Wildfire Memory Garden Project

What is the Wildfire Memory Garden Project?

The Wildfire Memory Garden Project started with me, but my hope is that it extends far into our communities. Creating wildfire memory gardens, with living succulents and soil, my family's keepsakes—scattered also with glass from our kitchen window, wiring from our living rooms, nails from our front porch—and lighting candles was a way to also reclaim the healing power of fire.

Selfie on the Doorstep.jpg

What is found?

The scissors my father used to cut my umbilical cord. The pie spoon my grandmother used, making me wait until it cooled, so the cherry gooey insides wouldn't run. The pin my mother's close friends gave her. The foo dog, a nod to our heritage, my brother has tattooed on his chest. The cigar box I kept special photographs inside, blowing away like phyllo dough. The first Christmas ornament my partner gave me, from where we met, Notre Dame. My lucky horse shoe.

Wildfire Garden - First Ornament.jpg

Sharing our stories.

All participants are invited to have their stories and their Wildfire Memory Gardens displayed on this website. Through sharing our grief and our healing, we hopefully inspire others in the process, and together we rise - resilient.


Life After the Fire

When I arrived at Cynthia's burned house site in Kenwood, the first thing she wanted to show me was the small patch of mint - rising green fluorescence - life after the fire.

What is found? 

Hiking clamps Cynthia's husband, Thomas, climbed the Himalayas in. Electric mixers Cynthia handed to her children when they were covered in something sweet she was preparing for the oven. Chef knives sticking out of the ash, wings of some yet risen phoenix. A bird painted by her daughter. Small animal figurines still living in the gardens. Woody's smile. 

The Memory Garden Project at October Reflections: An Evening of Healing

Green Music Center, Sonoma State University

Tuesday, February 27th 2018

Evening of Healing.jpg

October Reflections

Participants shared reflections through video, poetic recitation, and musical performance.

Fight Fire with Fire

The Memory Garden Project at Belos Cavalos

Saturday, December 30th 2917

Silhouette .jpg

Dear Sonoma County,

The Wildfire Memory Garden Project rose from the ashes of the recent wildfires that ravaged the North Bay of California. It is inspired by the bravery of the first responders, the neighbors who knocked on doors, and the people who came together to help a community in crisis. 

My family's home of 30 years was burned in the fires. Sifting through the rubble, and creating memory gardens with my family's keepsakes is part of my healing process. Lighting candles in the gardens is a way to reclaim the healing power of fire. 

We were all affected by the fires: we lost our sense of safety; we lost loved ones; we lost homes; we lost sleep.

Thank you for joining me, and other local community organizers for our Community Gathering.

Belos Cavalos, 687 Campagna Lane, Kenwood. Saturday, December 30th, 3:00 - 6:00

With love,                                                                                              Erica Tom



Community Potluck

To ensure a bountiful and balanced feast we appreciate your participation in the following potluck organization by last name!

Main Dish: A - F

Side Dish: G - L

Dessert: M - R

Beverage: S - Z

Participate in a community art project. 

Relax and relate to the horses through grooming. 

Bring a dish or beverage for the community potluck.

Create a memory garden with your keepsakes.

Gather with friends, old and new.

Healing Ceremony 5:30

FullSizeRender_1 copy 2.jpg

Explore and play!

Explore the gardens, olive grove, and playground at the farm.


Relax & relate to horses through grooming.

Learn about how horses experience the world.


"Happiness is a Warm Quilt"

Donna Bachmann & Sue Cole will bring quilts, handmade by people in Sonoma County and across the country, for those who lost homes.

Wildfire Garden - 1930 Bent Tree Place - 3.jpg

To those who lost homes...

Tables will be set up with free succulents, pots, soil, and candles for those who wish to bring their keepsakes to create Memory Gardens.

Want to support the Wildfire Memory Garden Project?

The process and supplies of creating these Wildfire Memory Gardens is free to all survivors. If you wish to help me fund the Wildfire Memory Garden Project free of cost to other survivors of the fire, please contribute containers, soil, succulents, candles, or cash. Please email me at erica.c.tom@gmail.com.

Other ways to help.

Please visit Rebuild Wine Country, a partnership with Habitat for Humanity.

Please visit GoFundMe to see the many ways that you can support Sonoma and Napa county rebuild our resources and communities. 


Wildfire Memory Garden Project Supporters

Walter and Donna Tom

Daniel Vandersommers

Lisa Kruglov

"Your love and memories live with all of us, and we thank you for your loving efforts."

Celeste Felciano

"I believe the gardens will bring beauty, hope, and healing to those who enjoy them."

Marissa Iannarone

"Such an amazing project to build community."

Karen Kasovich

"This project may bring some much needed closure."

Courtney and Tim Cheng

Jose Angel Contreras

Suni Levi