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LETTERS to Sonoma County Gazette READERS - September 2016


LETTERS to Sonoma County Gazette READERS
September 2016

Our readers let us know what's on their minds.....Please send LETTERS to


Facing Grief

My heart goes out to all those affected by recent tragedies, notably the recent car accidents taking lives. It is the ultimate heart break when one of our loved ones dies. How can we be with all this sorrow? In our culture, grieving is challenging, as the tendency is to go unconscious, numb, or stuff it down and move forward.

The invitation to anyone who has suffered a great loss is to allow yourself to truly feel - whether gut-wrenching sadness, anger, shame, or any other feeling. There could even be relief, if it was someone with a complex health situation, for instance. All feelings are valid and they all move when acknowledged. There needs to be space to ‘go there’, to be witnessed in grief, this is a time when community is really needed. Support from a good listener can help sorrow move.

To support someone who is grieving, grieve with them. Love them, hold them, cry with them. Don’t try to change their feelings. Their tears will stop when they’re ready. Just be in their presence, holding them with love no matter what comes out of their mouth. We don’t want to push them past this too quickly into adopting spiritual beliefs. Let your presence be the support, not your words. You are enough as listener. Its not a time to share your own grief-filled past moments, that is too much for a grieving person to process. Let your friend have plenty of space to feel his or her pain. Sharing stories in an effort to help the griever feel better takes them out of their grief - it stops the crying, and the flow of emotions that need to happen.

Grieving means that we are real with the pain. It is not depression - which is the absence of the flow of feelings. In this society grief often gets suppressed, which does not make it go away. It comes out sooner or later, or manifests as illness. Our ability to feel sadness is directly proportional to our ability to truly feel love.

Buried grief can eat at the edges of marriage, and relationships with surviving children, and in time the chunks that are missing get too big. Learn instead how to allow deep mourning. With deep honoring of the loved one who died, this kind of grieving is an unwinding of our attachments, transitioning our relationship, and in time, accepting they are no long with us in physical form. By grieving we slowly release them to move on to their own experiences, and acknowledge they are spiritually connected to our hearts, forever. Letting go is the perhaps the hardest for parents who lose a child. This takes time, and professional or able spiritual support is suggested.

There is no shortcut, when a family and community reel from the deaths of two small children in Jenner, or a mother in a car crash, all in one week. Let your heart break wide open. It means you can feel the depth of that loss too, that it touches you. What we can do, as a community, is grieve, and surround the families with love as we are just a little bit stronger than they are right now. Let’s prop them up with kindness and presence. Help them tend their lives. And cry with them.

If it feels scary to let out all this grief, find a professional healer to help. None of us need be alone with our feelings, which can be overwhelming. Healing can come when we are honest with our feelings, and witnessed.  There is no way to move the situation into a pain-free state without tears staining the ground. Healing will come, although the tears may never completely stop flowing. Grief may be one of the hardest times in our lives, and yet the expression of it strengthens our bond with our humanity and all our loved ones. To paraphrase Martin Prechtel, only that which was grieved, was truly loved. 

Mardi Storm, Sebastopol

I’m keeping candidate endorsement letters to one per candidate per month in print. Additional letters will be on our website. People send letters to all the local papers so you won’t miss them if you read local news. In a monthly magazine, space is more of an issue than in a daily or weekly pub. And just know that I will not publish letters that negatively criticize candidates or spread false rumors. These are people with good intentions. I want people to vote on how the person thinks, responds to problems, and finds potential solutions. Please read candidate-submitted essays and our 3-Part Series of Questions & Answers to the candidates running for Sonoma County Supervisor. The Gazette will aslo be hosting two Supervisor Candidate Debates. See Q & A

On the 5th 

We are urged to think globally and act locally. National politics are enthralling, but local county and city governance is what most affects our daily lives.

The race for Supervisor for the Fifth District is critical this year. There are tough decisions to be made about our water resources; about vineyards – and wetlands; about coastal protection – and access to the coast; affordable housing, economic development, civil rights, county fire services, the development of Roseland, aging infrastructure, resource protection and many other issues that will affect our lives for generations to come.

We need a Supervisor experienced not only in addressing a wide variety of complex issues, but someone who can work well with colleagues on the Board, with staff, and with us.

I’ve watched and interacted with Sonoma County’s Board of Supervisors for decades, through a spectrum of styles and goals. Each Board has its own character, its own set of priorities and processes. Our current Board of Supervisors is relatively new to governance.  Three of the five had never before held public office.

As a result, they’ve unintentionally developed practices that separate them, rather than encouraging collaboration and developing expertise. Since they are relatively new, they naturally rely on staff for guidance. We elect supervisors to represent our interests, but the interests that helped get them elected can heavily influence inexperienced supervisors.

