We chose the name, “Close to Home”, last summer, during a group brainstorming session within the Seattle business incubator, “Kick”. We wanted to convey our work at its core – post-disaster housing solutions – available to help keep a disaster-impacted community as close to home as possible. We are motivated in our work to help keep community ties alive, with the understanding that it is friends, neighbors and families that will support each other in the recovery efforts. When those ties are broken, recovery – in all senses of the word – is that much harder.
We also, of course, appreciated the many connotations of “close to home”, one being that comforting feeling of returning home – whether it be after a workday, or after a vacation. Home is where we grow our families and friendships, celebrate and grieve – live the lives that make us human. At “Close to Home”, seeing people back in their community, in one of our housing products (a small, private temporary home, for example) – as “close to home” as one can get, as quickly as possible, motivates the work of our start-up.
After the Oso, WA mudslide tragedy, we must acknowledge another connotation of “close to home”. Sometimes events occur that really are in our own backyard. The Oso tragedy impacts people that I know here in Seattle. Our local NPR station has covered the story in detail, and I’ve been moved to tears as I’ve listened to press briefings with updates. One cannot ignore the emotions in the voices of those being interviewed.
As I’ve reflected upon the events of the last couple of weeks, and as I become more and more aware of the timeline/stories of the natural disasters of the last few years, it occurs to me once again that this U.S. “disaster-impacted” community is growing all too fast. In a way we relive past tragedies each time a new one occurs. We hear the stories of past recovery efforts impacting and influencing the recovery efforts of today. Technologies improve, lessons are learned, and adaptation to the new tragedy at hand becomes key. AND, hopefully we pause to remember that people are still struggling to rebuild their lives after the TV cameras leave the disaster currently in the spotlight.
At “Close to Home”, we have, of course, fielded questions about how we might help the people of Oso at this point in time. We have been thinking about the way we may be of most assistance. We have heard from trusted sources that most people have temporary housing at this time. But we are additionally motivated to continue our daily work – putting our marketplace together – in order to be that much further along in our ability to carry out our socially conscious business model.
It is often the case that victims are successfully temporarily housed, especially in tight-knit communities, such as Oso. But as impacted families look to move into more private space, to begin to rebuild their lives, that’s where we hope that we might be able to help. In outlying communities where friends and neighbors might have some acreage, a family could live in one of our housing products – assembled on-site – adding some private square footage to the backyard.
A friend recently reminded me that this start-up world is not a sprint – we’re running a marathon. There is much work to be done, much to be learned, many ways to be of help and service. At Close to Home, we are taking the individual steps that we believe will lead to valuable changes in the way that we address post-disaster housing needs here in the United States.
Our thoughts and prayers go to everyone impacted by the tragedy in Oso.
-Rachel Stamm, Founder & CEO, Close to Home
Here is a link to help: