Terry Foxx/Courtesy photo
BY LINDA HULL
Rotary Club of Los Alamos
Terry Foxx, local author and 2014 Los Alamos Living Treasure, spoke via Zoom at the July 28 meeting of the Rotary Club of Los Alamos. Foxx, whose most recent book is Resilience and Renewal, Stories of the Cerro Grande Fire 20 Years Later, a series of interviews, published by the Los Alamos Historical Society. She spoke about the similarities between the community’s reaction to the Cerro Grande Fire, May 2000, and the current Covid-19 pandemic. Although the pandemic is worldwide and ongoing and the Cerro Grande was local and short-term, Foxx cited both as “disasters,” outlining the responses to both: renewed importance of family and friends, outpouring of gratitude, and the isolation created by both disasters when, without cell phones, families were separated during the Cerro Grande evacuation, and now families are separated by restrictions for public health and safety. Also in common is the stress both disasters inflicted on those who lost their homes and the tree-covered landscape in the fire and on those who have lost or are in danger of losing loved ones to the novel corona virus.
Foxx also addressed the ingenuity that flourished during the Cerro Grande Fire and as we now face the effects of the virus. As just one example, after the fire, a newly formed Volunteer Task Force invested in our local recovery on denuded forest lands by helping in restoration efforts, repairing trails, getting adults and school children involved, and making seedballs; now we place hand-painted kindness rocks along those same trails, and sew masks for friends and medical professionals and other essential workers, help feed the hungry, and support each other through phone calls and other technology.
When interviewing residents for her other books about the Cerro Grande Fire, Lest We Forget, White Rock United Methodist Church Stories and Touched by Fire, Stories A Decade Later, Foxx recorded narratives connecting residents’ experiences and acknowledging their grief, hoping that “sharing our stories will empower the next generation” as we realize “we are all one story.”
Foxx is retired from Los Alamos National Laboratory where she worked in environmental sciences, studied the effects of woodland fire, and conducted surveys on endangered species. She is also a master storyteller, artist, and lay minister. Foxx holds degrees from the College of Idaho and Kansas State University. Her accomplishments have been recognized by both.
Resilience and Renewal, Stories of the Cerro Grande Fire 20 Years Later is available, along with Foxx’s children’s book, The Forest and The Fire, co-authored with daughter Alison Carlisi, through the Los Alamos Historical Society, www.losalamoshistory.org