ECHOES, TRANSGRESSIONS, AND TRANSFORMATIONS: IDENTITY REORIENTATION AND THE DISCOURSE OF DISASTER RECOVERY by ROBIN SUSAN COX B.A., The University of British Columbia, 1993 M.A. , The University of British Columbia, 1996 A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY In THE F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES (Counseling Psychology) T H E UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA June 2006 © Robin Susan Cox, 2006 A B S T R A C T Little attention has been paid to the discursive framework that guides the experiences of "recovery" from natural disasters and associated health-related consequences. Traditional psychological paradigms in disaster studies have tended to adopt a mechanistic view that controls for complexity by minimizing the sociocultural and gendered contexts of disaster recovery and accepting uncritically the ideological assumptions that guide the process. This has resulted in a narrow framing of recovery that focuses primarily on the economic and material consequences of disasters and promotes a speedy return to the status quo. This study begins to address this gap in research and practice by adopting a complex-systems and critical perspective to examine the psychosocial process and discursive practices of disaster recovery. A critical, multi-sited ethnographic approach was applied to study the recovery process in two rural communities in British Columbia, Canada, where the McLure Fire forest fire destroyed homes and businesses, ravaged the landscape, and devastated the economic sustainability of the region. Qualitative analysis methods, including strategies from social construedvist grounded theory, methods from critical discourse analysis, and creative writing strategies were employed to examine interviews with residents, local news media texts, and the reflections of the researcher for themes and guiding and informing discourses. A social-psychological process described as disorientation and reorientation was identified in which residents navigated and negotiated shifts in their material and social frames of reference associated with the material and symbolic losses incurred as a result of the McLure Fire. Reorientation involved a complex process of recreating and redefining individual and collective identities. Despite the complexity of this process, the dominant discursive practice of disaster recovery identified in both the media and interview accounts continued to emphasize the economic and material aspects of recovery. This had the effect of marginalizing and sequestering suffering, and constrained opportunities for individual and social capacity building. The findings suggest that adopting a complex systems approach to disaster might result in new more flexible and empowering practices. Including a mindfulness approach to the disorientation of disasters would focus attention on emergent possibilities and the creative potential of the identity reorientation process during recovery from a disaster. 11 T A B L E OF C O N T E N T S A B S T R A C T : i i T A B L E OF C O N T E N T S '. , i i i L IST OF T A B L E S v i i i LIST OF F I G U R E S ix A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S x Circling Once Again x i i C H A P T E R 1: I N T R O D U C T I O N 1 Rationale and Goals of the Study 3 Overview of the Study 5 Scattered Sentences, 9-11 7 C H A P T E R 2: C O N T E X T U A L I Z I N G T H E S T U D Y - D I S C O U R S E , N A T U R A L D I S A S T E R S , A N D P S Y C H O L O G Y 9 Discourse 9 Natural Disasters 11 Natural Disasters through the Lens of Psychology 13 Stress Discourse 14 Traumatic Stress Discourse 16 Psychological Research on Disasters 18 Posttraumatic Growth : 21 Disaster Recovery 22 Relevance of Researching Disaster Recovery in Rural Communities 26 Rural Community 27 Rural Communities in the Consideration of Natural Disasters 28 Relevance of Researching Media Coverage of Natural Disasters 29 Summary of the Context and Rationale 31 What If? 34 C H A P T E R 3: M E T H O D O L O G Y - A C R I T I C A L , M U L T I - S I T E D E T H N O G R A P H Y 36 Methodological Approach 36 Ethnography 38 Multi-sited Ethnography 39 Grounded Theory Analytic Strategies 41 Discourse Theory 42 Critical Discourse Analysis 43 Criteria Required to Identify Discourses 43 Description of the Study 46 Sites of Inquiry 46 Barriere and Louis Creek 47 i i i North Thompson Star Journal 48 The Researcher 48 Informal and Formal Data Collection: Ethnographic Fieldwork 49 Research Context: The McLure Fire 50 Participant Observation and Fieldwork 54 Access and Informal Data Gathering 54 Formal Data Collection 56 Recruitment and Sampling 56 Interviews and Interviewing 57 Focus of Interviews 58 Audio-taping and Transcription 59 Reflexive Practice , 60 Description of Participants , 60 Chronology of Fieldwork 63 Anonymity and Confidentiality 65 Media Data Collection 66 Data Analysis 67 Fieldwork Data Analysis 67 Stage 1: Open and Selective Coding and Constant Comparison 67 Stage 2: Critical Discourse Analysis 69 Media Data Analysis 70 Stage 1: Content Analysis 70 Stage 2: Discourse Analysis 73 Writing as Method 73 Rigor, Trustworthiness, and Limitations of the Study 75 Critical Generativity 76 Systematization 78 Reflexivity 78 Kinetic Validity 79 How Wilt I Know When to Write Poetry? 81 O V E R V I E W O F F I N D I N G S 82 Patterns 85 C H A P T E R 4: T H E H O R S E M E N C O M E T H - T H E F I R E T H R O U G H R E S I D E N T S ' E Y E S . . 86 The Approaching Threat '. 87 Waiting! 89 Coming Home 91 Detailing the Losses 92 Louis Creek Residents—Extensive Loss 93 iv North Thompson Indian Band—Louis Creek Reservation 93 Barriere Residents 94 Evacuation 94 Home/business Loss 94 Tolko Workers > 95 Ranchers 95 Social Practices Influencing the Recovery Process 95 Provision of Disaster A i d 95 Transformative Potential of Relationships 97 Economic Agenda 99 Leadership 100 Summary of the Effects of the McLure Fire.... 102 Reality Inversion 104 C H A P T E R 5: S E Q U E S T E R I N G OF S U F F E R I N G - M E D I A A N A L Y S I S 105 Stage 1: Content Analysis Findings 105 Identity Matrix 108 Summary of the Content Analysis 109 Stage 2: Discourse Analysis 110 Discursive Construction: Sequestering of Suffering 110 Multiple Eclipsing of Emotion 110 Economic/Material Framing of Loss 112 Return to Normalcy 113 Erasure of Louis Creek 113 Summary of the Discursive Strategies 115 Subject Positions 115 Summary of Subject Positions 118 Neo-liberal Discourse of Recovery 118 Global Capitalism '. 119 Workforce Flexibili ty 119 Good Consumer 119 Expert Discourse 120 Health Discourse 121 Summary: Media Discourse of Recovery 122 When the Rug is Pulled Out From Under Your Feet 125 C H A P T E R 6: D I S O R I E N T A T I O N A N D R E O R I E N T A T I O N - S H I F T I N G F R A M E S OF R E F E R E N C E 127 Disorientation 128 Degree and Extent of Personal Losses 129 v Extent of Devastation in the Immediate Locale ; 130 Degree of Disruption to Routines 131 Perceived Sense of Ongoing Threat 132 Scope of Dislocation Arising from Evacuation 132 Perceived Measure of Control in Addressing their Situation 133 Summary of Disorientation 134 Reorientation 134 Remembering and Forgetting 138 Recreating Identity 141 Recreating Belonging 144 Regreening the Environment 147 Redefining Self in Community 148 Redefining an Ontological Relationship with the World 152 Seeing the Opportunity in Crisis 154 Manifesting Reorientation 155 Losing Ground 160 C H A P T E R 7: T H E R E ' S N O P L A C E L I K E H O M E - P L A C E A S A N O R I E N T I N G F R A M E W O R K 161 Place as an Orienting Framework 161 Reorientation and Place 162 Place as Home 163 Media Discourse, Community and Regional Identity 171 Summary of Place and Identity in the Reorientation Process 173 Invocation 175 C H A P T E R 8: E C H O S , T R A N S G R E S S I O N S , S I L E N C E S - R E S I D E N T S ' D I S C U R S I V E C O N S T R U C T I O N O F R E C O V E R Y 176 Masculinist Discourses 177 Women as Emotional Nurturers/ Men as Rational Providers 177 Women's Place is in the Home/ Men's Place is at Work 180 Neo-liberal Economic Discourse 181 A i d Discourse 184 Leadership.Discourse 187 Service Providers Discourse 192 Psychological Discourse 193 Subject Positions 195 Summary of the Discourse of Disaster Recovery 196 Wherever it will 199 C H A P T E R 9: D I S C U S S I O N A N D C O N C L U S I O N S 200 Reorientation 200 vi Disorientation 204 Discursive Field of Recovery 205 Psychology and Suffering 208 A n Alternative Construction 210 Implications for Research and Practice 213 Conclusion 216 This Quilt : 218 R E F E R E N C E S 219 A P P E N D I X A : L E T T E R OF I N I T I A L C O N T A C T , 239 A P P E N D I X B : I N F O R M E D C O N S E N T F O R M 241 A P P E N D I X C: D E M O G R A P H I C P R O F I L E OF R E S E A R C H P A R T I C I P A N T S 243 A P P E N D I X D : I N I T I A L I N T E R V I E W G U I D E 244 A P P E N D I X E : A T L A S . T I S O F T W A R E 246 A P P E N D I X F: C O N T E N T M A T R I X 247 A P P E N D I X G : I D E N T I T Y M A T R I X 248 A P P E N D I X H : N O R T H T H O M P S O N S T A R J O U R N A L R E F E R E N C E S 249 A P P E N D I X I: E M E R G E N C Y P R A C T I C E R E C O M M E N D A T I O N S 251 A P P E N D I X J: E X A M P L E O F R E F L E X I V E M E M O S 252 A P P E N D I X K : B E H A V I O R A L R E S E A R C H E T H I C S B O A R D C E R T I F I C A T E OF A P P R O V A L 254 LIST OF T A B L E S T A B L E 1. I D E N T I T Y C A T E G O R Y P R O F I L E OF R E S E A R C H P A R T I C I P A N T S 62 T A B L E 2: C H R O N O L O G Y O F F I E L D W O R K 63 T A B L E 3: B R E A K D O W N O F N O R T H T H O M P S O N S T A R J O U R N A L A R T I C L E T Y P E S 105 T A B L E 4: R E O R I E N T A T I O N - K E Y M E C H A N I S M S A N D P R O C E S S E S 136 T A B L E 5. D E M O G R A P H I C P R O F I L E OF R E S E A R C H P A R T I C I P A N T S 243 v i i i LIST OF F I G U R E S Figure 1: A E R I A L OF T H E N O R T H T H O M P S O N V A L L E Y A N D S M O K E F R O M T H E M C L U R E F I R E 50 Figure 2: M C L U R E F I R E A T E X L O U O N T H E B A N K S OF T H E N O R T H T H O M P S O N R I V E R 51 Figure 3: T O L K O M I L L B U R N I N G 52 Figure 4: R E M A I N S O F T O L K O M I L L A T L O U I S C R E E K 53 Figure 5: C H A R R E D S L O P E S N E A R L O U I S C R E E K 53 Figure 6: M A I N C A T E G O R I E S O F T H E C O N T E N T A N D I D E N T I T Y M A T R I C E S I N T H E M E D I A D A T A A N A L Y S I S 71 Figure 7: S M O K E F I L L E D S K Y O V E R L O U I S C R E E K 87 Figure 8: H A Y W A R D H O M E I N L O U I S C R E E K B U R N S 89 Figure 9: L O U I S C R E E K A F T E R T H E FIRE ; 90 Figure 10: D E V A S T A T I O N IN L O U I S C R E E K 91 Figure 11: T H E M E S O F R E C O V E R Y I D E N T I F I E D I N N O R T H T H O M P S O N S T A R J O U R N A L A R T I C L E S 107 Figure 12: M E D I A E X P O S U R E B Y O C C U P A T I O N A N D L O C A T I O N 109 Figure 13: G E N E R A L M E C H A N I S M S A N D K E Y P R O C E S S E S OF R E O R I E N T A T I O N F O L L O W I N G T H E M C L U R E F I R E 137 ix A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S I am extremely grateful to all my mentors—my friends, family and committee members--who have supported me in this undertaking and shared this journey of becoming. Your gifts of heartfelt support, encouraging words, and challenging thoughts have contributed so much to the writing of this dissertation and to my own growth. Namaste. I particularly wish to thank Dr. Bonnie Long, for her unending support and dedication in her role as my supervisor and mentor. Bonnie, I so admire your tireless devotion and commitment to your work, your students and to maintaining an ethical and responsible approach in everything you do. I can't tell you how much I have appreciated your generosity of spirit in providing amazing opportunities to develop as a researcher and academic and guiding me through this challenging process. I also wish to thank my other committee members, Dr. Cindy Patton and Dr. Susan James for their support and belief in me and for taking the time to participate as committee members. Thanks to Cindy for challenging me to immerse myself in the writing and produce, and to Susan who has offered me an example of l iving with balance and a spiritual practice in the midst of academia. Special thanks to my shadow committee members, Glen Hamlen, E m i Garzitto, Janet Rayner Thorn, and Joanne Morgan, and my colleagues Risa Handler and Megan Jones for your invaluable contributions to my thinking and for honouring and supporting my process and encouraging me to do the same. To my dear friend Adrianna Espinoza whose own work reminds me of the importance of doing important work. To my other dear friends, Cathy Stevenson, Heleen Sandvik, Marti Hamlen, Anna Nagy, Laurel Bryson, and Drew Young (and others too numerous to mention), thank you so much for your ongoing friendship, encouragement, and belief in the path. Thank you also to my community of colleagues and fellow PhD sojourners with whom I have shared much conversation, communion, tears, and laughter. May we continue to share our successes and our failures, and work to challenge each other to follow our bliss. Finally, I wish to thank my family, my mother, Diana Cox, my brothers Steven and Michael Cox, my sister-in-law V a l Nelson, and my nieces Kassandra and Krishna. M u m , you are my inspiration — a strong woman who has the courage to make difficult choices and who chooses to continually offer support, solace, humor, and encouragement to those you love. To Stephen, Michael , and V a l , you offer me the inspiration of your belief in yourselves and the strength of your belief in me. May we all keep alive our passion and our willingness to listen to fear's voice but not her invitation to stop. x Dedication I dedicate this dissertation to all the community members of Louis Creek and Barriere who opened up their homes and their hearts. Y o u gave so generously of your stories and thoughts at a time when you were consumed with the difficult task of rebuilding your lives, and I have tried to produce something that honors that. I hope in some small way that I have been able to translate your generosity into work that meaningfully contributes to our ability to respond to disasters in more generative and empowering ways. I also extend this dedication to all those who continue to give so generously of their time, expertise, and energy as disaster responders in order to support those affected by disasters. A n d finally, I dedicate this work to the promise of compassion that lies within each of us as we navigate our journeys of being together and being alone. Om Mani Padme Hum xi I am, We are, Hermeneutically circling. Questioning the existence of a stopping place Intuitively understanding that below the binary, Underneath the grasping at certainty, Lies mystery, not mastery. Looking back, A t the first stab In this defrocking of discourse. L ike Dorothy's Lion , lacking in courage M y questions were assimilated and contained M y performance, Standing perfectly still. Circling, Once again, On this pilgrimage of curiosity. This story, unfolding, explicating, inscribed, Stil l struggles within the nature of its telling. Strives to transgress Its flat, fixed life in text. Enigmatic Double agent, Reason is once again in motion, In a clumsy dance of radical faith, bewilderment A s I swear allegiance to the servant of my intuition. I offer this poetry, Laughing as I go around. C H A P T E R 1: I N T R O D U C T I O N During the summer of 2003, the forests of British Columbia, Canada (BC) exploded in flames. Firestorm, 2003 as the fire season became known, was one of the worst on record in the province involving the loss of over 300 homes, many businesses, and thousands upon thousands of hectares of range and forest land in the North Thompson and Okanagan valleys in the southern interior of the province. On August 1 s t, 2003,1 responded, along with hundreds of other volunteers, to the outbreak of the McLure Fire in the North Thompson Valley, B C . The McLure Fire was to become one of the most destructive interface fires, or fires that occur at the intersections between wilderness and human settlement, that season. Initially I supported the response efforts in Vancouver, B C , and then went to Kamloops, B C , the closest city to the fire and the one to which most of the residents of the North Thompson Val ley had been evacuated. A s I worked to support the psychological and emotional well-being of evacuees and emergency responders, I was reminded again of my growing curiosity about the dominant view of disasters and the dominant Western'response to the disruption they cause. This curiosity had initially arisen for me while responding with the American Red Cross to the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. For 3 weeks in October 2001,1 talked and worked alongside thousands of volunteers and New York City residents as they struggled to make sense of what had happened. It was a profoundly moving experience to be in the midst of such an iconic, 'American city during what felt like a mythical event. N e w York was vibrating with an undercurrent of fear and uncertainty, but also a palpable sense of compassion and desire for connection as tens of thousands of volunteers and residents converged to respond to the largest domestic disaster in North American history. 1 As with many of the terms used in this study, finding a word to describe the broader, shared social and cultural assumptions characteristic of Canada, the United States, and perhaps to a lesser degree Western European societies is no easy task. The term "Western" is not unproblematic as there is no uniform definition of what constitutes the West. The term was originally tended to refer to societies of Western Europe societies settled by Western Europeans through immigration. This and other similar terms, such as Anglo-American or dominant western Judeo-Christian culture, offer at best an ambiguous, short-hand to describe shared tendencies amongst developed, western nations and it is with this awareness of its usefulness and its inadequacy that I use the term in this study. 1 In the context of the McLure Fire, I found myself, once again surrounded by uncertainty and the adrenalin fueled compassion of responders. I listened to resident's stories of the fire, their evacuation, and the ongoing questioning of what was to come. A s I listened to those stories, 1 heard confusion and a sense of urgency, a deeply seated need to make sense of the events. I was also struck by their visceral need to connect and acknowledge their shared humanity in the midst of the disconnection and disruption of the disaster. A s with the 9-11 disaster, this impulse to come together, however temporary, did not diminish the horror and loss that people were experiencing but seemed to arise from it as though the shattering of assumptions, familiarity, and certainty had generated a spontaneous need to experience relationship. Participating in these disasters had a profound effect on me as a clinician and a researcher. I had a sense in both cases that I had witnessed and participated in a momentary, collective awakening that was quickly lost or at least overshadowed by a whirlwind o f activity in which I was an active participant. These seemed to be liminal moments of rupture in which the surface of our culture of disconnection and our silence about our suffering was disrupted by the dropping of an unexpected rock. The contraction of fear that rippled out from the epicenter of this sudden and unanticipated rupture was met simultaneously by ripples of an expanding awareness of our interconnectivity, an awareness that had been held largely out of consciousness in day-to-day living. Reflecting on these experiences and reading the literature, I became more curious about the cycles of fear and compassion, contraction, and expansion, that seemed to occur collectively in response to a disaster. In particular, I became more curious about how this period of time following a disaster was discursively constructed. What were the ideological assumptions and social conventions shaping these liminal moments? How had "recovery," a term associated with illness and therapy, come to metaphorically stand for the complex process following a catastrophic, collective event involving economic, political, psychosocial, and spiritual losses and transformations? H o w might the dominant discursive framework of disaster recovery and suffering offer liberating or constraining possibilities to those directly and indirectly involved in 2 Suffering is a term loaded with cultural assumptions. I use it as a way of describing the psychological the emotional pain of having things not as one wishes and as a substitute for other terms more specifically associated with psychological research on disasters, such as loss, trauma, and stress. In so doing, I am trying to offer a term that encompasses those more specific terms while alluding to the emotional/psychological pain these terms describe. According to the 2 the process? H o w was it that disasters seemed to evoke a shared and powerful experience of compassion and connection that appeared to be so easily lost in the midst of the "healing process" following disaster events? These questions are at the heart, and I use the term purposefully, of this dissertation. The heart speaks of a knowing that is both reasoned and intuitive: what Gendlin (1978) described as a felt sense (p. 99). Invoking the heart of this inquiry speaks of my commitment to incorporating the metaphoric, intuitive, unbounded knowing that tends to be shunned by the dominant discourse of science, as part of my method. It also acknowledges a commitment to using a mix of qualitative methodologies in order to encourage a critical questioning o f the taken-for-granted assumptions and ideologies of disaster recovery, through writing and thinking differently, through engaging with/in the play of scientific reason as "emancipatory acts of protest" (Caputo, 1987, p. 233). Rationale and Goals of the Study Each year disasters, particularly those described as "natural disasters" affect the lives of thousands of people worldwide (United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction [UNISDR], n.d.). A s population densities increase and centralize, as human settlements encroach further into rural areas and marginal environments (e.g., floodplains), and as global warming increases the likelihood of the occurrence of hydrometeorological or extreme weather events, the magnitude o f the psychosocial and economic effects of natural disasters increases (UNISDR, n.d.; Shrubsole, 1999; Walter, 2001). Despite the extent, complexity, and unpredictability of the effects of such disasters, the research on the psychosocial process of recovery from such disasters is surprisingly narrow, particularly within psychology where disasters are constructed primarily in terms of individualistic and mechanistic models of stress and coping (including traumatic stress). Very little of the research on disasters in North America has questioned the assumptions that inform disaster responses during the disaster recovery period. Even less of this research has focused on rural environments, despite the fact that the adverse effects of the vast majority of natural disasters are felt primarily in rural and less developed areas (UNISDR, n.d.). Oxford English Dictionary (Simpson, 2005), suffering is defined as "the bearing or undergoing of pain, distress or tribulation." The term is also congruent with the Buddhist philosophy that comprises one of the threads of this study. 3 In this study, I address this paucity of research by critically exploring the psychosocial process known as "disaster recovery" in the context of two rural communities. I have employed a post-structural perspective that attempts to sit in the complexity of the disaster recovery process rather than control that complexity as is more common in a great deal of psychological research on disasters. This perspective draws on post-structural understandings of consciousness and identity as relational, interconnected, a process of autopoiesis or self-authoring, which in turn, draws on complexity theories (Varela, 1991). The latter theories suggest that we live in a universe of interconnections that belies the linear causality and duality inherent in much of modern thought (Capra, 1996). Complexity theories provide mathematical and conceptual models that construct an empirical explanation for the intuitive/experiential notion that in living systems, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. According to these theories, ours is a world comprised of non-linear, complex, adaptive systems operating in a dynamic balance between static and chaotic modes such that change and readiness to change happen when a system is in a state far from equilibrium (Prigogine & Stengers, 1984). Causality is no longer understood in terms of linear, single causal models, but rather in terms of networks of causality. Systems are understood as nested within other systems in interconnected, mutually influencing webs of interaction that can exhibit emergent behavior. Order and innovation emerge spontaneously from the interactions within/of these nested systems. Social systems, individuals, communities, and organizations are comprised of networks of relationships within specific historical, socio-cultural, political, and economic contexts (Varela, 1991). From such a relational understanding of the world and humans in the world, the role of language is critical in shaping and calling forth our subjectivities and our experiences of the world and each other. Viewed in this way, although disasters are disruptive and the cause of much suffering, they are also invocations to change that are shaped and embedded in the language and social practices of disaster response. To explore the complexity of disaster recovery and be open to the potential of emergence, I wanted to have a better understanding of the process of recovery grounded in the experiences/subjectivities of those engaged in the process. A s a starting place, therefore, the question I explored was: (a) How.did residents of two rural communities affected by a forest fire describe and explain the process known as disaster recovery? Having developed a picture of the recovery process from their accounts, I then wanted to engage critically with the dominant 4 discursive construction of the recovery process and considered the questions: (b) What discursive practices were evidenced in their accounts and in the social practice of disaster recovery? (c) What possibilities did the available discourses constrain or support? (d) What emergent processes and possibilities arose in this context? and (e) What were the implications of the dominant and transgressive constructions of disaster recovery for the health and well being of individuals and communities and their ability to meet future crisis? Overview of the Study In order to consider the research questions in as full and comprehensive a way as possible, I engaged in an ethnographic study of the discursive practices of disaster recovery identified in: (a) the accounts and social practices of recovery of residents of two communities, Barriere and Louis Creek, affected by the McLure Fire; (b) the public discourse of disaster recovery as found in the local news-media accounts within those two communities; and (c) my personal reflections as an active member of the Canadian disaster response and planning community. The methods employed included the visceral methods of multi-sited ethnography (Marcus, 1998), the constant comparative analytic strategies associated with the grounded theory method, particularly from a constructivist perspective (Charmaz, 1990, 2000; Pidgeon & Harwood, 1997), the deconstructive approach to knowledge arising within critical discourse analysis methods (Fairclough & Wodak, 1997; Wi l l i g , 2001), and the kinetic knowing of poetry (Richardson, 1997). The use of poetry throughout this text reflects both its role as a method of analysis and as a tool of reporting my findings. Poetry highlights moments of free play in my analysis of the disaster recovery process and the dominant and alternate discursive practices of "suffering," "loss," and "stress" in these collective events. Poetic thinking transcends reason; it is a letting-be, a surrendering into knowing and a leap out of the certainty of authorized knowing into the groundlessness of other possibilities. It achieves a relationship with the world which is more simple and primordial than reason; it is in touch with things long before the demand for reason arises, and, indeed, is so deeply tuned to things that the need for reasons never arises. (Caputo, 1987, p. 224) These poetic offerings make visible my interest in exploring the radical hermeneutic (Caputo, 1987) potential of the creative and disruptive pause in the "normal" that disasters open 5 up; the evocative possibilities of a reconsideration of our relationship to moments of disruption and discontinuity. The text I have written is a tapestry that weaves together the strands of my own process and the scientific and poetic threads of my analysis. In this multi-threaded mapping process, my goal was to produce a dis-closure rather than a closure, a text that opens space for new questions and possibilities in our understanding and experience of disasters and trauma. A s such, this text is unabashedly incomplete and written in the awareness that the act of writing itself represents a temporary fixing-in-place of knowledge, a resting place, albeit not a final destination. In this way, this study represents an attempt of walking the path, or coming to know, while understanding the path, the knowing, exists only in the walking (Varela, 1991, 1999); we are simultaneously constituted by and constituting the world through our embodied engagement with/in it. In this introductory chapter, I have contextualized the present study in the emergence of my own curiosity about disasters, suffering, stress, and traumatic stress, and the discursive practices that shape these experiences. I have offered some reflections on my experiences as a disaster responder and described the ways in which these experiences resonated for me with the ongoing, emergent shifts in dominant paradigms defining much of how we think and what we call reality. I have identified a particular interest in and curiosity about the taken-for-granted constructions of disasters and disaster recovery and the assumptions they imply about dominant cultural construction of change and suffering. The poem that follows was written as I reviewed my experiences in New York and contemplated beginning this doctoral research project. 6 S C A T T E R E D S E N T E N C E S , 9-11 Sentences scattered in unfinished journals, marking moments of contemplation, stolen shadows traced through poetry and dreams, on these pages of hesitations and false starts. Learning to swim, by letting go of the bank, creating poetry with each choice, writing songs of openings and closings, in the borrowed words and rhythms of a deeper longing. Shaping this circular dialogue into a square format, disembodied and painfully embodied in this late-night, neck twisting interaction of my mind and my screen. Liberated and constrained by the authority of theory, schooled in the form of expert knower, I listen to these sacred tales of loving and losing, faith and fear, and incomplete journeys still underway. I sit with/in these vibrating biographies and this circling exploration of the sharp-glass shattering of self, watching, as the passion of our grief is replaced by the management of our self. Encouraged to tread carefully, We step away from death's edges, the frozen residue of mind's fear like the winter's hardening, scrapes our hearts drawing unexpected blood. In these moments we are glued to the images of permanence's illusion crumbling, invited to trust the untrustworthiness of it all as we watch you hold hands and fall in your own leap of faith. Death, medicated, domesticated, is silenced no longer, fear has no meaning consciousness quickens and dreams of distant possibilities give way to now. Mind ' s tight-fisted hand, cracks open, to the heart's wisdom and movement expand contract self other inhale exhale, death rebirth in out A s we walk these path of our deaths. C H A P T E R 2: C O N T E X T U A L I Z I N G T H E S T U D Y - D I S C O U R S E , N A T U R A L D I S A S T E R S , A N D P S Y C H O L O G Y Studying the discourse of disaster recovery requires an analysis of the dominant ideologies shaping our understanding of the recovery process, the ideological effects of the discourse as evidenced in social practices and the subjectivities of those involved, and the ways in which these constructions support or transgress the status quo. I begin this chapter, therefore, by outlining two o f the key discursive nodes o f this project, "discourse" and "natural disaster." Both of these constructs can be defined in multiple ways with implications for their use in this text. These abstractions, or conceptual categories, are grounded in our embodied experience of the world, shaped by our particular historical, cultural, and geographical locations. They are indicative of our cognitive inclination to reduce the complexity of our experiences into coherent, conceptual categories, to make meaning (Bruner, 1997). Following the deconstruction of these terms, I describe the state of existing research on natural disasters, paying particular attention to the psychological framing of these events as collective stress events, and offering a brief and critical analysis of the limitations of this framing. I examine the research on the "recovery" process following a natural disaster, and the relevance of choosing to focus on this process as it unfolds in a rural context. Discourse There are many ways of interpreting the word "discourse," each associated with a particular epistemological and disciplinary perspective. Many of the words we use are polysemic, meaning different things in different circumstances. One of the defining circumstances influencing the meaning of a word is the lexical field in which it is used. Stress, for instance, a construct about which I say more later in this chapter, can refer to the physical force exerted or acting upon a material object in the lexical field of engineering science, or it can refer to an adverse circumstance that causes distress or that interrupts normal physiological or psychological functioning in the lexical field of psychology (Trumble & Stevenson, 2002). Each meaning can be construed as metaphoric, enticing us to culturally mediated abstractions of complex processes and subjectivities that reflect our shared and individual histories, cultural and geographical location, and the complex web of power relations that make certain meanings more 9 or less available at any given time. The way we use words is indicative of our cognitive inclination to reduce the complexity of our experiences into coherent, conceptual categories, to make meaning (Bruner, 1997). In this study, I draw on a post-structuralist understanding of the term 'discourse' to mean "broad constitutive systems of meaning" or "interpretive" frameworks (Sunderland, 2004, p. 6). From this perspective, we both understand and act in the world according to particular, shared meanings and associated social practices that reflect historically and culturally specific dynamics of power. We engage in the world through language and actions that are influenced by and from within these patterned and structured conditions of meaning (Parker, 2002). This structuring is temporary and partial. N o discourse ever exhausts all the possible meanings; rather, it constructs temporary closures that marginalize or exclude other possibilities. We draw on, invoke, produce, reproduce, and transform available discourses in order to make sense of the world and act within the culturally and historically specific context of our lives (Sunderland, 2004). From a poststructuralist perspective, the world is discursively constituted; we both create and are created by the conceptual categories, the metaphors in which we live (Lackoff & Johnson, 1980). In other words, our use of language and the social practices associated with particular configurations of language use, construct human subjectivities. This, in turn, implies a mutually constitutive or dialectical relationship between discourses and social events, institutions, and structures. "The discursive event is shaped by situations, institutions and social structures, but it also shapes them" (Fairclough & Wodak, 1997, p. 258). This perspective does not deny the existence of an external reality with material and embodied consequences; rather, it suggests that this external reality can only be understood and experienced through socio-culturally and historically contingent discursive practices — "practices that systematically form the objects of which they speak" (Foucault, 1972, p. 49). It further argues that these practices of making meaning are inseparable from our experience of the world. The overarching premise in this theory is that meaning is socially constructed and contingent; resulting in and arising from competing and conflicting definitions of reality, society, and identity that are locked into particular relationships, or discourses, with each other (Jorgensen & Phillips, 2002, p. 25). Or as Laclau and Mouffe (1985, p. 108) described this notion: A n earthquake or the falling of a brick is an event that certainly exists, in the sense that it occurs here and now, independently of my wi l l . But whether their specificity as objects is constructed in terms of 'natural phenomena' or 'expressions of the wrath of God' depends 10 upon the structuring of a discursive field. What is denied is not that such objects exist externally to thought, but the rather different assertion that they could constitute themselves as objects outside any discursive conditions of emergence. Because within a given context, certain discourses are privileged or carry more truth value than others, discourses also reflect and constitute particular relations of power and domination (Sunderland, 2004). Foucault (1980) argued that knowledge and power were in fact inseparable and mutually implicative and that disciplines of knowledge (e.g., psychology, sociology, medicine) were the result of power-knowledge dynamics in the service of the modern state. Further, these systems of knowledge, while tending to produce and reproduce the status quo, at the same time contribute to the revision or transformation of the status quo. Discourses are open and overlapping systems that, although stable at some level, are also continually being revised as they are put in practice. The inseparability of knowledge and power suggested by this interpretation of discourse has consequences for how we understand the ways in which power is exercised in a given society at a given point in history. Discursive practices have "ideological effects" that "can help produce and reproduce unequal power relations between (for instance) social classes, women and men, and ethnic/cultural majorities and minorities through the ways in which they represent things and position people" (Fairclough & Wodak, 1997, p. 258). Identifying the underlying assumptions guiding the discursive practices of disaster recovery can illuminate the ways in which the dominant practice of disaster recovery may produce and replicate such inequities, thus allowing for an exploration of alternatives. Natural Disasters The term, "natural disaster" is commonly used to refer to catastrophic events caused by, or at least determined by nature, and resulting in social and economic disruption, and human suffering and death. For the most part, the dominant disaster discourse attributes such events to natural forces, portraying them as "a departure from a state of normalcy to which a society returns to on recovery" (Bankoff, 2001, p.24), commonly evoking a perception of unpredictable destruction and devastation caused by a powerful, external agent: Mother Nature. H o w we understand what constitutes a natural disaster is embedded in discursive practices that constitute our experiences and imply a host of explicit and implicit socio-cultural assumptions and norms. 