March 9 Training Session – Level 1: Household Preparedness

The next public meeting of Phinney Hub will be Monday, March 9, from 7:30 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. at the Phinney Center, 6532 Phinney Ave. N (map). The topic will be Household Preparedness, i.e. what you need to do at home to protect yourself and your family from the effects of a major earthquake or other disaster.

Expert Presenter: Kelly Kasper

Headshot.smallWe will have an expert presenter to give you information and answer your questions.  Kelly Kasper of HT2 Consulting worked at the American Red Cross for 10 years delivering disaster preparedness and business continuity services.  She is a professional “Disaster Geek” (her words!) who can help us understand and respond to the hazards that we face in our neighborhood.

Kelly will make a 20-minute presentation, followed by a 40-minute question-and-answer session. If you want to know what to do and how to do it, this is your chance to find out!

The meeting is free and open to the public.  Please join us! For more information, e-mail

What you learn from listening.

We had 18 folks at the first meeting of Phinney Hub, February 9.  Great turnout!  Everyone had more than rudimentary knowledge about emergency preparedness, so the discussion was substantive and useful.

I made a conscious decision to “Listen First,” to understand where people are in their “preparedness journey.”  The big lesson for me was:  People start at home.  Most of the folks at the meeting (say 85%) were interested in boosting their own capability to respond to an earthquake.  They are seeking practical knowledge they can use.

The other 15% are disaster nerds like me, who are interested in systems and plans on a larger scale.  We had a couple of folks who are already engaged in organizing their block of neighbors.  One woman has been involved with previous efforts to create a Hub in our neighborhood, and sent me fully elaborated plans via e-mail!

I now have two goals, based on what I heard:

1) Make it possible for the 85% of folks who are working on their household to gain the capabilities they want to learn.

2) Collect the energy and devotion of the other 15% into efforts that will support the entire community.

In pursuit of goal #1, our next public meeting will be: “Training Session – Level 1: Household Preparedness,” with an emphasis on learning specific capabilities.  Monday, March 9, 7:30 pm, Phinney Center.

Goal #2 is harder to manage.  We have some ideas, but they need thinking about!  Please stay tuned…

Agenda – February 9 Meeting: The Disaster Games

Monday, February 9, 2015
Phinney Center, 6532 Phinney Ave. N (upper, blue building; Map)
7:30 pm – 8:45 pm (optional Ham radio check-in at 7:00 pm) – 75 minutes
Download a PDF version of this agenda.

1. Welcome: Objectives of the Meeting – 5 minutes
David B. will speak to the objectives of the meeting, which are embodied in this agenda.

2. Listen First: Successes & Goals – 20 minutes
We will hear from each person about a successful action they have taken to strengthen their own response capability, and about an unmet goal they want to achieve.

3. Introduction to the Doctrine – 10 minutes
David B. will introduce the Neighborhood Earthquake Response Doctrine, a training tool he is proposing for use in our neighborhood.

4. Prizes and Surprises – 5 minutes
If you bring a working flashlight to the meeting, you will get a free light-stick.  Then there will be a fun, surprise activity!

5. Which Team are you on? – 5 minutes
We will self-select into three Teams:

  • People (and their needs), focusing on First Aid;
  • Material (as in “the material world”), focusing on Search & Rescue;
  • Information, focusing on Radio Communication.

6. Team planning huddles – 20 minutes
Each team will have a preliminary planning huddle to say hello and brain-storm objectives for their team.  Because of the short time, the goal is not to agree, but rather to get many ideas on the table.

7. Reports and Wrap-Up – 10 minutes
We will hear a quick report from each team about the objectives they came up with.  We will look forward to possible future meetings and plans.


Notes: There are two parking lots at the Phinney Center, one above and one below. (The meeting is above, in the blue building.) The entrance to each parking lot is on N 67th Street. For more information, e-mail David B. at, or call or text 206-913-1021. Download a PDF version of this agenda.

Neighbor Plan: Success update.

My scheme is working!  Slowly and steadily, but it’s working.

Nextdoor map of my block, February 5, 2015.

Compare the Nextdoor map of my block from today (right) to the map from January 14 (below). It is satisfyingly greener!

Also compare the numbers:  123 members in the neighborhood today vs. 103 three weeks ago.  Twenty folks have signed up (throughout the neighborhood, not just on my block) and I can say with certainty that most of them did so because of my invitation.

My block – N 71st Street between Dayton & Fremont – on  (Click for larger view.)
Nextdoor map of my block, January 14, 2015.

My “accepted invitation” count stands at 18, by far the highest in the neighborhood. I say this not to boast – (well, a little!) – but to indicate that concerted action can have a noticeable effect.

Looking forward, I posted on the Event Calendar the upcoming February 9 meeting of Phinney Hub.  There have been 7 replies: 3 “coming” and 4 “maybe.” This is a good result, based on my experience with and other outreach tools.

