Private Project

Embers of Awakening: From Firestorms to Climate Healing

Logline: Stories from 2017 Tubbs fire survivors situate the global climate crisis in the microcosm of Sonoma County, California and ask how can we recover from trauma while providing insights to prevent the further demise of our communities and planet.

Brief Synopsis: Sixty mile an hour winds, tinder dry hills, firestorm tornadoes that melted cars while traveling the length of a football field every three seconds—in October 2017, Sonoma County lost 22 lives, 5200 structures, and awoke to the deep pain of climate change. Embers of Awakening blends the powerful personal stories of fire survivors with interviews from scientists, activists, politicians, and other community members to inspire each viewer toward positive engagement and action.

Sonoma County experienced nearly identical fires 53 years apart but the results were vastly different. We ask questions: What happened during those years that generated such a devastating fire? What could have been done differently? What is the role of climate change? What can each of us do?

Featured are interviews of scientists, politicians, theologians, psychologists, physicians, business people, climate activists, firefighters, people who lost their homes, and others. Visual footage helps explain the story: the effects of a firestorm, rebuilding, solar panels, electrification options, geysers generating electric power, controlled burns, as well as community members and organizations partnering to resolve issues.

Scientists clearly state that the window of opportunity to make lasting change shrinks daily. We ask these core questions: How can we awaken one another quickly enough and what can each person do to make a difference? We want viewers to leave with active hope--reflecting on the science and stories shared and considering what they can personally do to contribute to the greatest existential challenge our planet has faced.

  • Phyllis Ann Rosenfield
    Oral history interviewing and writing curriculum for and teaching of same. Interviewing & co-editing History & Healing After the Fires , composed of ten household interviews from the devastating Sonoma County firestorms of 2017.
  • Phyllis Ann Rosenfield
  • Shirley Thompson
    Producer: Reel Wāhine of Hawai'i, Finding Kukan, Special Circumstances
  • Shirley Thompson
    Editor for: $avvy, Kū Kanaka/Stand Tall, Finding Kukan, It's Elementary
  • Phyllis Ann Rosenfield
  • Lisa Micheli
    Key Cast
    "Interviewee: PhD in environmental sciences and, CEO of the Pepperwood Preserve Foundation"
  • Gaye Lebaron
    Key Cast
    "Interviewee: Long-time journalist for the Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, CA"
  • Oscar, Sandra, Esteban, Amara, & Sofi Pardo
    Key Cast
    "Interviewees: Family who lost their Santa Rosa, Coffey Park neighborhood home in the Tubbs fire of 2017"
  • Susan Gorin
    Key Cast
    "Interviewee: Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin who lost her home in the Nunns fire of 2017"
  • Bruce & Chris Fortin
    Key Cast
    "Interviewees: Psychotherapists & Buddhist Priests"
  • Geof Syphers
    Key Cast
    "Interviewee: CEO of Sonoma Clean Power which brings clean power sourced energy to people across the area via lines from PG&E"
  • Tracy McClendon
    Key Cast
    "Interviewee: Renter who lost home in Kenwood in Nunns fire"
  • Anabel Garcia
    Key Cast
    "Interviewee: Activist farmworker and domestic worker who fled to Bodega Bay during Tubbs fire"
  • Joshua Weil
    Key Cast
    "Interviewee: Lead Emergency Room Kaiser doctor on night of Tubbs fire who lost his Santa Rosa home"
  • Claire Mollard
    Key Cast
    "Interviewee: Veterinarian who lost home with Josh Weil in Tubbs fire, Santa Rosa"
  • John Mihalik
    Key Cast
    "Interviewee: Physician and member of Climate Reality Project"
  • Claudia Luke
    Key Cast
    "Interviewee: Professor at Sonoma State University and Director of Environmental Inquiry Department"
  • Jason Jenkins
    Key Cast
    "Interviewee: Battalion Chief of Santa Rosa Fire Department. Made decisions that saved Kaiser Hospital"
  • Michael Gillogly
    Key Cast
    "Interviewee: Manager of Pepperwood Preserve Foundation"
  • Doris Medlin
    Key Cast
    "Interviewee: Head of Labor and Delivery at Sonoma County Hospital in 1964 during the Hanly fire"
  • Kelsey Clabrook
    Key Cast
    "Interviewee: Engineer at Sutter Hospital of Santa Rosa night of Tubbs fire"
  • Kelsey Claybrook
    Key Cast
    "Interviewee: Engineer at Sutter Hospital night of Tubbs Fire"
  • Jeff Kane
    Key Cast
    "Interviewee: Associate Professor of Fire Research and Management of Humboldt State University"
  • Katie Jackson
    Key Cast
    "Interviewee: Jackson Family Wines, Vice President of Sustainability"
  • Ann Hancock
    Key Cast
    "Interviewee: Co-founder of The Climate Project"
  • Maddy Rudell
    Key Cast
    "Interviewee: Sunrise Movement member, 16 year-old activist"
  • Ema Govea
    Key Cast
    "Interviewee: Sunrise Movement member, 17 year-old activist"
  • Lola Guthrie
    Key Cast
    "Interviewee: Sunrise Movement member, 17year-old activist"
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 15 minutes 22 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 30, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    181,395 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Phyllis Ann Rosenfield

Founder and Executive Director/President of Listening for a Change, Phyllis Rosenfield, has a background in fine arts, education, and social science and has a MA in Equity & Social Justice. She was the photographer and co-creator for “The Sonoma County Survivor Project”. She has written oral history curriculum for college, secondary, and elementary schools. Phyllis has conducted extensive oral history interviews including for History and Healing After the Fires, a ten segment video recorded and edited oral history of the Sonoma firestorms of 2017.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

This is my first time to direct, produce, and conduct all interviews for a full documentary film. Unknowingly, I feel that I have been preparing for this experience my entire life. A social activist since youth, I live in Sonoma County, a community which now deeply knows the devastation climate change is bringing. This is my way and the way of our nonprofit, Listening for a Change, to listen, learn, and consider what each of us can do to make a difference. Time is getting short, it is imperative that we all awaken to wrestle with the complex challenges of saving our only planet, Earth.