It’s in our human nature to look for what’s going wrong…we seek out problems and we focus hard on how to fix them. But with issues that could be characterized as “wicked problems” – large, socially complex, multi-faceted problems – we have no end of interconnected problems that resist a simple or single solution. The problem of homes burning down during wildland fires is one of those wicked problems that we struggle and struggle to fix.
It’s easy to focus on this problem and all of the negative aspects of wildland fire’s destruction and the devastating impacts on property, community, infrastructure and natural resources. But what if we try another approach? What if we look for what’s going right? Can we find “bright spots,” individuals, homes or organizations that are bucking the trend of disaster and loss?
At the 2013 Backyards & Beyond Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, I presented about how NFPA has found bright spots about wildfire safety and preparedness thanks to scientific research, its outreach to WUI residents, and most of all, through its Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program.
You can check out my presentation here. It walks you through the concepts of “positive deviance” (aka bright spots) and helps you understand how we in the wildfire mitigation world can use concepts discussed in a great book about change (Switch by Chip and Dan Heath) to help us engage and motivate people who can take steps to change their behavior to reduce their wildfire risk.