Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Jasmine's Birthday Potluck and Fundraiser for Fallen Forest Rangers

Friday, July 15th, is Jasmine’s birthday. Though we will all miss her on this special day, we will use it as a wonderful opportunity to honor her memory with a beautiful gesture. When we all felt unrelenting despair at the news of Jasmine’s passing, we survived because of the incalculable strength offered so generously from our loved ones near and far. Now it is time to share this strength with others experiencing the devastation of a fire. Every year on Jasmine’s birthday, we will offer support to a family who lost a loved one who was fighting to protect others from fires. This year, we are donating to the memorial funds of Josh Burch and Brett Fulton, two forest rangers who lost their lives while fighting the Blue Ribbon Fire in Hamilton County, Florida on June 20th, 2011.

Burch, 31, was a Forest Ranger who lived in Lake City with his wife and two children. He worked with the Division of Forestry for more than ten years. Fulton, 52, began as a professional welder with the Division twelve years ago. He has been a Forest Ranger with the Department for more than nine years. Fulton leaves behind a wife and two grown children in White Springs.

On Saturday, July 16th from 4:00 to 8:00 PM, please bring a dish and join Jasmine’s family at PGA National Park for a potluck picnic to celebrate Jasmine’s life and share our strength with others who need it now. We will be collecting donations for the families of Josh Burch and Brett Fulton, and Jasmine’s Fire Safety Memorial Fund will match the donations up to $500.00 and send them to the two memorial funds. A crape myrtle tree will be planted in the park in Jasmine’s memory.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun: Pastor Howard Thomas says a prayer during a memorial service for Brett Fulton and Josh Burch in Lake City, Fla., on Wednesday, June 22, 2011.

Soon, we will be posting information on how to donate in advance for those who cannot attend. If you would like to offer support in words, the Department’s Division of Forestry is accepting letters of condolence on behalf of the families of Josh Burch and Brett Fulton. Please mail correspondence to:

Family of Josh Burch or Family of Brett Fulton
c/o Director Jim Karels, Division of Forestry
3125 Conner Boulevard
Tallahassee, Florida 32399

Your words gave us strength when we needed it, and expressing our gratitude for Burch and Fulton’s dedication and sacrifice to fire safety is a beautiful way to share strength with their families.

To RSVP on Facebook, click here!

See the response post.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The University of California Education Abroad Program Jasmine Jahanshahi Scholarship Award

A memo from the U.C. Business Bulletin:

The University of California Education Abroad Program is honored to announce the Jasmine Jahanshahi Scholarship Award. Recipients of the award will be undergraduate students enrolled at the University of California, who have been accepted to a semester- or year-long immersion program of the UC Education Abroad Program (UCEAP), and who have demonstrated academic excellence and a strong commitment to global issues.

The scholarship is being established in memory of Jasmine Jahanshahi, a UCEAP and UC Berkeley student who participated in the 2010-2011 program at Sciences Po, in Paris, France with a goal to foster deeper global connections. Two scholarship awards in the amount of $2,500 each will be made available yearly, starting in the 2011-12 academic year. Details will be made public as soon as possible. Contact Andrea Delap, Sr. Analyst if you have any questions.

“To truly understand a country – its social tensions, linguistic subtleties, culture, one must have a first hand account; one must spend a significant amount of time in the country.”

- Jasmine Jahanshahi

Friday, June 24, 2011

A way for our friends in Paris to show their support!

New Carbon Monoxide Law in Oregon

House Bill 3450 applies only to residential rental units that contain carbon monoxide sources or are situated within structures that contain one or more sources of the poisonous gas. Landlords, by law, are required to provide tenants with carbon monoxide alarms, testing instructions and batteries. Solely Battery-Powered and Plug-in with Battery Backup carbon monoxide alarm units are the allowable units. Alarms must be located either in each bedroom or with 15 feet of sleeping areas within the dwelling and on every floor.

In April 2011, the law will go on to prohibit the transfer of title of a single-family dwelling or multi-family housing that has a CO source unless such dwelling/housing is equipped with a CO detector; and prohibits issuing certificates of occupancy for dwellings or housing having CO sources unless equipped with CO detector.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

To every citizen of the world:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
Margaret Mead
Anthropologist, 1901 - 1978

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Best 10 Minutes of Work I Performed Today

I took an extra smoke detector that we had in my office and walked upstairs, knocked at my neighbor's door and offered to check their smoke detectors. The young couple living in the unit simultaneously said "This thing hasn't been working for a while."

I said, "Let me change it out for a new one," and they happily accepted my offer. It took me only 10 minutes to do it. Imagine how many buildings have a similar problem. Please remember a building is only as safe and strong as it's weakest link.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Take Safety in Your Own Hands

There is a law requiring every home in France to be equipped with a smoke alarm by year 2015- that is too late!

Around 800 people die each year from domestic fires in France and it is estimated that only 1% to 3% of homes in France are currently equipped with a smoke alarm. This compares with 98% in Norway and 89% in the UK, where they have been a legal requirement since 1997.

The difficulty with any new law is going to be the practicalities of ensuring compliance, unless the government was to employ an army of 'smoke alarm inspectors', which seems unlikely! It could well be that pressure will be exerted through French home insurance companies to make it a condition of insurance policies. However, even then there remains the difficulty of ensuring the alarms are installed and maintained properly. We shall have to await the outcome of the passage of the law, and the no doubt voluminous decrees that will subsequently be published on the subject.

According to an article in The Connexion, even when the law is enforced, the responsibility for buying the alarm and regularly checking it falls on the person living in the home, except in holiday homes and furnished flats where it is the landlord's job. A law to make installation of the smoke alarms in France compulsory was passed in 2009 but was ruled unconstitutional. The revised version was backed by the majority of MPs except the Communist party, which argued the responsibility should always fall with the landlord and not the tenant.

If you or your loved ones are interested to rent a property in France or anywhere in the world where the Fire Safety Law is not enforced, there is not any law to stop you making it a Condition of the Contract that your rental shall be equipped with smoke detectors, fire extinguisher, and Escape Ladder, even though it is not yet enforced.

Monday, June 6, 2011

"A letter for Jasmine, and for those who loved her."

At Jasmine's memorial service on April 23rd, our guests were touched and consoled by Lauren Wiles's memories of running on the beach with Jasmine years ago. Lauren carefully reconstructed a memory of Jasmine that everybody will miss deeply. For those of you who want to enjoy the story again, here it is courtesy of Lauren. We are so appreciative of her comforting and creative prose, and we will continue to honor Jasmine's memory with our actions and our initiatives.

One of Jasmine's favorite mottoes was: Work Hard. Play Harder. I remember she told me that after we took the last final exam of our sophomore year at Dreyfoos. And with a devilish laugh, and a Missy Elliot dance move, she said to me, having not slept in days due to studying: "It's party time." A perfect balance of steadfast, unshakable work ethic and fresh, indefatigable playfulness, Jasmine knew when it was the right time to be serious and when it was the right time to let everything go.

A true night-owl, I knew that if I called Jasmine after midnight, chances were good that she would still be wide awake. "Sleep is for the weak", she would say. I remember there would be times where I would call and she would be at the gym--in the middle of the night--on a treadmill, reading for AP world history and somehow still had the time to talk about our unusual but strikingly-parallel infatuations with goofy, long-haired music-majors. Jasmine's sense of humor was the first thing that I noticed about her. Her bold, frequently sarcastic jokes made it easy for us to get a long right from the start. I remember when I first started to spend time with Jasmine, I picked up on her eclectic, Persian beauty-bohemian meets M.I.A. gangster--meets indi- foreign film fusion-taste in things.

To me, anything Jasmine suggested was cool; even Kava. I remember it was Jasmine's bright idea to walk over to the Purple Lotus after school one day to drink some. So we 15 year olds made the trek with our oversized backpacks--some of us still in braces-- into the shady area of Clematis…

"This tastes like a mix of shit water and turpentine, Jasmine" someone said.

"Just wait. It's very relaxing--you will see," she said. And so we listened. Yes, Jasmine could even make overpriced brown water cool. I remember so clearly the sleepovers we had at her house--all of us girls would try so hard to be quiet so that we didn't wake up Jasmine's parents who slept in the next room. Trying to stay quiet was one of the most difficult things to do when Jasmine was around because we would be too busy laughing hysterically. When we would actually try to fall asleep, Jasmine would only have to say one word to break the silence and send us cracking up all over again.