11 The Oxford English Dictionary (Trumble & Stevenson, 2002) defines a disaster as a "sudden or great misfortune, mishap, or misadventure, a calamity," and natural as something "determined by, conforming to, or based on nature." Depending on the disciplinary discourse or the lexical field in which it is used, the term may evoke a more specific understanding of the event as: (a) a collective crisis placing demands on a community or social system that outstrip its ability to respond (Bolin, 1989); (b) a social phenomenon rooted in social structures and systems of power (Echterling & Wylie , 1999); (c) a collective and complex stressor event resulting in specific acute and sometimes chronic psychological and psychosocial problems (Norris, Friedman, & Watson, 2002a); (d) a global policy problem involving land use, population distributions, and environmental degradation (Comfort et al., 1999); or (e) a particular example of the condition of suffering that defines human existence (Tendzin, 1987). N o one definition is more or less accurate but point to the disciplinary distinctions in the focus and attention given to various aspects of natural disasters. In keeping with the complexity orientation of the present study, I understand disasters as complex, collective crisis involving individual, social, political, economic, and cultural structures and systems associated with specific forms of suffering that have come to be defined through psychology as stress. Although natural disasters arise in connection with environmental (e.g., flood, earthquake, forest fire) or hydrometeorological events (e.g., lightening, tornado, hurricane), what turns an environmental event into a disaster involves a complex and temporally specific web of historical, social,.economic, political, and psychological processes and practices involving individuals, communities, industries, and multiple levels of government (Comfort et al., 1999; Echterling & Wylie , 1999). The fire that impacted Barriere and Louis Creek, for example, was officially the result of a discarded cigarette. However, the fact that this cigarette ignited such a devastating fire was a product of a complex constellation of circumstances that include global, environmental changes (e.g., drought conditions, increased global temperatures), settlement patterns (e.g., where communities locate in relationship to wilderness), the economics of fire fighting (e.g., decisions on where and when to allocate firefighting resources), and a myriad of other human decisions that shaped important variables such as the choice of building materials for homes, insurance, and emergency planning strategies, for example. From this perspective, the term "natural disaster" is both metaphoric and anachronistic, conflating as it does the natural or environmental event with the impact of that event on humans 12 and reducing this to an inevitable occurrence. The discursive framing of a disaster as natural obscures the assumptions that shape the response to that disaster and what follows. Changes in this shared script can have an impact on the availability of resources, social action, and individual and collective subjectivities. Higgins (2001), for example, described the significant shifts in local and national disaster policy and practice in Australia with the government's decision to change the official definition of droughts from that of "a 'natural disaster,' a variable event that could not be totally planned for by producers and that could be best responded to through collective forms of support" to "a 'manageable risk' that farmers could predict, plan for and control through the adoption of particular business management techniques" (p. 300). This discursive shift resulted in significant changes in the relationships between farmers and their governments, not the least of which was an expectation of a greater degree of self-reliance in managing the environmental consequences of droughts. A natural disaster, therefore, needs to be understood as a discursive practice at the complex intersection of various discourses with different disciplinary associations (e.g., sociology, psychology, biomedicine, emergency management, cultural studies) (Shweder, 1995). The discursive construction of natural disasters and disaster recovery through psychology is of particular relevance to this study both because it reflects my own location within the field of counseling psychology and because psychology's construction of disasters as stress and coping events has become ubiquitous. The discursive field of psychology now influences many of the policies and practices that determine the social-psychological response to disasters in Canada, the Unites States, and internationally given the influence of highly economically developed nations on the emergency management practices in less developed countries (Bankoff, 2001). Natural Disasters through the Lens of Psychology Much of the literature on natural disasters is based in either sociological or psychological conceptual frameworks. From a sociological perspective, natural disasters are the result of a triggering event, an environmental hazard, and a complex web of social, political, and economic forces that shape the context in which that event occurs, and the nature of what follows (Blaikie, Cannon, Davis, & Wisner, 1994; Cannon, 1994; Hewitt, 1983). Psychology, on the other hand, views disasters primarily as collective stress and/or traumatic stress events, defined by their ability to overwhelm coping capacities and the resources of communities of individuals, and 13 result in psychological distress and disorders (Bolin, 1989; Bravo, Rubio-Stipec, Woodbury, & Ribera, 1990; Freedy, Shaw, Jarrell, & Masters, 1992; Rubonis & Bickman, 1991). Stress Discourse The term stress originates from distress, which arises from the Old French term estrecee, meaning narrowness, or oppression (Trumble & Stevenson, 2002). In its original usage, stress signified an oppressive external power that forced someone to do something against his or her wi l l . During the 16 t h century, the term stress was adopted within the physical sciences and it lost its connection with the original, personalized sense of oppression. It came instead to describe the effect of an external force on a material object (e.g., the stress of the weather on a ship), and eventually was reshaped within the engineering mentality that originated as a scientific discourse with Galileo's examination of the strength of materials, and then extended into other domains including medicine as it redefined itself in the 19 t h Century. A growing number of authors have written critically about the stress discourse, tracking its origins and its implications for our understanding of such things as work, health, and identity. Doublet (2000) examined what he described as the myth of stress exploring some of the contradictions and confusion as to the nature of stress in what has become an extensive body of research on the psychological phenomenon. Wainwright and Calnan (2002) examined the ways in which stress discourse contributes to a disempowered, individualized, subject-as-victim in work environments. In his dissertation on stress, Brown (1997) tracked the history of stress discourse, describing its cultural emergence, its relationship to the "changing representations of the human body, its powers, and 'nature' i t s e l f (p. ix) and emphasized the role of technology in our experience of stress and stressful environments. A smaller number of authors have explored stress from a more critical perspective, examining the origins and dominant constructions of stress and traumatic stress discourse (Brown, 1997; Young, 1996). In his treatise on stress as an engineering discourse of grief, Kugleman (1992) offered an intriguing and provocative examination of the stress discourse. In this work, he suggested that stress acts as a metaphor, derived from engineering, for a particular kind of grief that arises in modernity. He pointed to the origins o f the stress discourse in the 19 t h century discourse on strain, which embodied that century's emergent " w i l l to progress 14 economically, socially, and scientifically," while also "expressing] the anguish and anxiety over the losses that such changes entail" (p. 134). Within modernity, Kugleman suggested that stress came to metaphorically name our experience of l iving in a constantly shifting, changing world, in which technological change and an understanding of time as a commodity resulted in the dissolution of temporal and spatial boundaries and social dislocation. The discourse of stress replaced the discourse of suffering, which, until this time, had historically been the provenance of religion and philosophy (Young, 1996). I use the term suffering here and throughout the text to describe subjective experiences of pain, both physical and psychological/emotional. It is a term that in some important ways is out of fashion at least within psychology where psychological pain is more commonly described in terms of disorders such as depression or anxiety; or as grief, loss, and, i f one follows Kugleman's (1992) rationale, stress. Suffering is also a term associated with Buddhist doctrines of impermanence, in which suffering is understood as a condition of being alive that results from our dissatisfaction with the fact that all existence, including our own, is characterized by impermanence and change. I used the term 'suffering' therefore, as a more general way of describing psychological pain and one that is not as frequently used or associated with dominant discourses of psychology in the way that other terms (e.g., loss, grief, stress) might be. Further, by using the term suffering I am also drawing attention to the associations within dominant, Western culture between psychological pain and our ambivalent or avoidant relationship with impermanence and change. With this biomedical construction of psychology, the focus shifted from the spirit or soul to the mind. It was, in effect, the medicalization of suffering and it resulted in the development of a taxonomy of cognitive disorders that required professional intervention. Psychologists, as scientific professionals, attempt to manage, control, and prevent mental illness. Stress and stress management came to stand in for the most common experience of suffering, the unacknowledged and unexpressed suffering associated with modernity's rapidly accelerating experiences of impermanence. "Stress is a bad habit we have developed for making sense of our time-scarce, energy-hungry life style," and "points in a distorted way to a grief endemic in the contemporary world" (Kugleman, 1992, p. 165). Disembodied, displaced, and numbed by the rapidity of changes, we have adopted the stress discourse to describe our experience of attempting to be everywhere and nowhere 15 simultaneously. It has become an invocation of our desire to escape the limits of our embodied/fleshed existence, the limitations of time and place (Kugleman, 1992). In the discourse of stress and stress management, grieving is replaced by problem solving. The individual is posited as the mechanism of change with the implication that the experience of helplessness, loss of control and despair, although endemic in dominant Western society, is not a social issue but an individual one. Stress management is an invitation for the individual to regain control through taking charge; it is an invitation to adapt. Despite the collective nature of the impact of disasters, and therefore of the disaster recovery process, the stress and coping framework continues to dominate in disaster research and practice within psychology. This tends to reinforce an individualized, problems solving approach to the distress associated with disasters that limits options for collective interventions and alternative understandings (Norris et al., 2002a). Traumatic Stress Discourse As with the term stress, traumatic stress has a metaphoric connotation, subsuming a host of unspoken assumptions, historical and cultural influences, and meanings. Some of the ways in which the construct "traumatic stress" is defined in psychological research include describing it in terms of power relations, "an affliction of the powerless" (Herman, 1997, p. 33). It is also referred to in terms of the nature of the precipitating event, as "an inescapable stress event that overwhelms people's coping mechanisms" (Van der K o l k & Fisler, 1995, p. 505) and in terms of the magnitude of the stress experience, as "extreme stress" (Ford & K i d d , 1998) or a "terrifying experience" (Van der Ko lk , Van der Hart, & Burbridge, 1995). It is also defined by the nature of the psychological and emotional responses to such events as "fear, horror and helplessness" (Herman, 1997). The history of the discourse of traumatic stress is intimately connected to the history of biomedical discourse and the increasing sophistication of science's ability to trace the neurochemical and neurophysiological pathways of psychological and emotional responses (Sapolsky, 1994). Since its inception as a criterion in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual III (American Psychiatric Association, 1980), Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has become the most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder. Definitions of what constitute trauma have grown to 16 include hearing about trauma, indirect exposure to trauma through hearing the stories of direct victims of trauma, and even watching traumatic events unfold on television (Krol l , 2003). Hacking (1995) argued that trauma today has the same explanatory power as demonic possession had in the Middle Ages and has become Western society's dominant metaphor for psychological suffering and distress. If stress is the modern discourse of our struggle to escape the bounds of physicality, trauma is, potentially, the passionate expression of this desire. According to psychodynamic psychologist Bernd Jager (1989), passion "announces the coming into being of radical discontinuity" within this world of doing (p. 223). A s a passionate expression of stress, in which passion implies movement or transformation, the discourse of traumatic stress points to an enormous desire to experience ah "infinite passion," to "become pure energy, to flee the flesh" (Kugleman, 1992, p. 27). A s a more profoundly unsettling construction of stress, the traumatic stress discourse focuses attention more explicitly on loss and fear. Traumatic stress also invites a reconnection with the body, and through it to suffering in a way that everyday stress does not. A personal or collective disaster, a catastrophe, grabs our attention, throws us out of our numbness, and temporarily disrupts our ability to convert the psychological pain, or suffering, into more energy with which to function. B y becoming temporarily dysfunctional we arrive in our bodies and are invited to look behind the ways in which the stress construct masks the ongoing experience of uncertainty or chaos of l iving. In these moments, we are faced with illusion of the apparent order and stability we cognitively construct in order to navigate the world and our lives (Cohen & Varela, 2000). Consistent with the stress discourse, the dominant psychological framing of trauma, although it points more explicitly to experiences of loss and therefore suffering, still does not invite us to examine these experiences in any way other than as a problem to be resolved. Despite this relatively constrained framing, mainstream psychology's construction of disasters as collective traumatic events make disasters an important site of inquiry into the dominant Western discourse o f suffering that extends, through the expansion o f Western ideology, to the expression of this relationship in other parts of the globe. 3 Chaos or Khaos was the ancient Greek name for the primordial state from which the first gods appeared and is more literally translated as the gaping void, abyss, or the first state of the universe (Trumble & Stevenson, 2002). 17 The research on traumatic stress is one of the main sites of psychology's engagement with the body and embodied experience. Whether it is research on the psychobiological aspects of traumatic stress (Scaer, 2001; Schore, 2002; Yehuda & McFarlane, 1997), somatic approaches to addressing traumatic stress (Ogden & Minton, 2000; Van der Ko lk , 1994), or research into the biological foundations of dissociation (Rothschild, 2000), the focus of the research is pointing to mind-body connections (Van der Ko lk , McFarlane, & Weisaeth, 1996). Research on traumatic stress also engages with narratives, meaning-making, and spirituality (Harber & Pennebaker, . 1992; Pennebaker, 1995; Sewell & Williams, 2001; Varela, 1991). In this light, traumatic stress is a nexus of multi-disciplinary, multi-theoretical research that unites biomedicine, cognitive psychology, spirituality, and philosophy in the examination of suffering. Traumatic stress, in this sense, is a doorway in psychology to the exploration of the disciplinary splits that emerged as psychology worked to distinguish itself from philosophy and metaphysics and establish itself as a science (Coon, 2000). Psychological Research on Disasters Within the psychological framing of disasters, there is a consideration of the long-term and multi-dimensional nature of natural disaster events and an acknowledgement that disasters and their effects involve a cluster of complex stressors that cut across economic, social, political, psychological, and spiritual domains (Echterling & Wylie , 1999). Despite the complexity, however, much of the disaster research in psychology continues to examine the effects of such complex events in ways that attempt to control that complexity rather than enter into it (Norris et al., 2002a). The social and discursive contexts of disasters have been considered primarily as influencing variables in the individual psycho-emotional reactions of those directly and indirectly affected (Norris et al., 2002b). This work draws principally on Lazarus's transactional model of stress and coping (Lazarus, 1991; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), or Hobfoll 's (1989, 2001) Conservation of Resource theory. In Lazarus's model, psychological stress is defined as a transaction between the person and the environment that is appraised as taxing resources and threatening wellbeing. Social resources and contextual factors are considered; however, they are seen primarily as influences on the individual stress and coping process (Lennon, 1989; Pearlin, 1989). Despite its theoretical framing of the person-environment as one system, the research arising within this framework has 18 continued to reflect the dualism inherent in mainstream psychology resulting in research that can continue to be criticized for (a) focusing on the individual, (b) narrowly defining coping strategies, (c) dualistic assessment of person and environment, (d) and limited attention to the social cultural context (Long & Cox, 2000). A large body of disaster research has drawn on this model to focus on a wide range of psychological outcomes associated with disasters, including posttraumatic stress symptoms and posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, somatic health problems, and problems in l iv ing. 4 Hobfoll 's (1989) theory, which is embedded in community psychology's ecological research perspective, also draws on Lazarus and Folkman's (1984) transactional model of stress but places a greater emphasis on the socio-cultural aspects of stress and coping transactions. Within this framework, stress is considered to be the consequence of a person-environment transaction. It is largely culturally and socially shaped and scripted, and determined by a process of resource loss and gain in a complex, multi-layered social context. Individual appraisals play only a proximal role. Conservation of Resource theory posits that the personal subjective component of stress has received too much weighting. Instead, it is argued, non-idiographic aspects of the appraisal process, that is, the shared, socially and culturally scripted component of appraisals play, a more central role in determining the stress and coping process. This model has been used to examine the impact of the loss of various psychosocial resources on individuals' experience of disaster-related stress and strategies of coping (Kaniasty & Norris 1993, 1995; Norris & Kaniasty 1996; Palinkas, Russel, Downs, & Pettersen, 1992; Pennebaker & Harber 1993). Within this body of research—based on either theory— disasters have most often been examined with a focus on the psychopathological consequences of traumatic stress, tracking the course of various disorders associated with experiencing.traumatic events (Norris et al., 2002b; Tedeschi, Park, & Calhoun, 1998). Disasters are explored as events having the potential to cause high levels of psychosocial disruption and enduring psychological impacts in individuals, such as (a) psychological problems (e.g., PTSD) , generalized anxiety disorders ( G A D ) , depression), (b) non-specific distress and health problems (e.g., somatic complaints, sleep disturbances and increased alcohol consumption), (c) chronic problems in l iving (e.g., secondary stressors 4 For a review of the empirical research on disasters including natural disasters, see Norris et al., 2002a. 19 associated with work, interpersonal relationships, continued disruption), (d) psychosocial resource loss (e.g., loss or disruption of social support networks and other social resources), and (e) problems specific to target populations (e.g., youth, children, seniors) (Norris et al., 2002b; Raphael & Wilson, 1993). The result of this particular framing has been an exponential growth of research focused on P T S D , the extreme end of the continuum of stress experiences (Raphael, Wilson, Meldrum, & McFarlane, 1996). The bulk of research, as outlined by Norris et al. (2002b) in their review of the empirical research on disasters, identified P T S D as an outcome measure o f the stress and coping process. Moreover, these researchers have examined the relevance of specific disaster characteristics (e.g., disaster type and location, nature, scope, and magnitude of impact) and individual risk factors and characteristics (severity of exposure, coping styles, gender, age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status) and the prevalence of P T S D (e.g., Bravo, Rubio-Stipec, Woodbury, & Ribera, 1990; Freedy, Saladin, Kilpatrick, Resnick, & Saunders, 1994; Galea, Nandi, & Vlahov, 2005; Tobin & Ollenburger, 1996). The narrowness of this research has been shaped by what is, in some ways, a myopic and individualistic gaze within psychology and the culture more generally, and a legacy of positivism in research socialization and journal practices (Trickett, 1995, 1996). Although it is clearly important work given the personal, social, and economic costs of P T S D , this body of research has done little to address the diverse and complex mental health needs of the majority of disaster-affected individuals — those who do not have clinically significant symptoms but who may benefit from interventions that facilitate their individual and collective recovery. For some time now, there has been a call for a shift in focus from traditional top-down, hierarchical intervention models in disasters to more client-centered, bottom-up models that incorporate local expertise and adopt a community-as-client approach (Cox & Espinoza, 2005; Hobfoll, Briggs, & Wells, 1995; Hobfoll & L i l l y , 1993; K ing , 2005; Norris et al, 2002b). This shift reflects both an awareness of the need for a contextual approach to addressing the complex array of individual and collective stressors that arise as a result of the disruption and loss caused by disasters and a need to engage affected communities as active participants rather than passive recipients of services (King, 2005; Milgram, Sarason, Schonpflug, Jackson, & Schwarzer, 1995). 20 Posttraumatic Growth A comparatively new area of psychological research on traumatic stress has focused attention on the transformative potential of a more active engagement with suffering. This smaller but growing body of literature builds upon on a much larger, multi-disciplinary, historical recognition of the transformative potential of engaging consciously with suffering as articulated in various religions (Varela, 1999) and by various philosophers including Kierkegaard (Hong & Hong, 1983) and Caputo (1987). One of the earliest researchers into stress, Hans Selye (1956, 1976), posited that there were two types of stress, 'eustress' or good stress, and 'distress' or bad stress. Despite this early theorizing there is very little in the stress literature that addresses the concept of 'eustress' (Doublet, 2000). Herman (1997) in her seminal tract on trauma and recovery, speaks of the possibly of transcending the pain of trauma within a 'survivor mission,' a term she coined to refer to the possibility of moving out of a victim stance to a more agentic, empowered subject position in relation to the traumatic event. Only recently, however, with the growth of positive psychology (Snyder & Lopez, 2002), have researchers begun exploring and building on existing models of trauma and recovery to develop theories and models that incorporate trauma's potential for positive outcomes (Affleck & Tennen, 1996; Calhoun & Tedeschi, 1998; M c M i l l e n , 1999; Park, 1998). Some of the concepts put forth to describe this alternate aspect of trauma include "post-traumatic growth" (Tedeschi, Park, & Calhoun, 1998), "thriving" (O'Leary & Ickovics, 1995), "stress-related growth" (Park, Cohen, & Murch, 1996), and "adversarial growth" (Linley & Joseph, 2004). This work has broadened the reach of psychology to a consideration of a range of outcomes of trauma that would include so called positive outcomes. The challenge to dominant psychological paradigms is limited, however, and with few exceptions does little to extend theory or practice beyond the individual to explore collective outcomes or interventions. Sandra Bloom's (1998) work is one such exception, extending the exploration of positive outcomes of trauma to the social arena and to collective outcomes, what she calls "social transformation" (p. 208). On the whole, these researchers have argued for a more modest shift, as some of the key proponents of the model stated: Although there may be a need for a general paradigm shift in the study of health and stress our proposal is more modest.. . A shift in perspective is needed, so that psychological growth is recognized as a routine possibility when individuals struggle 21 with highly disrupting life events. It is not a question of dismantling one paradigm and substituting another for it, but simply widening the focus of the lens so that both negative and positive consequences are investigated. (Calhoun & Tedeschi, 1998, pp. 234-235) Further, in the absence of a more critical examination of the discourse of psychology more generally, the research on posttraumatic growth extends the psychological focus in a way that has the potential to make the notion of the benefit of trauma prescriptive. B y using the terms 'positive' and 'growth,' a directionality of process is suggested that may further stigmatize those who fail to find positive or growth aspects in their experiences, increasing the likelihood that they wi l l be pathologized. Disaster Recovery A s with natural disaster, the term disaster recovery is loaded with social assumptions and implications. Typically, it is used to refer to a period of time following a disaster that ranges from 3 weeks to over 3 years. A s described in the literature, this period is characterized by individuals' and communities' attempts to rebuild, allocate resources, repair or re-establish social and economic networks in the community, and enter into the individual and collective process of incorporating the disaster into the history and identity of the community (Bolin, 1985; Norris et al., 2002a; Steury, Spencer, & Parkinson, 2004). On its own, the notion of recovery implies a returning to, or regaining of, something that was lost. In the context of health, it implies a return to, or restoration of health. Associated as it is with illness and a return to well being, it both implies a potential pathological outcome from disasters, and a potential returning to, or regaining of, something that was lost. It is often used in the literature and in policy documents in conjunction with the notion of a return to "normal" functioning (e.g., social, psychological, economic) after the disruption of a disaster. The complexity of disasters is reflected in the complicated and convoluted process of recovery and rebuilding following disasters. The effects of disasters cut across economic, social, political, psychological, and spiritual issues at both the individual and collective or community levels (Gist & Lubin, 1989). From a psychosocial perspective that focuses on the psychological and sociological aspects of disasters, the recovery period 5 can involve a myriad of hardships and 5 Also known as recovery and reconstruction. Staged or phased process models of disasters have been called into question as an artificial delineation that oversimplifies the complex and 22 challenges that some posit may be more significant to the well-being of individuals and the community than exposure to the impact of the disaster event itself (Flynn, 1999). Many professionals and victims involved in disasters cite the chronic and systemic stressors associated with the recovery process (e.g., coordination and cooperation, dealing with meta-institutions, and other systems-level factors) as some of the most frustrating and stress-inducing factors in their disaster experience (Call & Pfefferbaum, 1999; Maltais, 2001; McFarlane, 1995; Norris, Phifer, & Kaniasty, 1994; Norris et al., 2002a). Researchers studying community responses to disasters have studied the ways in which disasters create and exacerbate patterns of social support, family, and community cohesion (Drabek & Key, 1984). This work described an initial surge of support during the post-crisis phase of a disaster that is characterized by mutual helping, a mobilization of social support from within and without the community, and an increased sense of community and belongingness in the face of adversity (Kaniasty & Norris, 1995, 1999; Norris & Kaniasty, 1999, Norris, Perilla, Riad, Kaniasty, & Lavizzo, 1999). In a follow-up study of the survivors of the Buffalo Creek disaster, Green et al. (1990) described this so called "honeymoon" period as transitory in the face of the long-term process of recovering from the losses incurred in that disaster. Likewise, Kaniasty and Norris (1990, 1993) found support for a gradual deterioration of social support following natural disasters as the initial euphoria of having survived gives way to the harsh realizations of what the losses resulting from a disaster w i l l mean to individuals and to the community as a whole. Using Hobfoll 's (1989) Conservation of Resources theory, Kaniasty and Norris (1995, 1999) described a deterioration of social support during the recovery period in which individuals receive or are able to access varying amounts of support depending on a variety of factors including pre-disaster resources, gender, and ethnicity. They, and other researchers, have argued that the degree to which individuals are able to access support during the recovery period wi l l predict their long-term post-disaster well-being. This research shows that as the crisis-response gives way to the recovery and rebuilding phases of a disaster, individuals are often left to face the long struggle to rebuild their lives, homes, and community on their own, often encountering overlapping social and psychological processes arising within a disaster. Other process models using mobius strips, spirals, and 2-dimensional Cartesian plane structures (see Ke l ly , 1998) exist, 23 disillusionment, frustration, and a host of secondary stressors (Echterling & Wylie, 1999; Erikson, 1976a, 1976b; Pearlin, 1989). Although the consensus seems to support the importance of the long-term disaster recovery period for the health and well-being of those affected, relatively little of the significant body of research on disasters has focused on this period. In their review of the literature, Norris et al. (2002b) examined studies of 160 disaster-related samples composed of over 60,000 individuals, natural and human caused disasters, and drawing from a research database incorporating research in 29 separate countries or territories. The authors concluded that there was a need to extend the research focus within psychology to include longer-term studies that considered both the effects of disasters over time and that integrated greater consideration of family-systems and community-level processes. The need for longer-term studies of the recovery period was also supported by Shrubsole (1999) in his review of the disaster literature with a focus on the recovery period. An extensive search of the research literature on disasters in Canada also identified relatively few specific studies that examined the psychosocial aspects of disaster recovery. Caine's (1989) survey-study examined the relationship of pre-event demographics, event characteristics, and informal sources of help with the recovery process of survivors of a tornado in Edmonton, Alberta. Caine's study offered a comprehensive picture of the variables affecting recovery that supported previous research that identified social support, economic factors, quality of life, and emotional variables as key elements in the progress toward recovery. Gaudin, Legault, and Marcoux (2002) offered a case-study of the implementation of emergency measures to meet the psychological needs of disaster victims in response to the flood in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec in 1996. They concluded that an efficient and coordinated response plan was necessary in order to meet the needs of disaster-affected populations over the long-term recovery period. McMurray and Steiner (2000) employed a questionnaire with patients in a community treatment programme to study the delivery of services to individuals with severe mental illness following natural disasters. They found that individuals with severe mental illnesses prior to a disaster would fare well following a disaster with adequate access to ongoing and flexible psychiatric services. but the notion of stages and/or phases continue to dominate disaster/emergency management policies and practices. 24 Finally, in what constitutes perhaps the most extensive research on the disaster recovery period to date, Maltais and colleagues (e.g., Maltais, LaChance, & Brassard, 2002, 2003; Maltais, LaChance, Simard, Brassard, & Picard, 2002; Maltais, Robichard, & Simard, 2001) conducted several large-scale survey and structured interview studies of the recovery in rural areas from the Saguenay floods in Quebec, 1996. These studies provided a comprehensive picture of the effects of the floods on the citizens of two rural communities, highlighting the complexity of the recovery process and its impact on the health and economic stability of affected individuals and families. These studies have provided a greater understanding of the complexity of the disaster recovery process and the need for flexible, coordinated, and comprehensive post-disaster psychological and health services. Overall, this research has moved the field beyond the narrow focus on post-traumatic stress to examine other health outcomes associated with disasters, and to consider these outcomes in their complexity and diversity. Despite this, however, the disaster research in Canada and the United States continues to perpetuate, for the most part, the individualistic and pathological focus of dominant models of psychology. A s with the vast majority of research on disasters, the aforementioned studies also promote an uncritical examination of the construct of recovery that leaves unexamined the ideological assumptions that guide the social response to disasters and the psychosocial process of recovery that ensues. To a large extent, current psychosocial interventions informed by disaster research in psychology focus in the short term, on providing what is termed "psychological first aid" to displaced persons ( B C Ministry of Public Safety & Solicitor General, 2005). The latter term is used to refer to psychological interventions that focus on increasing the ability of individuals to effectively cope with the acute stress and traumatic stress of a disaster, and mitigate the potential for longer-term psychological impairment associated with this stress (National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [NCPTSD] , 2005). Even within the dominant discourse of psychology, the focus and scope of these interventions and the research upon which they rely have been called into question as being too narrowly focused on the short term and individual interventions. A s Norris et al. (2002b) concluded in their meta-analysis of the disaster literature, what we need are studies that shift the focus to the study and development of collective and societal-level interventions that support the recovery process of the vast majority of disaster affected individuals who, by and large, do not require clinical resources. 25 Some researchers, particularly those in community psychology, have argued for more holistic models and theoretical frameworks of disaster-related stress and recovery informed by a broader range of research approaches and theoretical models (Freedy & Hobfoll , 1995; Hobfoll, 2001; Scanlon, n.d.; Trickett, 1995). This includes a more considered approach to the reciprocal influences and dynamics of individual and collective coping over time. It also includes a shift in focus in order to address systemic factors impacting the response and recovery environments (e.g., coherence, supportiveness, coordination of services, communication) (Hutton, 2001; Kaniasty & Norris, 1999; Norris et a l , 2002a; Van den Eynde & Veno, 1999). Salzer and Bickman (1999) go as far as to theorize that facilitating a community's efforts to reestablish and enhance social networks and community identity should be a primary focus for disaster mental health research and response. In the present study, I have problematized accepted notions of disaster recovery in order to expose and explore aspects of the process not typically considered in previous research. I have combined methodological strategies less typical of psychological research on disasters such as ethnography and critical discourse analysis. This strategy has allowed me to undertake an in-depth examination of the disaster recovery process and a critical deconstruction o f the discursive practices that shape the nature and direction of this process. I have focused on individual subjectivities within the disaster recovery process as it unfolded in Barriere and Louis Creek, and the ways in which these subjectivities have intersected with and been influenced by collective aspects of the recovery environment (e.g., economic disruption, availability and access of aid, and the nature and role of formal and informal community leadership). Relevance of Researching Disaster Recovery in Rural Communities M y choice to conduct this study in Barriere and Louis Creek is, in good measure, a function of the relevance o f the disaster recovery period and the gap in the existing disaster research of a critical analysis of the recovery process. The choice also reflects the importance of the McLure Fire in my life, in particular, given my involvement in the response to it and my location as a participant on a variety of committees and practice groups focused on developing and improving the response to disasters in this province. Focusing my research in these communities as opposed to others affected by the fires of the summer of 2003 also reflects my interest in addressing the gap in research on disasters in rural communities. In the following 26 section, I briefly outline the relevance of the rural context. In order to do that, I begin by examining the term "rural community." Rural Community Throughout this text, I have referred to key sites (e.g., Barriere and Louis Creek, B C ) of research as communities, or communities within communities (e.g., the ranching community, the community of disaster responders). Similar to the terms natural disaster and discourse the terms "community" and "rural" are contested. A n understanding of community as some kind of coherent, holistic, unified, and geographically defined location can no longer be assumed in the shifting context of a postmodern/post-structural understanding of identity as fluid and partial (Giddens, 1991; Taylor, 1989). A community may be bounded by geography, time, profession, or any number of characteristics that themselves shift over time and place (Williams, Zinner, & El l is , 1999). Within the modernist paradigm, place came to be synonymous with space, defined through geometric measurements as a physical site and relative position (Casey, 1993, 1996). The term community, within this framework has been used to signify a localized social system defined by a geographic boundary and characterized by some shared economic, social, political, and cultural interests (Winson & Leach, 2002). Community, in this modernist sense, was most often used to signify a material location, a physical backdrop for the psychosocial processes under study (Agnew, 1993). Within a post-structural framework, community, and indeed place are understood as embodied, social experiences, and sites of shared (communal, cultural) and disparate meanings and rituals. In light of this more complex, meaning-based understanding of community, the meaning of the term rural is also complicated. Definitions in the literature range from the poetic and symbolic, to the more mechanical and pedantic. Governments often use population statistics as what Looker and Dwyer (1998, p. 9) refer to as a "mechanical shorthand" to define rurality. In Canada, for instance, only those communities with less than 1,000 people and population densities of fewer than 400 per square kilometer are considered as rural (Bollman & Biggs, 1992). Those l iving in rural communities, on the other hand, often use the term to signify a lived experience incorporating a slower pace, a valuing of community and nature, and the material 27 realities connected to living at geographic distances from urban centers or larger towns (Winson & Leach, 2002). Within Barriere and Louis Creek, there were multiple communities defined by shared and contested definitions of community and rural that relied on geographical markers, dynamic social relations, and the resulting social practices and subjectivities of various individuals and groups. Some o f the communities that were identified, for instance, included the ranching community, the logging community, the community of ex-Tolko employees, the Louis Creek-as-distinct-from-Barriere community, and the Louis Creek-as-part of Barriere community, to mention just a few. The intersection of place, gender, power, and identity, and how these relations were reconstructed and sometimes revised in the aftermath o f the McLure Fire was a crucial consideration within the ethnographic exploration of trauma and disasters in the present study. Rural Communities in the Consideration of Natural Disasters During the first half of the twentieth century, urbanization resulted in significant decline in rural populations (Hughey, Heppner, Johnston, & Rakes, 1989). In 1950, it was estimated that just over 60% of the North American population lived in urban centers. B y the early 1990s, this had increased to 80% and most statistics indicate a continued i f slowed trend towards urbanization (Cahill & Martland, 1996; Stabler, 1999; Winson & Leach, 2002). The centralization of employment and educational opportunities continues to result in a net out-migration of young people under the age of 24, and young families from rural areas and an in-migration of older adults (often closer to retirement or in retirement) (Statistics Canada, 2001b). Rural areas tend to be characterized by fewer job and training opportunities, and technological gaps that combine to create employment barriers to those who do remain or return'to rural communities (Cahill & Martland, 1996; Marshall, 2002). Recent statistics on the health and well-being of rural communities in Canada and the United States paint a complicated and troubling picture of a rural/urban economic divide with these communities lagging behind national averages in employment growth and health indicators (Alasia & Rothwell, 2003). Rural communities are characterized by higher rates of unemployment and underemployment and, according to a recent report on the state of rural economic renewal in Ontario, the absence of a vision and the attendant strategies to ensure 28 economic renewal (Winson & Leach, 2002). The rural context often includes chronic shortages o f childcare, counseling services, and mental health providers (Fox, Blank, Rovnyak, & Barnett, 2001; Hartley, Bird , & Dempsey, 1999; Horvath, Bissix, MacLeod, & Barr, 2005); jobs and training opportunities (Cahill & Martland, 1996; Marshall, 2002); computers and access to high-speed internet (Parker, 2000). Each of these conditions has economic, social, and health implications for those living in rural communities even before disasters strike. Their traditional reliance on primary industries (e.g., forestry, fishing), agriculture, and open-field activities (e.g., farming, ranching) or single employers makes rural communities even more vulnerable to severe economic and social disruption from natural disasters and extreme weather events (e.g., drought in Central Canada and the U .S ; forest fires in B C , 2003 and Montana, 2001; Hurricane Katrina, 2005) and the increasing vagaries of international markets and globalization. In fact, statistics indicate a steady increase in the magnitude of the economic and social costs of such events as human settlements encroach further into rural areas and population density increases (Shrubsole, 1999). According to these recent statistics, rural Canadians and their American counterparts are also facing increased health risks and poorer overall health as compared to those living in urban centers. From a population health perspective, poorer health equates with reduced employability, and potentially exacerbates what some researchers describe as a rural deficit in a ready workforce, one with the right mix of skills and abilities and availability to be gainfully employed when opportunities emerge (McBride et al., 2002). Those who choose to stay in rural communities today face greater challenges than ever. Relevance of Researching Media Coverage of Natural Disasters The notion that media can influence public opinion and attitudes to health and other social concerns is not new (e.g., Gamson & Modigliani , 1989; Lyons, 2000). Media texts produce and reproduce meaning in the choice of topics covered and the way those issues are represented through relative positioning, choice, and use o f language, reproducing dominant ideologies or discourses (Ewart, 1997; Hal l , 1992; Lupton, 1992). There is growing awareness of the increasingly powerful influence of media on social attitudes, health-related behaviors, and concerns regarding health (Davidson, Hunt, & Kitzinger, 2003; Hodgetts, Masters, & Robertson, 2004; Huckin, 2002; Lyons, 2000). Moreover, the influence of media extends even further 29 through its implicit conveyance of cultural assumptions and imperatives, regarding what is accepted as normal in terms of social attitudes and behaviors (van Dijk, 1988). West and Smith (1997) argued that media coverage of natural disasters serves a social, moral function of reminding citizens of their collectivity, performing the role of "reaffirming social morality and solidarity in the face of an unexpected and unprecedented challenged from nature"(p. 205). The media is also found to play a significant role in sustaining public morale in a disaster and the aftermath to a disaster (Quarentelli & Dynes, 1985). Through the use of inclusive and collective pronouns this coverage signals reassurance, solidarity, and a common future purpose. Media coverage also sustains hope by constructing the response as heroic, emphasizing the commitment to rebuilding, and suggesting a better future lies ahead (Dynes, 1974). Plougman (1996) applied a content analysis of the media coverage of the Love Canal and six other disasters concluding that a hierarchy of credibility existed such that local voices were heard less frequently and given less credence in the news media coverage. This and subsequent research supports the idea that media accounts play a crucial role in constructing the salience or relevance of a disaster to the public, and in shaping attitudes and evaluations of the official response to disasters (Gaddy & Tanjong, 1986; Gamson & Modigliani, 1989; Garner, 1996, 1997; Sood, Stockdale, & Rogers, 1987). Gortner and Pennebaker (2003) applied a social stages of coping model to examine and compare local and regional student news media coverage of a deadly fire in Texas. Their findings suggested that the disaster had generated a collective experience of trauma and grieving that was reflected in and influenced by media coverage (e.g., how a community talks about a disaster) with implications for collective health issues. One of the most commonly examined topics in the analysis of media discourse has focused on the construction of risk and vulnerability (Allan, Carter, & Adam, 2000). Stallings (1990) found that only a limited construction of risk and safety was available in news accounts, a finding supported by other similar research (Gamson & Modigliani , 1989; Garner, 1996, 1997). The research on the role of media in shaping risk discourse also has extended to include an examination of the ways in which risk and vulnerability discourse tends to frame under-developed nations in ways that reflect Western ideological and cultural biases (Bankoff, 2001). The uncritical framing of disasters tended to depict disasters as exceptional events for which there could have been no planning, and the response to those disasters as taken-for-granted. This 30 construction concealed the role of government policies and donor and development programs in contributing both to the disaster, and to the reproduction of power dynamics that favored state and business elites (Bankoff, 2001; Harwell, 2000). Hal l (1992) suggested that regional papers play a particularly central role in the production and maintenance of cultural values because of the heightened sense of trust engendered by the locality of their coverage. From this perspective, the newspaper coverage of the disaster recovery process in the local paper in Barriere and Louis Creek (i.e., North Thompson Star Journal) would play a central role as a cultural resource to residents in determining the "correct" way of responding to the disaster. Given that news media functions at least in part as an instrument for the dissemination and reinforcement of dominant ideologies, the picture of recovery presented by this paper could be predicted to reflect and constitute the dominant discourse of recovery. For this reason, a critical discourse analysis of the local news media coverage of recovery provides a window into this construction as it unfolds specifically in the context of the McLure Fire. In the present study, I address the lack of research on media discourse and disasters by examining the North Thompson Star Journal's coverage of the McLure Fire as a specific site of the discursive construction of disaster recovery. O f interest were the ways in which the discourse was broadly constructed, whose "voices" were most and least represented in that construction, what was said and what was left unsaid (van Dijk, 1998). I examined the specific social discourses (e.g., expert discourse) called upon in the media's construction of recovery and the ideological assumptions inherent in their use. I also explored the ways the construction of disaster recovery facilitated certain meanings and behaviors and reinforced particular material and social arrangements within the two affected communities. In this process, I considered how individuals and groups of individuals were subjectively positioned as a result of this construction, and the ways in which the discourse facilitated or constrained both individual and community responses. Finally, I considered the potential health consequences of this media discourse. Summary of the Context and Rationale In presenting this summary of the research on disaster recovery, I have highlighted the need for research that addresses the complexity of these events/processes and that moves beyond 31 the reductionism that characterizes most psychological research. In order to address this complexity, a research method was required that transgressed some of the traditional divisions between medical-psychological studies and sociological studies, and that focused on the intersection of individual- and community-level processes associated with disasters. This overview of the research on disasters also pointed to a need to explore disasters in rural contexts, given the growing economic and social vulnerability of rural communities with the rise of global economics more generally and natural disasters more specifically. It illuminated the possibility of an expanded discursive construction of disaster recovery that might incorporate a broader range of outcomes and the potential for a different, perhaps more generative relationship with suffering. The intersection of the rise of traumatic stress discourse and the growing incidence and magnitude of natural disasters make the discursive construction of disaster recovery an important site of inquiry within psychology, in part, because these experiences may offer an opportunity, as Kugleman described it (1992), to "de-engineer," to make "un manageable" the grief that is masked by the stress discourse, and explore instead "how the ground of our hearts can be prepared for grief." Also , because disasters are so inherently and explicitly collective experiences, the examination of the discursive structuring of recovery may offer some insights into the collective nature o f processes that are typically individualized in psychological discourse (e.g., traumatic stress). Drawing on the language of quantum science and complex systems theory, one could argue that all experiences are collective - everything in a system is connected such that "what we call a part is merely a pattern in an inseparable web of relationships" (Capra, 1996, p. 37). The system of the l iving world and we humans as part of this system, consist of a network of relationships that is extremely sensitive to even the minutest of changes, a fact known as the 'butterfly effect' (Lorenz, 1963). In light of this connectivity, every traumatic event/process could be seen to affect all of us in some way, and to have collective and cultural implications. The step required to examine the collective nature of events that are traditionally framed as personal is enormous, however, and involves a significant level of abstraction. Disasters, because they are collectively experienced in the social, material realm, do not require such a leap. We do not have to struggle to imagine their impact as being influenced by and influencing the collective. , 32 This perspective is also congruent with evolving post-structural frameworks within psychology that challenge mainstream psychology's theorizing of the self as separate from its socio-cultural context (Shweder, 1990, 1995). These theoretical approaches extend the notion of culture to include a more narrative, holistic, and meaning-based understanding of culture as a "system of contested meanings in which 'societies' and 'individuals' are (re)produced and transformed.. .within a nexus of social, relations around domination and subordination" (Griffin, 2000, p. 20). Viewing the mind as inextricably constituted by and constitutive of its context, cultural psychology seeks to develop an interpretative framework o f psyche that reflects the interdependence and interpenetration of intentional worlds and intentional lives. It seeks, in other words, to situate its inquiry in the complexity of life by transgressing disciplinary boundaries and remaining open to the ways in which culture and psyche inform, shape, and manifest each other. In the following chapter, I outline the methodological framework of this study, and the specific methods of data collection and analysis. I begin the chapter with a poetic reflection of my research process from its inception in my work as a responder to 9-11 and the McLure Fire through the contemplation and analysis reflected in this study. 