The message traffic on Nextdoor concerns normal neighborhood business: mainly requests for referrals to services (like a remodeler or a dog-walker). We do have one animated discussion about a proposed “a-pod-ment” that will bring more residents without more parking.  The mayor wrote to ask us to thank the Seahawks.  No word yet from the Office of Emergency Management, though they have said they are looking into Nextdoor as a channel for outreach.

I will post a reminder announcement for the upcoming Phinney Hub meeting, which will reach 1,460 nearby neighbors, according to the site.  We’ll see what that does for our attendance!

See previous articles:

Practice It! – My wrench was too small.

I finally got up the gumption to do a basic preparedness task:  Put a wrench near the gas meter, so that if I need to shut off the gas supply I don’t need to search for the tool.

It’s fortunate that I tested the wrench by trying to turn the valve (just a little; never shut off your gas if you don’t have a leak). I couldn’t move the valve even a little, and I thought it must be rusted in place. I was honestly alarmed: I could have been stuck with a gas leak in the house and no way to turn off the gas supply!

The good wrench on the left, my puny, inadequate one on the right.
The nice lady from PSE – The good wrench on the left. My puny, inadequate one on the right.

I ended up calling Puget Sound Energy. They quickly sent a very nice lady who told me that the valve is just hard to turn, and my wrench was simply too small. You need a lot of “wrist power” to turn the valve, she said, and you need the lever of a long wrench. (She also pointed out her “12” earrings and wished me a genial “Go Hawks!”)

This is a great argument for practicing your procedures! I would never have known until it was too late. I went to True Value and bought a 12-inch wrench for $17. I tested it and it works. It’s now resting in a plastic bag next to my meter, and I feel better!

The nice lady told me you can sometimes find large wrenches cheap at second-hand stores. She also told me that PSE will diagnose problems with any of your gas appliances for free.  If repairs are needed, they will write an estimate that you can compare with private companies.

Go Hawks!


From Victims to Responders

There is confusion about the purpose of Hubs, especially now that the City is supporting a variety of models.  We have Emergency Communications Hubs, Community Emergency Hubs, cultural Hubs, and faith-based Hubs. Additionally, we have SNAP groups (Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare), Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs), and, hovering above us like a great eagle in the sky, the Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS), the Ham radio network with its seven sectors among which the Hubs are divided.

I have been in six meetings with Hub organizers in the past few weeks (Lake City, Magnolia, West Seattle, Phinney, Greenwood, and the Hub Captains general meeting), and I have heard some very smart people struggle to understand and explain how the Hubs are going to actually help people in an emergency.

One reason for this is that the problem we are trying to solve is overwhelming. In the face of a magnitude 9.0 Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake – expected any minute, according to the State of Oregon – it is hard to see how anything we do can help. If we are, indeed, facing the widespread destruction of our most basic infrastructure – along with thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of injuries – then it’s hard to see how setting up a tent in a park or a parking lot is going to make any difference at all.

And yet, it does make a difference, and here’s why: The people who participate in the Hubs are transforming themselves from victims into responders. They are claiming the power to respond to catastrophic events rather than be destroyed by them. It is the claiming of power, rather than any particular mechanism to do so, that is vital. And it is that claim to power that we, as organizers, must support.

I have my own ideas about how to do this, which are not better or worse than anyone else’s ideas. I think we need to re-imagine preparedness education at the household level, because the only resources that will be available to neighborhood responders are already in people’s basements. Or they’re not, which would be a problem.

But my specific ideas, or anyone’s specific ideas, are less important than the fact that we are talking to each other. The Hubs movement started by Cindi Barker is part of an historic moment in community organizing, because it has sparked a claim to power by people all over the City.  In other political arenas, as well, we see people rising up to transform themselves from victims into responders. All these movements are, ultimately, expressions of the same impulse.

To clarify the purpose of the Hubs, we must keep talking, we must focus our mission, and we must refine our methods.  We must learn to navigate the in and outs of local politics. We must penetrate the clouds of distraction that fog public discussion. We must “listen first,” to understand how people want to claim power in their own lives, and then we must help them. In this way, we claim our own power, and we ourselves are transformed.

Store more water!

The Earthquake Country Alliance reminds us to store 1 gallon of water per person per day, to last 2 weeks. That’s 14 gallons of water per person.

Fourteen gallons of water weights 112 pounds. You’re not going to be carrying that on your back. Even if you use two 7-gallon containers – like these from REI, $18 apiece – each weighs 56 pounds, still a hefty load.

This is a good reason to store at least part of your water stash in your car.  I have 7 gallons (more like 5 in practice) in the car and another 7 gallons in the garage.  If the house comes off its foundation and I can’t get in the garage, I can still drink for a few days.

I nominate for the first rule of emergency preparedness:  “Store more water!”

My car set:  Five gallons of water (plus a "Go Bag," a blanket, and a towel.
My car set: Five gallons of water (plus a “Go Bag,” a blanket, and a towel).