I think it's fair to say that my relationship with Jasmine was mostly a silly one--but sometimes, it would go the other way too and we would end up having the most profound discussions about life, meaning, the future, our mothers, literature, and our fears. I remember laying in bed with her on some nights, being moved as I would listen to the way that she would talk about things. She told me about her Outward Bound experience and about the night she spent a lone in the woods. That night ended up falling on her sixteenth birthday. When I asked her to tell me what happened that night a lone amongst the trees she said "you know, I don't know what it was- i just sat there and cried. I cried for hours out there. I just cried simply because I was in awe of the beauty of nature; the beauty of everything. I was at such peace out there". That was the thing about Jasmine, as tough as she was--she could really FEEL. I always felt that she knew something about life--a secret--a recipe--to life…that I did not. And this was something that fascinated me so much about her character.

We receive this news and our hearts stop. It's as if time comes to a halt and the world stops spinning. Suddenly, flashbacks, images and memories start surging to the forefront of our minds. I am sure that if we were all to get up here and list the most beloved and intimate experiences we have shared with Jasmine, we would be here for a very, very long time.

As these memories start to come back, I recall one--quite simple--that stands out.

One summer evening, before a sweet-sixteen that would require bikinis, Jasmine suggested that we go for a several-mile run heading south on the beach until we couldn't run anymore.

"Our abs have to look good tonight, Losh," she said. And despite the fact that i hated running with a passion, i agreed. Naturally, Jasmine never felt that it was necessary to start to warmup much, but rather she charged ahead right from the start. I didn't want to admit it to her, but I knew that I wouldn't be able to keep up. I could already tell because she was much too enthusiastic for a run. But not wanting to look weak in front of her, I kept up my posture and ignored the fact that my thighs were screaming at me.

"Come on, Losh. you can do it. You can do it," she said…stop holding your breath. You can do it..". She wasn't showing any sign of slowing down; if anything, she started to pick up the pace a little. Just when i felt like i was going to collapse, she said,

"Alright, let's go a little faster now". And I had to laugh because she was singing a rap song at the same time that she was essentially sprinting.

"You are crazy", I told her. "Just don't give up, Losh. We can rest at the yellow sign." Relieved, I looked for the yellow sign ahead and i instantly became disillusioned when I noticed that that yellow sign she spoke of seemed to be million miles away. Finally, I gave up.

"Seriously, girl…you go. I think I am going to throw up. "

"Come on, just another 2 minutes," said Jasmine.

"No, seriously, Jasmine…you go." And I dropped to my knees and crawled towards the water. She hesitated but then said to me, "Okay, i'll be back in a bit".

I sat and found a comfortable spot next to the shoreline and as the sun started to fade into the west, I watched my friend Jasmine run off into the distance. Watching her from the back, I remember admiring the way she ran. She was so strong. Disciplined. Purposeful. Resolute. I watched her legs moving at a consistent pace. I was imagining the drum beat that was going on in her mind to keep her focused on the end. I was watching her get smaller and smaller--the whole time, I imagined Jasmine as the warrior. I imagined Jasmine as a hero that was sent off for a mission--and that she couldn't stop running until she got to her destination. I had a lot of thoughts going through my head as I watched Jasmine fade off into the distance and I remember thinking--you are so cool, Jasmine Jahanshahi. I remember thinking to myself, I wish I could be more like that. I remember thinking--that girl will never give up. And as I watched Jasmine's silhouette fade as she moved further and further away from me, I had a thought. I thought--this is how Jasmine is. She will never stop running. And she will ask you to run with her. She will stop, but only to motivate you--not to pity you. But she would still ask you to run with her. Because she believed in you. Because she believed in everyone. Her momentum in life was always fueled by her desire for progression and stopping was not an option.

Jasmine lived the way she ran. She lived with such an intensity that often, it would have been difficult for any average person to keep up. Beautiful lives cannot be reduced by the brevity of time. The love and influence that Jasmine has brought to the world is everlasting. May we not only learn from Jasmine's limitless passions, but also carry with us forever the meaning of her life.

Though my heart aches that I will never be able to embrace you again, it occurred to me the other night that you are very much a part of who I am--you have bound us all together forever. You are nestled in the heart and soul of everyone who has ever known and loved you. All that you are, Jasmine, is right here today and it will be that way always. And next time I ever feel like stopping the run, I will think of you, my beautiful friend, dust the sand off my legs, and move forward into the direction of all that you are.