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Cloverdale Comments - September 2016


Cloverdale Comments - September 2016

by Carol Russell

“When strangers start acting like neighbors...communities are reinvigorated.”
—Ralph Nader

If you’ve lived even a little while in Cloverdale, chances are you’ve had (or soon will have) the experience of hearing your newest visitor exclaim: “Wow! Everybody here smiled at me!” Or, perhaps, after going to a store, restaurant or event where you’ve returned a dozen or more friendly nods, they’ll  marvel: “You know everybody!”  

No wonder we often talk about how there’s definitely something of great value here that, while it may come more easily from living in a small city, nevertheless can be duplicated anywhere anytime we meet our neighbors in ways that help us both to build and to benefit from the positive community spirit which results. We thought we’d offer a few examples from the wide variety of opportunities to meet neighbors that already exist here or that can be easily created.  

Take the classic pot luck “Block Party”! Recently, on the cul-de-sac where Carol and her spouse, Roz, live a delightful Saturday evening in August saw folks gather from all around the development thanks to invitations from our wonderful neighbors, Ginny and Steve Bauer, who host such a party every other year. The ultra-relaxed, come-as-you-are atmosphere encouraged us all to laugh, eat, renew and reinforce old friendships, get to know newcomers, and exchange local news and tips. We even enjoyed awesome music (and danced in our hosts’ driveway!). thanks to The Coolers, one of Sonoma County’s most popular Rock and Roll, R&B and Jazz bands, featuring Steve’s ultra-cool vocals!  

On the gentle green slopes overlooking the city where Reece, and her partner, Jane, live the pot luck Block Party becomes a pot luck “Hill Party”. One of their wonderful neighbors hosts it at her pool (before the pool it was held at her home) with all the neighborhood invited. In addition to typical Block Party fun they even play games! But, “Block” or “Hill”…as Reece says: “No matter where you live, getting to know each other evolves into caring about each other and, often, into helping each other.”

Another gathering place to get to know your neighbors plus, in this case, getting valuable help, too, is the joint Latino Bi-National Health Fair and Latino Independence Celebration taking place on September 17th, from noon to 5 p.m., at the Citrus Fair Grounds. The Health Fair began as a collaboration between Canada and the U.S. to address health issues specific to the Latino population and has grown into one of the “largest mobilization efforts” in the Americas. Combined with the independence celebrations of several Latin American countries – Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Mexico – the event brings a significant portion of our community together to eat, celebrate their heritage, and enjoy entertainments including Ballet Folklórico, kids’ games, crafts and activities plus free prize raffles.   

Then there’s our local Library. Like others, it is probably the most welcoming intergenerational space in any community. In fact, 86,000 individual visits ≠ yes, 86K! – were made last year alone just to the Cloverdale branch. And no wonder. Besides collection materials (books, DVDs, etc.) it brought us: community and business meetings; adult and kids classes; computer availability; homework help; entertainments; art shows/exhibitions; a legendary book sale; support offerings such as help with income tax and Affordable Care filings; and, above all, a safe, comfortable place to be. Note: Check 894-5271 for the schedule of our library’s closure this fall/winter during an interior “Refresh”.   

Getting out into our community as a volunteer is a vibrant personalized avenue for meeting our neighbors. We’re volunteer writers for the Gazette who’ve met incredible “new neighbors” while interviewing for this column at Friends of the Library, Cloverdale Performing Arts Center, the Garden Club, Friday Night Live and Alexander Valley Film Society, just to name a few. Get your list of organizations and clubs in Cloverdale at the “Community” pages of Cloverdale’s website:

  Why do so many of us in Cloverdale smile? Maybe it’s because, whether we’ve actually gotten to know to know someone or not, through all the good times and the bad we’ve each come to understand that we are all an essential part of a community which is most vigorous only when we act like neighbors –especially to strangers.