33 WHAT IF? I struggle to encompass my intentions, in the concise, bordered language and painful contractions of this process. Entangled in a discursive limbo, I am adrift in shallow water, swimming with emergent thoughts. We, the shamans of modernity, practitioners of the new mythology, have it wrong it would seem. We supply an ideology of exchange, to a culture seeking transformation on the curves of a roller coaster. Searching for meaning, we launch into doing describing, explaining, reducing. The luminous roots of science consigned to mechanical equations and our lexicon of accumulation. What i f we considered differently these testimonials of emergence, these planetary convulsions arising from a single thought, triggering earthquakes in our certainty? H o w then, might I hear these visceral echoes of a possibility beyond the either or of reading the bible as prose or poetry? H o w then might I feel these ghostly branches falling like summer snow, under this orange clouded sky of your home? Might we dance the 'metta/phor' of trauma, fondling the fabric of unpredictability as we twirl? Might we explore these inflection points as gardeners watching seeds, watered by the passion of suffering? . Let us fall forward into our questions, trust the crucible of their possibilities, as we forge relationships as findings. Let us enter each conversational dance as a foray into co-emergence, on this narrow ledge of academia. Let us learn by going where we have to go. 6 6 Line borrowed from Theodore Roethke's The Waking (1968) C H A P T E R 3: M E T H O D O L O G Y - A C R I T I C A L , M U L T I - S I T E D E T H N O G R A P H Y How, precisely, is a garrulous, over determined, cross cultural encounter, shot through with power relations and personal cross purposes circumscribed as an adequate version of a more-or-less discrete 'otherworld' composed by an individual author? (Clifford, 1988, p. 25) If you wish to drown, do not torture yourself with shallow water. (Zen Buddhist Koan, author unknown) A s Clifford (1988) pointed out, no matter how rich or thick the description, how meticulous the methodology, all research can do is produce partial, imperfect representations of the complex web of relations and meanings of our research encounters. In keeping with this humble understanding of the outcome of research, I position this text openly as a site of "the failure of representation" (Lather, 2001, p. 203), an interpretive, partial account of the process known as recovery following a disaster. It reflects my attempt, through the use of a variety of methodological strategies, to evoke a rich description that includes some tentative theorizing about what we mean by recovery and some of the assumptions and ideologies that underlie and support the dominant policies and practices of recovery. The overarching goals of this study were to: (a) explore how residents of two rural, communities in British Columbia understood and explained the recovery process in the 2 years following a natural disaster, a forest fire named the McLure Fire; and (b) critically examine the discursive construction of the social practice of recovery as evidenced in the news media and solicited (interview) textual accounts of the process; (c) explore the constraints and affordances of the dominant or most available construction of recovery; (d) consider other emergent constructions and possibilities identified in residents' accounts; and (e) consider the implications of the dominant discursive construction of recovery for the health and well-being o f those individuals and communities affected by natural disasters. Methodological Approach For this study, I chose to adopt a methodological approach that I have termed a "Critical, Multi-sited Ethnography." Ethnography has not been a standard methodological approach within psychology but is congruent with new cultural psychology as outlined by Shweder (1990, 1995) 36 and with critical discursive psychology (Parker, 2002). These approaches to psychology draw from post-structural and feminist theorizing in order to address some of the critiques of mainstream psychology's tendency to adopt an individualistic, de-contextualized, and reductionist frame of reference. It distinguishes itself from other forms of psychology by virtue of its rejection of the core premises of psychic unity, universal and generalizable truths, and objective context-free research. In other words, it rejects the tenets of positivism that have tended to dominate mainstream psychological research. This approach seeks to understand the human psyche by illuminating the connections between the individual and her/his context, based on an assumption that we are inextricably constituted by and constitutive of our context. The underlying assumptions of this study are congruent with these post-structural approaches to psychology. These include the assumption that: (a) all phenomena are socially constructed; (b) physical reality exists, but that it only acquires meaning through discourse; (c) such meaning is historically, culturally, and politically contingent resulting in and arising from contested definitions of society, identity, and reality; (d) it is possible to track the links, ruptures, and course of these discursive relations through analyzing various texts 7 for the ideological content that informs them; and (e) discourses are dynamic, constantly in struggle for dominance, while also opening up spaces for resistance and alternative constructions. This latter point highlights the possibility within critical discourse analysis for identifying not only the ways discourses constrain but also how they introduce or afford possibilities for change (Phillips & Hardy, 2002). In deciding to adopt an ethnographic approach to studying disaster recovery, I identified a version of ethnography that is consistent with these assumptions. Ethnography is used to describe an overarching research method committed to examining the context or culture of groups of individuals. It describes an all-embracing approach to qualitative research with roots in sociology, anthropology, philosophy, phenomenology, and hermeneutics (McLeod, 2001). In combining discourse theory within a multi-sited ethnographic project, I make the assumption that it is possible to explore the process of disaster recovery as it unfolds, in context, while also tracing the ways in which this context is constitutive of and constituted by those involved in the process and the larger society. Further, I assert that doing so provides some insights into the 7 I interpret "texts" here in the broadest sense to include all the ways in which we fix meaning: conversation, writing, art, visual media, etc. 37 culture or shared assumptions and ideologies that motivate dominant modes of responding to such'collective traumas. With this in mind, I begin this section by briefly describing some of the key theoretical assumptions and epistemologies that inform this study. I then go on to describe in more detail about my methodological approach, describing multi-sited ethnography as a qualitative methodological approach to studying individuals in context, and the use of critical discourse theory as a tool for exposing and examining some of the ideological influences in this context. Following this, I describe in some detail my methods for data collection, sources of data, and analytic strategies employed. Ethnography The term ethnography describes an evolving theoretical approach and a method of inquiry. Labeling this study as ethnographic situates it within a long, diverse tradition of qualitative research. Despite, or perhaps because of its long history, ethnography is, as Wolcott (1995) pointed out, "not only remarkably adaptable but maddeningly ambiguous, except that in its discipline of origin the underlying rationale for doing ethnography is understood to be cultural interpretation" (p. 83). Ethnography is a broad term describing an all-embracing approach to qualitative research with roots in sociology and anthropology, and prior origins in philosophy, phenomenology, and hermeneutics (McLeod, 2001). It has been described as "the art and science of describing a group or culture" (Fetterman, 1998, p. 1); "the ongoing attempt to place specific encounters, events, and understandings into a fuller, more meaning context" (Tedlock, 2000, p. 455); "that form of inquiry and writing that produces descriptions and accounts about the ways of life of the writer and those written about" (Denzin, 1997, p. xi) ; and a "storytelling institution" (Van Maanen, 1995, p. 3). Maurice Bloch (1991) used the term, visceral learning to refer to the nonlinguistic, intuitive, and embodied learning that occurs in the process of doing fieldwork, claiming that this accounts for much of what researchers learn in the course of doing ethnographic studies. Traditionally, ethnography has involved the study of a small group of individuals in their own environment, producing research that provides a detailed descriptive and interpretive account of that group, or what Geertz (1973) termed thick description. Ethnographic researchers are best known for embedding themselves over time in the lives of those they study on the assumption that doing so w i l l allow them to better understand and describe the beliefs, practices, 38 values, and artifacts of that group/culture. In fieldwork, the researcher positions herself as a participant observer, utilizing various methods of inquiry (observation, formal and informal interviews, participation in daily activities), and the systematic recording of observations and emergent theorizing in field notes (Agar, 1996; Clifford, 1983; Dewalt, Dewalt, & Wayland, 1998). The aim of ethnographic analysis is to produce "historically, politically, and personally situated accounts, descriptions, interpretations, and representations of human lives" (Tedlock, 2000, p. 455)! In the past decades, ethnographic research has been transformed, reflecting the diversity of disciplines—cultural studies, anthropology, sociology, education, epidemiology to name a few —and epistemologies—classical, modernist, postmodernist, poststructuralist—in which it is now used, resulting in a multiplicity of ethnographic genres. These influences, and the postmodern climate of contested meanings and subjectivities have resulted in a growing understanding of ethnography as an interpretive practice (Denzin, 1997). The text of this study is interpretive. A s such, it reflects the multiple layers of interpretation involved in listening to and interacting with community members, with the transcribed texts of interviews and the memos generated in the analytic process, with my situation as an academic researcher, as an active member of the disaster response community, and the many subjectivities I bring to this work. This is the "messy" text that Marcus (1998) described as multi-sited, open-ended, and refusing theoretical closure. In it I have attempted, as Denzin (1997) described, "to reflexively map multiple discourses that occur in a given social space" (p. xvii) . Multi-sited Ethnography This study is more specifically located in what Marcus (1998) described as a multi-sited ethnographic approach or a "mobile" ethnographic approach to "tracing a cultural formation across and within multiple sites of activity" (p. 80). In speaking of the specific ways in which a multi-sited ethnography is constructed, Marcus (1998) talked o f the "chains, paths, threads, conjunctions, or juxtapositions" in which the ethnographer has a physical presence, making the analogy to a form of constructivism that positioned the artist as engineer, combining a creative and functional role within a social change framework. Multi-sited ethnographies define their objects o f study through several different modes or techniques. These techniques might be understood as practices of construction through (preplanned or opportunistic) movement and of tracing within different settings of a 39 complex cultural phenomenon given an initial, baseline conceptual identity that turns out to be contingent and malleable as one traces it (p. 90). Given these multiple practices of construction, multi-sited ethnography can be distinguished from other more traditionally place-based ethnographies, by constructing narratives not only around people, but also ideas, metaphors, plots, allegories, and conflicts. In other words, a multi-sited ethnography is not necessarily grounded in a single place, but follows the object of study in/across physical, temporal, and conceptual space. A s Martin (1994) outlined in her multi-sited inquiry into the immunology discourse, it is the mutually constitutive process of interaction between the formal learning of analysis and this more intuitive learning that informs and supports the richness of the ethnographic report. The work of such ethnography involves a hermeneutic inquiry process that shifts focus from the local foreground (e.g., the individual or community being studied) to the global background (e.g., the cultural discourses in which and through which action and meaning are constituted). Michael Agar (n.d.) used the metaphor of the fractal to describe the need for this type of circling analysis. Local discourse, he stated, provides an iterative reflection of transnational events/discourses but does not explain these larger patterns. To identify local fractals in research requires examining data from multiple sites closer to the source of their production such as media and other global data sources, resulting in a text that "remain[s] ethnographic in its epistemology, but not ethnographic in its genres of primary data" (Agar, n.d.). B y contrast, my primary data is more in keeping with traditional ethnography in that it consists primarily of local discourse (i.e., interview texts, local news media). I bring to this local data the critical lens of discourse analysis and my subjectivity as a disaster responder immersed in the dominant discursive practices of disaster response, in order to identify the intersections between the local and global discourses of recovery. In keeping with the post-structural epistemology of this study, I have adopted what Caputo (1987) described as a "radical hermeneutics" understanding of research and knowledge. Radical hermeneutics suggests that the "dialectical tacking" (Geertz, 1973, p. 39) described above is an interpretive approach that begins and ends with questions. Truth is in motion, constantly changing, moving and being reworked. The value of any knowledge is in its ability to keep meaning in motion as a means of trying to understand people in their life-world rather than attempting to define an endpoint (Moules, 2002). 40 B y adopting a critical, multi-sited ethnographic approach, I have intentionally chosen to reflect on the subjectivity of those engaged in the process of disaster recovery and the discursive context of this process. I have used the term subjectivity instead of experience to foreground a post-structural sense of self as being comprised of both the experiences or sense of self most people in dominant Western culture feel, and to the ways in which that self is constructed in our being-in-relationship through/in language (Parker, 2002). The purpose of this research is to open a space inSvhich the ideological assumptions that shape disaster recovery may be exposed and questioned. The research is embedded simultaneously in "a belief in the interpretability of the world and in a willingness to allow ourselves to be read back to us" (Moules, 2002, p. 24) and the belief in the creative potential of identifying and/or constructing radical discontinuities in the established understanding of disaster recovery. Grounded Theory Analytic Strategies Although I have not undertaken a grounded theory study, within the context of this multi-sited ethnography I have drawn on several of the analytic strategies of grounded theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Grounded theory is a qualitative research method designed to aid in the systematic collection and analysis of data and the construction of a 'mid-range' theoretical model. It was developed to theorize localized social psychological processes, with the aim of clarifying and explaining the processes and their consequences by examining the lived experiences of participants (Pidgeon & Henwood, 1997). Social constructionist versions of grounded theory are a recent development (Charmaz, 2000; Charmaz & Mitchell , 2001). Although they acknowledge the epistemological limitations of a purely inductive version, they argue that categories and theories do not emerge from the data as the originators of grounded theory proposed; rather, they are constructed by the researcher through an interaction with the data. According to this version of grounded theory, "Wi th grounded theory in particular, what appears to be 'discovery' or 'emergence' of theory is really the result of a constant interplay between data and the researcher's developing conceptualizations, a 'flip flop' between ideas and research experience" (Pidgeon & Henwood, 1997, p. 255). Charmaz and Mitchell (2001) suggested that utilizing grounded theory strategies can provide ethnographers with important tools that can "sharpen the analytic edge and theoretical sophistication of ethnographic research" (p. 161). They argued that drawing on such grounded 41 theory strategies as the simultaneous involvement in data collection and analysis (i.e., constant comparison), developing analytic codes and categories from the data rather from previously determined hypothesis, writing memos as a bridging process between coding and writing first drafts and demonstrating relationships between concepts and categories can help ethnographers became as systematically involved in the research enquiry or analysis as they are in the research setting. This notion of combining or adapting grounded theory strategies within ethnographic research is consistent with Pidgeon and Henwood's (1997) description of the use of an intermediate stage of analyis for focused projects using these methods. They described this stage as one of theoretical reflection and comparison rather than theory development, which is the goal of fully developed grounded theory projects. For the purposes of this study, I have used constructivist grounded theory in this way, as a means of developing a conceptual framing of the 'disaster recovery' process that is constructed from my "close and detailed coding of the data and (b) reflects concepts I believe are missing in existing theories of this process. Discourse Theory In this study, I draw on the intersection between versions of critical discourse theory (Foucault 8, 1972, 1981; Laclau & Mouffe, 1985) and critical psychology, known as discursive psychology (Parker, 2002). A s with any stream of psychology, discursive psychology includes a range of theoretical orientations and forms of analysis. In general, the field distinguishes itself from traditional psychology by shifting from the latter's focus on the individual abstracted from his/her social context, to focus on the individual as embedded in webs or systems of meaning and relationships. In so doing, it incorporates a critical engagement with language as an object of study with an emphasis on exploring and explicating the constitutive role of language in forming our understanding of each other, the world, and ourselves. 8 1 have included Foucault within the tradition of critical discourse analysis although some methodologists/theorists would contest this, arguing that his theory, because it is based in part in a critique of Marxism and neo-Marxism, excludes him from being considered truly critical. Others claim that Foucault's genealogical and archeological approach to analyzing discourse was not sufficiently linguistic in nature to be considered critical discourse analysis ( C D A ) . That said, Foucault is included in much of the work describing C D A and is frequently referenced in texts where C D A has been employed as a method (see, Fairclough, 1992, 1995; Fairclough & Wodak, 1997; Phillips & Hardy, 2002; Parker, 1992). 42 Critical Discourse Analysis Consistent with this epistemological foundation, I employed a critical discourse analytic ( C D A ) approach in this study. The aim of critical theoretical approaches to research is "critique, transformation, restitution and emancipation" (Lincoln & Guba, 2000, p. 166). Congruent with these aims, the focus of C D A is to critically examine social issues focusing on the "non obvious ways in which language is involved in social relations of power and domination" (Fairclough, 2001, p. 229 as cited in Sunderland, 2004, p. 10). C D A involves a recursive process of deconstruction and interpretation of texts in which text is used both narrowly to mean the physical texts of transcribed interviews, for instance, but also more broadly to refer to the social production of meaning and relationships of power and domination (Fairclough, 2003). The goal of using C D A in this study was to illuminate the dialectical relationships between the discourses and social practices employed in the construction of the recovery process in Barriere and Louis Creek (Sunderland, 2004). Accordingly, the focus of this analysis was on what M i l l s (1997) described as the discursive structure (cited in Sunderland, 2004, p. 31) or the ideological themes or assumptions and the ways these are put into action through language use and social practices. C D A relies on identifying both linguistic traces in the corpus of texts, but also, on the subjective insights of the researcher about the wider social context: The analyst can, indeed must, rely not only on available discursive 'traces' in the data, but also on her own informed insights about wider discursive and social practices -though always with reflexivity and always documenting her stance. (Sunderland, 2004, p. 11). Unlike linguistic forms of discourse analysis, C D A focuses on systems or networks of diverse discourses (Sunderland, 2004). The criteria outlined by Parker (2002) defined "the system of statements" required to identify "discourses" as the object of study of C D A (p. 145). In the following section, I briefly outline these criteria and their methodological implications for this study. Criteria Required to Identify Discourses Coherence. There is a certain measure of coherence to statements within a discourse, the result of which is to construct objects and various subject positions (Foucault, 1972). This structuring is temporary and partial; no discourse ever exhausts all the possible meanings, but 43 constructs temporary closures that marginalize or exclude other possibilities. Tracking these similarities (coherence) in the construction of discourse(s) is an important aspect of discourse analysis. The researcher's engagement with a text is influenced by her own subjectivity (shaped in my case as someone living in and identified with dominant Western) and requires drawing critically on her "knowledge of discourses from outside" in order for any example of discourse "to become part of a coherent system" in the analysis (Parker, 2002, p. 147). Texts. Discourses become apparent in texts. The term text here draws its meaning from a post-structural understanding that nothing exists outside of text (Derrida, 1976). From this perspective, text includes not only spoken and written words, but also actions and other symbolic representations (e.g., provision of aid, photographs): "Texts are delimited tissues of meaning reproduced in any form that can be given an interpretive gloss" (Parker, 2002, p. 147). The initial step in C D A is to identify what texts w i l l be studied, which is then followed by an exploration and interpretation of those texts and "the connotations, allusions, implications which the texts evoke" (Parker, 2002, p. 148). Multiple layers of meaning. Discourses assert certain positions/constructions and in so doing, establish opposing or contradictory positions or implicit meanings. Working to uncover and explore these "hidden meanings" (Parker, 2002, p. 149) requires reflection not only on the discourse(s) being studied, but also on the terms the researcher uses to describe these discursive themes. This, in turn, requires relating texts to other texts and considering how other texts (or persons) would understand or refer to these themes. Chains of interconnection. Discourses are interrelated and the only way to describe a discourse is to draw on other discourses. A s Parker (2002) stated, "Discourses embed, entail and presuppose other discourses to the extent that the contradictions within a. discourse open up questions about what other discourses are at work" (p. 150). This means that tracking the interrelationships between and amongst various discourses is also a component o f the analysis. It also brings up a related point that discourses are located in time and history. Discourse analysis also involves examining and connecting current iterations of discourses under study to initial, historic iterations and the ways in which discourses intersect and have become conflated over time. Objectification. Foucault (1972) described discourses as forming the objects or the reality to which they referred. Discourse analysis requires, as Parker (2002) stated, "some degree of 44 objectification" that involves an understanding of discourse as a "representational practice" (p. 151, citing Woolgar, 1988, p. 93). To say the world is discursively constructed is to highlight the mediated nature o f how we make meaning of reality, not to render that reality as illusion. A s Woolgar (1988) stated, "When we sit on a chair, lean on a table, and see print on chapter is to say 'there isn't any less than this, but there may be more' (p. 151). In employing a discourse analysis, we are both studying the objects constructed through/within discourse, those that may exist independently of the discourse but are known through discourse, and discourses as objects in of themselves. Subjects. One of the objects constructed through discourse is the subject, or the way in which the discourse positions "the subject who speaks, writes, hears or reads the texts where discourses l ive" (Parker, 2002, p. 152). Discourse analysis therefore, needs also to explore what subject positions are made available and/or constrained through discourse(s) and what actions are expected of us from these subject positions. This requires exploring who has the right to speak in a discourse, in what contexts, and how subjects are positioned in relation to the discourse (e.g., who is the expert). This latter demands paying attention to who and how subjects take up a proscribed position (e.g., congruent with or resisting) within a discursive context. Institutions, power, and ideology. Through their practice in the material world, some discourses are implicated in the construction and maintenance of institutions which, in turn, implicates them in the production and reproduction of power relations. Because they privilege certain meanings over others, discourses and discursive practices are embedded in, and have consequences for power relations. Discourse analysis needs to examine the ways in which discourse(s) support, facilitate, and reproduce existing institutions and power relations (and transgress these). This includes examining the ideological effects of discourse(s) wherein ideology is viewed not as an object but as description of relationships and effects in a particular place and historical time. This again requires some examination of the history of discourses and leads to a further argument made by Parker (2002) that discourse analysis has transformative potential or the possibility of serving progressive ends. This statement is also bound up in the cultural discourse of progress: Discourse analysis should become a variety of action research, in which the internal system of any discourse and its relation to others are challenged. It alters, and thus permits different spaces of maneuver and resistance... The advantage of discourse 45 analysis is that it reframes the object - individual psychology - and allows us to treat it not as truth, but as one 'truth' held in place by language and power (p. 158-159). Description of the Study In this next section, I describe my specific methods of inquiry. I begin by providing an overview of the research context and the sites of inquiry, Barriere and Louis Creek, B C . I go on to describe in detail my data collection strategies and sources of data. Although all the data are ethnographic, because I have chosen to study both the personal accounts of affected residents and the public discourse as evidenced through the news media, I have divided this section on data collection and sources in two: (a) Ethnographic fieldwork - informal and formal data collection; and (b) Ethnographic media documentary data collection. This section is followed by a description of the analytic strategies I employed. Again I have divided this section in two: (a) Ethnographic fieldwork analysis; and (b) Ethnographic media documentary analysis. The order of the descriptions of my analytic strategies is arbitrary as the analysis of ethnographic field data and media data overlapped. I begin the first section with a brief description of the sites of inquiry before moving into a detailed description of the data collection and analysis strategies. Sites of Inquiry M y inquiry has drawn heavily on the experiences, insights, and observations of the community members of Barriere and Louis Creek. I have gathered both individual and community or collective narratives (Rappaport, 1999) in both individual and group interviews with residents of those communities. I have also drawn on local media accounts as another site of inquiry, this focused on the public discourse of recovery. I also situate myself as a site of inquiry, drawing on my personal narrative, or reflections, as a disaster responder in Barriere-Louis Creek, N e w York post 9-11 (October, 2001) and a participant in various emergency management practice and policy committees. I have used a variety of methods and modes of participation within these various sites to examine, describe, deconstruct, and reconstruct the discourses of disaster recovery, exploring some of the interdependent, dialectically, and relationally constituted processes subsumed in the dominant discursive construction of recovery. 46 Barriere and Louis Creek M y choice to do fieldwork was prompted by theoretical, methodological, and pragmatic reasons as well as several of the gaps identified in.the research on disasters. In order to begin to address the dearth of research on the longer-term recovery process, I chose to employ an ethnographic approach that would allow me to conduct ongoing data collection and analysis over an extended period of time in situ. In keeping with my theoretical goal, I chose to focus my ethnographic field research in the communities of Barriere and Louis Creek, B C , because both communities were actively engaged in recovering from a disaster, the McLure Fire (2003). Barriere and Louis Creek are situated side-by-side at the confluence of the Barriere and North Thompson rivers, approximately 350 km northeast of Vancouver, B C . They are located in the Thompson Nicola Regional District in the interior of B C . This district accounts for approximately 120,000 people distributed over approximately 45000 km of land. Both towns were unincorporated at the time of this study. A s with many small rural communities, their geographic boundaries are somewhat fluid and definitions of where one community ends and the other begins are contested and idiosyncratic. There are no specific population statistics for either community but Statistics Canada (2001a) census data for the region encompassing Barriere and Louis Creek is listed at a little over 3,200. The Thompson Nicola Regional District (TNRD) supplies both communities with services such as building inspection, zoning and community planning, cemeteries, public library services, parks and fire protection. The T N R D in conjunction with the B C Ministry of Health's Interior Health Authority also'supply a medical center located in Barriere. Louis Creek is the older and smaller of the two communities and was the site of the Tolko Fadear Sawmill , the economic engine of the region. A t one time Louis Creek had a school, grocery store and other amenities, but over the years as Barriere and the mi l l grew, and as the population demographics shifted, most of the amenities and infrastructure in Louis Creek disappeared. Unt i l the McLure Fire, the community consisted primarily of scattered residences in a number of loosely defined neighbourhoods, some ranches, and a small retail area that consisted of an antique store and a small post-office. Many residents who lived in Barriere considered Louis Creek to be a suburb or adjunct to their larger community. Barriere is larger and more developed than Louis Creek. Its name probably makes reference to the Barriere River that flows into the North Thompson River just north of the town. 47 Defined as an improvement district, it supplies its residents with public goods and services including water, garbage collection, a community hall and a number of schools. Barriere accounts for the majority of the population statistics for the area. It consists of multiple residential neighbourhoods, an industrial park, a multi-street retail and business area (approximately 115 businesses) in the center of town, a health center, a number of churches (i.e., Anglican, United, Baptist, Pentecostal, and Roman Catholic), two elementary schools and a high school, a fire department, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment, and an ambulance service. North Thompson Star Journal The North Thompson Star Journal (NTSJ) was a weekly, regional paper published in Barriere and distributed free of charge to households in both Barriere and Louis Creek, and throughout the North Thompson region (circulation approximately 2500). This small local paper drew primarily on the voices of residents (e.g., editorials, letters to the editors) and news articles written by local reporters. Unlike larger newspapers, the N T S J was less mediated by the ethics of professional journalism, thus providing a unique expression of the recovery discourse as it unfolded in the North Thompson Valley. . The Researcher Contemporary ethnographic texts need to unmask the authorial presence, as Patti Lather (2001) described it. The patterns of my own interests inform the reader of my presuppositions and locate myself as a site of research. These presuppositions, influenced by my experiences as a responder in N e w York during the response to the 9-11 and in the interior during the McLure Fire, 2003, have led me to this layered, deconstructive exploration of disaster recovery. M y own interest in tracking the discourses shaping disaster recovery also resulted from my intersecting interest in Buddhist philosophy, complexity theories, cognitive science, and a long-standing suspicion that the dominant discourse of psychology is both a barrier to and an entry point into a new understanding of consciousness. For over 15 years I have been a consistently inconsistent student of Buddhist philosophy and meditation. I have listened to many teachers, participated in guided and solo meditation retreats, and contemplated the Buddhist teachings regarding suffering, mindfulness, and the selfless-self. A t the same time, reading texts 48 describing non-linear dynamic theory and field theory (albeit popularized texts that translate quantum science into language for non-physicists), I have been intrigued by the resonances between the root metaphors and interpretations of the world, cognition, and consciousness within these texts and the spiritual texts of Western iterations of Buddhism (Batchelor, 1983, 1995; Gyatso, 1975; Ricard, 2004). I have also tried to follow some of the developments in cognitive psychology/science, and in particular the work of Varela and his colleagues (Varela, Thompson, & Rosch, 1991; Varela, 1999) in research and theorizing on consciousness and the ways in which Buddhist teachings can inform and complement the teachings o f cognitive science. A s I have explored this emerging dialogue between cognitive science, Buddhism, and physics, I have also observed the discourses of stress and traumatic stress as they have emerged as defining discourses of late modernity. I have been curious about the growing use of trauma discourse to describe experiences that seem, at least on the surface, to be far from the understood definitions of traumatic. I have been curious about the emergence within psychology of trauma as a disciplinary interest that has spawned a multitude of conferences, professional associations, journal articles, and clinical specializations. At the same time, I have watched trauma research become a dominant site of inquiry into the mind-body connection in psychology, a place where neuroscience, neurochemistry, and psychology are in a dynamic intercourse that challenges the classic Cartesian split between mind and body. Tracing the diverse but interpenetrating discourses of Buddhism, complexity, trauma, and cognitive psychology, and experiencing intimately and at a distance the continued unfolding of the ripples of 9-11 has led me to this ethnographic inquiry into disaster recovery and the discursive patterns as they are illuminated in local and global interactions. Informal and Formal Data Collection: Ethnographic Fieldwork In this section, I describe the research context and data collection strategies (informal and formal) used in ethnographic fieldwork: (a) participant observation; (b) access to the field; (c) recruitment and sampling strategies; (d) interviews and interviewing; (e) description of participants; and (f) chronology of the fieldwork. 49 Research Context: The McLure Fire. The McLure Fire began on July 30 t h , 2003 ignited by a discarded cigarette. On July 31 s t a weather cell with high winds combined with the intensely dry, hot conditions caused the fire to break through efforts to contain it and the fire quickly spread northwards up the North Thompson Valley. A series of rolling evacuations occurred as the fire continued towards Louis Creek and Barriere. Figure 1. Aerial of the North Thompson Valley and smoke from the McLure Fire. Photo courtesy of the North Thompson Star Journal 50 Figure 2: McLure Fire at ExLou on the banks of the North Thompson River. Photo courtesy of the North Thompson Star Journal. Early in the morning of August 1 s t, 2003, burning embers began falling in the communities and residents were evacuated on a circuitous route through Little Fort and 100 M i l e House to Kamloops. Approximately 3,500 North ThompsonValley residents were evacuated. B y mid-day, August 1 s t, the McLure Fire had virtually destroyed Louis Creek, burning through 73 homes and businesses and the Tolko Sawmill , one of the region's biggest employers. The destruction of the Tolko mi l l resulted in the loss of approximately 200 of the valley's top paying jobs. Fire fighters managed to hold the fire line at the outskirts of Barriere saving most of that town with the exception of an industrial park and some outlying homes. 51 Figure 3: Tolko Mill burning. Photo courtesy of the North Thompson Star Journal. B y the time the McLure fire had been contained it had burned through significant tracts of forest land worth as much as 5.6 bill ion dollars (Thompson Nicola Regional District, 2003) and destroyed approximately 28-thousand hectares of range- and forest-land and fencing. Prior to the fire, forestry had been the predominant industry in the region with 75% of the labour force directly or indirectly dependent on it (Barriere Chamber of Commerce, 2003). Other key industries included tourism, agriculture (primarily hay) and ranching. The region is known for its recreational opportunities (e.g., fishing, camping, riding, snowmobiling). 