Nov 042007
Authors: Jessi Stafford

When I tossed aside the various reports of millionaire celebrities losing their homes in the California wildfires and finally learned how devastating these fires actually were, I did what I’m sure most people did and called my friends who live there.

It’s that illogical quality that I possess that motivates me to believe that a fire in California means a fire in my friends’ homes and at their schools, all over their neighborhoods. I immediately expected them to be shipped home, never to return to the sandy beaches and the celebrity infested towns they now call home.

Thankfully, this was not the case, and my friends are all safe. A bit unhappy, a tad scared and now behind in classes, but safe nonetheless.

My relief at this news still stands today. Yet, I have to admit, the feeling is tarnished by the fact that at least 16 people weren’t as lucky as my friends. And, at least 16 people’s friends, parents, children, sisters, etc. weren’t so lucky as myself.

Equally as realistic and heartbreaking is the number of people who lost their homes, their possessions and their memorabilia. More than 1,900 homes have been destroyed because of the fires, according to CNN.

I was talking to a friend living in San Diego the other day – an ex-boyfriend to be honest – and he told me about a program that he and a few of his classmates at his architecture school are trying to get going. The group’s mission, he said, is to eventually begin building homes for some who lost theirs.

He is hoping to team up with Habitat for Humanity, but he and his fellow architect hopefuls want to design the houses “in a more unique way” but “affordable as well.”

My mind started churning. I began contemplating the goals of this ambitious group in San Diego and the realities of achieving such a feat.

“It’s so early,” he said. “And we just don’t know how much money we can actually raise.”

There it was. My mind began molding and toying with a solid idea. And I think, CSU, it’s possible.

I propose that we work with his school and his small group of student architects to raise money for the victims in California. If we join together as students, as a university and as a community, we can get enough money together to help at least a couple families feel safe again.

And, if we organize now and figure out exactly what we need to do, we can be a part of the building process.

This can be our “alternative Spring Break” come March.

I have even decided to begin contacting other universities across the country to ask them to join in the effort with us.

I have never tried anything like this before and, frankly, neither has my ex. Yet, we both think it’s plausible.

But we need your help.

So, if you are interested in joining me in my lofty goals of fundraising, campaigning and, eventually, building, please contact me. Also, talk to other people and come up with your own ideas about how we can possibly get this project off the ground.

I propose we do something for someone else, selflessly and compassionately, that we, nor the families we work for, will ever forget.

Also, if you aren’t interested in my possibly ridiculous plans, I just want to remind you that Katrina victims still could use your help as well.

Associate News Managing Editor Jessi Stafford is a senior technical journalism major. She can be reached directly at Other letters and feedback can be sent to Ryan Nowell’s column will return next week.

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