Upward Bound is a college prep program for youth who are low income, or their parents didn’t go to college, or they live out in the sticks. San Francisco’s chapter is based out of USF. During the summer the kids get to live in the dorms on campus. Their days are filled with tutors and professional speakers. They asked me if I wanted to volunteer and I was able last week.
The larger lesson plan for their summer study includes preparing for some inevitable disaster that will stroke San Francisco next week. I got in before the earthquake/plague/comet arrived and was able to run some workshops with the youth.
I am not an expert on disaster planning but I did my best. I scared them all a little by explaining that the USGS predicts a two thirds chance of another huge earthquake hitting San Francisco by 2030, while passing around photos of the damage wrought by past quakes.
We also talked about the emergency response agencies from FEMA at the national level, CEMA at the state, and the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management. Some of the youth brought up Katrina and FEMA’s failure to rapidly help there. We decided that we can’t count on all these government agencies to be there when we need them most, especially not for the first 72 hours. The kids then listed out on the blackboard what they would include in a Disaster Kit. They brought this further than I had planned by discussing where in the house was the best place to store the kit.
After our Disaster Kit’s were packed, we broke into groups based around which neighborhood we lived in. I had printed out six maps of their neighborhoods. They got to play with the maps for a few minutes first, figuring out where they live, where they hangout. This is important anytime you use a map with anyone, because people have differing abilities of geographical legibility. These young disaster planning experts had to use the maps and their local knowledge to figure out where in their neighborhoods the following would be located:
- FEMA headquarters
- Medical Clinics
- Emergency Supplies storage
- Emergency Shelters
- second and third alternative transportation routes
The youth did a great job and had some fun. I closed by explaining the larger urban planning profession, the paths to becoming an urban planner, and talked about where and how to get internships in the field. Some of them where genuinely intrigued on what we did together and I hope to be involved more during their summer Upward Bound program.