Meeting at the History Center: “Devil in the Woods: The Demonization of Fire in Our Culture and Its Profound Effects”

Monday, November 10 2014

Meeting at the History Center: “Devil in the Woods: The Demonization of Fire in Our Culture and Its Profound Effects”

7 p.m….322 Sixth St., Traverse City

Fire is a force of creation, an element of the natural world with an important role to play in the planet’s ecosystems.  Fire, once revered, is now generally feared. For the past century our cultural perspective on fire has been heavily influenced by religious and capitalist propaganda; our National Fire Policy resultantly became one of near complete fire exclusion. When the novel “Bambi was imported from Austria to the United States, it had no “forest fire” in the narrative. The fire scene in the cinematic version of the book, seared into the memory of three generations, was inserted by design.  That same year, 1942, Smokey Bear was rescued from a forest fire and became the national spokesperson for fire “prevention.” The effects of the demonization of fire are profound on contemporary society, and we are just now fully understanding the price people and the planet will have to pay for a flawed perspective on the complexities of fire, people, and our environment.

Jed Jaworski has been a federal, state, and local wildland/urban interface fire fighter for 25 years and presently works with Michigan State University Extension’s “Firewise” program. His presentations offer a fascinating window into a topic most people have no awareness or understanding of, but leave the program fascinated by, proclaiming “I had no idea.” Produced especially for the Grand Traverse Humanists, one of the things his program sheds light on is the complexities of our relationship with our environment and how easily religion can be manipulated to influence public opinion and policy.

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