Reno, NV

Normalization of Dystopia - Wildfire Smoke Outside, Delta Inside in Reno, NV

Jenny Justice

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As I look outside my window I see two things that I did not see last year: intense wildfire smoke with bad air quality and little kids walking to school. I think to myself, wow we have really already normalized this.

Last year, recall that in the beginning of the school year with air quality just as bad as it is right now due to wildfires, the Washoe County School District sent out message after message for multiple days calling off school. I respected them for this and I thought it was really impressive how they were putting kids and their health first.

This year there’s no such feeling. No texts or messages from WCSD about the wildfire smoke at all. No thought of canceling school to keep kids safe. Nothing. It’s as if there is no wildfire to think about at all. Like if we just don’t talk about it, or acknowledge it, then it does not exist.

Kids are out and about walking to school, having recess, going on field trips and living a business as usual life in all of this smoke. The other day my daughter and her friend were joking about how they were going to go outside and frolic in the red sun. We all laughed but - isn't it kind of a sad nightmare? We have normalized living in, being in, not being concerned about wildfire smoke and air quality.

On top of this we have a pretty high rate of COVID-19 transmission going on due to the Delta variant, low vaccination rates, and an overall inability of folks to fight the long war against COVID-19 with masks and social distancing for just a bit longer. So, we have normalized COVID-19 for sure.

I understand. It is after all, normal for humans to adapt to things and to normalize things that feel overall just too big to deal with, too impossible to change, and just too in the way of what we want to do with our lives. We want everything to be ‘as it was.’ We want our kids to go to school, we want to go to work, we want to go to clubs and restaurants and the movies. So, we do it.

But that does not make it any less awful. It just means we keep kicking the ball down the road to deal with later. I feel for us, I really do. I do not have the answers. I am just an observer like anyone else. I can’t bring myself to blame or judge because we are all simply out here trying to grasp at anything we can to give us some break from the stuff we have normalized.

Prevention would be the best solution, of course. But can we prevent much anymore in terms of climate change fueled wildfire and global pandemic? There are ways but they are bigger than what any individual can do on our own, for sure. I think getting that vaccine is something any individual can do - so, if you can handle it, do it please so we can all just take a bit of a breather - literally. Unless we are outside in this wildfire smoke I suppose.

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Jenny Justice is a poet, writer, mother and teacher. She is just a girl in the world, new to town and learning to love this city - Reno, NV. She writes about all things local from food, to fun, to what you need to know to have a good day, good week, or good time in The Biggest Little City. Jenny loves books and will encourage that love of books with her book reviews. She also writes about relationships, dating, parenting, and other topics when the muse moves her. Follow her for good food, good books, and good fun especially in the Biggest Little City in the world.

Reno, NV
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