52 Figure 4. Remains of Tolko Mill at Louis Creek. Photo courtesy ofS. Garland & R. Rutten. Figure 5: Charred slopes near Louis Creek. Photo courtesy of the North Thompson Star Journal. The loss of the mi l l and the destruction of the forests occurred in the context of an already precarious timber industry. The industry had been adversely impacted both by trade barriers imposed by the United States on softwood lumber imports from Canada and also by the centralizing of forest industry infrastructure, this latter an expression of the ongoing trend of agglomeration characteristic of global economies. Likewise, the loss of cattle, range, and fencing created additional hardship for the area's ranchers who were already struggling with the impact of several years of severe drought and the devastating effects of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy outbreak on the Canadian beef export industry. Participant Observation and Fieldwork Participant observation is a defining feature of ethnographic methodology (Agar, 1996; Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983), including multi-sited, ethnographic research (Martin, 1994). A s with so many of the terms used in this study, the terms "participant observation" can imply a range of ways of engaging with/in a community or culture. Participant observation is inherently a relational process, and as Dewalt et al. (1998) pointed out, is a balancing act between understanding the viewpoint of participants, or natives as they have traditionally (and problematically) been referred to, and "going native and becoming the phenomenon" (Jorgenson, 1989, p. 62). In this study, I intentionally and reflexively engaged in establishing relationships with community members by participating in social activities, attending public events and community meetings, and l iving with community members rather than the local hotel when I engaged in fieldwork. Geertz (1995) highlighted the ways in which participant observation involves a willingness on the part of the researcher to walk the line between inserting herself in the community and culture and opening to that community and culture, allowing it to insert itself in the researcher. In this spirit, I put myself in the way of the culture of recovery as it unfolded in the target communities. I recorded my impressions of this process in field notes and evolving theoretical memos as the analysis and data gathering continued simultaneously. Access and Informal Data Gathering In order to conduct ethnographic fieldwork, entry into a community is an essential first step (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983). A s a responder to the McLure Fire, I had already 54 established some contact with the community. In the first week of August 2003,1 was one of thousands of volunteers who responded to the McClure , B C fire as part of the Emergency Social Services disaster response teams. I arrived August 6th in Kamloops, the nearest urban center to the evacuated communities and the site of the largest concentration of evacuees from the North Thompson valley. During this time, my work was focused primarily on offering psycho-emotional support to disaster workers and evacuees and producing information pamphlets on disaster-related stress, what to expect, and ideas for coping. On August 9 t h , 2003, the evacuation orders were lifted and residents of Barriere and Louis Creek were able to return home. Though the fires were still burning throughout the valley, residents and response agencies began the transition into the recovery process. During the period of approximately 10 days, I traveled between Barriere and Kamloops, spending time in the newly established recovery center in Barriere, meeting with residents, and providing psychological support to them, and to forestry service fire fighters. Having responded to other disasters and being familiar with the disaster research literature, it came as no surprise to me that in those early days of return to the community people needed to talk, to tell their stories, to meet and connect and begin the process of returning to what some would later refer to as the 'new normal'. I was not formally engaged in research at this point, and in my role as a responder, I entered into the stories of various community members, listening, offering support where I could, providing information i f I had it, and observing this dynamic process as it unfolded before me, around me, and in me. A s I listened to the stories and observed the community grappling with the enormity of the process in which they were unexpectedly involved, questions began arising for me that fueled my existing curiosity about collective trauma and the ways in which disasters and traumatic stress are viewed and studied in mainstream psychology. Residents talked about the services they were or were not receiving, their interactions with the various aid and response organizations with which they were interaction, leadership issues, and what the loss of the Tolko mi l l meant to the identity and economy of their communities. During this time, I wrote extensively about my experience and, in particular, about some of the questions that were raised for me as I listened to the discourse of recovery unfold in the stories of residents and other responders, and watched the discourse in practice. 55 Mobile community kitchens and a temporary recovery center quickly became community gathering spots where people were able to get a meal or a cup of coffee, and to share their stories of the fires, the evacuations, and the personal and collective losses that had resulted from the fires. Recovery, at least as defined by the influx of psychosocial relief assistance, was underway even though the fires still burned. There was an emphasis on meeting basic needs and conducting needs assessments with residents. These were conducted as helicopters flew overhead, and the smell of smoke hung over the valley, and in the context of the continued presence of hundreds of firefighters from around the province. Already I was negotiating, internally at least, the lived and sometimes conflicting subjectivities of being a responder, an academic researcher, and a PhD student. I recognized that, in some ways, I was already engaged in the research process just by virtue of being in those communities. The questions and reflections about traumatic stress, disasters, and the recovery process that had brought me into the PhD program, came vibrantly alive in the participation in the process. Formal Data Collection I formalized my intent to continue this process of inquiry in my PhD research through a grant application process and the U B C Behavioral Research Ethics Review process. In November 2003,1 began my formal recruitment of participants the process of which I outline below. Recruitment and Sampling In November and December 2003,1 made telephone contact with individuals I had met or whose names had been given to me during my time as a responder in Barriere and Louis Creek, or whose names had appeared in various news media accounts subsequent to the McLure Fire. I attempted to find individuals who seemed to be formally or informally participating in leadership roles during the recovery process. In these initial contacts, I described my research goals and my intention to do ethnographic fieldwork and offered to mail and/or email them a letter describing the study (Appendix A , Letter o f Initial Contact). During this period one o f my contacts suggested participating in a telephone interview. I conducted this interview with her December 10 t h , 2003 by phone from Vancouver. 56 In the process of making these initial contacts, several community members spontaneously began acting as informal sponsors (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983), introducing me to other community members, and ultimately offering to have me come to stay with them in order to initiate fieldwork in the community. In keeping with ethnographic research strategies, I worked closely with these informal sponsors to identify other potential participants in the semi-structured interviews (Fetterman, 1998). With each participant, including these sponsors, I began by reviewing the goals of my research, discussing ethical considerations, and reviewing confidentiality. Prior to any formal discussions, I had participants read and sign a letter of agreement (see Appendix B , Informed Consent Form) outlining confidentiality and my intentions regarding dissemination of the research outcomes. Each participant chose a pseudonym and all references to and quotes from participants are identified by that pseudonym. The ongoing recruitment strategy involved purposive sampling, a strategy consistent with the constant comparison method from grounded theory (Glaser & Srauss, 1967). This latter method describes a process in which data are continuously analyzed as they are collected so that the ongoing analysis guides data collection strategies. In keeping with this method, my deliberate recruitment of participants was guided by the evolution of the data analysis process. The main focus of such sampling was to insure as broad a range of experiences and subjectivities as possible based on their potential to further inform the phenomenon of interest. See Appendix C for a demographic profile of those residents who participated in semi-structured interviews, including the specific dates of those interviews. Interviews and Interviewing Consistent with ethnographic research and the constant comparison method, I incorporated a range o f interview situations characterized by the degree o f formality and structure framing the interview (Bernard, 1994; Kvale, 1996). I used several styles of interviewing that reflected the storytelling and co-constructive aspect of interviewing (Gubrium & Holstein, 1998, 2002; Mischler, 1986) and the emphasis within ethnography on flexibility and a willingness to meet each situation with what seems most likely to elicit "thick" (to borrow Geertz's famous phrase) information while maintaining "thick" relationships. Throughout the study I conducted what Bernard (1994) described as unstructured interviews, and what I have called semi-structured interviews. These were intentional interviews based on my interest in the 57 disaster recovery process and the ongoing data analysis but also characterized by a certain free-flowing quality. Such interviews emphasized an interviewee-centered approach, allowing for residents to introduce new material, concerns, issues, and perceptions into the interview. Most of my interviewing for this study fell into this category. I also engaged in many informal and unstructured conversational interviews with residents during and in between field trips. These unstructured interviews provided additional opportunities for relationship building, supplementary information, and often arose from my participation in various community activities (e.g., attending community meetings). A l l semi-structured interviews were audio-taped. Audio-taping of interviews did not commence until after an informed consent form was signed. M y responses during the interviews included active listening, minimal encourages, and emergent questions. M y unstructured research conversations were not audio-taped. Information from these discussions was constructed from memory and documented in field notes, the writing o f which became part o f my practice at the end of each day in the field. These notes shaped my thinking and analysis throughout the research (Dewalt et al., 1998). Focus of Interviews Based on my initial conversations in the community, I had developed an interview protocol (see Appendix D : Interview Guide) to loosely guide my initial telephone interview. During my fieldtrip in February 2004, however, it became clear that questions about the nature of the impact of fires on ranchers and their families might lead the interviews in directions sometimes quite different from those conducted with, for example, ex-Tolko employees, or women working in their homes. A s my analysis developed and themes began emerging from the interviews, I dispensed with the interview guide. I continued to enter into interviews with an initial open-ended question, asking the participant to describe their sense of their individual and collective or community recovery process thus far, and then allowed both the content of their response and the already identified themes to guide subsequent questions. In this process, I continued to follow the lead of the interviewee(s) as they storied their experiences, as per Bernard's (1994) description of unstructured interviews, while also keeping in mind questions pertaining to the emerging themes. 58 M y interviews, both those that followed the interview guide and those that did not, incorporated questions designed to elicit a mixture of descriptive, structural, contrast, and evaluative information (Wil l ig , 2001). Initial questions were open-ended in order to minimize any guiding of the participant's responses and were followed up with subsequent prompts designed to further explore the content of the initial questions. Questions such as: "Can you tell me about your experience of the fires?" "What has been your experience since your return from evacuation?" "How have the fires affected you or your community?" were used to elicit a general description of their experience of the fires and of the period of time following the fires. Structural questions were used to prompt an accounting of categories and frameworks of meaning such as: " H o w have the fires influenced your understanding of community?" and "How did you decide to rebuild?" Evaluative questions were used to elicit a sense of how participants were feeling about the recovery process in general, how decisions were being made, and the interventions and services being offered. These included questions such as: "How has this experience been for you?", "What stands out for you about this experience?", "What is your sense of how key decisions, decisions affecting the process for you and the community, have been made?", "What has the process been like for you in terms of accessing services and support?", and "If you were talking to another community or family facing a process like this, what would you tell them?" The interview questions were re-conceptualized as appropriate in order to explore emerging themes from the data analysis, and participants' understanding of social structural features that had influenced their experiences post-disaster. Audio-taping and Transcription In this text, I have identified participants by using their self-selected pseudonyms and, when quoting, I have made reference to the number of the interview I conducted with them (e.g., 01, 02) because I did multiple interviews with some residents. A l l the semi-structured interviews for this study were audio-taped and back-up copies were dubbed. A l l audiotapes were stored in a locked filing cabinet. A l l but the final five (August 2005) of the audio-taped interviews were transcribed by a professional transcriber who was coached in the specific transcription requirements. These transcriptions were verbatim, using a subset of simplified transcription symbols as outlined by Silverman (2000, 2001): (a) (long/short)~parenthesis with "long" or "short" denoted pauses, (b) 59 [ —left brackets indicated where the current speaker's talk was overlapped by another's, (c) ()--empty brackets indicated where the transcriber was unable to hear what was said, and (d) the use of B O L D type indicated emphasis. I reviewed each of the transcripts upon receipt by listening to the audio-tapes and proof reading the transcribed texts to ensure their accuracy. I partially transcribed the final five interviews. These interviews were third interviews of residents I had interviewed on previous field trips. I listened to the tapes of these interviews in the field and transcribed, verbatim, sections that were relevant to the themes that had developed through the analysis to that point. ' Reflexive Practice Throughout the fieldwork process, I continued to query and document my own subjective experiences, analyzing my experiences for tacit biases. In field notes and memos, I documented my observations and my emotional/visceral responses to the interviews and the environment. I also engaged in an ongoing contemplative practice (i.e., meditation) as another method of reflection. In keeping with the post-structural epistemology of this study, my intent was never to achieve objectivity. I engaged in these practices, rather, as a disciplined method of staying open to what was arising in the field and to limit any foreclosure on emergent topics or ideas that may have arisen as a result of my previous readings or disaster response experiences. A s part'of my reflexive practice I also wrote poetry. I say more about this later. Description of Participants The participants in the semi-structured interviews were primarily residents of Barriere and Louis Creek, although I also interviewed several non-resident service providers and regional government officials. Although there was little ethnic diversity in these communities, with the exception of First Nations most residents were of European descent, there was nonetheless a good deal of diversity based on geographic location, occupation, degree of loss, and community identity, for example. In order to attempt to be inclusive and incorporate as broad a range of experiences as possible, I looked at various characteristics to guide my selection of participants. I did so even though I recognized that the categories I identified as salient were subjective and not necessarily reflective of residents' own subjectivities. The categories I developed were: (a) work/job 60 categories-ranching, forestry, service industry, home based business owner/homemaker, psychosocial service provider; (b) community-Barriere, Louis Creek; (c) degree of material loss-home, home and business, home and timber/range land, job, evacuation only; (d) gender; (e) ethnicity; (f) non-resident government official involved in recovery process in Barriere/Louis Creek; (g) non-resident service providers involved in recovery process in Barriere/Louis Creek (see Appendix C) . M y recruitment resulted in a total of 43 participants who engaged in at least one semi-structured interview. Several residents of Barriere and Louis Creek participated in multiple interviews over the course of the study. I succeeded in recruiting a range of participants that crossed all the identified categories with the marked exception of ethnicity. Most residents of Barriere and Louis Creek were Canadians of European descent, but there was also a small reservation in Louis Creek, with members of the North Thompson Indian band. According to Statistics Canada (2001b), the Louis Creek-4 reserve had 22 residents and eight private dwellings at the time of the study. O f these, six dwellings were destroyed in the McLure fire. M y attempts at-recruiting in this community did not result in any semi-structured interviews. See Table 1 for a summary of the participants recruited. 61 Table 1. Identity category profde of research participants Identity Category Total Partial Evacuation Minimal Loss Loss impact M F M F M F M F Ranchers Barriere Louis Creek 1 1 Ex-Tolko workers Barriere Louis Creek Service Providers Barriere Louis Creek Non-resident Business owners Barriere Louis Creek Home based business owners or homemakers Barriere Louis Creek 1 2 Retired Barriere Louis Creek 1 2 Non resident regional government representative Key Total loss = Loss of home, loss of home and business/job Partial loss = Loss of job/place of employment; partial loss of property and/or livestock Evacuation = No substantial material losses Minimal direct personal impact Involved in recovery process but not directly impacted except in work load/role 62 Chronology of Fieldwork In Table 2,1 outline the timeline of my fieldwork. I have included the initial informal fieldwork during the response to the McLure Fire (15 days), my initial phone contacts with the community, and the four field trips that occurred during the 2 years following the McLure fire. These trips included a total 65 days of fieldwork. With the exception of my initial access during the response, I boarded with residents in the community during all my fieldwork visits. As the work continued, and in keeping with the constant comparison method, I was simultaneously analyzing and collecting data and so my field records included field notes and theoretical memos. I interviewed several of the residents multiple times as the recovery process unfolded. This resulted in a total of 49 interviews with individuals and couples, and 1 group interview with 6 service providers. Table 2: Chronology of field work Type Duration/Dates Field Activity ' Response 15 days Psychosocial support, observation August 10-19, 2003 Kamloops, Barriere, Louis August 26-31,2003 Initial contact November - December, 2003 Send letters of introduction Initiate telephone contact to initiate snowball recruitment strategies Initial telephone interview Fieldwork February 08-16, 2004 Participant observation, interviews August 06-28, 2004 December 05-13, 2004 July 2 1 - A u g u s t 31, 2005 Fieldtrip February 2004. In February 2004,1 spent a little over a week living with Sam and Shish in their newly rebuilt home in Louis Creek. Sam and Shish included me in various 63 social activities (e.g., dinners, various gatherings in community settings) and described various organizations, and community groups involved in and sometimes emerging from the recovery process. As I got to know the communities and as members of the community go to know me, I also took advantage of natural opportunities to meet with community members, and attended various community meetings. Sam and Shish were very involved in different ways in their communities and I benefited from what Fetterman (1998) described as the halo effect of being introduced by someone the community trusted and respected. I also participated in various community and social gatherings, and spent time walking around various neighbourhoods in Louis Creek introducing myself and my research to the various people I encountered. Both Sam and Shish introduced me to a range of individuals with different social identities (e.g., those who lost homes, and those who did not, ranchers, ex-Tolko employees, homemakers, residents of Barriere, residents of Louis Creek, community volunteers, community leaders). They did so by first phoning/talking to the individual, describing my research to them, and then asking their permission to have me contact them. If the individual agreed, I then contacted them, most often in person, described my research in greater detail and asked i f they would be interested in participating in an audio taped interview. During this field trip I conducted nine semi-structured interviews with residents from both communities. Fieldtrip August 2004. Prior to returning to Barriere and Louis Creek, I made telephone contact with Abe, whose name had been provided to me by one of the contacts I had made during the previous fieldtrip. Abe was a resident of Barriere who was also very involved in the community as a businessman and informal leader. Similar to my experience with Sam and Shish, Abe and his wife invited me to board with them during my fieldwork. I spent 3 weeks in the two communities with my hosts once again acting as informal sponsors. They introduced me to a wide range of community members with whom I conducted 32 semi-structured interviews with residents and non-resident government representatives. These interviews included individual participants and joint-interviews with spousal partners. I was also a participant observer in a number of social settings, some in the home of my sponsors, some in the community at various community events and meetings. A s a participant observer, I was able to engage in many informal interviews with community residents. M y participant observations are reflected primarily in my poetic representations. 64 I also conducted a group interview with six service providers involved in the recovery process and working in Barriere. Participants in this group interview were recruited through my initial contacts with a key response organization during the response to the disaster (Canadian Red Cross). The group provided an interactive environment (Morgan, 1988) that focused on themes that had emerged in the individual and partner interviews conducted in February and August 2004. Participants were invited to describe their experiences offering services, and to share their insights as to how the recovery process was unfolding, how and what services were being offered, and what they saw as unaddressed or under-addressed aspects of the psychosocial recovery process in the communities. During this fieldwork, I also conducted 2 semi-structured interviews with regional government officials involved in the recovery process and planning for the North Thompson Valley. Fieldtrip December 2004. In December 2004 I returned to the field and was once again billeted with Sam and Shish. The purpose of this trip was primarily to further engage as a participant observer and to have an opportunity to conduct informal check-backs with various participants with regards to my ongoing analysis and theorizing of the recovery process. During the week I spent in the field during this trip, I engaged in only one semi-structured interview, with Sam, and in many informal conversations with community members. I had the opportunity to observe and participate in the community's Christmas preparations including a parade, a community bonfire, and various open houses. Fieldtrip August 2005. M y final fieldtrip spanned July and August 2005. At this time I was billeted by a resident who had not participated in the study but who had offered the use of a family cabin for an extended stay. Over the course of this fieldwork, I spent a total of 29 days in the communities. During this time, I continued to further my analysis and conducted five more semi-structured interviews with existing participants in keeping with my purposive sampling strategy. Anonymity and Confidentiality Anonymity and confidentiality were discussed with my informal sponsors and with each research participant. I encouraged my informal sponsors to exercise caution in inviting others to participate by suggesting that they provide potential participants with my letter of introduction and approach them in such a way as to avoid any feelings of coercion or obligation. Anyone 65 identified by these sponsors as wishing to participate was contacted by the sponsor and asked whether they would be amenable to my following up with a phone call inquiry. If the answer at this stage was negative, no further contact was initiated. If the answer was affirmative, I made phone contact. In that initial call, I again described the research, my role as a researcher (including my affiliation with the University of British Columbia and my prior role as responder to the McLure Fire), and asked the resident whether they were interested in participating in an interview. If they wished to participate, I offered several options for the location of the interview including a neutral community location (e.g., North Thompson Volunteer and Information Center, Barriere Chamber of Commerce, local cafe), their home or the home of my informal sponsors. Interviews were primarily conducted in residents' homes, but some were conducted at the North Thompson Volunteer and Information Center and the Barriere Chamber of Commerce. A l l interviews began with a review of the research intentions, protocols (e.g., audio taping and transcribing), and confidentiality agreements. After signing the consent form, I asked participants to select a pseudonym that would be used in all references to or quotes from them. Several residents expressed their desire to be referred to by their real names. Even when that was their preference, I asked them to select a pseudonym, suggesting that because of the duration of the project and their relative lack of involvement after data collection, I wanted to ensure as much as possible that I had minimized any possibility that their comments would have negative repercussions for them. I also discussed the limits of confidentiality given the smallness of the communities and the visibility of those that participated in interviews. The only exception to the face-to-face review of the study was the one telephone interview I conducted with Kay, in December 2003. In this case, I reviewed these aspects over the phone, received verbal consent, and then faxed a copy of the confidentiality and consent agreements for her review prior to conducting the interview. Media Data Collection Media document collection focused on the local media coverage of the recovery process in the North Thompson Star Journal (NTSJ) over the 3-month period following the McLure Fire (August 1, 2003 to October 31, 2003). I chose the period of coverage under study because most of the disaster recovery services arrived and/or were set up during this time. During this period, 66 organizations and officials established protocols that defined the response and set the tone for the recovery process that unfolded. Because the N T S J was available exclusively in print, I obtained hard copies of the issues and manually reviewed relevant articles. Criteria for selection required that the article refer directly or indirectly to the McLure fire and the recovery process (e.g., effects on individuals, communities, and processes) in response to or as a result of the fire. Texts not included were advertisements or articles in which the term wildfire or fire was referenced but focused on an unrelated topic. I identified 250 articles (42 in August issues, 146 in September issues, and 62 in October issues). News articles (43%) and Letters to the Editor (24%) accounted for two-thirds of the texts, whereas Feature Stories (18%), Editorials (4%), Captioned Pictures (4%), Advertisements (4), and Columns (3%) made up the remainder. Copies of articles and editorials were stored electronically. Data Analysis Fieldwork Data Analysis In analyzing the fieldwork data, I drew on (a) open and selective coding and memo making (Charmaz & Mitchel l , 2001); (b) the constant comparison strategies described in social constructionist iterations of the grounded theory methodological approach (Charmaz, 1990; Pidgeon & Henwood, 1997); and (c) the principles of post-structural critical discourse analysis (Fairclough 1995; Foucault, 1980; Laclau & Mouffe, 1985). Stage 1: Open and Selective Coding and Constant Comparison I employed an iterative approach to coding data, the constant comparison method (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) in which I continuously cycled through the data (repeated readings of the transcripts and listening to the audio-tapes), making comparison between the data and the code and categories that I developed. A l l audio taped interviews were listened to in the field (usually within a day of recording). After they were transcribed they were again listened to, and read, as an unfractured whole. In this initial analysis, I listened both for the temporal story o f the disaster experience, and for any particular passages that spoke evocatively of any aspect of the process. During these readings I identified key segments, and/or entire interviews for more intensive analysis. I made notation on transcripts of passages or phrases of note highlighting key 67 words/phrases as initial codes. I also wrote memos describing my conceptual analysis as it developed and the ongoing development of themes constructed during the analysis. I also used reflexive memos to document the interplay between my reflections as a researcher in the target communities and my previous experiences as a disaster responder and member of various disaster planning committees. This strategy was congruent with ethnography's emphasis on personal experiences and reflexivity, and the acknowledgement that ethnography is "located between the interiority of autobiography and the exteriority of cultural analysis" (Tedlock, 2000, p. 455) Coding strategies. I used a mix o f hand coding, Microsoft Word, and the Atlas.ti (Muhr, 1994) qualitative data analysis program (see Appendix E : Description of the Atlas.ti Program) to manage the texts. I employed an iterative approach to coding the data, the constant compariosn method (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) in which I continuously cycled through the data (repeated readings of the transcripts and listening to the audio-tapes), making comparisons between the data and the derived categories. M y initial coding of the interviews involved an open coding process in which I drew in vivo codes from the residents' accounts. The analytic process was based on immersion in the data and repeated sortings, codings, and comparisons. Initially I used line-by-line coding of the interviews in order to stay as close to the data as possible. I applied this coding strategy to the 10 interviews gathered in my initial fieldtrip (February 2004) and a subset of interviews gathered in my second fieldtrip (August 2004). These were chosen because they proved to be exemplars of wider themes/categories constructed from my analysis thus far. In this process, I listened for consistent and contradictory aspects of participants' accounts, identified new or contrasting dimensions of a theme, and continued to refer back to the corpus of transcripts. A s my analysis developed, I began using selective coding focusing on specific ideas and aspects of the interviews with more conceptual codes (Charmaz & Mitchel l , 2001). In this process, I developed categories that were initially descriptive, drawing on the language of the participants to guide the development of labels or meaning labels, which were identified with short descriptors. This process entailed not only searching for the ways in which codes could be collapsed into aggregate categories, but also searching for the differences within categories. In keeping with the constant comparison approach, the codes and categories were systematically compared and contrasted in order to yield increasingly complex and inclusive categories or 68 themes, moving to analytic (interpretive) labels. Throughout the progression of the coding process, I paid particular attention to the functions of discourse in the participants' accounts—the ways in which social identities, social relations, and knowledge about the recovery process seemed to be constructed (Fairclough, 1995; Phillips & Hardy, 2002). Given the wide scope of the interviews and the range of other data considered in this study, my decision to stop collecting new data and to finalize the analysis was made partly on reaching a level of saturation with the specific themes being studied and in part on the pragmatic considerations of conducting a study as part of a doctoral dissertation program. Although recovery was and is ongoing in the target communities, I chose to limit the focus of this study to the 2-year period following the McLure Fire. The last interviews I collected were gathered at this 2-year mark. M y analysis continued until November 2005 at which point I had reached saturation with the key themes and categories identified in the analysis process. Stage 2: Critical Discourse Analysis The second stage in the analysis of the interview texts involved a C D A (Fairclough & Wodak, 1997; Wetherall, Taylor, & Yates, 2001). M y goal was to develop a critical awareness of the discursive strategies residents employed in their construction of recovery and the ways in which these strategies reconstructed and/dr transformed the dominant discourse of recovery identified in the media texts. I was interested in how these constructions (the use of language and the social practices supported through this construction) reinforced or transgressed the status quo of power relations and social dynamics in the communities following the fire. I tracked the ideological threads that characterized this construction of recovery and influenced the practice of recovery (Sykes, W i l l i g , & Marks, 2004). Step 1. The first step involved identifying the discursive objects—the interview texts—by selecting a subset of the available interview texts. In having conducted the constant comparison, I had listened to and read the texts multiple times. M y choice of texts was subjective and determined by interpretation of particular texts as exemplars of the dominant themes of recovery identified in the consideration of the reorientation process and which accounted for ideas, ways of knowing, beliefs and practices evident within the texts consistent with these themes (Sunderland, 2004). I also attempted to select a sub-sample that represented residents from across the range of participants (see Table 1). This selection resulted in 10 interview texts: five 69 residents from Louis Creek (Pam, Richard, Jan, Sam, Thompson) and five residents from Barriere (Marg, Ken , Brian, R, Timber). These texts included representatives from the ranching communities, the ex-Tolko workers community, those who had lost homes, and those in decision-making positions. Step 2. The second step consisted of repeated readings of this subset of texts in order to identify the discursive structuring of recovery within the texts by examining the linguistic traces. Given the broad focus of the interviews, a wide range of discourse was apparent even within the subset of interviews selected for analysis. I focused my analysis on a partial set of discourses, those that dominated or accounted for the "the greatest proportion of linguistic traces" (Sunderland, 2004, p. 29) and considered these for variation, cohesiveness, and similarities and differences. Thus, discursive constructions that were commonly adopted and those that were resistant or transgressive constructions were identified in the texts. Once again, to illustrate the key aspects of the discursive construction, I have included verbatim quotes from the texts. Step 3. In the third step, I read the texts again in order to identify the subject positions made available through these discourses and consider their consequences for social action. In this process, I also paid attention to the incidence of metaphors and similes that seemed • evocative and relevant to the themes identified in the construction of the reorientation process. Step 4. The final step involved considering the interconnections and historical context of the discourses represented in the narratives of residents, and their connections to and interrelationships with the discourses as evidenced in the media texts. Media Data Analysis Stage 1: Content Analysis In order to examine how the discourse was broadly constructed and whose "voices" were most and least prominently represented in the N T S J texts, I conducted a content analysis consisting of a modified version of Huckin's (2002) 4-step analysis of newsprint media. The purpose o f the content analysis was to identify thematic patterns in the media discourse o f disaster recovery. O f particular interest was the identification of what Huckin referred to as 70 "textual silences" (p. 356). The coding process involved two additional coders 9 who met on a weekly basis to discuss their coding. Step 1. A review of the N T S J texts, relevant disaster literature (e.g., Hutton, 2001; Norris et al., 2002b; Shrubsole, 1999), and the ethnographic field data (interviews, observations) led to the identification of four main categories (see Figure 4) addressed in the discourse (i.e., effects of the fire; public response to effects; needs explicitly identified within the texts; issues explicitly identified within the texts). Using these categories as a guide, the texts were submitted to a second, detailed reading that further defined each category (i.e., 18 to 25 subtopics were identified), which were used to form a Content Matrix (Appendix F). The Content Matrix was used to conduct a more detailed content analysis of the N T S J texts. The Matrix itself evolved as the research team's analysis progressed in order to capture all relevant and significant topics. C O N T E N T M A T R I X IDENTITY M A T R I X Effects of the Fire Main Categories Public Response to Effects Identified Needs Identified Issues Geographic Identifiers Occupational Identifiers Figure 6: Main Categories of the Content and Identity Matrices in the Media Data Analysis 9 The two additional coders consisted of an undergraduate student in psychology and my dissertation supervisor. After developing a coding procedure I reviewed the procedure with my supervisor and the three of us met to practice by simultaneously coding the same text and then reviewing it. The three of us met as a research team on a weekly basis to discuss coding and analysis. 71 The four main categories and the corresponding number of subtopics formed the Content Matrix. Themes were then identified to determine patterns in the media discourse. The Identity Matrix was made up of geographic and occupational identifiers that revealed textual silences and the construction of subject identities. Step 2. A n Identity Matrix (Appendix G) was similarly developed to explore the ways in which subject identities were constructed in the texts, the subject positions available to them as a result, and the textual silences that resulted from the absence of certain voices (Huckin, 2002). The identifiers used to describe subjects in the texts included the most common geographic identifiers (e.g., Barriere, Louis Creek, North Thompson District) as well as occupational identifiers (e.g., rancher, Tolko mi l l worker). The final Identity Matrix consisted of 8 geographic identities and 18 occupation identities. Step 3. The Content and Identity Matrices were then used to conduct a more thorough coding of the texts based on this conceptual analysis rather than simply a scan for keywords. We used the Content Matrix to identify whether the subtopics were present or absent for the four thematic categories. Coders used the Identity Matrix to identify the geographic and occupational identities of the primary subjects in the text. This coding schema accounted for all relevant and significant topics. Step 4. A s the analysis progressed in the Content Matrix, I grouped the subtopics into six major themes: (a) Psychological/Emotional; (b) Spiritual/Contemplative; (c) Economic/Material; (d) Environmental; (e) Information/Knowledge; and (f) Other (e.g., fire fighting efforts, other communities). The frequency of occurrence of these themes and the subject identifiers were then summarized and examined to highlight their relative contribution. The frequency of each theme and subtopic in each main category was determined. To strengthen the validity of the coding process and the representation of the themes, an alternate rater 1 0 reviewed the coding. Ten percent of the articles from each of the three original raters was randomly selected and independently coded by the alternate rater. Despite the 1 0 The alternate rater was a graduate student in Counselling Psychology. A s with the previous coders, I trained the student in the coding procedure by simultaneously coding the same text and comparing and discussing our coding decisions until I was satisfied she understood and was able to apply the coding procedures systematically and in keeping with our established coding strategies. 72 interpretive nature of the analysis, the reliability check revealed that there was relative consistency in the coding of subtopics, and high overall consistency in the identification of six themes. Stage 2: Discourse Analysis A s a second stage in the data analysis, I used critical discourse analysis (Wetherall, et al., 2001) to examine the language used in the 250 N T S J articles. Consistent with a Foucauldian (Foucault, 1981) approach to discourse analysis, our goal was to understand the representation of discourses in the newspaper and "how these discourses may influence how people think or feel and what they may do" (Sykes, et al., 2004, p. 133). M y goal here was to understand the discursive practices of recovery evidenced in the newspaper texts and the potential influence of this construction of recovery on the actions and subjectivities of those involved. I followed a modified version of Wi l l ig ' s (2001) approach to discourse analysis. The first step involved reading in order to identify the dimensions of the discursive construction and passages that , exemplified those dimensions. I then collapsed these into broader discursive themes. The themes were then examined for variation and coherence. Thus, discursive constructions that were adopted by all or most of the N T S J texts began to emerge. The discursive themes were identified and developed in discussion with the research team who participated in the content analysis coding and discussions. To illustrate the key aspects of the discursive construction, I once again include verbatim quotes from the texts. These texts are referenced in more detail in Appendix H . The second step focused on how the construction of the discursive objects and dominant discourses made available particular subject positions. This included examining the use of pronouns, and the ways in which the various identity categories developed in the Identity Matrix were constructed and used within the texts. A s a final step, I reviewed the texts again to identify specific discourses, asking the question, what specific discourses were called upon and what was gained by this particular construction of recovery? This process of identifying, and exploring the use of discourses once again involved the research team. Writing as Method A s Richardson (1997, p. 87) said, "writing matters." Richardson reminded us that writing is not merely reflective, but constitutive, shaping our knowing both in the crafting of the text, 73 and the crafting of our interpretation of texts as readers. She positioned writing as a method, a means of knowing, a process rather than a product. In keeping with this sentiment, acknowledging my need as a doctoral student to conform to some of the dominant expectations of this dissertation, I have woven poetic representation into/through the more conventional academic prose of this text. In this way, poetry has served as another method of reflection, analysis, and representation. I drew on my reflective praxis, my visceral, implicit knowing, and my evolving theorizing of the process and discourse of disaster recovery in order to write this poetry. It was written at various stages in the process of this study and its placement in the text, in part reflects this, and the relevance of each of the poems to the content of the prose. In discussing her use of poetry as an ethnographic strategy, Richardson (1997) made several other arguments for the use of poetry. She noted the way in which a poetic representation invites 1 1 the reader into a more active interpretive relationship with the text. She argued that poetry, because it uses figurative language and a concentrated blend of sound and imagery, evokes an emotional response in the reader, and opens up the potential for multiple readings of the text. Like the lived experiences they represent, poems are emotionally and morally charged. Lyric poems concretize emotions, feelings, and moods—the most private kind of feelings—in order to re-create experience itself to another person. A lyric poem "shows" another person how it is to feel something. Even i f the mind resists, the body responds to poetry. It is felt. (p. 180) Poetry invites a different reading, in part because it steps out of the normative constraints of academic writing. Because it is less familiar, less expected, it foregrounds its own construction in a way that academic prose does not. I, as the researcher/writer, am more evident in my poetic writing. N o longer the detached author, speaking with the scientific authority of conventional academic prose, I offer my own intimate experience of the field, the data, and my emerging interpretation and theorizing of the disaster recovery process. In this way, and in keeping with the post-structural epistemology of this dissertation, I have emphasized the constitutive role of language and the relational ground of research. 