After The Big One -- An immersive, reported science fiction saga about surviving the coming mega-quake
Here's how After the Big One is introduced.
This week's Terraform is something special: It's a hybrid format, what we've taken to calling "reported science fiction"—a deeply researched, exhaustively detailed story about what will happen when the so-called "Really Big One" (a 9.0 magnitude earthquake) hits Portland, as scientists expect it will in coming decades. (Hint: Read the footnotes!) But I'll let writer and archivist Adam Rothstein explain his creation, "After the Big One," below. Trust me, this one, an epic, 5-part feat of speculation—and the most immersive fact-based fiction you'll probably ever read—is worth diving in deep. -Brian Merchant, Terraform editor
Rothstein did an amazing job with this piece. I only had time to read through it quickly after I heard about After The Big One today via Willamette Week. Still, the emotional impact was intense.
The Big One will be the worst natural disaster in the history of North America. Salem, along with Portland, will be devastated. The mega-quake is coming. It is a matter of when, not if.
Soon after reading After The Big One, I sent this email message to Salem's Mayor, city councilors, and other City officials via firstname.lastname@example.org
I challenge any City of Salem official to look over this amazing well-researched 5-part piece about what will happen after the Big One earthquake hits Portland and then say “We don’t need seismic upgrades for City Hall and the Library.”
Like I said in a post on my Strange Up Salem page where I shared this link, I am now TOTALLY committed to pressing for these seismic upgrades as part of a November 2016 Public Safety bond. Totally. This can’t be put off. Lives are at stake.
You guys/gals have to make your own decisions about what is presented to voters. You have to live with yourselves.
Me, I have to live with myself. Being the father of a daughter who grew up in Salem and went to the Library a lot, and being the grandfather of an 8 year old granddaughter who lives in Orange County earthquake country, I feel like going to the citizen activism mat on this one.
At last Monday’s City Council meeting I heard quite a few people say, “Do the seismic upgrades.” So far I haven’t heard of anyone lobbying for letting people die at City Hall and the Library. As I said in my testimony, it is an no-brainer to commit to the $20 million (or so) cost of seismic retrofitting as part of funding for a new police facility.
The longer City of Salem officials dither on this, the more outcry there will be to Save The Children — along with others who work at and visit the Civic Center. I and others have been testifying about the need for seismic upgrades to the Library and City Hall for several years now, at City Council and Blue Ribbon Task Force meetings.
Now it is time to commit to DO IT. Not someday. Now. Read "After The Big One.” You’ll be convinced.