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UW’s Ruckelshaus Institute Hosts ‘Mullen Days: Living With Fire in a Changing World’

October 5, 2022

Mullen Days -- an interactive, interdisciplinary, community-centered space to process what the transformative power of fire means for Laramie’s human and natural communities -- will take place Oct. 13, 15 and 16. The University of Wyoming’s Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources hosts the free public event.

Mullen Days marks the two-year anniversary of the Mullen fire, which burned 170,000 acres in and around the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest in September and October 2020. Through various activities, Mullen Days will prompt thought, reflection, learning and imagination regarding what it means to live with fire.

Among Mullen Days activities are:

-- Thursday, Oct. 13, 6:30 p.m.: The critically acclaimed documentary “ELEMENTAL: Reimagining Our Relationship With Fire” will be shown in the UW Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center auditorium. “ELEMENTAL” includes the voices of climate experts, Indigenous people and fire survivors, and “asks us to reimagine our relationship with wildfire as we prepare for an increasingly hotter future.”

“In a visually stunning manner, ‘ELEMENTAL’ distills what we have learned about wildland fire over the decades and provides a roadmap for badly needed changes that will benefit thousands of people, particularly in fire-prone communities,” says Michael Dombeck, former U.S. Forest Service chief.

To view the “ELEMENTAL” trailer, go to www.elementalfilm.com.

-- Saturday, Oct. 15, 1 p.m.: An open house of community-run educational booths and interactive artwork will take place at The Collective, located at 100 S. Second St. Participants can make pinch pots with clay dug from the burn zone while learning about the impact of fire on soils and erosion, or contribute a photo and a reflection to a community “photo-voice” wall.

UW’s Biodiversity Institute will report on a citizen monitoring program of the Mullen fire burn zone, and there will be a demonstration of how nomex, the fabric used by wildland firefighters, works.

A panel discussion will follow at 4 p.m. and explore the various impacts of fire -- good and bad. Each panelist has a different relationship to fire -- through science, art, traditional practice or firefighting.

From 5-6 p.m. is a social hour with beer and snacks provided; a food truck will be on-site.

Tales at the Taphouse at 6 p.m. will present a storytelling program titled “Living with Fire.”

-- Sunday, Oct. 16, will feature a “healing hike” through the Mullen fire burn zone led by Stephanie Hanson, owner of Soma Spirit Therapeutics, and her team. Hikers will meet at The Collective at 10 a.m.; coffee will be provided. The hike will depart from the Lincoln Gulch trailhead -- trailhead subject to change -- at 11 a.m. and will last approximately an hour.

“Anyone who was here in Laramie during the Mullen fire remembers what it was like -- the ash falling from the sky, the sun obscured by smoke,” says Birch Malotky, Emerging Issues Initiative coordinator for the Ruckelshaus Institute. “But it is not over. The forest is still there, growing. Wildfire is still a part of our lives -- Mullen Days is about dealing with that.”

The entire schedule of events is available at www.uwyo.edu/haub/ruckelshaus-institute/forums/mullen-days.

For more information, email Malotky at bmalotky@uwyo.edu.

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