1 1 Richardson (1997) actually uses the more forceful word "demands" in her description. I am not as convinced of the ability of a text to demand anything of a reader as an active agent in their own engagement with the text. 74 Poetry has invited me, as a researcher, into a different relationship with myself and with the data. A s I have written the poetry represented in this text (and others not represented but also constructed during the research), I have moved in my intuitive knowing, my embodied knowing, sidestepping for a moment the linear and reasoned approach of the more conventional analytic strategies in this study. In keeping with the radical hermeneutic goal of 'keeping the play in play,' I have positioned my poetry as evocative prequels to other forms of analysis, and constructed these poems as posing questions rather than suggesting answers. In form and content, poetry has called upon my willingness to play with the patterns of language and knowing. It has provoked an opening into my experience rather than a foreclosing around it. To write poetry, I have had to be wil l ing to sit and reflect and allow. It was and is not a form to be forced. Rather, it has been a way of being in the experience, spiritually, intellectually, and physically. Rigor, Trustworthiness, and Limitations of the Study A s with any interpretive study, this text reflects the limitations of my own ability to be reflective, to challenge my own interpretations in a meaningful, comprehensive, and theoretically sound way, and my willingness to produce a messy text. Given my blending of epistemologies and my desire to sit in complexity in the process, content, and writing of this research, there were many possibilities for failure where "the practice of failure.. .signaled the need for new ground versus repetition" (Lather, 2001, p. 203). Additional limitations included drawing on relatively small and locally specific sites of inquiry to analyze the transdisciplinary, transtheoretical discourses of disaster and disaster recovery. Other potential limitations arose from the nature of my ethnographic inquiry, which relied on and arose from pre-existing interests and experience. Although this study was very explicitly interpretive and subjective, I also relied on my ability to be self-reflexive about my previous experiences so as to stay open to participants' opinions and subjectivities, particularly where they differed from my own. M y access to and representation of different cultural groups within these communities was certainly limited by my own subjective location as a white, middle-class, academic, and woman/researcher from an urban environment (this may have been particularly relevant in my failure to generate interviews with residents of the Louis Creek reservation). This may also have been exacerbated by the limitations of my ethnographic 75 interactions, which, in the lexicon of ethnography, were relatively brief (e.g., intermittent periods over the course of 2 years, as opposed to an extended stay of 1 or more years). The use o f multiple methods dictates a mixture of criteria for accessing the rigor (i.e., dependability) and trustworthiness of this study. The criteria I propose draws on work by Lather (1991), W i l l i g (2001), and Phillips and Hardy (2002), and reflects the epistemological positions of the methodologies I have proposed. Critical Generativity Critical generativity refers to a combination of criteria that allows this research to be evaluated by how useful it is in generating critical insight and reflection in either scientific communities, or amongst those who have participated in the research. This concept is congruent with descriptions of validity proposed by both Potter and Wetherell (1987, p. 172): "The ability of research to generate new scientific explanations of the phenomenon under study" and with the notion of transferability from grounded theory (Charmaz & Mitchel l , 2001). In this study, I have proposed a new way of understanding the social-psychological process of recovery that exposes some of the unquestioned ideological assumptions that inform dominant models of disaster recovery. In so doing, I have suggested that applying a more critical lens to the study of disasters and disaster recovery would focus more attention on the emergent and potentially transgressive discursive practices following a disaster. One possibility suggested by this approach is that it might unsettle the tendency of dominant models to re-inscribe the status quo of power relations following a disaster. I also examined alternative constructions and emergent discourses in the narratives of affected residents, theorizing how these constructions might open more space for more creative, generative, and transgressive responses to the individual and collective suffering associated with disasters. The findings of this study also support the need for future research to critically examine not only the discourse of disaster recovery in other contexts but also other examples of the influence of neo-liberal ideology on our relationship to suffering in the developed world. In keeping with the social-action orientation of critical research, I continue to draw on the findings of this study in my volunteer work developing policy, protocols, and training for psychosocial disaster response in B C , and in my front line work as a responder. To this end I 76 have also written an article based on the practice recommendations made by residents of Barriere and Louis Creek, who expressed a keen interest in passing on to other individuals and communities the lessons learned through their process. The article was an attempt to honor the residents' impulse to participate in this research in order to influence and improve emergency management practices in B C . This article was submitted January 2006 to the International Journal of Emergency Management for peer review and the recommendations included in it are summarized in Appendix 1.1 have also written, at the request of the Editor of the North Thompson Star Journal, a short (i.e., approximately 350 words) article outlining the findings of this research and my dissemination of those findings as of June 2006. Further, I organized and participated in a national symposium on psychology's role in the disaster recovery process (part of the program for the 2006 convention of the Canadian Psychological Association) in order to prompt a more considered and comprehensive approach to working with individuals and communities affected by disasters across Canada. I have also committed to continue my dialogues with residents of Barriere and Louis Creek in order to support in whatever way I am able their desire to consider the recovery process and what it means to them and their communities. In M a y 2006,1 made contact once again with some of my informal sponsors in Barriere and Louis Creek to share some of the findings of this study with those who so generously gave of their time and attention by participating in interviews and opening their doors and their lives to me. I began by sending a copy of several sections of the findings (Chapters 4, 6, and 7) and the Discussion chapter inviting their feedback, positive and negative. I also sent a copy of the article I wrote based on the practice recommendations residents had made in the course of the interviews. A t the time of writing, one of my informal sponsors had responded with feedback (provided in a phone call) that was generally positive. She stated that she found the article easier to read and thought the practice recommendations were particularly relevant and important because they had the potential for informing the practice of disaster recovery. She elaborated by saying that she believed that she and others who had participated had done so in the hope that in some way their participation would ease the recovery process for others living in small, rural communities and also contribute to the development of more effective emergency management practices. Further, she expressed regret at what she described as the "many lost opportunities" she saw that had resulted from an "undemocratic" "non-inclusive" process and from a "lack of 77 vision" on the part of those in charge. She expressed gratification that this was in some ways reflected in the findings of this study. Based on this feedback, I decided to summarize the findings in a letter to other participants in the hopes of making the material a little less daunting to read. A letter of thanks with an attachment that summarizes the findings and the dissemination strategies to date was sent in June 2006 to all those who participated, inviting their feedback and comments. Systematization The present study can also be evaluated in terms of the rigor of my approach to data gathering and analysis (Phillips & Hardy, 2002, p. 173). I followed a systematic analysis using strategies from grounded theory, content analysis, and discourse analysis. In engaging with the data from multiple methodological angles, I have stayed close to the data and have made my process as transparent as possible through my field notes and process memos. In describing this research as comprehensive, I do not refer to any notion that the research is complete or that all aspects of the texts have been analyzed, but rather that the questions posed to the text have been comprehensively considered and that the complexity of the analysis (contradictions, multiple interpretations) is accounted for. I have provided an example of these memos and their reference to my processing of some of the ethical and methodological issues that arose while engaged in this study. (See Appendix J). Reflexivity Reflexivity is another measure of the rigor of this study. I understand reflexivity in this context as a way of foregrounding my presence as a researcher - my ability to be self-aware, self-critical, and wil l ing to reveal my presuppositions and theoretical and methodological struggles in the research - and my constitutive force in the production of the research findings and this text (Burr, 1995; Hal l , 1996). I inhabited a complex mix of subjectivities as I moved in and across the various geographic and identity locations of this research (Marcus, 1998). In the context of negotiating my identity as a researcher, volunteer disaster responder, disaster planning consultant, and observer, reflexivity was an essential ingredient of my ethical practice (Martin, 1994). It required a willingness to question the ways in which this shifting subject position complicated issues of consent and access. It also invoked a practice of questioning notions of 78 ethnographic authority and legitimacy (Clifford, 1983), and a commitment to foregrounding the limitations and missteps of the ethnographic process, to make the text a "site of the failures of representation" (Lather, 2001, p. 203). Throughout my fieldwork and analytic process, I engaged in a systematic practice of mindful practice (meditation, contemplation) and vulnerable reflexivity in keeping with Bakhtin's (1990) notion of writing as a creative responsibility that engages one in a dialogue with self and other. While in the field, I attempted to be as self-aware and self-exposed as possible including reminding people of my role as a researcher and disclosing my responsibility to conduct the research in as ethical and inclusive a way as possible. I documented my process in field notes and memos (example provided in Appendix J) and engaged in discussions about these issues with my supervisor and other members of the research team. I also engaged in dialogues with key informants in the two target communities, explicitly discussing the differences in relations of power between myself, as researcher, and them, as the objects of the research. In these conversations, I also shared my thoughts, questions, and insights into my ongoing analysis and encouraged them to share their ideas and feedback. M y praxis of reflexivity was also documented in my poetic reflections and analysis that thread through the text as strands of the theorizing and the rigor of the research process. M y decision to integrate textual forms other than the bracketed prose of research texts draws on an understanding of methodology that balances the rules of methodology with a more fluid, and deep understanding of method as the way we engage with a topic. This latter understanding addresses the ways in which we keep ourselves in motion with our knowing through engaging intuition and insight as complements to reason (Caputo, 1987). B y including my poetry I have also attempted to encourage the reader, by example, to engage consciously in the interrogation of my interpretations and thus in the meaning-making process while engaging with this text (Hall, 1996). Kinetic Validity I offer the notion of kinetic validity as a final measure of the trustworthiness and rigor of this study. The term refers to the radical hermeneutic epistemology underlying this study, the notion that research should "stay in play" (Caputo, 1987, p. 293) through engendering openings rather than closings. I have created a text that attempts to reflect the complexity of the object 79 under study and encourages new questions and includes contradictions (Phillips & Hardy, 2002). B y drawing on several methodologies in order to critically analyze the term disaster recovery and by offering some alternatives to the dominant construction of this process, I have invited debate. I have made explicit my belief that this study of recovery is unabashedly incomplete, and points to unanswered and perhaps, as yet unasked questions. I suggest this as a form of rigor, congruent with a post-structural analysis in which any text is understood as partial, positioned, tentative, and open-ended (Lather, 1991), but which by virtue of its being a text, is also understood as a temporary closing. A text fixes meaning in some temporary way, according to Laclau and Mouffe (1995) and other discourse theorists. 80 HOW WILL I KNOW WHEN TO WRITE POETRY? Think of this poetry as the raisins in the apple pie, each one a surprise. We buy the apple pie for the apples. Perhaps because you can't count on the raisins, Each one is, i f not a delight, a difference, the contrast by which the apples introduce themselves redolent in the surety of their centrality, they would be lessened by the raisins absence. I w i l l bake you an apple pie, I have told you how I w i l l make the pastry, this crust of familiar ingredients, and I have told you which apples I w i l l use how many, and from what orchard, but the raisins w i l l not be counted. They w i l l introduce themselves as you taste this offering, Little nuggets, plumpened in the baking. A s much a surprise to me as to you. Y o u can bring the cream. O V E R V I E W OF F I N D I N G S In the following five chapters, I present the findings of my post-structural ethnographic analysis of disaster recovery. The process of recovery in Barriere and Louis Creek was characterized by complexity and diversity. It included a wide range of emotional and psychological responses, individual and shared meaning making, and a discursive construction of events that drew heavily on the dominant discourses of modernity, while also suggesting other transgressive or emergent possibilities. The goals of this research included: (a) exploring how residents described the process of recovery in which they were engaged; and (b) a multi-layered, critical examination of the discursive construction of recovery evidenced in their accounts and in local news media texts. Although it would be more typical to present these findings in the same order as that which I employed to describe my data collection and analysis methods, that is, the findings from the ethnographic fieldwork data first and those from the media analysis second, I have chosen to present the findings in an order that provides a more coherent and readable narrative. I begin, therefore, by establishing the context for the disaster recovery process with two chapters, The Horseman Cometh: The Fire through Residents Eyes and The Sequestering of Suffering in the Media Accounts of Recovery. These two chapters set the material and discursive stage, as it were, for the subsequent chapters. Disorientation and Reorientation: Shifting Frames of Reference describes the key social psychological process identified through the analysis of the interviews and observations conducted in the field. There's No Place Like Home: Place as an Orienting Framework elaborates on this process by focusing on place, a key framework of disorientation and reorientation, and finally, Echoes, Transgressions, and Silences: Residents' Construction of Recovery describes how residents took up or resisted the discursive themes identified in the analysis of the media accounts. In Chapter 4, The Horseman Cometh: The Fire Through Residents Eyes, I outline the experience of the fire, or the initiating event, through the eyes of several residents from Barriere and Louis Creek. Although I had originally not intended to gather these stories, almost everyone I spoke to, in the context of an interview or a conversation over coffee, wanted to tell me their story of the fires and the evacuation. This was particularly true in the early stages of my fieldwork during the first year following the fire. Asking about their experiences became an easy 82 way to enter into relationship and to begin the interview process. A s well , it seemed important to provide a context for understanding what they later described as their experiences of the recovery process. The fire was still fresh in their memories and the effects of the fire were evident all around (e.g., blackened hillsides, smell of smoke). A s I listened to these stories I began not only to hear the fire-story, but also to realize that my understanding of the recovery process began here, in response to the question, "What precipitated this process known as recovery?" It was not as though I had thought that the disaster itself was irrelevant but rather that I had fallen into the common trap of reductionism. I thought that I could focus on one phase of the disaster without addressing the other phases. I had, in effect, reduced what was an integrated process to separate stages. The findings in this chapter also include a description of the general categories of loss and several of the most significant social practices influencing the process of recovery. In Chapter 5, The Sequestering of Suffering in the Public Discourse of Recovery, I present the findings of a critical discourse analysis of the local print news media. The analysis focused on the public accounts of the fires and the early stages of the recovery processes as presented in the North Thompson Star Journal. As a local community newspaper, the voices in the paper were almost exclusively those of residents, some of whom worked for the paper, and many of whom had submitted material as concerned and involved citizens. This period of media coverage constituted and was constituted by the discursive practices of recovery as they initially unfolded in Barriere and Louis Creek, in effect setting the discursive stage for the process as it unfolded during the 2 years under study. This analysis explored the question, "How is recovery discursively constructed in public discourse?" The findings of this analysis provide insights into the underlying "rules" of the discursive practice of disaster recovery, and the way power is exercised through the discourse. Hook (2001) described this as "the bases o f power that underpin, motivate and benefit from the truth-claims of the discourse" (p. 525). In Chapter 6, Disorientation and Reorientation: Shifting Frames of Reference, I describe a social-psychological process of recovery identified in my analysis of the texts based on the ethnographic interviews with residents, service providers, and regional government representatives. In my time in the field, I became aware that I was witnessing aspects of the recovery process that were not reflected in the dominant discourse of recovery evidenced in the research literature. I posit that Disorientation and Reorientation are processes of collective and 83 individual identity negotiation that occurred as part of the recovery process from the McLure Fire. I do not position these processes as substitutes for the notion of recovery, but rather as key components of the recovery process that have been largely ignored in the research and practice of disaster recovery. A s I engaged in the analysis and theorizing of this process and continued to observe and participate in the communities, the issue of place and identity became more and more salient as key orienting frameworks within reorientation. In Chapter 7, There's No Place Like Home: Place as an Orienting Framework, I elaborate on the theme of place and identity. I explore in greater detail the connections between place and identity evidenced in resident's accounts of recovery by drawing on the broad-based research literature on place and identity. Although there is little mention of identity or place in the literature on disasters, the meaning of place as an anchor for identity was evident throughout my analysis of the interview texts. It was in good measure why the terms disorientation and reorientation seemed the best fit to describe the process I identified in my analysis as it seemed such a critical and at times amorphous framework for orientation. Finally, in Chapter 8, Echoes, Transgressions, and Silences: Residents' Construction of Recovery, I return to the analysis of discourse by presenting the findings of a critical discourse analysis of residents' accounts of recovery. In particular, I examine the ways in which residents took up or resisted the public discourse that was evidenced in the media accounts in the N T S J during the first 3 months post-fire. Key discursive strands are named and explored, as are the subjectivities facilitated or constrained through and within these discourses, and some of the transgressive or alternative discursive constructions of recovery offered by residents. 84 PATTERNS To weave my stories as you unravel your yarn I sit and listen into stillness I live in a corner of your lives, squirrelling away your offerings, stashing your lives in my stories. I weave the strands of this net by unraveling it, pulling at the threads, searching amidst each day's catch for the knots and the holes, and the pattern they throw. To sit in the suggestion of what is there, I watch the shadows thrown by a certain light, as the ground moves to meet the sun, knowing the patterns w i l l shift. C H A P T E R 4: T H E H O R S E M E N C O M E T H - T H E F I R E T H R O U G H R E S I D E N T S ' E Y E S In this chapter, I begin to address the question of how residents of Barriere and Louis Creek described and explained their experience of the M c L u r e Fire and its consequences in their lives. When residents spoke o f the fires, they often employed very visual and evocative language that conveyed much more of the psychological impact of the fire, evacuation, and subsequent recovery period. The rich descriptive language employed by residents in their accounts and the intensity of the delivery of these stories begged for the story of the fire to be told in a corresponding way. I begin this section, therefore, with a narrative compilation crafted from residents' stories of the fire. I present a story in three stanzas, using the residents' own words drawn from the many stories of those with whom I spoke over coffee, meals, with and without tape recordings, in homes, offices, restaurants, and on walks through their communities. Although I have used their words and tried to retain the emotional and sensory qualities of their telling, this is not their story of the fire, but my story of their story. I have chosen to feature the words of these six residents because, of all the stories of the fire, theirs were the most evocative, and because they represent in some way the diversity o f the locations and experiences o f the residents I interviewed. Timber, a local rancher did not evacuate but stayed to fight the fire. He and his family lost significant tracts of grazing land, miles of fencing, and some livestock; A n n , a housewife and mother, lived in the heart of Barriere. She was evacuated but her home and property were untouched by the fire; Shish, a long-time resident of Louis Creek, lost his home and his business in the fire. Sharonna and Ned lived in Barriere. The fire burned the forested land on the edges of their property and destroyed their business located in the Barriere Industrial Park. Marg, a relative newcomer to Barriere, lived with her husband on the outskirts of the community. The fire came close to, but did not burn her property or harm her horses that had been relocated to a neighbouring farm. I follow this construction o f the residents' fire story with some o f the details of the nature and extent of the material losses and changes incurred and the overarching social practices that influenced the recovery process. 86 The Approaching Threat A s the McLure Fire approached, residents in Louis Creek and Barriere were put on evacuation alert, and then on the morning of August 1st, 2003, as the threat to the communities came closer and became more apparent, they were told to evacuate. Many of the residents had vivid memories of the 24 hours leading up to their evacuation. They spoke of a sense of unreality, in which time was both suspended and condensed as they waited and watched. B y Thursday evening, August 30*, the fire's smoke had filled their valley. A n intense weather cell earlier in the afternoon had contributed to the fire jumping established guards to the south and racing north and east up the North Thompson Valley toward Louis Creek and Barriere. B y Friday morning embers began dropping on Louis Creek and Barriere. Electrical power throughout the valley had gone out and the towns were evacuated door to door by local Search and Rescue personnel. Figure 7. Smoke-filled sky over Louis Creek. Photo courtersy of S. Garland and R. Rutten. Timber Smoke and flames coming from McLure, but it's a long ways a way and you don't think that it's gonna be so ugly. Friday it just lit up and by the afternoon you could hear it, coming in like a storm, coming to the edge of the place. People were leading animals up the highway, like a wave. Police were throwing horses onto the green fields hoping they'd be fine there, or as fine as they were gonna be. Chunks of bark falling from the air, everything's going dark and trees are shooting up the side of the mountain. That's how fast it hit. Ann The wind was so strong it was blowing salt off the plates. B i g chunks of ash blowing into the swimming pool, and you could see the orange blob in the sky as ash is coming over. We were waiting for gas because there was this huge lineup, and I don't have gas. The kids are with me and I started to get a little panicky. But you're still thinking, this is Canada! They're not going to let the town burn! 87 Shish Friday morning and it started to roll with the heat of the day. The fire fighting hasn't happened, the wind picked up, and away she went. We're using hoses to fi l l garbage cans, the water-tank truck's parked next door and mi l l workers, armed with shovels, are walking the perimeter. The lights are out and the fire is coming. The lady from Search and Rescue comes and says, " Y o u gotta go, you've got an hour to get out of town." But picking out treasures stretches an hour into two, before we head up the Squambay Road. Ned We just didn't think it would ever be like this. Thursday night and the town went black, still, and quiet. It's like 9 or 10 o'clock at night and we were sitting outside, and all of a sudden everything went black, and it's like oh my God. A n d the smoke. Y o u knew you were in trouble. Watching as the smoke rolled in and the sky and moon both red. A s h is landing, then branches-needles intact but completely incinerated, like a snow flake, they would land and be gone, because they were already gone. Sharonna Left alone it just seemed like a long time and every now and again I'd have a little weepy weep, but then it's 'straighten up and fly right' cause I've got to get this done. Walking around every room, how do you know what you're packing? What pictures do I want? What are my girls going to ask for? A l l their overseas stuff that couldn't be replaced. Placing steaks into the Styrofoam cooler and cases of wine. It's our anniversary weekend. Ned We did a little drive through before we left. It was like a ghost town, just a couple of horses running down the road. The road trip was surreal. Cl imbing up highway 24, it was like something out of a movie or a Steven K i n g novel. People, standing beside their cars, radiators overheating, hoods up and nobody's stopping because everybody's got to get out. There's fear in their eyes. A l l they had stashed is piled in the back of their vehicles. This massive exodus. It takes 6 hours to get to Kamloops. Marg Stuff is falling from the air, dropping from the fire and the guys are soaking everything down. Flames, shooting 3 or 400 feet in the air, sounding like a jet plane taking off. The whole sky was like fire, and the sun through it, red, with flames and orange reflected in the clouds. So horrifying to be underneath it, on the fringes, waiting for it to come our way. Expecting it to come. Sitting on the edge of town watching everyone else leave and I'd say, "Okay, well B i l l still hasn't left." Just the feeling of not knowing. People, like ants running around, with horse trailers, working together to get these animals moved. Friends jumping in their vehicles with lambs and dogs and cats. I 'd never seen so many people working together in my life, giving a helping hand. That's when I decided this was a place I could be part of. 88 Waiting! B y early afternoon, August I s , the fire had swept through Louis Creek and E x L o u (a small community just south of Louis Creek) and had reached the edges of Barriere where it was held at bay by local and forestry service fire fighters. Although most of the residents of the two communities had been evacuated, some had defied the order to leave and continued to fight the fire and save the town of Barriere. The fire had continued to grow, sweeping around Barriere, burning through an industrial park on the outskirts of the town, and up into the hills to the North and East of the town. Those who stayed described a continued sense of disbelief at the size and intensity of the fire. They spoke in awe of the incredible ferocity and amazing speed with which it moved. They talked of sleeping "with one eye open" unsure whether they would have to suddenly flee but ready to do so at a moment's notice. Figure 8. Hayward home in Louis Creek Burns. Photo courtesy of the North Thompson Star Journal. Timber I slept up by the side of the road, in contact all the time. I told them, "If we have to go we have to go, just grab me." The night was long, it looked like it was gonna ball right in. Y o u could see it in there burning, just a constant bang, bang, bang. The fire so loud you could hardly hear. Barry went up to his house on the hi l l I expected him to stay ti l l the falling trees chased him out, but he came back 10 minutes later saying "it's bigger than me." "It's gone." A n d he just headed up the road. In the week that followed, those who had been evacuated were given little information about what had occurred in their communities. Many described the "not knowing" as the most difficult part of the entire experience. The uncertainty fueled rumors-the m i l l had burned, all of Barriere had burned-and those who had managed to travel into the fire affected areas through back roads and unused logging roads brought back incomplete and often inaccurate information limited by where they had been able to get to, and what they had been able to see. A n n The most difficult part was the not knowing. We heard on the radio the mi l l had burned down, and somebody would come in and say "The fire has jumped the highway." A n d I started crying. Y o u can't imagine just having everything go, having nothing left. Shish A neighbour came by and said the mi l l is gone, and panic hit me. The next morning we drove back, dodging burnt off power poles. It was like a movie set, a moonscape with no humans around. Figure 9. Louis Creek after the fire. Photo courtesy of S. Garland & R. Rutten. Sharonna News is Barriere's burned and they're not letting anybody through. At the road & block - S W A T team in black with their big, black van. "Where do you think you're Ned going?" Everybody's sitting on pins and needles. Not knowing. It's an incredibly terrible feeling of powerlessness. It's powerlessness, helplessness, and just mass confusion. Not knowing what to do. 90 Marg We took back roads; beat it around the back roads. They didn't know that all these people were crawling around. Feeling like a criminal because you wanted to go home. Like we were doing all we could to bet back in, to our own community and there's all these people keeping you from doing it, like we lived in a third world country. L ike they were gonna leave you no room to exist. Coming Home When residents were finally allowed back into the evacuated areas, or when they managed to get in via routes unknown to officials, they were met with widespread devastation of forest and range-land, and, depending on where they lived, by the grace of being spared or the shock of losing everything. A n n Then driving up, seeing the devastation. I've never been totally enamored with Barriere as a town, but its beautiful. Green trees and the mountains, it was how I imagined Canada would be. And it just wasn't there anymore, so ugly, and depressing, and awful. It's never going to be the same, it's gonna be a long, long time. I was really disheartened. Shish Long before I hit the turn off I knew. The horizon was bare and our stuff was gone. Walking around reaching down to touch the soi l . . .it was burnt so clean all the organic material was gone. And it was cold. I expected it to be hot. I was thinking well , there. That's gone. I could have broken down. It's curious how well I took it. At least we never had to be tortured with "I wonder." We knew Figure 10. Devastation in Louis Creek. Photo courtesy of S. Garland and R. Rutten 91 Sharonna The fire raced right by and up to our house, but the house is still standing. The horses are on the front lawn. The bottom 60 acres just flattened, black sticks standing everywhere, blackened fields and the trees all burned. It was, it was so treed down there, you could get lost and now it was like you looked at, actually I haven't been down there since. Ned We were hearing all these reports that Barriere was burned, you know, and so anyways, you know, figured the shop, okay there was smoke coming out of the eaves so it's probably, you know, burning inside. I knew what was inside and it's tons o f flammables. The shop was gone, steel beams sagging like they were plastic. A 45 gallon drum blew a hole in the roof. Marg Not knowing what happened with my horse... We l l the fire never hit there but the smoke was just terribly bad. She broke out, made her way up the road, and found herself a place. Once I found her and found she was alright, that gave us a little bit of slack. I stayed out on the property, stayed out in the bush and hunkered down. Didn' t have a radio. I just waited, just out there, it was quite extreme. Are we ever gonna be safe? Can we ever feel safe again, you know, was that just false security when you think you go from day to day and think everything's okay. Detailing the Losses Because the fire was still burning, and continued to do so well into September, the region was kept on evacuation alert. Hot spots flared up on the hills surrounding the communities and thick smoke continued to f i l l the valley. The province's largest ever integrated fire fighting force, which included forestry service and structural firefighters from around the province, continued to camp in the Fal l Fair grounds of Barriere throughout August. There was a constant noise of helicopters as the firefighting efforts continued until the McLure fire was contained late in September. Residents spoke of living with an ongoing sense of threat, fear, and uncertainty. A s suggested by the words of these residents, the lives of everyone in Barriere and Louis Creek were in some way altered by the fire, some more dramatically and comprehensively than others. The McLure fire swept through Louis Creek, destroying 73 homes and many outbuildings, thousands of hectares of range-land and forests in the surrounding hills, and obliterating the Tolko Fadear sawmill situated in the heart of the Louis Creek community. The fire's trajectory resulted in a wide range of losses. The pattern of these losses in some way differentiated residents into "loss groups," for instance those who had lost their homes and those who had not, those who were insured and those who were not. However, distinguishing social groupings on the basis of material loss is simplistic and reductive. It does 92 not address s y m b o l i c losses (e.g., sense o f safety, sense o f home) or tangential losses (e.g., loss o f business and customers due to the evacuations, loss o f t o u r i s m , and the e c o n o m i c downturn). It is also problemat ic i n that it frames the disaster o n l y i n terms o f adverse outcomes and fails to capture the f u l l range, c o m p l e x i t y , or over lapping nature o f the effects o f the fire o n pre-exist ing subcultures w i t h i n the c o m m u n i t i e s . Nonetheless , it provides a w a y to discuss some o f the differences i n the reorient ing process. In the f o l l o w i n g section, I out l ine some o f the key "loss groups." Louis Creek Residents—Extensive Loss M a n y residents i n the s m a l l c o m m u n i t y o f L o u i s C r e e k lost their homes, a large part o f the p h y s i c a l manifestat ion o f their c o m m u n i t y (e.g., the m i l l , the n e i g h b o u r i n g homes, the greenery and gardens w i t h i n the c o m m u n i t y , the s m a l l number o f l o c a l businesses i n c l u d i n g a post-office and an antique store), and the surrounding environment/landscape. T h e h i l l s around their c o m m u n i t y , charred and st i l l smolder ing w h e n they returned, were covered w i t h blackened toothpick trees and an almost complete absence o f organic mater ia l , b irds , or animals . M a n y o f these residents were uninsured or underinsured and had to turn to r e l i e f organizations and the funding p r o v i d e d through p u b l i c and private donations to reestablish and r e b u i l d . M a n y o f those w h o l i v e d i n L o u i s C r e e k and lost homes also lost their source o f employment . A s m a l l number w o r k e d at the T o l k o m i l l (approximately 1 0 ) , and many had home-based businesses, farms, or ranches. These i n d i v i d u a l s and fami l ies lost and their immediate and long-term sources o f i n c o m e i n c l u d i n g projected retirement income (e.g., standing t imber) . North Thompson Indian Band—Louis Creek Reservation L o u i s Creek also i n c l u d e d a s m a l l reservation that was h o m e to eight famil ies f r o m the N o r t h T h o m p s o n Indian B a n d . T h e reservation was aff i l iated w i t h the C h u C h u a reserve just to the north o f Barr iere , h o m e to approximately 375 N o r t h T h o m p s o n Indians. S i x o f the eight homes o n the reserve were destroyed i n the fire, o n l y four o f w h i c h were insured. A c c o r d i n g to the band chief, the biggest impact o n the band as a whole was e c o n o m i c . A l t h o u g h the government j u r i s d i c t i o n o n the reserve resulted i n differences i n the administrat ion o f government disaster-aid funds, this c o m m u n i t y was i n c l u d e d as part o f L o u i s Creek i n m u c h o f the privately administered f inancia l and material a i d p r o v i d e d after the fires. Several o f those 93 living on this small reserve worked in the Tolko mi l l and thus suffered the loss of both their home and their employment. Barriere Residents Evacuation Most, but not all residents in Barriere escaped the worst of the fires in material terms. Describing this groups' loss as stemming solely from the evacuation, however, was used as shorthand for differentiating this group from those Barriere residents who lost homes and/or businesses. Several businesses on the outskirts of the community and in particular in an industrial park were lost and along with them a few homes. Most of those l iving in Barriere experienced the dislocation of the evacuation (i.e., some stayed to fight the fires) and felt the broader effects of the fire on the local economy, the social fabric of the community, and the surrounding landscape. A good number of residents in Barriere had to throw away their fridges and freezers as a result o f contamination from food spoiling, and a small number lost out buildings (i.e. garden sheds). A l l those living in Barriere experienced the ongoing threat of the fires that continued to burn in the months following their return, and witnessed the devastation to the landscape surrounding their community. Home/business Loss Several families living on the outskirts of Barriere were among those who lost their homes and/or businesses. One such family lost both their business and home as they lived and worked on the Barriere Industrial Park site. The extent of their losses was as extensive as residents in Louis Creek but because they lived in a community that had, for the most part, not shared similar losses they were in some ways isolated from the benefits of the communality of shared suffering and reorientation experienced by those in Louis Creek. Most businesses lost in the industrial park were insured, but even with insurance many owners suffered significant short and long-term financial losses as a result of their losses and the economic downturn associated with the fire. 9 4 Tolko Workers The majority of those who lost their jobs as a result of the loss of the Tolko mill lived in Barriere or elsewhere (e.g., Kamloops). With the destruction of the mill, and the company's subsequent decision not to rebuild, many of these individuals/families were faced with the decision of moving elsewhere to find work or reinventing themselves in some other work/career capacity in Barriere. The Tolko jobs were well-paying union jobs, and the Tolko workers were described as the top 10% income earners in the valley. The loss of their jobs resulted for many in a downward shift in socioeconomic status and continued economic uncertainty over the period of this study. Ranchers Finally there were the area's ranchers from both communities, some of whom lost their homes and ranches to the fire, and many of whom suffered extensive economic losses as a result of the loss of thousands of hectares of range land, miles of fencing, hay stocks, equipment and livestock. These losses happened in the already challenging context of the economic effects of identified cases of Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis Disease (BSE) in Canadian cattle and the ongoing drought in Western Canada and the United States. In fact, most ranchers with whom I talked described the fire as the "second" disaster, attributing greater and longer lasting hardships to the BSE crisis and the drought. Their fire-related