How to help the fire victims

This was the color of the sky in Red Fork sometime around 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Cross-posted from my Southwest Tulsa Bell site. Even if you’re outside the Tulsa area, there are plenty of ways to help the fire victims over in Creek County. To give you an idea of the size of the fire: The area that burned is about 20 miles from Red Fork, where I live, and about 25 miles from midtown Tulsa, where I work. Ron and I were coming back from dinner in midtown Friday evening when we saw the plume of smoke rising from the fire. We initially thought it was a structure fire somewhere on the west side of Tulsa. We followed the smoke all the way to Highway 33 in Kellyville and up to Highway 48, south of Drumright, where we found a gas station closed and the road barricaded by emergency workers.

This was how the sky looked above the Campbell Hotel in midtown Tulsa by 5 p.m. Saturday.

 

By the time I headed to work to take some photographs at a wedding reception Saturday evening, the sky was a peculiar shade of orange, the sun was nearly invisible through yellowish-gray clouds of smoke, and ash rained down on Tulsa like anachronistic snow flurries.

By Emily Priddy
Southwest Tulsa Bell

As firefighters continued to battle a massive wildfire in Creek County, individuals and organizations in neighboring communities reached out to help those displaced by the blaze.

Oklahoma Forestry Services reported that more than 58,500 acres had burned between Bristow and Mannford. KJRH has aerial video of the damage.

“Extreme fire behavior, critically dry fuels and extreme weather” made the blaze difficult to control, but crews planned to continue building lines to contain the fire, the agency reported on its website today.

Across the region, churches, schools, businesses and nonprofit organizations collected donations to help with relief efforts.

Needs range from cash to skilled labor. The Salvation Army collected sport drinks, water and non-perishable snacks for first responders today, while Tulsa SPCA sought pet supplies and volunteers to help foster animals displaced by the fires.

Among the ways individuals can help:

* The Mannford school district is collecting cash donations to buy school supplies for students who lost their homes in the wildfires. Donations may be mailed to Mannford Public Schools, 136 Evans Ave., Mannford, OK 74044.

According to Fox23.com, Lake Church in Mannford is taking donations of non-perishable food, water and toiletries. Clothing is not needed at this time.

Newson6.com reports that Sand Springs United Methodist Church is accepting donations at Fourth and Main in Sand Springs. Immediate needs include towels, washcloths, diapers, razors, shaving cream, deodorant, denture supplies, toothbrushes and toothpaste. The church also is looking for building products, skilled laborers to help residents rebuild, and storage space for furniture and appliances. For more information, call the church at (918) 245-5955.

Tulsa Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will have its Mobile Adoption Center at Drysdales, 3220 S. Memorial, from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to collect animal relief supplies for fire victims with pets. All types of animal supplies are needed. SPCA also needs volunteers to foster animals, including livestock, and the organization is accepting cash donations to cover any supplies that are not donated Tuesday. To donate money online, visit http://www.tulsaspca.org. To be added to the foster list, e-mail your name, address, phone number and the number and type of animals you can house to info (at) tulsaspca (dot) org.

* The Salvation Army is accepting online donations to help with fire relief efforts. Click here to donate.

* The American Red Cross is also accepting online donations for fire relief efforts. Click here to donate.

Activism 101

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I used to do an activism unit with my sophomore English classes. To kick off the unit, I presented a lesson on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, which you can read here.

In recent weeks, I’ve noticed a lot of would-be activists undermining their own efforts with ineffective and/or counterproductive tactics, and it occurs to me that this might be a good time to share that lesson with my readers.

Here, then, are what my students and I referred to as “Dr. King’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective Activists”:

Habit 1: Stay positive. Don’t tell me why the other side is wrong. Tell me why you’re right. Negativity is a waste of time, and it turns people off. If your cause is truly worthwhile, it will stand on its own merits.

Habit 2: Stay together. There’s strength in numbers, and infighting will destroy a movement faster than anything else in the world.

Habit 3: Sacrifice. Activism isn’t always easy. If you can’t deal with that, you’re not going to accomplish much.

Habit 4: Stay on message. Don’t let your tactics overshadow your issue. Don’t write obscenities on your protest signs. Don’t get naked for animal rights. Don’t make out with your same-sex partner in the middle of a Chick-fil-A. Don’t stand in front of a restaurant, holding pictures of bloody fetuses, to protest the fact that the owner moonlights as a receptionist for an abortion clinic in the next county. Don’t get violent. Don’t violate your opponent’s civil liberties. You want the media to report on your issue, not your asinine behavior.

Habit 5: Don’t give up.

Habit 6: Hit ’em in the pocketbook. Economic pressure is a powerful motivator — which is why a boycott is one of the most effective weapons in an activist’s arsenal. Control the bottom line, and in most cases, you control the company’s behavior.

Habit 7: Help each other. If your group is sympathetic to another group’s cause, work out a sort of mutual-aid agreement in which you show up for each other’s rallies, participate in each other’s letter-writing campaigns, and honor each other’s boycotts. Again: There’s strength in numbers.

These tactics work. They worked for Dr. King. They’ve worked for me. And they will work for you. All I would really add to his list is this: Know what you’re talking about, and be able to back up your opinions with verifiable facts gleaned from credible sources.

If you can pull that off, you can win a lot of battles.

Emily