Imagine Oakland with a world-wide reputation for being the safest, most sustainably prepared large city in the country. Picture that anytime there’s an emergency or disaster situation anywhere in the country, it’s Oakland that is mentioned as the place to find out how to make it work well for everyone. Yes, everyone. That’s CARD’s goal for the incredible city of Oakland—safe, sustainably prepared, ready to address our challenges and opportunities. It’s why I’m honored and excited to be writing about safety, preparedness, and resilience for Oakland Local.
The hyper-local focus here will allow us to share an alternative approach that everyone in Oakland can embrace. If you’ve come to one of CARD’s events before, you know that we are passionate about removing fear, threat, and ineffective approaches. We look to make having safety, preparedness, and resilience an empowering and attainable pursuit for EVERY person, business, and stakeholder in Oakland. Past emergencies and disasters have always yielded a familiar victim pool, so what we will share here is about breaking the cycle, and changing the entire conversation surrounding our safety, readiness, and resilience. Be it crisis or opportunity, we must rise together. Don’t think of it as preparing for disasters, but preparing for our Oakland community to prosper!
What you can expect to read about in future posts is an “alternative” or “contrarian” approach to public safety, emergency preparedness, and disaster resilience. We’ll be doing some quality truth-telling and myth-busting. If we ditch the wrong ideas about planning, if we refuse to use fear to “motivate”, and if we stop repeating the hideous and wrong messages of “you’re on your own” and “we must standardize the message” we can help Oakland break free and take a leadership role in the national readiness and resilience conversation. I’ll also share research and real-time lessons for local agencies, and all of it will be served on a big fat reality-filled platter. There are too many great things happening with the city of Oakland for any of us to tolerate wasting time, money, and other precious resources on what we know just doesn’t work. This is ESPECIALLY true when it stops us from bringing safety, money, prestige, and other benefits to our community.
Having the City of Oakland adopt a modified version of CARD’s signature fear-free SKIP (Safety Kept in Place) training has been a true turning point. Together with other partners we are reaching deep into the communities where traditional approaches have never succeeded. Just having this level of public acknowledgment and support from Renee Domingo and her team at the Oakland Fire Department’s Emergency Management Services Division is gratifying, and it’s already opening new doors. Kicking fear and threat to the curb, and having Oaklanders walk their city feeling safe, confident, and knowing they can make a difference is within our grasp!
Oakland is being celebrated and praised in high places. Check out Visit Oakland to learn about the ways our city is taking its rightful place in the pantheon of great cities. Taking on both our real and perceived issues of crime, safety, and readiness is easily one of the best things we can do for the residents and workers of Oakland, as well as for our tourists, investors, businesses, and other stakeholders.
With your help, we can make certain that Oaklanders will be ready to step up, stick together, and make the best of whatever comes our way.
I will look forward to connecting with you to build Oakland’s everyday brilliance AND her unshakable resilience.
Ana-Marie Jones is the executive director of CARD – Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disasters
Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland. See our guidelines.