losses were predominantly economic but had ramifications for the ongoing existence and viability of their ranches many of which had been owned and lived on by their families for generations. Social Practices Influencing the Recovery Process Provision-of Disaster Aid One of the most significant aspects of the recovery process was the way in which material and financial aid poured into the community in the months following the fire. According to many residents, this influx of aid was at times well beyond that which was needed. By all accounts, most if not all the aid organizations that converged on Barriere and Louis Creek in the weeks and months following the fire were committed to providing relief in an equitable and nonjudgmental fashion. There was an enormous sense of gratitude expressed by those who 95 received help from these organizations, but again, there were differences between those who had lost their homes and possessions, and those who had not. Residents described the generosity as "overwhelming" and a "burden" and "more than what you could handle by a town." A number of those interviewed, for example, suggested that one of the unintended consequences of what appeared to residents at time as the indiscriminate distribution of money and goods (exacerbated by the perceived exclusion and inadequate consultation with locals) was that the very thing that was intended to help the affected communities seemed to contribute to a rancor and fracturing of the communities instead. As residents reported it, the flood of material goods seemed at times to undermine rather than enable the building of individual and community capacity. Many criticized what they saw as a waste of resources and disappointing examples of greed. Residents described watching fellow residents "inhaling" whatever material and/or economic aid they could access. Others were also concerned about the impact of the influx of aid on social responsibility more generally suggesting that it had created dependencies and a growing victim identity characterized by "pettiness," "greed," and an "unhealthy sense of entitlement." Several also thought that the aid had undermined local capacity and inhibited the natural resiliency and self-sufficiency of the community. I would have liked to have seen more local help. To me it's a shame that people like the Mennonite people have come from Manitoba and Saskatchewan to do things that people right here could have done. You know, more of that kind of assistance, than just, just the giving. It needn't cost them a whole lot of time, yeah, 'cause those are the real heroes, people that just see the need and do it. (Pam 01) The critical gaze of residents did not seem to impede this kind of hording activity, it did however affect those uninsured who had lost their homes and were engaged in the process of re-accumulating possessions and reestablishing themselves with the aid of charity. There was a common sense amongst those that I interviewed, particularly in Louis Creek, that they were expected to recover, but not too much. Several residents talked of comments from friends and acquaintances that suggested that they would have liked their homes to have burned so that they too could have everything new. Many of the residents who had lost their homes spoke of their self-consciousness in replacing their possessions and of their attempts to manage the outward expression of their recovery so that they did not look as though they were benefiting or coming 96 out ahead because o f the fire - "There's kind of this thing well , you don't want it to look too nice" (Pluto 01). For a number of those interviewed, reciprocity, the ability to help others through the process, was cited as a key aspect of their own healing and a way of increasing their sense of connectedness and mitigating their shame at needing help. A t the same time, and again particularly amongst those in Louis Creek, there was a sense of frustration that they had not been able to do more for their each other, especially their elderly neighbours, because they were so overwhelmed by their own process. The myopia of those engaged in addressing their own losses was also cited as one of the reasons that perhaps there had not been more help from those locals who had been less overtly affected by the fire. The whole of Barriere was evacuated and these people are still suffering, so they probably never thought they needed to come and help someone in Louis Creek cause they were trying to get their life back together. They were l iving in fear of the fire. (Thompson 02) Transformative Potential of Relationships There were also significant differences in the perceptions Of various aid organizations, much of which seemed to stem from the way in which these organizations engaged in the helping relationship. Mennonite Disaster Services was cited time and again as an exemplar in this regard. They were described as "not nosy," "nonjudgmental," "very practical," and providing a sense of "dignity" in their interactions that was not always as present in residents' interactions with other groups. The other associations that come in they come in and tell you what to do. A n d they tell you what to do in italics! A n d that's the problem. The Mennonites come in, join hands with you and say, we ' l l help you get through this. (Thompson 02) Many residents described feeling violated by the intrusiveness of questions they were asked (e.g., financial history and profile) and at having to offer very personal and confidential information to strangers, often in the absence of being told how the information they shared would be used, kept confidential, or whether or not they could refuse to give that information. Residents who engaged in these assessment procedures talked about their sense that they would be disadvantaged in the process had they challenged the procedures. One resident described resisting these intrusive questions, challenging the service provider as to whether his reluctance 97 to answer would preclude his receiving help and being told only after that challenge that his responses, or lack thereof, would have no bearing on his accessing support. Jan spoke of her anger at being "called in for an interview" with no information of why she and her husband were being interviewed. I don't know why we were called in. I really don't know why. There was this lady from Vancouver, she was with Human Resources, and she asked us every question in the book. We bared our souls, just about. A n d we never ever heard anything. (Jan 01) Residents also spoke of how upsetting it was to have to tell their stories of loss over and over because of the continual turnover of volunteer service providers and organizational mandates that did not allow for the sharing of such information. They talked of experiencing logistical difficulties (e.g., lack of transportation or daycare) in getting to interviews and meetings in Kamloops (60 km away) in order to access financial and material support. There were also cultural issues in regards to the aid offered. Ranchers spoke of feeling excluded because those in charge of such aid did not understand the culture of ranching and hence did not view their needs as relevant or valid in the context of the relief being provided. Others talked of how a lack of flexibility in ways of providing help failed to acknowledge the culture of independence and self-reliance in the rural setting, particularly amongst older community members. Sam, a resident of Louis Creek, attributed the success of some organizations to their having a "light footprint," which she equated with flexibility, a simpler or less apparent bureaucracy, and the ability or mandate to enact compassion more directly. From her perspective, some organizations, either because of their organizational structure or their mandate within the emergency management structure, were able to build a more direct and less bureaucratic relationship with residents. These organizations were experienced as "standing shoulder to shoulder," "working alongside," or "walking with" their clients rather than providing service to their clients. From Sam's perspective, as someone receiving aid directly and also watching the effect of the aid more generally in her community, the amount of energy/compassion available was lessened both by the act of conversion to symbolic forms of compassion (i.e., money) and through the bureaucratic processes that seemed to accompany the distribution of compassion in its converted form. 98 Economic Agenda Residents accounts were dominated by the economic aspects of their process as it was expressed in different locations and practices such as: (a) the framing of Louis Creek as primarily a site of economic activity rather than as a community; (b) the focus on the economic aspects of the relief provided; and (c) the recovery practices which focused more on providing material and economic resources. 1 2 Some residents believed that the emphasis on the economics of the recovery process had precluded and invalidated the emotional and psychological effects of the fire. Wel l what happened here real quickly was everyone here was invalidated. Like we didn't suffer anything here because it was all being summed up in Victoria or wherever, only that you had a loss i f it was a big material loss. A n d so any of your feelings around it were never validated, you know, that your experience that happened to you was never validated. (Marg 01) This focus also seemed to contribute to a "striking while the iron is hot" mentality such that residents spoke of there being a "window of opportunity" on the economic front. There was a sense of having to take advantage of the increased attention on the region and influx of resources that had resulted from the fire. For those who lost their homes, there was a need to respond to the schedules of the aid organizations in order to take advantage of the aid when it was provided, whether that was when it was needed or not. These residents described feeling self-conscious of the apparent slowness of their recovery process as compared with the majority of residents who had not lost homes. They also suggested that the timing of service provision and key decisions primarily reflected the mandates and needs of the organizations providing services and funding, rather than their needs in receiving this help. For those who lost their jobs and/or sources of economic independence, there was an urgency driven by dwindling funds, mortgages, and the loss of worth and purpose associated with the loss of work. The existential urgency of needing to feel productive and to have a defining role was particularly true for men 99 Leadership Leadership, or the perceived lack of leadership, was the most oft cited issue in the interviews. Most residents saw this lack of leadership as an impediment to their recovery process and that of the community, and most often attributed the problem to the absence of a local municipal government structure. Rural towns without local government structure are likely to struggle initially with how to move forward, with vision and leadership because the structured leadership is not there. (Ken 01) The small people who are movers and shakers are overloaded, totally overloaded. People have been burned out because of the fire there was so much extra that needed to be done and people are tired, they're just tired and they need to step back. (Peaches 01) Not everyone agreed that incorporation was the only answer. Several of those interviewed talked of the potential for more informal leadership structures and processes, citing the Forest Society and other historic community initiatives as positive examples of the potential of social leadership in the absence of municipal structures. However, when asked more specifically about who they thought should have shown leadership, almost all residents believed that leadership in disasters was the responsibility of governments - regional or provincial. There also seemed to be a consensus that leadership required skills and expertise that few believed they possessed. Most of those interviewed believed that they had been excluded from the decision-making processes regarding how recovery and relief money was spent. The North Thompson Regional District and a small ad hoc group of individuals who formed the board of the North Thompson Relief Fund dominated the decisions affecting the direction of the recovery process including key decisions about the use of relief funds. This fund was the spontaneous idea of a Kamloops businessman and grew through private, corporate, and public donations to over $6 million. A s such, it became the primary funding source for affected residents and communities 1 2 Although there was an acknowledgement of the emotional and psychological needs and issues, and support was an integral part of their mandate, the primary mandate of the organizations involved in the post-fire recovery was the provision of food, clothing, and lodging both in the immediate evacuation context and throughout the recovery. Interviews with those providing recovery-related services suggested that there was an unmet need for longer-term psychological/emotional (psychosocial) support and more community-oriented psychological interventions. 100 following the fire. Initially managed by this businessman and then by a board that included him, a lawyer, and an accountant (both from Kamloops), the provincial M L A for the area, two Regional District representatives (from Barriere and Clearwater, 60 km north of Barriere), and a prominent Barriere-based businessman. A l l but two of these decision makers were nonresident to Barriere and Louis Creek, despite the fact that these two communities had been the most adversely affected by the McLure Fire. Even though most residents described feeling grateful for the help received from the Relief Fund, many were critical of the lack of local representation in the decisions made by the Relief Fund board and its later iterations as the executive of the Economic Development Advisory Committee and the North Thompson Economic Development Society. Thompson (02) described the lack of voice as a "big bone of contention," stating that it "is a big given that it's an old boys club" running the show, and querying why "they continue to pick the same people" instead of drafting volunteers from a pool of "very talented, very knowledgeable, very worldly people in the community." C l i f f (01) echoed this sentiment, suggesting that membership on these boards went to "that person may have the biggest place and make the most money in their community so they're on the board." Area ranchers also felt locked out of the decision-making process and excluded from the funds, citing a lack of understanding of their ranching culture by those in decision-making positions. There was $3 mil l ion sitting there and you've got one man running this huge body of money and his comments were, you know, I 'm gonna be looking after people, not cattle, without understanding that, well , cattle are the people, it 's family for the ranching community. (Timber 01) From the perspectives of many residents in Barriere and Louis Creek, key decisions arising from these non-local committees seemed to be made without consideration of local concerns or meaningful input and resulted in a squandering of some of the potential that the increased attention and resources focused in the area might have made to the community. I think the lack of leadership has really hindered the ability of the community to heal itself or to build a stronger foundation for the future because the opportunities were lost with the funding because there was no leadership committee that looked out for the town's interests. (Riley 01) 101 Some local service providers extended this critique about the lack of consultation and inclusion suggesting that it had also resulted in a lack of coordination in the provision of services that had limited the potential for long-term capacity building. I've never been officially contacted by [organizational name] to ask i f there's anything that their money can do to help us provide for ourselves within the community. Y o u know, what are we already doing that they might aid us with. Y o u know, that question has never been asked. (Kay 01) There seemed to be a fear prevalent amongst decision makers that involving the communities in a more inclusive process would either generate unsound decisions or would be come unwieldy and dysfunctional. The idea of generating community gatherings as a means of accessing public opinion, for instance, was framed as dangerous by one regional government representative: " Y o u have to be careful of community gatherings because you ' l l find when a community gathers without a focus it can become more of a bitch session." A n exception to this top down approach was the Louis Creek-based Recovery Committee. It was cited by those in power and by many residents as a positive example of a community led process. The local regional district representative described it as "a phenomenally good move" attributing its success in large part to the leadership of its chair and his ability as a businessman to manage and lead. Residents in Louis Creek described it as a key component of their personal recovery and reorientation and, when asked for their recommendations to other communities facing a disaster, cited the establishment of a committee like the Recovery Committee as a top priority. Summary of the Effects of the McLure Fire The changes wrought by the McLure fire were reflected in the economic and social structuring of the two communities as residents adjusted to the loss of the Tolko M i l l and the other economic, psychological, and social effects of the fire. There were changes in the demographic profile. For instance, in Barriere some young families moved away in search of employment after the loss of the mi l l jobs and other people, primarily retirees or near-to-retirement workers, moved into the community. The loss of the mi l l also resulted in shifts in the social and economic relationship between the two communities. For many in Barriere, Louis Creek was synonymous with Tolko. The rebuilding that followed the fire and the permanent loss of the mi l l in Louis Creek had the result of substantially altering the face of that community. 102 Almost without exception the experience of the fire had a profound effect on residents with broad implications for how they understood themselves and interacted with each other. Although the descriptions of the recovery process were sometimes very different, not one person I spoke with dismissed the fire experience as minor or irrelevant. I preface the next chapter, The Sequestering of Suffering: Media Analysis, with a poem that reflects my reflections and observations as a disaster responder, and as a consumer of the public discourse of disasters and disaster recovery. The poem, although it refers to Katrina, could as easily have applied to the McLure Fire. It is based on my reflections on the observations I made about our response to and our construction of disasters in the public discourse, particularly in the news media. 103 R E A L I T Y INVERSION As I watch the hurricane prep, the hyperbole of the anticipatory horror leaves me wondering. Will we all be disappointed secretly, privately, if it doesn't happen? There is something alluring about the televised anguish of the distant other. Contained and commodified, our tears and our money are all part of the program. We stand ready to slide past the horror, of fear's adrenaline, into the cool release of compassion. We enter into the safe and jagged breach of the managed expression of our heart's despair. Buffered from suffering, we can sense the grace of yours, in these televangelistic reflections. Our compassion arises so effortlessly your resurrection passes for our own transformation. Fires, floods, and famine, the sound of water in the ears of the thirsty. The ripples of a stone's wet landing disturbs the surface of our disconnection. From Rumi's poem, "The Sound of Water in the Ears of the Thirsty" Helminski (2000). 104 CHAPTER 5: SEQUESTERING OF SUFFERING - MEDIA ANALYSIS The findings from the critical discourse analysis of the local (NTSJ) print media coverage of the recovery process in the 3 months following the McLure fire (August through October, 2003) is presented in this chapter. The analysis of the media texts involved a 2-staged process. In keeping with a Foucauldian (Hook, 2001) orientation to discourse analysis, I began the analysis by considering the questions: (a) How was the discourse of disaster recovery broadly constructed in the study corpus? And (b) Whose "voices" were most and least prominently represented? In order to answer these questions, I conducted a content analysis based on an adaptation of Huckin's (2002) 4-step analysis of newsprint media. The purpose of a content analysis in this context was to develop a sense of the public discourse of recovery by identifying thematic patterns in the discourse. Of particular interest in this analysis was the identification of what Huckin referred to as "textual silences" (p. 356). Stage 1: Content Analysis Findings As a result of the review of the NTSJ from August 1st to October 31st, 2003, 250 pertinent articles were located (42 articles in the August issues, 146 in the September issues, and 62 in the October issues). News articles and Letters to the Editor accounted for the. majority of texts in the study corpus. A break-down of the articles by types is presented in the Table 3. Table 3: Breakdown of North Thompson Star Journal article types Nature of article Frequency Percentage of corpus News Article 147 42.8 Letter to the Editor 60 24.0 Feature Story 45 18.0 Editorial 11 4.4 Captioned Picture 11 4.4 Column 6 2.4 Advertisement 10 4.0 105 The results of the content analysis consisted of the four main categories, each with 18 to 25 subtopics, ranging across six major themes that were developed in an iterative manner. The main categories included: (a) effects of the fire, (b) public response to the fires, (c) needs explicitly identified in the texts, and (d) issues explicitly identified within the texts. The six major themes identified within these categories were: (a) psychological or emotional aspects of the fire; (b) religious or spiritual matters, or invoking spiritual discourse; (c) economic, material impact of the fire, or the response to these effects; need for or the provision of relevant information; (e) environmental impact or issues arising from the fire; and (f) a catchall category of "Other" that included such topics as fire fighting, general progress of the fires, emergency management practices not specific to recovery, global complications or implications. The six themes revealed an unfolding story in the coverage of the recovery process. The economic-material theme was clearly dominant (43%) throughout all analyzed articles in all of the four main categories. The psychological-emotional theme followed (26%), although it was significantly less proportionate than the economic-material topic. The catchall other was the next largest domain (14%), which is not surprising given that this included references to fire fighting and the ongoing fire that continued to burn through most of the period. Finally, the reference to environmental concerns (10%) outweighed those related to information-knowledge (4%) and spiritual-contemplative concerns (<1%). In Figure 11, the themes of recovery are shown distributed across the four subject domains of the Content Matrix. The Economic/Material focus dominates in all four of the subject domains. Although the Psychological/Emotional focus is the second most prevalent, it occupies markedly less of the content particularly in terms of discussions of the effects of the fires and the public response to those effects. The catchall theme of Other is particularly evident in the domain of Identified Needs. This was accounted for mainly by the focus on the need for improved firefighting strategies and the inclusion of locals in those fire-fighting decisions. Six themes of in four subject domains of recovery were identified in the articles selected from the N T S J . 106 140 Effects of Fires Public Identified Identified Response to Needs Issues • Psychological/Emotional SSpiritual/Contemplation • Economic/Material QD Environmental El Information/Knowledge B Other | Figure 11: Themes of Recovery Identified in North Thompson Star Journal Articles Through an analysis of the frequency of subtopics, a substantial textual silence was identified. There was a relative absence of subtopics related to adverse psychological or emotional effects of the fire. These effects accounted for a minimal portion of the total coverage (11%), whereas subtopics relating to economic and material aspects of the effects of the fire accounted for 56% of the texts. The focus on economic and environmental subtopics existed in all but the first month of coverage. Public responses to the effects of the fire were also framed primarily in economic and material terms. For example, funding and practical/material support accounted for 54% of the public response, whereas psychological support was only apparent in 22% of the coverage. With respect to identified needs, during the 3 months following the fires, there was no mention of 107 ) mental health services, with only one reference to the need for health services more generally. Dominating this category was an economic focus on rebuilding homes, rebuilding businesses, and creating jobs/stimulating the economy that accounted for over a quarter of the content. The predominant subtopic issue identified in the texts was the Tolko Mill closure, once again an economic issue. This subtopic independently accounted for 24% of the content, whereas the psychological-emotional issues were represented in less than one percent of the texts, with the exception of the subtopic community supporting community (16%), a subtopic congruent with Dynes' (1974) suggestion that media coverage is geared to sustaining public morale in a disaster. Identity Matrix The results of the Identity Matrix analysis highlighted whose voices were most frequently represented in the NTSJ texts. As seen in Figure 6, the voices of community members dominated the texts (60%). However, who within the community was represented held some surprises. Although Louis Creek was the hardest hit by the fire, residents of Louis Creek were heard relatively infrequently (8%). In contrast, the residents from Barriere dominated throughout the texts (44%). Also of interest was the aggregate voice—residents were often referred to as "North Thompson Valley residents" (28%) rather than identified by their specific community. This aggregate identifier was used primarily in contexts that emphasized the need for economic development in the wake of the fires and the loss of the Tolko sawmill. This focus on a regional identity blurred the significant differences between the two communities, both in terms of the disasters' effects and the separate cultural identities of the communities. Given the significance to both communities of the loss of the Tolko mill, ex-employees seemed to be under represented (5%). In part, this may have been an artifact of the choice of data, as the announcement of the mill closure was made during October 2003. These findings support the notion of there being a hierarchy of credibility as was noted by Ploughman (1996). 108 Media Exposure By Occupation and Location 80 70 60 o 50 u 5 40 3 t T 0) ^ 30 20 10 0 • Community Member 1 Tolko Employee • Non-Local Government • Local Government BOther North Louis Creek Barriere Kamloops Other Thompson Valley Geographic Location Figure 12: Media Exposure by Occupation and Location A n analysis of the Identity Matrix revealed patterns in the representation of which individuals were given voice in the articles selected from N T S J . Five main categories of individuals were identified based on geographic and occupational identifiers found in the articles. Summary of the Content Analysis Broadly speaking, the content analysis revealed some distinct thematic threads in the corpus of N T S J texts; most evident was the overall emphasis on the economic and material aspects of the recovery process. In examining the specific instantiations of the subtopics in the Content and Identity Matrices, several textual silences (Huckin, 2002) were identified including the relative silence of the voices of those who had been most materially affected by the fire, the residents of Louis Creek, and the relative absence of ex-Tolko employees. The relative frequency of the other domain was significant, as it reflected the ongoing threat of the fires during the recovery period, highlighting the fluid and overlapping nature of the evolution of a 109 disaster and at times, the arbitrary nature of the categories used to distinguish this evolution in terms of phases or stages. Stage 2: Discourse Analysis I followed the content analysis with a modified version of Wi l l i g ' s (2001) approach to critical discourse analysis. M y goal was to understand the representation of discourses in the newspaper and "how these discourses may influence how people think or feel and what they may do" (Sykes, et al., 2004, p. 133). The discourse analysis answered the questions (a) How more specifically was the discourse of recovery constructed in the NTSJ? (b) How were individuals and groups of individuals subjectively positioned as a result? and (c) How does the dominant construction of recovery facilitate or limit possibilities for social action? Discursive Construction: Sequestering of Suffering The focus of this initial step in the critical discourse analysis was to identify how the discursive objects were constructed through language. The findings revealed a dominant discursive construction of the disaster recovery process that I named sequestering of suffering and consisted of four primary discursive strategies: (a) multiple eclipsing of emotion; (b) economic/material framing of loss; (c) return to normalcy; and (d) erasure of Louis Creek. Multiple Eclipsing of Emotion Suffering and its associated emotions (e.g., grief, sadness, anger, despair) were minimized and often rendered invisible in the texts. Two dominant strategies, sequestering of emotions and the economic framing of loss, were identified as the key strands in this discursive construction. When the emotional and psychological aspects of recovery entered the discourse, they were largely compartmentalized as either letters to the editor or in a September 29, 2003 special issue of the N T S J . Doing well (i.e., psychological functionalism) was implicitly promoted as the responsibility of being a "good" citizen or community member. It was constructed as the need to stick together as a community, remain strong in the face of adversity, and to let go of the bad, for example, "Surely we have learned already the value of sticking together and remaining strong in the face of adversity. We must hold that thought," (Sept. 29, p. 110 1: Heartstopper, Heartbreaker, Heartfelt); and "God bless disaster because it brings us together as a community, as a province, and a nation" (Oct. 6, p. 4: More is not better). When mention was made of personal difficulties, they were immediately qualified by an upbeat addendum. Coverage published only days after the confirmation of the loss of homes and businesses in Louis Creek made mention of "grief counselors" standing by to assist "those who have lost virtually everything" (Aug. 11, p. 3: Fire continues to spread). In the same issue, however, the possibility of grief was immediately contrasted with "the quiet dignity, courage and resolve in the face of tragedy" (Aug. 11, p. 4: Heroes, one and all). Similarly, the tears of men were not moved by grief, loss, or frustration, but "by human goodness" (Aug. 11, p. 4: Words are not enough). Using a variety of discursive strategies, suffering and loss were sometimes juxtaposed with positive coping. One such strategy contrasted what had been lost with what had been preserved. This positioned the latter as more important: "Fires burned homes, businesses, but not spirit," and "the stories of personal loss were incredible, but the stories we heard of hope and strength were even more amazing" (Sept. 29, p. 19: Canadian Red Cross shares story). A related strategy employed downward comparison: "People have suffered in the past, much worse" (Sept. 8., p. 4: Community must stay strong). Another strategy employed an imagined positive outcome in which the adverse events were positioned as having prevented other undesirable events: "there are, however, a couple of things on the plus side, like not having to worry about West Ni le virus this year because the fires seem to have thinned the mosquito population out" (Sept. 8., p. 13: Rain song, fall plans). The sequestering of specific emotions was accomplished by positioning distressing emotions as something to be avoided: "It's hard not to be inspired, but we also recognize that social behavior w i l l l ikely now shift from the good, the warm and the fuzzy to attitudes driven by fear, grief, anger and sometimes greed" (Aug. 25, p. 4: Hot topics). Anger was positioned in negative terms unless it was "channeled into productive effort" (Aug 15, p. 4: Welcome developments). Another example of this avoidance framed the sequestering of emotions as something highly desirable and easily accomplished, drawing on the apparent resilient capacity of children as a model for how one should approach recovery: "Children continue to set the example of letting go of the bad and embracing the good" (Sept. 29, p. 31: Buoyancy of youth an example for us all). I l l Economic/Material Framing of Loss Consistent with the findings of the content analysis, losses were overwhelmingly constructed as economic or material and explicitly or implicitly minimized. Homes were described as "framed constructions" or "manufactured homes" (i.e., houses) and evaluated in terms of their monetary rather than emotional value (Aug. 11, p. 3: Fires continue to spread). Income and households were "disrupted" and "damaged," and people were described as having lost "jobs and assets" (Oct. 27, p. 4: Offers rational for rebuilding). This emphasis on house-as-property, rather than house-as-home, further diminished the emotional cost of losing a home: "Thank God they are only property losses.. .property can be replaced" (Sept. 29, p. 21: A message from your MLA). Ironically, these same texts tended to use evocative and emotional language to describe losses that were framed economically such as: "Tourism has been eviscerated (italics added) by the fire season" (Oct. 6, p. 15: Canoe down river to Kamloops); or the headline, "Tolko employees emotional, devastated, upset (italics added)" (Oct. 6, p. 1). The language used to describe incurred losses often generalized in ways that obscured the significant differences in the geography of losses. One text, for instance, spoke of how "many suffered stunning losses" (Sept. 29, p. 1: Heartstopper, Heartbreaker, Heartfelt), referring presumably to the devastation of Louis Creek, although the loss of homes was never specifically referenced. These texts also tended to minimize the loss of homes in the context of the loss of jobs such as: "most people lost their jobs not their homes" (Sept. 8, p. 22: Disgusted by position); or " B C Hydro should be asked to explain its apparent policy giving priority on restoring power to residences over commercial users, these are people's livelihoods we're talking about." (Aug. 11, p. 7: Chamber president questions Hydro's priorities). Although the losses were framed economically, the consequences of the McLure fire were generally dissociated from the broader economic and political context in which the fire occurred. When this broader context was mentioned, it was done so primarily in relationship to Tolko, as part of their rationale for not rebuilding, and to a lesser degree to contextualize the losses of ranchers. In the case of Tolko, "international trade agreements," "softwood lumber tariffs," "economies of scale," and "global competitiveness" were all mentioned by company spokespeople and the local M L A as significant aspects of the company's decision not to rebuild (Aug. 22, p. 1: Tolko decision will have to wait; Sept. 8, p. 3: Krueger calls Tolko workers to 112 meeting; Oct. 6, p. 1: Tolko employees 'emotional,' 'devastated,' 'upset'). These same global influences were used in counter arguments to criticize recent government regulatory decisions (Sept. 8, p. 4: Create jobs, clean up forests; Sept.l, p. 6: More is likely yet to come), or to 'debunk' Tolko's rationale (Oct. 6, p. 4: True Colours). The ranchers fire-related losses were contextualized by referring to the already depressed market for Canadian beef in the wake of a recent mad cow disease scare, and described ranchers' losses as "a double whammy" (Sept. 8, p. 5: Little hope of relieffor resort owners). Return to Normalcy The recovery process was discursively constructed as primarily a time to return to normal apparent in the economic-material subtopics identified in the content analysis. The construction emphasized a return to productivity that was characterized by a focus on economic activity, rebuilding and repairing structures, and the allocation of material resources. The imperative of moving on and getting back to pre-fire levels of individual and community functioning was emphasized. This movement back to normal was constructed as the common goal of governmental and nongovernmental agencies, residents, and the communities: Powerful forces are at work all around us. Agencies with names known across Canada, and around the world are working with government and community groups to begin to pick our way back toward normalcy in the North Thompson. In the meantime, we see children beginning to play in groups again, walkers out for there shared daily constitutionals, parking lots containing nearly normal numbers of vehicles. (Sept.l, p. 4: Picking up the pieces) The push to return to normal was evidenced early on in discussions of the importance of carrying on with annual community events as though the disruption resulting from the fire had not occurred (e.g., Fall Fair, Terry Fox run). The re-establishment of routines, such as the return to school for children, was represented as constructive and "a welcome and comforting security" after "weeks of confusion and uncertainty" (Sept. 29, p. 31: Buoyancy of youth an example). Erasure of Louis Creek The most striking trend in the coverage following the McLure fire was the relative absence of Louis Creek in the texts, a trend foreshadowed by the dominance of Barriere residents' voices found in the Identity Matrix analysis. Despite the significant losses in Louis 113 Creek, relatively little coverage highlighted the experiences of these residents or addressed the struggles and challenges they faced in reconstructing their personal lives and that of their community. Moreover, when the texts focused on specific losses, the attention often focused on the relatively minor losses in Barriere (e.g., food spoilage, smoke smell), while ignoring the more severe losses in Louis Creek (e.g., loss of 73 homes). On the other hand, the loss of the Tolko M i l l was frequently mentioned, but primarily in terms of the economic and employment effects of the loss. In this context, Louis Creek was also mentioned, however, with the primary function of contextualizing the discussion of the mi l l , because it was located in the Louis Creek community. To Louis Creek residents who feel we're focusing too much on the future of Tolko, we say the obvious: when that firm announces its determination to continue to be Barriere's economic backbone, w e ' l l all sleep easier. (Aug 22, p. 4: Patience, please) The following editorial, published a little over a month after the fire destroyed Louis Creek, was illustrative o f this erasure o f Louis Creek: Almost exactly a month ago, North Thompson residents were returning to the valley. Most came back to their homes, to smelly refrigerators, burned out lawns and faded flowers. Not everybody was so lucky. Many found homes seemingly miraculously undamaged but their future uncertain. (Sept 08, p.4: As time goes by) In both these texts, the construction of loss engaged an economic discourse that placed greater emphasis on the importance of the loss of jobs, compared to the loss of homes, while exhorting patience from residents of Louis Creek who experienced their losses being minimized as a result of the focus on Tolko. The loss of homes, home-based businesses, and the few retail businesses in Louis Creek had far ranging implications for that community, and the absence of acknowledgement of these losses skewed the focus to Barriere. The textual silence on the specific experiences in the hardest hit community intersected with the active promotion of normalcy and the avoidance of suffering, positioning the residents of Louis Creek as out of step with the dominant discourse. Further, in texts referring to "the community," the community, i f named, was named as "Barriere," suggesting that the latter community stood in for or assumed the inclusion of Louis Creek. Furthermore, the frequent use of the collective pronoun "we" as in "we suffered," or "we sustained great losses locally," implied a similarity of experience that belied the significant differences in the geography of losses between the two communities and their respective independent cultural identities. 114 Summary of the Discursive Strategies, The sequestering of suffering discourse identified in the NTSJ texts constructed recovery as an accelerated process characterized by the reestablishing of routines and the overcoming of adversity. In so doing, this discursive construction minimized the distress of those most severely affected by the McLure Fire and may have inadvertently undermined the potential development and re-creation of strong relational support networks in the communities. The economic losses were contextualized within the global perspective of ongoing economic challenges in the lumber and beef industries, but the broader socio-political context was rarely acknowledged. One of the significant consequences of this construction was that it rendered as virtually invisible the devastating impact of the fire on the residents of Louis Creek. Subject Positions The construction of the discursive objects and wider discourses made available several subject positions, with implications for community members' health. The subject positions most available included the disenfranchised survivor, the passive recipient of help, and the expert intervener. In the texts, residents were described as "evacuees" or "refugees," borrowing a term more often associated with political violence and turmoil. They were variously positioned depending on the context and the nature of their losses. When referred to at all, those who had lost their homes were described as "unfortunate," "the hardest hit," those "in a terrible predicament." When referring to the community as a whole, terms such as "rudderless," "in need of redefinition," and "crippled," positioned the community also as victimized, leaderless, and handicapped. However, as the recovery progressed, communities and residents alike were afforded an alternate subject position as courageous and enduring survivors. Various texts constructed the community as a family, united in their plight, their bravery, and their steadfast willingness to work together toward a better future: Places like Barriere are defined not by their industries or sport franchises or their performing arts centers, but by the character of the people, their tenacity, and their willingness to help one another. (Sept. 29, p. 26: Role reversal leaves lasting impression). 115 Out of the ashes, a courageous community emerged.. .Although it was one of the worst natural disasters in our province's history, it also helped bring out the best. (Oct. 6, p. 5: They say a picture is worth a thousand words). However, within this more heroic construction, there was little room for actual agency; and to the contrary, individuals from outside the communities were positioned as experts and authorities. Residents both acknowledged and resisted their lack of agency through indirect, ironic references to the local Member o f the Provincial Legislative Assembly ( M L A ) as "the messiah of the Liberal Party" (Sept. 8, p. 5: Says MLA engaged in political posturing) dispensing "pearls of wisdom" (Sept. 8, p. 6: Kreuger should check his facts. Quotation marks in original text) and more explicit references to their lack of representation in the process: " A committee [a regional committee directing allocation of resources] which includes exactly one member from the Barriere-Louis Creek area—is the nearest thing we've got to a shared voice in this matter" (Sept. 8, p. 4: As time goes by). Consistent with the Identity Matrix findings and in accordance with Dynes (1974), collective language was often employed, implying a homogeneity of experience; "Our shared dilemma" (Aug 25, p. 4: Hot topics), and a need to embrace a unified stance in the face of adversity; "We w i l l come together" (Sept. 29, p. 31: Buoyancy of youth an example). Collective language was also used by the local Member of the Provincial Legislative Assembly ( M L A ) to indicate his solidarity with residents: "The spirit of goodwill and compassion .we have been experiencing throughout this crises w i l l carry us forward through the rebuilding process" (Sept. 29, p. 21: A message from your MLA). The discourse generally constructed the good citizen as the citizen who put on a brave face, and carried on regardless of adversity. Within this construction, there was little room for or acknowledgement of the need to contemplate or mourn the symbolic and material losses of those most adversely affected by the fire. A s the recovery progressed and issues began to arise regarding relief funding, those who had lost uninsured homes or businesses and were receiving relief funding were further marginalized, positioned in a letter to the editor as "wimps taking handouts unable or unwilling to take care of themselves" (Aug. 25, p. 4: Next time, insurance). In another letter to the editor, they were offered two opposing positions, either as "whiners," or as "those who are rolling up their sleeves" (Sept. 1, p. 4: Get that ostrich on-side). 