One week ago, 74-year-old Ruth Anne Frase was forced to flee from her home. It was 1am when Frase got a neighbor to help her start her car. She hopped in and quickly sped from her treehome on Last Chance Road, near Big Basin State Park in Santa Cruz, before the CZU Lightning complex fires destroyed her property.
According to information shared on Frase’s GoFundMe campaign, she didn’t even have time to grab her shoes or her dentures before escaping with her life. In an impressive display of good humor, Frase wrote-off being stranded from her teeth by quipping, “Thank God we have to wear masks!”
Despite Frase’s admirable disposition in the face of tragedy, the existence of a GoFundMe created to assist her reveals just how dire the situation remains. While Frase survived the fire, she was sadly forced to leave one of her dogs (a Great Pyrenees named Bhagwan), as well as six goats, 15 rescue cats, and a chicken named Henrietta, behind. Fortunately, she was able to rescue her other dog, Bernado, also a Great Pyrenees.
(In a testament to Frase’s dedication to her animal family, she was out searching for her missing pets when her neighbor insisted she get in her car and go.)
In addition to losing her home, fires also claimed her handicrafts, tools, and other possessions. As her GoFundMe states, “Ruthie is now camping in a [friend’s] garden in Santa Cruz as she doesn’t want to be separated from Bernardo.”
The fundraiser, which has raised $15,814 to date, was established “to help Ruthie recover some of her losses so that she can move back onto her land and be able to resume her simple, creative, and independent way of life as soon as the authorities give the all clear.”
The campaign goes on to note that funds will be used to purchase items like a yurt, a propane-powered fridge, and several solar panels. Direct donations of such items from local sources is also listed as an approved option.
While many such fundraising efforts are undoubtedly now taking place in the wake of a historic start to California’s wildfire season, some in the cannabis industry have highlighted Frase’s story given her integral role as an artist for the Proposition 215 campaign. Passed in California in 1996, Prop. 215 was the landmark legislation that made medical marijuana legal at a state-level for the first time.
In addition to lending her art to the Prop. 215 campaign, Frase also designed shirts for the California chapter of NORML.
What Frase’s story highlights is that the community of cannabis extends far beyond those who touch the plant on a daily basis. Ensuring the protection (at minimum) or celebration (more ideally) of those who paved the way for the advances in cannabis policy and science that we enjoy today is an integral duty of all who now profit from legal weed.
Far from being an obligation, however, the chance to rise to the occasion should be seen as a welcome opportunity. Even from the most jaded perspective, how does it hurt your brand to step-in and ensure that a beloved, veteran cannabis activist isn’t left without a roof over her head? Some seem to have received the message, with steady donations being the story of the campaign to date.
In a Facebook post, Frase expressed immense gratitude for the support she’s received thus far.
“Thanks to all my dear friends and family for your love and well wishes,” Frase wrote. “Life is like the beautiful Tibetan sand paintings that are created and then swept away like ashes in the wind. The rain will come. The grass will grow again and the flowers bloom once more. Lotus, Bhagwan’s girlfriend carries his puppy in her belly and we will be together again.”
The latest updates to the campaign note that while Frase has received “some solar panels, [an] inverter, and batteries,” she is still raising funds to purchase a 24’ yurt. A stated ideal timeline says the hope is to secure a yurt within the next two weeks.
For those interested in learning more or donating themselves: