Hello again, readers!
Welcome back to my blog. This week was much more calm at the office than the previous ones, which balanced out the frenzied energy of the city at the St. Louis Blues blasted their way through the Stanley Cup finals, all the way to Game 7! 🏆
Monday, June 10 | The blues over the Blues’ loss last night followed me to work like a sad, lost dog. This morning’s meeting highlighted that the Mississippi River crested in St. Louis over the weekend, which is good news—as long as it stops raining so much! ☔️
I was caught a bit off guard that the first wave of ERT members leave this weekend for Montana’s end of the year service locations. The end of ERT’s year is coming up so soon. On the other hand, the end of the bed bug issues couldn’t come a day too soon . . . Today, however, was dry, sunny, and cool—a refreshing change from the cloudy, muggy weekend Nyre and I spent with our friends camping and rafting on the not-flooding Meramec River.
Between keeping me occupied during what looks like a calm week in the making, I tried to help prepare the Paper Plate Awards, superlative-type honorary titles to be presented to the first-year ERTs. I didn’t have much to pick from in terms of personal memories or knowledge about most of the members, so most of my contributions were in the artistic department.
For every $1 we invest in national service,
taxpayers save $4.
Did you know that the President’s FY2020 budget eliminates the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which houses the AmeriCorps program? 😢 Please, sign this petition to tell your state reps that service matters!!
With word that the Mississippi had reached its peak, Nyre and I went down to the Arch to see the water for ourselves. I wanted to see the 23 ft. statue of Lewis and Clark up to Clark’s bronze neck in muddy water with my own eyes. The view did not disappoint!
Tuesday, June 11 | Our Director of Operations, Amanda, and her dog, Zoe, returned from maternity leave. We’re now at full-staff for the first time since I started last month!
Today’s exciting news came in an invitation to add my blog post on the Jefferson City MARC to the AmeriCorps St. Louis website. I though, what a great way to spread my reflections on what it’s like to serve with this organization and give a more narrative perspective on what the MARC process is like. So, I said, “Sure!”
I reviewed ICS 100 (ICS stands for Incident Command System), an online course provided through FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (EMI) which all ERT members and VISTAs must complete and which I completed as part of my Disaster Mental Health and Trauma Studies Certificate at Tulane. (Enough acronyms in one sentence for ya?). ICS came out of the 1970s following a series of devastating fires in California. Case studies of response to the fires revealed that issues were rarely caused by lack of resources or unsuccessful tactics, but rather by a lack of systemic protocols to direct them. In a nutshell, ICS is a standardized approach to incident management that:
- Is used for all kinds of incidents by all types of organizations and at all levels of government; is applicable to small and large, complex incidents.
- Can be used for both emergencies and planned events.
- Enables a coordinated response among various jurisdictions and agencies.
- Establishes common processes for planning and resource management.
- Allows for the integration of resources (facilities, equipment, personnel, etc.) within a common organizational structure.
ICS is part of a larger, Federal response strategy called NIMS, or the National Incident Management System. In fact, jurisdictions awarded federal grants related to preparedness must prove that NIMS is being executed, so recipients institute ICS at the policy level (putting it in writing that local government officials must train, exercise, and use ICS) and organizational level (actually training, exercising, and using ICS).
In the next few weeks, I’ll review ICS 800 (National Response Framework, an Introduction), which I also took as park of my Master’s program, and take ICS 200 (Basic Incident Command System for Initial Response) and 700 (An Introduction to the National Incident Management System). If you’re really into online training, organizational maps, chains of command, and knowing what to do when things go haywire, check out all the EMI’s Independent Study courses!
Since we didn’t not have a VISTA meeting with Kelley last week, due to her trip to India, this week we met with Program Director Kenan VISTA meeting. I felt like didn’t have much to add, except to ask for feedback on my draft website again. To try to push the process along and get some buy-in, I suggested that I could have the essential pages ready to launch next week. I go the go-ahead to continue working on it to get it ready. That’s how I spent the rent of the afternoon—when the internet was working, that is. The wi-fi woes continue.
Wednesday, June 12 | Website, website, website. What a Wednesday working all day with fonts, formatting, and friendly photos. The day seemed extra long because the battle of the summer was upon us: Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final!
Nyre and I met some ERT folks at a well-known Irish pub called McGurk’s. The two of us were the most invested in the game, but it was still fun to have friends in the neighborhood with whom we could waltz to the local watering hole and enjoy some cross checks and slashing. Not long into the first period, rain came down and everyone sitting in the courtyard scurried under the roofs conveniently covering the three outdoor bars. With the rain came a cold, wet wind which sent Nyre and me home to watch the final period from the warmth of our new apartment. I was sincerely stunned by Rask’s hopeless performance. I remember when the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Bruins in 2013, Rask proved to be a formidable force—I don’t know where that goalie was tonight!
I could hardly believe my eyes when the horn went off and that scored board said 4-1 in favor of the black, white, and blue. Stanley Cup champions for the first time in their 52-year history! Outside, we heard the city erupt with fireworks downtown at the Busch Stadium and down our own block. Gloria, “Let’s go, Blues!” and honking floated our way from Russell Avenue a few blocks away.
Now, I will say that Chelsea Dagger is a better victory song than Gloria, in my personal, Chicago-centric opinion. And, make no mistake, the Hawks will always be my #1 team. Nevertheless, St. Louis was in the spotlight for something good and I hoped at least one paper in every state gave the city its due with a congratulatory headline somewhere in the sports section. I gotta say, being in the same city as the Stanley Cup four times in nearly a decade (2010, 2013, 2015, and now 2019) is pretty darn lucky!
Thursday, June 13 | I woke up in the land of champions on the 1-month mark of my time with ACSTL. I wondered if not going out to celebrate in the city last night made me old. I plan to exert my energies at the Stanley Cup rally this weekend and, as an introvert, must prepare my energies accordingly. Or I’m just getting older faster than I expected! I’ve been trying to say “yes” to more experiences since starting with AmeriCorps St. Louis in an effort to make friends. But, last night was too cold for a “yes” from me.
The exciting night gave way to a quiet day at the office with some of our slim ranks folks calling in “sick.” I chipped away at the website draft while jumping in occasionally to offer ideas for the Paper Plate Awards. Jax, the skittish office dog, sat in the corner of the break-room-turned-craft-closer listening to the squirrels scurry around in the ceiling.
Friday, June 14 | The end of the week finished with more internet issues and a rush to finish up the Paper Plate Awards for the Member Appreciation BBQ tonight. The teams returned from their sites throughout the afternoon and the week ended with the usual 1600 debrief. A couple hours later, in the middle of Tower Grove Park, Kenan grilled up veggies, burgers, hot dogs, and veggie patties while ERT folks and friends threw frisbees, played corn hole, and slacklined. The Paper Plate Awards were a big hit, and a good time seemed to be enjoyed by all!
Thanks for reading!
Let’s Go Blues!