116 Broadly speaking, both women and men were positioned as primarily economic beings lacking spiritual or psychological dimensionality. The emphasis on the economic material aspects of the recovery process, aspects of the public sphere 1 4 of the discourse of recovery and the occlusion of the private sphere (e.g., domestic domain, relational activities) positioned women and children as an invisible background other. The texts constructed a stereotypically gendered picture of recovery in which men were positioned as authoritative, active agents in directing the process and promoting a hierarchical, problem-solving discourse aimed at creating solutions addressing domains dominated by men (e.g., forestry, business, waged-work). The sequestering and minimizing of emotions favored masculine styles of coping and socialization whereby emotions were seen as irrational, less important, and something to be suppressed or denied. Constructed as minor participants in the economic/public sphere, women and their contributions to the recovery process were effectively positioned as inconsequential. The impact of the fires on the complex web of relational and domestic activities including familial relationships, kinship networks, and the social fabric of the community-domains of interest and activity more commonly associated with women-were absent. Male residents were more likely to be positioned as heroic or leaders contributing to their community than were female residents. M e n were featured for their volunteer contribution as fire fighters and their role as business leaders, whereas women were rarely positioned in such a way. The absence of women's voices in the direction and focus of the recovery process in Barriere and Louis Creek implied a taken for granted stance in regarding their contributions as major providers of care, healthcare, childcare, and the maintenance of domestic routines, while negating their contributions and roles within the public sphere of the recovery environment. The use of the private-public descriptive dualism is an artifice of the dominant discourse, signifying an arbitrary delineation between what occurs within the private sphere of homes and families and in the public sphere outside the home. The notion draws heavily on Marxist theory and feminist theorizing as a means of discussing the gendered spatial manifestations of economic relations within capitalism (MacKinnon, 1989). It is useful for discussing patterns of gendered divisions in labor and economic and political power in emergency management and response structures (Fordham & Ketteridge, 1998), which has tended to be dominated by men. 117 Summary of Subject Positions Overall the recovery discourse in the N T S J texts offered limited and sometimes conflicted subject positions to residents. The predominant construction was that of the enduring but passive survivor, the individual who was meeting his/her fate with equanimity but who also had to look to experts and outside-others for advice, leadership, and solutions. This construction also eliminated differences so that there were few ways in which the different locations of residents and their resulting different experiences were acknowledged. Further, when differences were acknowledged they were done so primarily in the context of confining those who would speak out in opposition to existing practices or from emotional distress to marginalized positions as less productive and responsible citizens, weak, lazy, or in some ways, self-indulgent. This construction was paradoxically disempowering individually and collectively. It suggested agency and action, yet constructed the survivor as inadequately equipped to take action without outside , support and guidance. In keeping with the emphasis on public sphere concerns, women and children were further marginalized as players in the recovery process. Neo-liberal Discourse of Recovery The findings revealed that an assemblage of neo-liberal discourses were called upon to construct recovery as a process of returning to a status quo in which normal or even improved economic functioning was the primary goal. A s a coherent socio-political philosophy, neo-liberalism extends market ideology beyond the production of goods and services to frame social interactions increasingly in terms of market transactions (Harvey, 2003). Neo-liberalism draws on a network of discursive practices - global capitalism, workforce flexibility, competition, individualism, privatization - to ensure a mobility of capital and a construction of society that, theoretically at least, moves closer and closer to a pure free market based on an "individualist micro-economic model" (Bourdieu, 1998, TJ9). This reconstruction and reinforcing of the dominant discourse in the N T S J is consistent with Lupton's (1992) assessment that this is one of the primary functions of mainstream media. A number of specific discourses associated with neo-liberal discourse were identified in the N T S J texts: (a) global capitalism; (b) workforce flexibility; (c) the good consumer (d) expert discourse; and (e) health discourse. The latter was not explicitly drawn on but was implied 118 through several of the discursive strategies already discussed (e.g., sequestering of suffering, return to normalcy). Global Capitalism Within the texts, the discourse of global capitalism was used to construct the need for a regionalizing of the identity of the communities as the North Thompson Valley, consistent with the global imperative of economies of scale. In neo-liberal discourse, size matters. Throughout the texts were comments about the search for economic opportunities, "planning for the valley's economic future" focused on "options" and "strategies" and "diversification" (Oct. 27, p. 03: Group agrees on initial steps). This construction rendered as fact the logic of the global economy. Workforce Flexibility Within neo-liberal economic discourse, workforce flexibility is constructed as an inevitable and desirable aspect of globalization and contemporary economics (Martin, 1994). Officials from Tolko drew on this discourse to justify their decision not to rebuild the mi l l , implying that workers had demonstrated a lack of flexibility that made the mi l l less viable even before it was destroyed by the fire. This discourse was also drawn on by government officials who suggested that workers should be ready and wil l ing to move wherever necessary in order to find work to replace the lost Tolko jobs, as though their connection to their home communities was one dimensional, a matter of employment and economics only. Ex-Tolko workers on the other hand resisted this framing, countering the company-as-victim of global forces discourse offered by Tolko representatives with ironic comments suggesting that the fire had simply served to cement plans for closure that had been underway prior to the fire. Their letters to the editor drew instead on a critical discourse to frame the decision not to rebuild as resulting from the greed of "monolithic companies," and the complicity of "government bureaucracies" (Sept. 15, p. 4: Welcome developments). Good Consumer In the texts, the worthy citizen was the responsible citizen striking the right balance between full participation as a consumer, gaining status through the accumulation of goods, 119 while also saving for the future and banking against contingencies (e.g., buying insurance) in an uncertain world. The world was construed as inevitably uncertain for the uncertainty was assumed as an inherent characteristic o f modernity. Those who did not insure themselves sufficiently against contingencies such as the fire were at times vilified for their lack of foresight and responsibility, at other times framed as hapless victims because of their marginal economic status prior to the fires. They were in some way failures before the fire because of their failure to participate successfully in the marketplace as evidenced by their lack of material/financial accumulation. The framing of the recovery process as largely economic precluded a meaningful acknowledgement of and response to the distress and suffering of those severely affected by the McLure Fire. In accordance with the tenets of neo-liberal discourse, residents were framed primarily in utilitarian and individualist terms. The moral imperative of this construction of residents as primarily economic beings- as producers and consumers - was that they should focus on returning as quickly as possible to an efficient economic functionality, and perforce a psychological functionalism, individually and collectively. Expert Discourse One of the key aspects of the discourse of late modernity is the reliance on experts and expertise to mediate life and solve problems (Taylor, 1989). Giddens (1991) described expert systems as one of two key disembedding mechanisms in modernity that remove social relations from local contexts, contribute to a deskilling of everyday life and everyday social actors, and undermine local control. A s knowledge becomes increasingly narrowly focused, the likelihood of unintended or unforeseen consequences increases. This requires the development of further expertise; which, in turn, further narrows knowledge, and so on. This discourse of reliance on experts and expertise with the concomitant erosion of local control was seen throughout the N T S J texts. It was evidenced, for instance, in the post-fire analysis of why local knowledge had been minimized or excluded in the fire fighting response and the post-fire recovery processes. Forest service firefighters were constructed through the texts as trained and experienced experts who knew what they were doing. In contrast, the locals' specific, contextual, and experiential knowledge of the geography was minimized and constructed as potentially dangerous-'unless you are an experienced firefighter, it's hard to 120 know what to do in this type of emergency" (Oct. 6, p. 13: When fires strikes: Get out! Stay out!). The community was constructed in need of technocratic solutions, such as task forces, management teams, "skilled support, and a trained economic development officer" (Oct. 20, p. 13: Who will take the lead?). When it came to the economic recovery of the communities, a trained and experienced economic development officer was constructed as the answer to the need. Tolko's executives were constructed as "diligently" working to "analyze opportunities" and "expedite the solution" within the context of complex international, global economic factors (Aug. 22, p. 1: Tolko decision will have to wait). However, resistance to this discourse was also present in the N T S J texts. Some residents noted their exclusion from the decision-making processes and stated an expectation that they be included in decisions pertaining to the Tolko site and the distribution of relief funds. Health Discourse Although health discourse was never explicitly used in the texts, its influence in terms of a construction of what constitutes health was implied through various aspects of the discursive construction of recovery. The overall occlusion of distress and suffering and the concomitant emphasis on functionalism and a speedy return to normal are consistent with contemporary medical and health discourses. These discourses emphasize the conquering of illness through self-management and self-regulation, framing illness as something to be avoided. Within this framing, illness is something to be surmounted through active interventions, for as Clarke and James (2003) pointed out, "the very term representing modern medicine - allopathic - means against suffering" (p. 1388). The absence of specific references to health (mental and/or physical) in the texts is suggestive of neo-liberal discourse in as much as the emphasis on the entrepreneurial individual and the concomitant lack of the social frames health problems as the result of individual failures and not a social concern (Coburn, 2004). The emphasis within the texts on a return to normal was also congruent with the equating of normal and functional in health discourse. Within this discursive construction (a construction of modernity in general), the valued self is the normally functioning self— productive, independent, and instrumental in determining the course and direction of their lives (Crossley, 1999). In the texts, the valued self, or "good citizen" continued to move forward unimpeded by, 121 in this case not illness per se, but distress, suffering, and the pause in functionality that reflection and questioning might demand. Within this construction contradictory subject positions are available to residents who were constructed, on the one hand as agentic and responsible for managing their recovery whereas on the other hand as passive recipients of the guidance and services of expert others. The construction of recovery as a process guided by experts and outside agencies may have foreclosed the possibility of fostering individual empowerment, community development and leadership, and forms of collective processing, of the fires (e.g., memorials, community gatherings). Residents were, in effect, excluded through the privileging of expert knowledge and the dismissal of local experience and meaning. According to Howarth, Foster, and Dorrer (2004), this approach "perpetuates the exclusion of [residents].. .from discussions about their health problems and appropriate treatments" (p. 237). Thus, media representations focusing on expert knowledge function to maintain current disaster recovery practices with little or no acknowledgement of how these practices may or may not best serve the needs and interests of specific communities. The promotion of a reliance on experts to direct the recovery process limits the likelihood that residents would seize the momentum o f the disaster response and harness it for capacity building in health and social domains. Summary: Media Discourse of Recovery The discursive framing of disaster recovery, as evidenced in the media coverage in the 3 months following the McLure-Barriere fire, was of an economic/material process focused on a speedy return to normalcy, with a reliance on experts for action and leadership. Furthermore, the dominant voice was male, authoritative, and institutionalized, evidenced in the comments of government level officials, and the drawing on expert discourses of firefighting, economic development, and the recovery expertise of nongovernmental organizations. Despite implicit expectations of agency and action, residents were constructed as passive victims. This framing made the experiences of women and children largely invisible and their contributions went unacknowledged for the most part. The macro-regional economic focus did not necessarily support individuals in creatively responding to their situation, nor did it address social/structural inequities or vulnerabilities. The nexus of these discourses resonates with the dominant health discourse, which constructs good 122 health as synonymous with good citizenship and virtuous living, and mirrored a construction available to those recovering from illness. In both instances, survivors are encouraged to sequester their suffering and are rewarded for taking the hero's stance and adopting an active response to illness. Disasters, like illness, stop or slow down our ability to be active producers and consumers; getting back to normal or to health is implicitly and explicitly constructed as a process of regaining, as quickly and quietly as possible, the ability to function as economic beings in the world. The passive subject positions offered as a result of this expert discourse may have limited the potential for individual and collective empowerment and the development of emergent leadership within the communities. The lack of attention to the private sphere and the eclipsing of women in the discourse may have exacerbated this disempowerment for women more generally, further marginalizing them in terms of their actual and potential contributions and vulnerabilities. The absence of their voices in the media accounts implied a taken for granted stance in regards to their contributions as major providers of care giving, healthcare, childcare, and the maintenance of domestic routines. Women's absence in the texts may have reflected and furthered the limited nature and breadth of roles in which they could engage in the public sphere of the recovery environment. Overall, the discursive contexts and constructions and the subject positions identified may contribute to the individualizing of social problems and the marginalization of individuals who are most vulnerable to emotional, psychological, and social distress. The emphasis on economic and instrumental responses to the disaster may have reduced the awareness of, and response to, the health needs (e.g., psychological, emotional, and spiritual) of individuals and groups. In practice, this focus meant that relief agencies and government programs were less likely to provide psychological support services, and more likely to address the material needs of those affected by the fire based on the assumption that a return to economic functioning was the primary ingredient of recovery. In sum, this construction has the potential to undermine the provision of necessary resources and social programs that might best support individual and collective health through the recovery process and beyond - a trend already identified as an effect associated with neo-liberal discourse (Coburn, 2004). I preface the next chapter with a poetic construction of the process of recovery based on my observations and analysis during the research process. The poem is crafted from a f 123 compilation of phrases and words that residents used to describe their experiences in the formal and informal conversations I had with them. 124 WHEN T H E RUG IS PULLED OUT FROM UNDER YOUR FEET The blackened toothpick sentinels remind the creeping green, of the dying into birthing, as we talk, tentatively, then with growing momentum, on the porches of your smoke filled valley to the beat of your new relationship with the world. I hear of your deepest learning, the consciousness of choice, as you face the mirror of deciding moment to moment. Forced below the surface, you struggle to catch a breath, drowning in the open space of possibility. Confidence erodes in the not knowing, the recipes are gone and improv is alive. At once you are more cautious, and more open, knowing differently the phrase "once burned twice shy," you offer your stories, and I in the listening, am honored. Loss invades each experience, catching at moments throughout the day, reaching for a spanner or a recipe book, decisions push against the current of your lives. The difference between what is lost and what is misplaced, demands a consideration of consumption. You navigate a delicate balance now between recovered, but not too much between humility and nonchalance, in this tallying of an equation of shifting networks, emerging connections and disconnections, and experiencing impermanence the hard way. Friends become those who share the humor it all requires when you are standing on such shaky ground, when you are rebuilding a brick at a time. Defined by a fire's creative influence, they too know a new sense of dependence, and the resonating pulse of giving and receiving. In this thin place where the light cracks through us both, in the floundering of the recently unmoored, I listen to you offering your selves. Monitored now for your vulnerabilities, for the newness of your shells, you lean into the universe and your new life. You have arrived too suddenly perhaps, in this seesawing world of heartbreak and hope, and the certainty of uncertainty. Like Shroedeger's cat, emerging as a cat from the ashes, Not knowing is prompting you to root in. CHAPTER 6: DISORIENTATION AND REORIENTATION - SHIFTING FRAMES OF REFERENCE In this chapter, I return to the findings drawn from residents' accounts and to the question of how residents described and explained their experiences of recovery as it unfolded over the 24 months following the McLure Fire. I offer a description of what I came to understand as the central social-psychological problem and process of recovery and how I came to understand these as related to collective and individual identity construction through orientation. I go on to provide a description of the central processes that I have termed disorientation and reorientation. In my conversations and interviews, residents offered myriad examples of how the fire had affected them in deeply personal and persistent ways, calling into question their beliefs, what they valued as important or worthy, their anticipated life trajectories, and the networks of personal and shared social relations. As I navigated the ambiguity and fluidity of my relationship with the residents, I listened to them describe a shifting geography of identities as they navigated roles in their personal and communal recovery processes. These identities were both explicitly defined and implied in their descriptions of recovery and in their definitions of what constituted "their community," or "us" and "them." In my interactions with those affected by the McLure fire, I observed a sense of disorientation; a profound sense of uncertainty. The referential or orienting frameworks15 held largely out of daily awareness, had been thrown into the foreground by the threatened or actual loss of the material and symbolic markers in which they were grounded (e.g., places, possessions, networks of relationship). It was as though the ground of their being had been both literally and metaphorically shaken. 1 5 Taylor (1989) proposed the notion of orientation to describe identity as a process or expression of "frames of horizon" (p. 26), or the evaluative discriminations (i.e., beliefs, values, desires and aversions) we make as relational beings. To orient means to find one's bearings, to become familiar with a situation, or to put oneself in the right position or relation (Trumble & Stevenson, 2002). Taylor (1989) intentionally used the spatial metaphor of orientation precisely because it implied, through reference to a material/spatial analogy, the notion of there being an external imperative calling forth identity in response to pre-existing questions in the same way that our embodied existence calls or invites us to orient spatially. I use the term orientating frameworks in this context to describe the symbolic frames of reference, often ground in material markers, that we draw on to define, redefine, and negotiate our identities. 127 In the following section, I outline the process of disorientation. Here and in subsequent quotes from residents to illustrate key aspects. I have made minor edits to quotes for readability and have identified residents by their pseudonym and the number of the interview (e.g., Pam 02). Disorientation I conceptualized the centrally shared social-psychological problem I heard in residents' (those I interviewed) accounts of the McLure fire and its immediate aftermath as disorientation. In their descriptions of watching the fire's approach, the ensuing evacuation, and their subsequent return to communities irreversibly altered by the fire, residents described being thrown from their everyday lives. During the early interviews (February, 2004), residents reported experiencing a profound sense of disruption that extended into many domains of their individual and shared lived worlds. In those and subsequent interviews (August, 2004, 2005), they spoke of experiencing a great deal of distress at the uncertainty evoked by the profound changes in their lives and communities. Residents' worlds were, in their own words, "turned upside down," "the rug was pulled out from under their feet," their "legs were taken out from under you," and it was "as though someone had put marbles under your feet." For those who lost their homes there was a profound sense of being dislocated - "You don't belong anywhere. There's this fire and all that went with the fire, and then this strange feeling, this strange, not belonging anywhere." Many of the residents, whether they had lost their homes or not were, as one resident offered, "like fish out of water," and, like fish out of water they were suddenly conscious of that which, until that point, had been largely out of their awareness: "So it seems to me that once you're a fish out of water you're always looking for water" (Brian 01). What the "water" consisted of in the case of survivors of the McLure Fire included the material and symbolic markers of their relationship to themselves, others, their immediate context, and the larger world. Significant aspects of their orienting frameworks were lost as a result of the material losses - their sense of belonging as referenced by their homes, material possessions, community-landmarks, and the local environment/landscape. At the same time, with the loss and/or disruption of jobs and businesses, many also lost their sense of purpose and their means of income generation. The fire also impacted residents' sense of safety and continuity as represented by routines, predictability, and anticipated life trajectories. 128 The fire disrupted the coherence and continuity of residents' personal and shared/social stories of self. The psychological and emotional intensity and suffering that characterized their disorientation was shaped in part by personal characteristics, social groupings and affiliations, and varied depending on a number of situational and contextual conditions. Given the diversity of the participants in terms of personal characteristics (e.g., gender, age, socioeconomic status), social roles (e.g., ranchers, mi l l workers, entrepreneurs, parents, housewives), and the degree and nature of losses, it is not possible in the context of this study to describe all of the material and symbolic aspects of disorientation or the ways in which the process differed across the various subcultures of the disaster. I have focused my discussion, therefore, on several of the most apparent and common of these aspects. I begin by describing the extent of material loss and the devastation of the immediate locale because these material consequences of the fire were the most immediately obvious as an observer, and because they were such a defining aspect of the disaster and the disorientation that followed. I then focus attention on a number of the symbolic losses: (a) degree of disruption to routines; (b) perceived sense of ongoing threat; (c) scope of sense of dislocation arising from the evacuation, loss of homes, job loss; and (e) perceived loss of control. In some very important ways, the attempt to distinguish these as separate aspects of disorientation is artificial. It is perhaps more accurate to think in terms of a contextual network in which innumerable conditions and processes mutually and co-extensively influenced the disorientation process for residents of Barriere and Louis Creek. Degree and Extent of Personal Losses Residents identified the macro (e.g., regional and community level) and micro (e.g., individual and family level) economic and material impacts as having a profound impact on their post-fire lives (e.g., job loss, loss of businesses, loss of houses and possessions). They also reported experiencing a variety of cognitive and emotional responses to the acute and chronic stresses of the post-disaster environment (e.g., difficulty with memory and decision making, labile emotions). In general, the greater the extent of major material losses (e.g., lost homes, businesses, or the means of employment) the greater the sense of disorientation. For these residents, so many orienting frameworks were disrupted or destroyed that for some, particularly those who suffered 129 the loss of their homes, much of what was familiar and routine to them was lost and had to be reinvented. Many of those residents of Louis Creek who were interviewed, for instance, expressed a profound sense of disorientation describing the feeling as one of "hanging in the air;" "waiting and not being sure what we're waiting for;" "not belonging;" "not understanding;" and "out of control." They described themselves as "stressed right out," "anxious," "going' through a range of emotions, up and down, up and down," and losing weight, not sleeping, and not eating well . For many of those who lost their jobs, the disorientation stemmed not only from the loss of purpose and economic stability, but also from the difficult choices that seemed to flow from those losses. Many ex-Tolko workers were forced to consider moving away to find work in another mi l l or staying in their community and reinvent themselves in some entrepreneurial fashion. One Barriere resident talked of her anguish at having to leave her home, one spoke emotionally of how she saw herself as "an invisible vict im" of the fires. Others talked of "a way of life being wiped out" as they watched close friends and their friends' families move away. Y o u get into a place that's been, you know, for 50 years has been dealing with one corporation...there's a whole culture around that. I mean the community halls were built around that. The schools are around that. Everything is around that. When you take that away people are just devastated, they just really don't know where to go. (Brian 02) Extent of Devastation in the Immediate Locale The impact of the fire on the immediate neighbourhood and environment or landscape also seemed to play a significant role in the intensity of the disorientation. For those few in Barriere who had lost their homes, there was a sense of disorientation at the distinctness of their experience, compared with that of their neighbours. They had returned to devastation, but because their community had been largely spared, they were in some important ways outliers in their community, experiencing emotions and practical and material challenges that their neighbours and friends were not, and feeling dislocated from their collective. On the one hand, those in Barriere who had experienced the impending threat, the evacuation, and the drive back into their community through the devastated landscape and the charred remains of Louis Creek, expressed a sense of disorientation at the lack of damage in their immediate environment. They spoke of a surreal sense upon walking out their front doors 130 and seeing no signs of the fire, while knowing of the fires damage and still experiencing their visceral response to the threat (e.g., fear, hyper-arousal, being on alert). I think everyone I talked to when I first came back, and everyone still , there is this deep seated.. .It's not fear but this deep seated, I don't even know how to explain it. They feel that it did affect them emotionally, physically, and everything else. Whether they lost anything or not. It is taking everyone here a very long time to get over that. (Peaches 01) For those in Louis Creek, the disorientation seemed to be more complete because of the extent of the damage, this time to the immediate surround. The forested hills that had surrounded them were bare, charred, and denuded of foliage and the immediate environment of Louis Creek was barren of organic material. Key landmarks, particular trees, the Tolko sawmill, the antique store, were gone. Neighbour's homes, once hidden from view, were now apparent in their absence, their charred remains exposed by the lack of intervening foliage. Residents spoke of the shock of realizing they had neighbours they never knew were there. Ranchers who had lived in the area for all their lives spoke of their disorientation especially in geographical terms. They described riding onto ranges they had worked for years and which they could no longer recognize, searching for trails that were no longer there. Y o u know, you can hardly recognize where you were even though you're going up and down the road a mil l ion times and, you know, all these favourite little trick trails that we used to ride and, and I can't even find it, you're never gonna look at the country the same way. (Timber 01) Similarly, residents who had had the fire burn right up to but not destroy their homes also spoke of the disorientating changes in their environment: "It was, it was so treed down there, you could get lost and now it was like you looked at, actually I haven't been down there since" (Sharonna 01). Degree of Disruption to Routines For those who lost their homes and/or employment, the loss of routines in almost every domain of their lives became an enormously disorienting factor leading to a pervasive sense of uncertainty and fatigue. In the absence of routines and familiar possessions and surroundings, every action required focused attention. They also spoke of how "everything is a challenge" and how "beaten down tired" they were. Many of those who lost their homes and had children at home also described feeling out of step with the routines of the community, and described a new 131 lack of confidence in their parenting. Residents describe men, in particular, as "lost" and "useless" in the wake of losing their jobs at the mill. Perceived Sense of Ongoing Threat Although residents returned to their communities little over a week after their evacuation, the McLure Fire and other forest fires continued to burn well into the fall of 2003. In the following summer, the weather was again hot and extremely dry and the charred landscape, the smell of smoke, and the sound of helicopters and water bombers was a constant reminder of the ongoing possibility of another fire. You've got to go back to your normal stuff and you couldn't and then it would flare up again and then it would run again and it just was always there. You couldn't do what you needed to do. (Timber 01) Residents described a greater awareness of the unpredictability of natural forces, and, for many, a sense of violation and vulnerability that they had never previously experienced. Residents' sense of safety, constructed to some degree through the establishment of day-to-day routines, was exposed through the threat of the fire, the ongoing fear of further fires, and the lost networks of familiarity (e.g., possessions, predictable routines, familiar environment). Scope of Dislocation Arising from Evacuation Even for those who experienced little to no material losses, the experience of evacuation, of being forced to flee their homes and then being kept away by armed police, was itself disorienting. During the evacuation, residents temporarily lost connection with relational networks and the familiar surroundings of their homes and their communities. At the same time, they experienced the radical uncertainty of not knowing what would survive or be inalterably changed by the fire. They described having experienced a deep sense of disorientation at having been uprooted and threatened that was still apparent up to 2 years after the fire. The people who were evacuated were more traumatized than the people that stayed and damn near burned up. The people that lost nothing, but were evacuated, like I said before. We know several people that, they will never get over that evacuation, that not knowing what happened to their home. (Thompson 02) It's a displacement, it's a feeling of displacement... but that being displaced from your home, that, you know, just having somebody come by and say you have to leave, you 132 have to leave your home, that's just an incredibly terrible feeling of powerlessness. It's powerlessness, helplessness, and just mass confusion. (Marg 01) A number of residents told of still having boxes packed during the evacuation, which remained packed because they wanted to be ready in the event of another fire, or because they did not want to remind themselves of the evacuation experience by unpacking them. A n area counselor described how, for some of her clients, just leaving Barriere had been disorienting. Many of her clients, she said, were marginalized by poverty and used to l iving relatively isolated lives and they may not have left the community for months and months at a time under normal circumstances. She described their experience of having to evacuate as "an avalanche coming down." Perceived Measure of Control in Addressing their Situation The sense of loss of control that pervaded the evacuation experience continued more for some residents than others upon their return. The degree of disorientation, tied as it was to the extent of the personal and community damage suffered, meant that those who had lost more personally (e.g., homes, businesses, employment) was exacerbatedby residents' ability to address, or not, their immediate situation upon return to the community. Because the recovery process was controlled primarily by individuals and organizations that were not part of the community, many of those most adversely affected experienced a further degree of disorientation at their inability to control the direction, timing, and manner of their recovery process. People who were used to being very private were all of a sudden exposed to each other and to strangers as needy and dependent. Many residents pointed to the reliance on others as contributing to a consuming and acutely disturbing sense of not knowing, describing this as the most difficult and distressing aspect of their situation. Disorientation seemed to be less acute for who were able to establish a greater sense of control over their situation, either because they were not struggling with such extensive losses, or because of their personal coping styles, their relative positions of power in the communities and/or in the recovery process, or their direct involvement with the recovery efforts. 133 Summary of Disorientation When residents returned to Barriere and Louis Creek, they returned to a changed landscape. Some faced the loss of homes and businesses, others the loss of their jobs with the Tolko mi l l . For most the routine and familiar aspects of their lives had been disrupted and for many the fire resulted in an increased sense of vulnerability and an ongoing sense of uncertainty. As observed in the residents' stories, there was a sense of disorientation that was characterized by a general and sometimes profound sense of distress, bewilderment, and grief, and a sense of unreality or what several described as a "surreal experience." This latter feeling began with the "almost fi lm-like" sensory experience of the fire's approach as the roar of the flames drowned out normal sounds, the heat and smoke grew more intense, and they were faced with choosing what parts of their lives they would or could take with them in the mass evacuation. The disorientation continued in the mass exodus of the evacuation as they drove out of town, cars piled with what belongings they had rescued, overheating cars lining the road to their uncertain future. The sense of being removed from time and place was prolonged as they "sat in limbo" in hotels and evacuation centers awaiting word of the fate of their homes and their community. It was made even more unreal as they drove through dramatically and permanently altered landscapes. Landscapes that had been forested and familiar were now, on their return, transformed, blackened, and in many profound ways rendered completely unfamiliar. For those who returned to destroyed homes and businesses, the disorientation deepened in the face of the loss of the most basic components of their lives: their possessions, their neighbours and friends, the physical markers of their neighbourhood and of their community. A t the heart of this disorientation were myriad disconnections from the orienting networks that had grounded residents in their lives. The social-relational and geographic place they called home had been irreversably altered. In the next section, I describe the central social-psychological process of reorientation as a way of understanding the individual and collective process of negotiating the recovery from the disorientation associated with the McLure Fire disaster. Reorientation When residents of Barriere and Louis Creek found their place in the world dramatically changed by the McLure Fire, they described engaging in a complex process of individually and 134 collective negotiation and adjustment or reorientation. The motivation for reorientation was the disorientation residents' experienced in the wake of the fire and the need to concretely address the variety of changes that provoked that disorientation. This included working to recreate their lives in the context of significant changes to the orientating frameworks of individual and collective subjectivities through the referents available to them. Although the term "disaster recovery" describes a complex, multi-faceted process involving a diverse array of sub-processes across mutiple domains of living, as was seen in the analysis of media texts the discursive practice of recovery focuses attention primarily on the material and economic aspects of reconstructing the lives and communities of those affected by disasters. Reorientation is, therefore, not suggested as a term to replace recovery, but rather as a term to describe a core component of the social psychological process of recovery that has been obscured by the material and economic focus of the dominant discourse of recovery. In Table 4,1 present an overview of the reorientation process. The linear format of the table is not meant to imply linearity in the process, which is understood to be overlapping and interactional. Further, in keeping with a post-structural understanding of identity as relational, reorientation is posited to involve both the individual and the collective in a recursive and mutually informing process. In Figure 4,1 present a diagram of the Reorientation process as I have constructed it. I propose Remembering and Forgetting as a general mechanism of reorientation. I then describe the overarching processes, Recreating and Redefining Self Redefining Self in Community, Redefining an Ontological Relationship with the World, and finally, several significant examples of the manifestation of the reorientation process in the community. 135 Table 4: Reorientation - Key mechanisms and processes G e n e r a l M e c h a n i s m s Processes R e m e m b e r i n g a n d F o r g e t t i n g Story telling Revisiting Avoiding Comparing Moving on R e c r e a t i n g Iden t i t y Re-defining self Re-asserting individuality Re-establishing routines R e - c r e a t i n g B e l o n g i n g Re-accumulating possessions Downsizing R e - g r e e n i n g the e n v i r o n m e n t R e - d e f i n i n g Se l f i n C o m m u n i t y Homogeneity/diversity of losses Tolko Mill as a symbolic anchor Finding a community voice R e - d e f i n i n g a n O n t o l o g i c a l R e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h the W o r l d Seeing the opportunity in crisis Co l l ec t i ve M a n i f e s t a t i o n s L o w e r N o r t h T h o m p s o n C o m m u n i t y F o r e s t Soc ie ty L o w e r N o r t h T h o m p s o n V o l u n t e e r a n d I n f o r m a t i o n C e n t e r S h i f t i n g Sta tus o f the N o r t h T h o m p s o n I n d i a n B a n d A 136 R E O R I E N T A T I O N Figure 13: General Mechanisms and Key Processes of Reorientation following the McLure Fire 137 Remembering and Forgetting Residents, who had suffered losses as a result of the fire, whether material or symbolic, went through a paradoxical process of remembering and forgetting. In the macro sense of this process, residents remembered or were re/minded (put in mind again) of the fragility of the illusion of permanence, safety, and predictability of life. Although the fire initially sparked an awareness of the transience and impermanence of life in most i f not all residents, with time most of those living in Barriere were working to consign that awareness once again to the background of consciousness. This process of remembering and forgetting was particularly apparent with those who had lost their homes and possessions. Even at the second anniversary interviews, these participants spoke of the continued process of being reminded of their losses each time they looked out their window, or reached for an item. Everything was so changed and pervasively new that it was a constant reminder of what they had lost and of new losses discovered in the navigating of activities and relationships. Story telling. Almost everyone I met in the initial stages of this study (February, 2004) seemed to need to tell their story of the fire, but for Barriere residents who had lost little in the way of material goods, this need gave way in the first year to the competing need to put the fire behind them. A s early as the end of October 2003 residents were talking about putting the fire behind them: " A lot of people in the community just said 'Enough!' and we need to get on with what we need to do." (Mac 01). Even though residents engaged in an ongoing process of remembering the fire through story telling and reflection, the majority of Barriere residents for whom the evacuation was the primary experience wanted to return to normal as quickly as possible. B y the anniversary interviews, most of those with whom I spoke were actively engaged in the process of putting the fire out of mind. Revisiting. Although in some ways the losses were abundantly apparent in the reports of eye witnesses and the media, personally seeing the devastation in Louis Creek was a crucial part of the initial process of acknowledging and integrating the losses. Many of them described their need to come again and again to spend time on the sites of what had been their homes "because it maybe made it easier to see that it was gone" (Jan 01). Residents of Louis Creek also spoke of a continual process of being reminded of their losses through the experiencing and re-experiencing the losses in the daily activities of reestablishing dwellings, routines, and normalcy. 