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Grassroots Graton - Heather Granahan - March 2016


Grassroots Graton - Heather Granahan -  March 2016

by Heather Granahan

Graton Park Update!

Fragrant pink, white and yellow blossoms are going off all over like silky silent fireworks all over Graton. As Spring springs, so has the sap been rising with progress on the Graton park. 

A good-sized crowd turned up for the park meeting at the Graton Community Club on January 30th. Folks showed up with questions, ideas and some great cookies. There to answer and brainstorm were Graton Green Group (GGG) members and the owners of the site, Orrin and Terri Thiessen. Also present were board members from Graton Community Service District and local farmer and 5th District Supervisor candidate Lynda Hopkins. On display were renderings of the homes Thiessen will build on the opposite side of the lot from the park, and one possible layout for the park to get the ideas flowing. (See picture).

Landscape architect Gary Bush donated a rendering and detailed survey, here looking North


GGG kicked it off with a slideshow sharing salient facts; 5/10 acre of usable land is included in the site, bordered by a non-blue line waterway (locally dubbed “The Critch”) which requires a riparian setback. Before anything else, and this is the Big Flashing Sign for All Of Us: the land must be acquired. It is being made available by Theissen for half the square-foot cost of nearby lots. There is a matching Open Space grant pending the community’s ability to raise up to $100,000 of the amount in pledges and donations, with $40K in the jar now. That “all of us” really includes the whole of Sonoma County. Parks do not exist in mini town-vacuums. How many of us have popped into parks in other towns with children, pets, picnics, bikes? The towns along the Joe Rodata Trail are especially joined, beads on a string of shared rural beauty and resources. Graton’s park will provide a valued, unique link on a section of the trail often used by young families and those with less-than triathalon abilities getting their wellness thing on, as well as those of the super-spandex persuasion. There’s money in them thar hills, and sharing with low-income projects is a legacy move with immediate paybacks (including tax deduction!).

Next Thiessen outlined his project, 10 homes, 6 with 540sf second units intended to allay a bit of the housing crisis and two Habitat For Humanity homes. Having initially owned the parcel back in the 90’s when he intended to include a park there, he is keen on this one. Many of the costly improvements and studies are in-kind donations by Thiessen, including loads of engineering and permitting, drainage, water and electrical ditches, parking, sidewalks (nothing to do with downtown projects, and installation of the inscribed sponsor bricks (see below to get your own). One engineering reports deems the old water-tower structure safe for use *>brain implodes with ideas<*!

Then the floor was opened. Many had questions about the development itself, which Thiessen offered to stay and answer afterwards.  Folks were assured of a few considerations; open sight lines will be designed for safe site use, a bike rack is already required by the County as the site is bordered by the West County/Joe Rodata Trail, liability insurance will be carried, community garden elements are still on the table. Park suggestions were many. *Deep breath in*: electric charging station in parking area, creative structures that can be enjoyed and used by adults as well safe kid play, retain and feature native elements, mosaic pieces inspired by Gaudi’s park in Barcelona, bathrooms, natural water fountain, central gathering and performance area – perhaps around the watertower where natural amphitheater contours form, community oven and benches of adobe with fun tunnels kicked off with an adobe brick-building fundraiser workshop. 

Learn more, contribute ideas, funds by emailing or; sponsor a brick of your own to be built into the park by emailing

Shameless and Revealing Promotion

Yours truly got the way I am partly with deep thanks to my parents who packed my brother and I and a bunch of my dad’s tools onto a freight ship for a few years of sculpture-making in Greece, way before the EU was formed. We lived, schooled and worked with countryside folks in mainland mountain and island villages for a few years. Read all about this from my author mother’s perspective (mine will have to come someday, too!). 

Heather Granahan with her Dad at the beach

Your Columnist helping Dad with Fresh-caught Dinner

Download Andrea Granahan’s well-reviewed and daughter-approved book “It’s Greek to Me” on,,, or get a real paper copy at Copperfield’s Books in Sebastopol.


Please reade Diane McCurdy's REVIEW in our December 2015 editon - on line: BOOK REVIEW - by Diane McCurdy - It's Greek To Me

“It's Greek to Me” by Andrea Granahan