For this next series, we are going to dive into the world of story and storytelling. We are recording this episode right after the mudslides have hit Montecito, where I happen to live.
It’s been now five weeks and we have experienced extreme stress and emergency alerts with the fires in Santa Barbara — you may have heard about them if you don’t live in this area — followed by the floods. In light of everything that’s happening, one of the things that we all have been craving so much – especially those of us that live in Montecito – is routine, routine of any kind. That’s why I decided to go ahead and film and record this series, even with everything going on in our lives and the lives of our dear friends who have been affected by this incredible tragedy. I wanted to go ahead. The show must go on and I wanted to bring these lessons to you anyway. So with that, here we go.
Story: Take one. With our event, as at the time of this recording, we have had 2,338 personnel on site from all over the country, 163 fire engines, 50 hand crews, 39 canine crews, 10 technical crews, 3 helicopters, 2 water rescue teams, 8 bulldozers.
Story: Take two. It’s about 3:45 in the morning. It’s raining. It’s wet everywhere. There’s sirens going off. There are phone alerts on the phones. Fire engines have been called to deploy all over our town of Montecito. The firefighters are heroes in every way, shape and form, and they are looking for survivors, looking for people to help, looking for people to rescue. And it’s muddy and dark. And they’re trying to find people and help people. I don’t know if you have ever stepped in mud that is deep, but I have as a result of this experience. When you step into mud, it encases your foot like someone has grabbed onto your foot. You can’t move. You can’t keep going forward. It feels like quicksand. It feels like you’re going to get swallowed by this mud. These heroic firefighters are out there in it, in it up to their knees and beyond. Imagine you are a firefighter looking in the dark to try to rescue. So much is going on. And you take a step and you fall into a pool. This is what happened here. Our own firefighters, you don’t even know the environments that you’re in, and when you step, you don’t know if you’re stepping on solid ground or you’re stepping into a hole. Actually, our own firefighters had to be brought out because there were pools in some of the yards that they were searching.
What I just did there with take one and take two, those are two different ways of presenting information. Chances are, you’re going to remember the second way a lot better than the first way. The first way, I read you some statistics, which may seem horrific, and they were and still are. We’re still battling this in our town. The second way, you want to know what happened. You almost feel like you are there in the rain searching. And that’s what story can do.
Story can bring events and lessons to life. Story can connect you to your audience, and certainly at a time like this, where we’ve had such tragedy, story builds trust among us. I know that when I’ve been out walking around, person after person, stranger after stranger will come up and tell me their story of what happened. I’ll share my story of what happened to us, of what we witnessed and what we have gone through. Story bonds people.
Cecil B. DeMille says, “The greatest art in the world is the art of storytelling.” I invite you to share your stories out there. Share your stories. They help people heal. They help people grow. They help people change. We need stories in our world, and I invite you and welcome you to tell yours.
We normally do outtakes after each of our video episodes, and in light of everything that’s going on here in Santa Barbara and Montecito, I just didn’t feel like it’s appropriate. We as a team here always have fun on shooting these videos. I’ve got the best team in the world and we like to keep it light and lively and laugh. It just doesn’t feel like now is the time to do that. Instead, what I want to do is say thank you. Thank you to the firefighters, to first responders, to the emergency personnel, to the volunteers.
We have had such an outpouring of people from all over the United States come to help us. It started with the Thomas Fire five weeks ago. Now with the Montecito mudslides, there have been so many heroes in our small town that have come forth. You may never hear their names, but it’s what I saw on that first day of the mudslide that there were heroes everywhere. People, neighbors, people I had never met or didn’t know, but they were helping and they were getting people out of the mud and pushing cars and we were right among them, just helping, giving a hand wherever we could. There’s such strength in humanity. I am proud to be a part of this town, and I am even more proud to be a part of Montecito and rebuilding our community because it’s going to take all of us together to do this, and we will.
PS: The LA Times published a very intimate recount of what happened to our town on January 9th.