138 They described how with each activity they engaged in they would remember something they had forgotten they had lost. Pam talked of making jam and going to put it in the root cellar only to remember that they no longer had a root cellar, or going to bake a birthday cake for her son and remembering that she had lost her cook books, and her cake tin. Jan spoke of being reminded of a treasured possession she had lost because it was featured in a photograph she had managed to save. All of a sudden it will, you'll be thinking, you know, of something in a box. Like that ornament that I'm holding in that picture. I've still got the ornament and I haven't let it go yet. I came out here a whole bunch of times looking for a piece for that ornament. I couldn't find it. I never did.. .1 just kept it, just to look at it one more time. (Jan 01) Avoiding. For many of these residents, the visual reminders of the fire were largely out of sight. The immediate environment and hillsides were treed, gardens and lawns were recovering from the drought and heat of the previous summer, and animals and birds that had fled the fire were gradually returning to the area. Residents spoke of being tired of hearing about the fires and wanting to move on, framing the continued need of others to talk of the fire as unhealthy and unnecessary. Right now I want to forget it completely, push it back far enough that it's not in the forefront. To not hear about it anymore. To just go on and not keep sliding back to that year. We're all on the, should be on the recovery list. (Peaches 01) Boxes of possessions that had remained packed since the evacuation were emblematic of the paradoxical nature of this process of remembering and forgetting as residents navigated the challenge of having these reminders around even as they were trying to avoid being reminded. I can't go back and unpack those boxes, it would be too painful. I can't because it'll take me right back to when I was putting them in the boxes and I don't ever want to go there again. (Kay 01) At a collective level, this process of avoiding was also manifest in the lack of attention or visibility of that which was most vividly a reminder of the fires. As was evidenced in the media accounts of recovery, despite or perhaps because Louis Creek had suffered the most damage, the community seemed ironically invisible at times to many of those living in Barriere. As the most apparent site of destruction, many residents seemed to want to forget Louis Creek, avoiding specific mention of the community in their conversations about the fire, or subsuming the experiences of those living in Louis Creek in discussions that failed to differentiate the 139 experiences of those who had lost homes from those who had not. As one Louis Creek resident put it, "I feel like the fire left us naked and invisible." Residents of both communities spoke of friends who actively avoided driving through the burned areas of the North Thompson Valley because they found it too upsetting. When asked about their experiences in the year following the fire, most of those from Barriere who were interviewed made scant references to the loss of homes in Louis Creek, focusing instead on the economic challenges facing their community. In some ways this tendency to focus on those experiences that were most directly salient to their own lives was unremarkable. On the other hand, however, given the proximity of the two communities and that fact that many in Barriere spoke explicitly of Louis Creek being a part of their community the absence of reflection or comments on the state of Louis Creek was notable. Even in the first interviews, approximately 6 months following the fire, surprisingly few references were made to the struggles of residents from Louis Creek, many of whom were still dislocated and most of whom were still actively engaged in rebuilding their lives from the ground up. Comparing. Another strategy of forgetting, described as a distraction strategy, was gossip. The tendency to gossip was attributed to the need to distract from anxiety about their situation - "it's better to worry about someone else's situation than worry about your own." Much of the gossip focused on who was accessing what aid, a process made easier by virtue of the visibility and lack of confidentiality afforded residents living in such small communities. The activity was described as equally present amongst groups of men and women but manifest differently. Men, particularly those who had lost their jobs as a result of the mill closure, were described as gathering at the coffee shop to talk about "finding a job," or "running the community," or "spreading rumours as to what has or hasn't happened." Women, on the other hand, were described as "having the time on their hands to reflect and worry" and were attributed with responsibility for the "finger pointing," the angry calls to the newspaper and various local agencies, and the spreading of fear. Moving on. Some residents acknowledged that there were different trajectories for those who "were still trying to catch up" (i.e., those who had lost homes) as opposed to those who were "moving on" (i.e., those whose homes were intact). Others spoke in disparaging terms of those, who in their eyes, were not moving on as quickly or completely as they should. As one 140 Barriere resident put it in the summer after the fire, "there should be a statute of limitations on how long people cling to the fire" and "blame" the fire for how they were doing. By the second year even most of those who had lost their homes spoke of wanting to move on and not talk about the fire anymore. At a community gathering in Louis Creek on the second anniversary weekend of the fires, the community celebrated the rebuilding of a landmark antique store. Its resurrection in its new form and location (it was built on a slightly different part of the property) signified a milestone in this process of reorienting. During the event, residents shared stories and photographs of what had once been and was now lost but they also spoke of wanting to forget the fire, to not have it be so much in the center of it, and their desire to get on with life. Recreating Identity In the process of reorienting, residents were engaged in some very meaningful ways in recreating and redefining themselves - "We're involved with the reinvention of ourselves and our world" (Sam 02). For some, this process of reinvention meant coming to know parts of themselves that had previously been less clear.. This included a new understanding of the possibility of catastrophe in their lives: "You go through these kinds of things realizing who you are, what the world is, and what can happen to people" (Peaches 02). Redefining Self. Some residents engaged in an active struggle to incorporate their need for assistance into their previous conception of themselves as "self-reliant," "fiercely independent," and "proud." It's very humbling to have to accept money and things and donations and whatnot from people when we've always been very, very independent. We've taken care of ourselves since we both left home, you know, we have never had to ask for money or anything so that's been hard. (Pam 01) This struggle to hold onto their sense of independence and self-reliance translated for some to a more deferential and cautious relationship with authority that made it difficult to interact with the systems involved in the recovery process and at times prevented them from approaching aid organizations. Residents who received donated goods spoke of their gratitude and how receiving help had changed their outlook on themselves and others. For some this translated into a sense of wanting to find ways to reciprocate and for others into a shift in their outlook: 141 I think it makes you a kinder person. I think it makes me a more forgiving person.. .1 understand people more, understand their anger more, and just really appreciate life more. I think I am a more generous person than I was before. So maybe it made me a more active part of humanity too. It has changed me. (Thompson 02) It certainly opened my eyes to a side of society that I had never witnessed before. I feel now that I am a luckier person to have been able to experience.that generosity, that side of man. (Shish 02) For other residents their experience of themselves as self-reliant had not shifted but they had had to integrate a sense that this self-sufficiency was not necessarily an asset in a process that provided so much help for people who were "less responsible" and "lazy." Some who had insurance and watched uninsured residents getting what they perceived as more help than they had, now described themselves as "the have nots," and those who were uninsured as "the haves" or the "chosen ones." As one resident described it, "there was resentment there, that I paid my insurance all my life and 'Joe Schmoe' never paid a cent and why are they getting a free trailer?" Reasserting individuality. In dealing with multiple relief and recovery agencies (e.g., North Thompson Relief Fund, Canadian Red Cross, Emergency Social Service) people also felt the need to reassert their individuality. They described feeling diminished by the impersonalizing characteristic of the various bureaucratic systems with which they were dealing. They described a sense that in the face of the needs assessments conducted by various non-governmental agencies and relief funds, their individual identity was replaced by their classification as victims, further defined by categories of loss. Residents reasserted their individuality in the face of what they described as feeling "worse than a second class citizen," experiencing a "sense of violation," and "a loss of dignity." In order to address this depersonalization they sometimes avoided accessing aid, or confronted aid providers with their sense of indignation. One of the few residents in Barriere to lose his home, for instance, spoke angrily about his experience of being seen not as a human but as a loss category, a "total burnout," and having that loss totalized in ways that did not validate what had survived: "I'm not a total burnout and I'm not a total loss. I've still got a family" (Cliff 01). Reestablishing routines. Regardless of their material losses, residents were uniform in their desire to reestablish routines as quickly as possible. People talked of their need to "get back to normal" as quickly as possible and what a struggle it was to have a "semblance" of normality. Those who lost their homes were particularly impacted by the loss of routines in almost every 142 aspect of their lives. They also spoke of how "everything is a challenge" and how "beaten down tired" they were. In the face of so much disorientation even the most mundane (e.g., brushing teeth, dressing, reaching for a casserole dish or a tool) now required focused attention. For these residents there was no longer an automatic pilot option. The time frame for reestablishing normal routines for those who had to rebuild their homes was necessarily longer as there was so much more to put in place before routines could be established. This resulted in these residents feeling out of step often with the larger community. Some residents from Louis Creek described avoiding "going out into the world" in order to avoid comments about them being "back to normal" when they felt "far from it." This also included avoiding joint (Barriere and Louis Creek) community meetings about the recovery process because they believed that people in Barriere would judge them because they were still focused on recovery - " Y o u didn't feel like saying anything 'cause it, like you were crying and whining kind of thing" (Pam 02). The reestablishing of community routines at times conflicted with families who were still rebuilding their homes and lives even two years after the fire. A s Sam (03) described it, "It's two years after the fire and we are still in the initial processes of rebuilding our world. A n d who, who is it that understands that? Who sees it? It's invisible." Many of those who lost their homes and had children at home also described feeling out of step with the routines of the community, and described a new lack of confidence in their parenting. Although most residents spoke of the importance of the school reopening on time in the September following the fire (2003), a number of those had lost their homes talked the following summer (August, 2004) of having had to manage ongoing practical and emotional struggles to support their children's ability to meet the demands of school while they were living in the midst of a construction zone, and in the absence of some of the basic domestic routines they had yet to reestablish. Nancy (01) talked of enormous anxiety and difficulties in trying to reestablish her children's routines (e.g., school and after school activities, bedtimes, mealtimes) during an extended period of l iving in a borrowed home while also rebuilding their home. Likewise, Pam and Richard (02) spoke of their son's forced growth in autonomy and independence because they could not take him to sports and other extracurricular activities given the amount of time and energy they needed in order to reestablish not only their home but Richard's home-based business that had also burned down. 143 The loss of the mill and the uncertainty of how to replace those jobs meant that for many ex-Tolko families familiar routines were also difficult to effectively reestablish. A number of them found work in other communities and regions and became absentee parents, leaving their partners, almost without exception women, to parent alone. Several residents described the emotional and practical difficulties of this arrangement: It's a horrible thing to watch people that you've grown up with and played ball with and curled with and had a good strong working relationship with, um, strong independent families, it tears you apart to watch what's happening to their families. Their children are being left. It's not right. (Brian 01) Recreating Belonging The threat to or destruction of homes underscored the interconnection between the questions "Who am I?" and "Where am I?" Residents of both communities expressed a deep pull to return to the place they called home and everyone spoke of a pressing sense of urgency to reestablish themselves as quickly as possible following the fire. Everything was steady here. I felt safe here. It's like the difference between a good driver and a bad driver. The good driver knows her way, knows like it is familiar to her. A bad driver is how I felt like when I came here, I was home again but there was no house, there was nothing here. (Jan 01) Residents spoke of the urgency as being driven, in part, by pragmatic considerations regarding the upcoming winter - the availability of alternate accommodations and the time-limited presence of aid. For those whose homes were uninsured, the initial uncertainty regarding rebuilding was most acute because most did not have the finances to rebuild and reestablish themselves. Financial help from the North Thompson Relief Fund and volunteer labour from Mennonite Disaster Services and other Christian and secular aid organizations made the physical rebuilding of uninsured homes possible. By the first anniversary of the fire most residents in Louis Creek and Barriere, who had lost their homes, had rebuilt at least to the point of occupancy. Beyond the pragmatic consideration of shelter, the rebuilding of homes seemed overwhelmingly to be a process of reconnecting with their sense of rootedness or their belonging in place. Although the physical structures were there, a house, according to many, was not a home. As one Louis Creek resident put it, "It's not just your house, it's your heart that's lost" (Richard 01). Many of those 144 interviewed the first year spoke of a continued sense of dislocation. They described feeling "not at home," in their new homes: This house feels still like a hotel. You know, we've been in here since Christmas. It really felt like a hotel the first little while because you'd come into it, this is your house, great, except none of the furniture is yours. What's in that china cabinet? It's pretty much what was saved from the fire aside from a few pictures and a few photos. That was ours. Everything else is brand new. The walls are brand new. The house is brand new. You feel like you're in a hotel. It took me probably three weeks before I started to think, oh that's okay, if the newspaper's on the floor, you know. (Thompson 01) Re-Accumulating possessions. Not surprisingly, residents who had lost their homes also spoke emotionally of the loss of photographs and treasured items, those material objects that were imbued with and supported the telling of their autobiographies to themselves and others. However, residents also spoke of the loss of everyday objects, particular items of clothing and domestic and work-related tools in similar terms. In addition to their functional roles, these every day items performed a symbolic role, as markers of familiarity and continuity in residents' lives. As Pam described it, "we lost our lifestyle not just a few possessions" and "we went from rolls to the rails" overnight. In their instrumental role, the loss of clothes, kitchen implements, work-related tools, furniture for example, caused enormous disruption in terms of routines and the ability of residents to function normally. They described feeling "bombarded by newness" and "overwhelmed by decisions." Everything is a challenge, like everything. I go to bake a cake and oh, I'll just look up a birthday cake. Hmmm, a recipe, I've got a cupboard full of recipe books that were given to me. I've got to start searching through to find a cake recipe. You know, and I had everything at my fingertips before. Oh, and then I went to make a pie the other day, I couldn't find a pie plate. Simple things and yet you can't quite put it together and you think what is wrong with me mentally. (Pam 02) Residents described the challenges inherent in having to constantly take stock of what they had and did not have as they tried to carry out even the most mundane of activities in the two years following the fire. Engaging in any activity meant having to determine whether or not they had what was needed to enter into and complete the activity, and if not, how or whether they would replace the missing item(s). With each step of the process of returning to normal, with each new season, new questions would arise as to what would, could, or should be replaced. 145 Richard lived and worked in a home-based business in Louis Creek. He talked of his ongoing uncertainty and lack of confidence in undertaking new contracts because he did not feel confident that he could successfully complete the job until he entered into and "discovered" what tools or materials he was missing. Sam described a similar lack of certainty and confidence engaging in domestic tasks. Even two years into the process, many of those who lost their homes described feeling fatigued and overwhelmed by the enormity of the myriad decisions they continually needed to make in the absence of long-term familiarity and the real-time process of re-accumulating and establishing a connection and history their possessions. For those with insurance coverage the process of replacing their belongings involved writing an itemized list of all that had been lost. These residents described this process as "very emotional" both because it re/minded them of all that had been lost, and because of the practical challenges of trying to accomplish this memory task. Residents without insurance had limited funds for buying replacement items and had to rely a good deal on donated items. Their new status as recipients of help in the most intimate domain of their lives required a shift in their understanding of themselves, and often in the understanding of others. Y o u haven't done anything wrong but your dignity is gone. A n d people handle you like you've got something wrong with you. Y o u are so emotionally sensitive at the time.. .you're a spark waiting to go. (Thompson 02) Many people who self-identified as frugal and fiscally responsible found that having to spend thousands of dollars evoked a sense of guilt at the volume of things they accumulated over a relatively short period of time. Some spoke of the loss of their possessions as having "put material things into perspective" and provoking a desire to "scale down," but at the same time without exception they pursued replacing their belongings as quickly as possible. Downsizing. The counterpoint to this process of re-accumulation was the downsizing that occurred. For some residents this was a conscious choice arising from the experience of having lost so much and then having to question what would be replaced. For others, particularly some of the ex-Tolko workers, the downsizing was reluctantly considered in the face of their personal economic insecurity as a result of losing their jobs, and the larger context of the economic uncertainty of not knowing what i f anything would replace the Tolko mi l l as a regional employer. Several o f those so affected talked o f the anger and sense o f betrayal they felt at having to consider selling recreational vehicles (e.g., boats, snowmobiles). Such possessions 146 symbolized not only their economic status and, until the fire, their sense of economic security, but also spoke of their connection with the rural environment and the reasons that had drawn man of them to live in Barriere. Regreening the Environment For many of those interviewed, the environmental impact of the fire was unsettling and heartbreaking. Ranchers who had been up in the hills immediately after the fires searching for livestock spoke of the devastating impact of encountering shocking levels of destruction in the forests and rangeland they called home. They also spoke of the trauma of finding riverbeds filled with dead and injured animals and the loss of wildlife in general. The damage to the landscape was most immediately apparent to those living in Louis Creek and on the north and northeastern outskirts of Barriere but the loss of the trees and the charred hills were distressing to many. Nothing is ever going to be the same. In my lifetime I 'm not going to see those trees on the hi l l again. It's just the whole idea that it looked like that, now it looks like this, and we're never going see it look like that again. It's a huge impact. I mean my father-in-law is 87 years old and in his whole entire life he's never experienced anything like this. (Will is 01) There is an emptiness in all of us, an emptiness until the hills look like they did and the grass is green and the animals are all back. We're going to have that hollow that we're not going to be able to f i l l . (Ollie 01) Throughout the communities there seemed to be a profound need to literally recover the scorched ground with green, as though residents needed an aesthetic reminder of the possibility of rebirth from death. The re-greening seemed to be another way in which residents materially and emotionally re-appropriated their environment in order to anchor their identities in this new normal. A n enormous amount of energy was put into re-greening the lawns and gardens of Louis Creek. In the spring following the fire, soil was bought with donated funds to cover the burned ground around the homes of Louis Creek. Donated plants, trees, and seeds were planted and by the second anniversary of the fire (August 2005), trees, and flowers had transformed Louis Creek from a landscape without colour or life to, in some cases, almost park-like conditions. 147 Sam, an avid gardener and resident of Louis Creek, talked of the importance of redeveloping her garden and of her desire to ensure that whatever happened with the Tolko site would include some creation of natural beauty. One resident spoke of her excitement at the return of squirrels to her garden, and another, Ollie, told a story of her granddaughter coming to visit the summer following the fire. The little girl presented Ollie with a pot in which she had started a pine seedling, saying, "Grandma, i f you water that everyday i t ' l l grow pretty good and then when it's big enough we ' l l go plant it in the forest behind your house." Ollie (01) paused after telling the story and then commented, "So you realize we just kind of go on 'cause this is where we're at and this is what has happened." This putting into perspective was very noticeable in the spring and summer following the fire when residents of both communities commented on the green that emerged naturally in the midst of the blackened hills surrounding Louis Creek and throughout the North Thompson Valley. It was for many a sign of hope while at the same time a reminder of change. Nature is growing again but it's growing differently.. .people want it to be back to the same, right what it was before and it w i l l never be, it w i l l never be the same and some people really have a hard time with that. (Betty 01) Thus, the changed environment also served as a reminder to the residents of the economic changes and the resulting changes to community identity and viability. Redefining Self in Community Although in some ways, the fires had, as one resident stated, "put us on the map," the loss in particular of the mi l l meant that Barriere and Louis Creek were collectively faced with the task of reinventing themselves and renegotiating their relationship with each other. A s a result o f the different geography of losses, and the differences in the relative power between Barrier and Louis Creek, the process of redefining community was not the same in the two communities. Homogeneity and diversity of losses. The relative homogeneity of losses in Louis Creek (i.e., the fact that most had lost their homes) seemed to provide some comfort to residents of that community - "this is where the fire was.. .it wasn't just one or two, it helped to know that everybody else lost too. Y o u weren't alone" (Jan 01). Residents described intentionally connecting with each other more than they may have done previously and this bonding-fhrough-shared-suffering seemed to support the re-creation of a positive community identity. In many 148 ways the fires seemed to forge an identity for Louis Creek in a way that that identity had not previously existed. When your little unit of Louis Creek is totally toasted, is gone, then you come into a personal pride. Well, we live here, you know, and this is our community and we want to rebuilt it and make it happen. I don't think I ever had any sense of community until the fire came. (Thompson-02) Those living in Louis Creek spoke of searching out neighbours specifically because they "got it," they "understood where I was coming from." Even residents of Barriere noticed a difference in Louis Creek's presence as a community. As Ken put it, "it seemed to be a reason for somebody trying to create an identity." In Barriere, on the other hand, the diversity and range of the experiences was not as conducive to the kind of bonding that seemed to take place in Louis Creek. Although there was a sense of a powerful, shared experience, this altruistic community seemed to give way more quickly in Barriere. When asked to characterize their community as it was prior to the fire, residents described it as having a fractured identity, being a loose conglomeration of separate identities-an old ranching community, a mill town, a bedroom community to Kamloops-that resulted in different issues and experiences following the fire. I mean, for example, in our street we probably only had two guys who lost their jobs. Well, you know, why would we all band together?.. .So everyone has different issues and there's no single reason for people to unite whereas in Louis Creek there was a reason to unite. (Kay 01) Tolko Mill as a symbolic anchor. The loss of the Tolko mill played an important role in the reorientation process not only for mill workers, but also in the collective reorientation of the individual and shared identities of the two communities. Louis Creek was also the older of the two towns and as the site of the mill it was also an anchor in the stories of many long-time residents of both Barriere and Louis Creek. For some residents of Barriere, the loss of the mill and the homes that surrounded it were experienced as a personal loss. It's kind of tough for our family 'cause a lot of our history got taken away.. .1 mean my grandfather worked there and my father worked there and I worked there and so, you know, it's since, since the 40s. So it's just pretty much wiping out a way of life in an area. (Brian-01) 149 On the other hand, when asked, many of those living in Louis Creek had no sentimental memories of the mill, describing the loss of it as an opportunity to have something more aesthetically pleasing built on the site. Barriere defined itself, at least partially, as a mill town because of its economic dependence on Tolko and many there seemed to equate Louis Creek with its most prominent feature. After the fires residents of the two communities initially reported feeling tied together by the common aspects of their fire experience. In the months that followed, however, and in particular after hope for rebuilding the mill was lost, the economic and symbolic ties that bound the communities together seemed to have diminished. Many Barriere residents believed that the fires had benefited Louis Creek. They spoke of Louis Creek as having been an "eyesore" that now looked "100 percent better than it did.. .200 percent better" (Ned 01). The fire, from this perspective transformed Louis Creek into something more respectable and desirable than it had been. Louis Creek was one of those areas basically, that, you know, that we won't say it was, it was a slum area or anything like that, because it wasn't a slum, but it was a cluttered area where there's a lot of cars, a lot of older homes and we've rebuilt them all now. It's been a, it was a funny deal that it burnt all the homes that probably needed to be replaced. (Ken-01) Residents of Louis Creek, who before the fire had been deemed to be economically marginal, now became "the haves," whereas those who had formed the economic elite, primarily Barriere based Tolko workers, became "the have nots," or as another resident described it, uninsured homeowners in Louis Creek became "the chosen few." This status generated distress, and contributed to the disorientation of ex-Tolko workers as they struggled to define a new role for themselves in the context of their families as breadwinners and as contributing members of the community. There's some dividedness in the community because what used to be the haves, like the mill workers, are the have-nots, they've lost their status. What do they do now? And who are they, you know? So as far as their role in the community or their status in the community, that's where they've slipped." (Mac 01) One aspect of these social aspects of reorientation was an "othering" process in which some residents criticized those whose status they perceived as having unjustly improved as a result of the fire. 150 Why are we all paying insurance, you know? Hundreds of dollars or, whatever, and people felt almost like they were worse off because they paid insurance because it was such a battle with the insurance companies whereas the people who didn't have insurance got, you know, "Oh, poor fellow, we'll give you a house." (Ann 01) They couldn't have insured it because it wasn't worth insuring. Now they're getting a new house, new appliances, and even new vehicles. I pay my insurance all my life and I'm okay with that. I hoped I'd never collect. But these people would rather buy beer and cigarettes and pot, go on fancy vacations and live in a shack, and now it's "Poor me"...that's what burnt us. (Ned 01) A resident who worked with a volunteer organization providing material support to affected residents provided a different perspective: I had to laugh at one person who said, "I'm getting so many people asking why do those people get brand new homes when they lived in a shack," and she said she finally turned around and said, "Well, we can't build new shacks." (Ollie 01) Despite some of the fracturing that occurred between and within the communities, residents of both Barriere and Louis Creek suggested that their sense of community. Organizers of Barriere's Fall Fair attempted to have the annual fair in the September immediately following the fire, both as a visible sign that the community was returning to normal and to provide an opportunity for residents to gather. The circumstances were such that the Fair did not happen, but in that December the Santa Claus parade was one of the largest ever. As a symbolic reminder of the fires and the communities' solidarity and spirit several residents organized to create red scarves that were distributed to everyone at the parade and worn as a symbol of their togetherness. In the two years since the fires, residents in Louis Creek also organized annual community gatherings to mark the anniversary of the fire, something which had not occurred previously. For many of the residents of Louis Creek, the loss of the Tolko mill had little to do with their direct economic viability, as relatively few residents of that community worked there. So, perhaps ironically, although in some symbolic ways the loss of the Tolko mill had reduced Louis Creek's visibility and presence for Barriere residents, this loss seemed to have solidified and empowered Louis Creek's collective identity for residents in that community. Finding a community voice. Very early on in the process, the homogeneity of the losses and the trajectory of recovery seemed to facilitate Louis Creek's creation and development of a voice in the allocation of the recovery funds. At the suggestion of the Mennonite Disaster 151 Services and other disaster response organizations, the community formed a recovery committee that took on the job of negotiating with the North Thompson Relief Fund and the Thompson Nicola Regional District. Their goal was to ensure that residents' needs were met and that information garnered through one resident's experiences, for example with reestablishing property lines or getting power and telephone lines restored, was shared with others. The hope was that this would eliminate the need to start from square one with each new challenge. Conversely, in Barriere, where the losses lacked this homogeneity, no single voice seemed capable of speaking for the various subcultures (e.g., ranchers, ex-Tolko workers, those involved with tourism). In the absence of this internal-solidarity, a new emphasis on regional identity emerged, espoused by those in positions of power (e.g., Provincial and Regional District representatives, Economic Development Officer) as a necessary evolution in the identity of the communities if they were to rebuild a sustainable economic future. This regional focus, driven as it was by economics, in many ways was a shift from the more traditional rural identity they had embraced before the fire, based as it was in their distinctiveness and differences between communities. The Valley has traditionally been, very peripherally within itself, there's been a real sense of distinction about each little place. And now we need to be all together here. And, so we're sort of bucking our own tradition, in a way. (Alice 01) Another manifestation of this collective identity reorientation emerged as a renewed interest, particularly amongst business leaders in Barriere, in incorporation. Residents reported that the notion of incorporation had arisen previously and been defeated by those who did not believe the benefits would outweigh the increase in taxes associated with such a move. Residents attributed much of the previous resistance to the idea to "old families" who formed the "power base" in Barriere. Incorporation was positioned as a response to problems that seemed to have arisen during and after the fire as a result of their being no municipal leadership structure. There was an assumption, within Barriere at least, that it, being the larger of the two communities, would subsume Louis Creek within its boundaries. Redefining an Ontological Relationship with the World Residents most commonly identified the discomfort of uncertainty as the most significant challenge they faced in the post-fire environment. This was true whether they had suffered 152 material losses or not. Many talked of "a loss of innocence," of "being shaken out of their comfort zones," and "having to grow up a lot" in the process. Others spoke of living now in a "world of no guarantees," and realizing that they had been living "like ostriches sticking our heads in the sand." For some, this seemed to engender a shift in the prioritizing of values. For still others, there was a sense of curiosity about what exactly it was they were struggling with. I don't think we really realize how changed we all are. We have so much. We're protected. We have so much freedom.. .so how could this terrible thing happen to us? It's really interesting when you get down to what it is that is we're feeling. What is it we're holding on to? What is it we can't get by. There's a vulnerability.. .if that's the right word, that we didn't realize we had. (Ollie 01) Still others, particularly ex-Tolko workers, expressed bitterness and disappointment that they had been treated callously by a company for which they had worked for many years and betrayed by a government they had believed would protect their interests and those of their community. I had this expectation growing up in school, you know, through school that in time of disaster that you'd be taken care of -we live in a very civilized, very wealthy, opulent era and that we would be taken care of- it was very shocking to me not to be. (Brian 02) Some reported a similar disappointment because of some of the greed they observed amongst community members. They expressed a sense of grief at their loss of faith in the essential goodness of people. It was a disappointing time, some of them were so desperately greedy.. .it was heart breaking.. .you sort of lose your faith in your fellow man. (Peaches 01) On the other hand, several of those who had interacted more closely with and received help from the Christian aid organizations involved in rebuilding homes reported a renewed sense of hope at their recognition of the kindness and spontaneous compassion of the many that had generously responded to their plight. It has changed me knowing that there are people who are out there that don't know you.. .you could be a convicted murderer, they don't know, but they'll come and help you. That's a pretty moving thing. (Thompson 02) For some the experience of the dislocation from home and the threat of the fire increased their awareness of their vulnerability: "We're all very complacent. I think that last year has done a lot to make people realize that our lives aren't as secure, and stable, and safe as we have led 153 ourselves to believe" (Peaches 01). For Marg, this was also tied to making connections between her experience and those of people in developing nations. I keep thinking that mother nature wants us white folks to have an idea of what survivor terror is because it's happening all over the world and we're so able to distance ourselves from it here... You know, like what is happening for millions of people in the Sudan. But it hit me very deeply that other people could just tell you, you couldn't go to your home and physically keep you from doing it. The oppression of that seemed overwhelming to me and again, I'm not sure why, but at a depth that I can hardly describe. (Marg 01) For many the shift in orientation included a commitment to focusing more time and energy on family and friends. You get that feeling that you are mortal, you know, mortality is not part of your lifestyle. That's something we really felt after the fire. It really came home to us. You've got to stop and smell the roses, got to hug your kids, pat your dog. Cause they might not be here tomorrow. (Thompson 03) Seeing the Opportunity in Crisis During the two years of this process, a number of residents commented on new insights and perhaps more expansive understandings they had developed of the potential for the McLure Fire to spawn opportunities for growth and learning. A major emphasis was on the increased sense of connection with each other that the fire seemed to have promoted. One resident suggested the fire had prompted "new motion," and "a willingness to fight for our own community identity." Marg (01) believed the experience had "pulled this community together more than it has ever been," and saw the disorientation as an opportunity to move out of "status quo concepts" and "stand up" for rural communities. A fewer number of residents described the fire as a creative opportunity, the source for "creation and change" (Betty 01). Sam (03) talked of how the fire had galvanized her and forged a new sense of direction. She described the fire as "an opening" and "an influx of energy," suggesting that if the energy could be harnessed and directed it could be transformative. I do perceive that it is a real window of opportunity now for this community. And, you know, there are people out there that really are not able to deal with their problems or to move forward and they need help. And we need to strengthen communication lines and find a communal voice and, and, and, and that's a huge opportunity. (Sam 03) 154 Manifesting Reorientation The energy and transformed frames of reference described by Marg, Sam, and others in describing the shifts in their ontological relationship with the world were further evidenced in various practices of individuals and groups. It was particularly evident at the individual level in those who decided to reinvent themselves in the wake of losing their jobs. Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention and a number of individuals created new businesses for themselves in order to stay in their community. At the collective level, there was also the emergence of a number of initiatives and some realignments of power within the communities. Lower North Thompson Community Forest Society. In the midst of the process following the fires, the provincial government announced a change in the timber licensing regulations, a move that many believed was the final nail in the coffin of the Tolko mi l l owners' decision not to reopen. In response to Tolko's decision, a group of community members formed the idea of applying for a community forest license - a license that would provide for the transfer of timber licenses and decision-making powers to the local community with the expectation that it take a more active stewardship role in the management of the local forest. The initiative involved a group of volunteers - foresters, business people with industry expertise, ex-Tolko workers, and concerned citizens - and resulted in the formation of the Lower North Thompson Community Forest Society (Forest Society). In order to be successful in applying for a community forest license, the society had to demonstrate the support of the community. The Forest Society engaged in a door-to-door campaign and developed outreach programs in the schools, which by their accounts generated a sense of empowerment that had until that time not been characteristic of the recovery process. A l l o f these things were coming at us from Victoria and from Kamloops as to what would be good for us but without us having any say in it other than our one T N R D voice which was too small. So you know the people had to get together here and that is powerful and the people have always had that potential but no one's ever believed their vote made a difference.. .but i f the people get together the governors have to listen. (Marg 01) It has balls this group, you know, and I think its cause is just. It's got do with taking control.. . I 'm hoping that this group in the end w i l l have a bit of clout and a bit of say in what goes around here and instead of it always being the same people. (Nan 01) After much lobbying and many volunteer hours researching and developing a proposal, the society was successful in being awarded a relatively small license for 20,000 cubic meters of 155 timber (primarily beetle kill). The Forest Society then joined forces with the North Thompson Indian Band and another timber license was awarded jointly to the Indian Band and the Society providing another 300,000 cubic meters over 3 years. Several of those involved described feeling a greater sense of connection with the community as a result of their involvement with this initiative. Unlike so much of what had been instigated by those in positions of power (e.g., Provincial Government, North Thompson Relief Fund), the Forest Society license was an example of a locally generated solution drawing on local expertise in a collaborative manner. North Thompson Vo
UBC Theses and Dissertations
Echoes, transgressions, and transformations : identity reorientation and the discourse of disaster recovery Cox, Robin Susan 2006
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