I’m currently on vacation in Sunriver, Oregon. It’s the off-season here – a ghost town of sorts, in the quiet, desolate lull between the winter ski season and the madness of summer on the river.

In our resort area, the county is conducting a series of what they call controlled burns – setting purposeful fire to the dry underbrush to prevent potential larger deadly forest fires this summer. It is considered to be a proactive approach, but a little controversial due to the rare risk that a controlled burn would get, well, out of control. 

It made me wonder about other moments in life where, despite the risks, we might exact our own “controlled burns,” where biting off our noses to spite our faces is actually a good thing.  One such move I have been contemplating is to pare back the workload here at HANO for the sake of staff wellness, resisting our natural desires to DO, and despite the constant pressure of program and grant deliverables, looming deadlines, and constituent needs.

Have you done anything lately to control your burn – something that might be seen as painful to do, controversial even, but would stave off or mitigate a much larger crisis for your organization? Is the controlled burn part of your organizational DNA? Please share your stories. 

Fire was integral to many indigenous peoples’ way of life. From Anthony on our staff, I learned that fire usage, or “cultural burning” is a Native American practice for better land management and to maintain abundant and diverse ecosystems. Learn here.

Mālama pono,


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