Thinking globally, acting locally, I look at a candidate’s past actions and/or votes cast. I want to see a history of dedication, determination, and shared values. Raised voices, good intentions, fervent promises are not a sure indicator of commitment or the ability to achieve change.

“Experience” is a much-abused word these days, but given the nature of our world and our local pressures, I have to think it counts. We do not have months or years for our representatives to come up to speed on the full range of issues we face. Thinking locally, only Noreen Evans has a proven track record of leadership, commitment and strong values. We already know where she stands and that she can get things done. I urge you to vote for Noreen Evans for Fifth District Supervisor.

Rue Furch, 5th District

Safe Camping & Housing

RE: Lynda Hopkins on Homelessness

Several people have accused 5th District Candidate Lynda Hopkins of promoting safe camping as a “solution” to homelessness.  This is entirely untrue, as Lynda knows that people sleeping in tents or cars remain homeless and that any solutions will require a broad, creative approach.  She intends to use public financial resources and regulatory authority to create real housing and supportive services for homeless people.

Today in Sonoma County there are scattered homeless encampments, many of which have been removed because of water quality concerns along creeks and the anticipated beginning of SMART train service.  I have helped remove many of these abandoned encampments in the hills around Monte Rio, moving thousands of pounds of material from remote, forested sites distant from any supportive services. Safe camping and parking are an improvement over encampments because they are safer for people and provide easier access to said services.  We can take such actions immediately to improve the lives of those experiencing homelessness.

We can also rapidly house many of those experiencing homelessness and provide further access to supportive services by repurposing existing buildings.  Lynda Hopkins supports the use of surplus County-owned buildings for supportive housing.  And she sees the creation of housing available to homeless people, either through reuse or new construction, as a top tier priority for Sonoma County.       

Pat McDonell, Sebastopol

Affordable Housing
Re: Sonoma County Housing, Crisis and Hope, Part 1 

I‘ve heard that the Railroad Square, De Turk winery project up for review before the SR board, this month or next, has proposed expanding  their affordable housing by double the units, but may be turned down entirely.  I’ve also heard the developer, who has questionable backgrounds seems to be on a better path for this proposal, but, if turned down, would just go with commercial and be ‘done with it’.

Can you expand/expound on this in your review?  It would be interesting to know how this city/county cannot seem to get on board forcing possibilities for housing.  I know in Sonoma, we are in the last part of a build for about 160 units in Boyes Hot Springs which almost beats the entire city of Santa Rosa entirely.

I don’t get it.  What is exactly the hold up?

rik granucci

Sonoma Housing Crisis

A big thank you to Stephanie Hiller for including manufactured homeowners in her overview of the Sonoma housing crisis. We are often overlooked in housing discussions even though we represent 9% of the housing in the city of Sonoma; and, a significant source of non-subsidized affordable housing throughout the County. Let me take this opportunity for a timely update.  

 The Sonoma City Council recently voted unanimously to revise the Manufactured Home Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO). The Council deserves our appreciation for their bold and decisive action to overhaul the ordinance to reflect current case law, under vigorous opposition from out of state constitutional law attorneys hired by park owners. 

We can proudly say that the Sonoma City Council is lighting the way for other communities in Sonoma County and throughout the state of California. In order to finish the job, we ask the Council and staff to 1) prioritize completion of the administrative guidelines for the ordinance; and, 2) address the “eroding affordability in Sonoma’s mobile home parks due to the (now alarming)  increase in park-owned units” as cited in the City of Sonoma, 2015-2023 Housing Element. 

Joyce Murphy
Sonoma Valley GSMOL

Recycling Stuff

Remember that first time we talked over coffee in Forestville?  I knew instantly we would be a good connection!

When I got to your article in the August Gazette, “More Than One Life To Live” I remembered that meeting again.  We shook hands and started our relationship.

First, the photo of your daybed trellis was like my own garden jumping off the page at me!   Mine is an iron headboard, that looks much the same. 

Your article was so touching and so relevant.  My family loves to tell their stories about Mom’s take on recycling. “Mom finds a re-use for everything!  Some things over…and over…!”  They will go on and on abot my love for old rusted tools, farm equipment and my collection of railroad spikes….

Recycling and re-use are so important -- especially in the “disposable / one-time-use / planned obsolescence” society we have become.

Those grandkids of yours are soooo lucky!

Zoe Tummillo, Petaluma

Local Hospital Experience

My husband and I have only been permanent residents of West Sonoma for the past seven years. We weren’t familiar with the doctors or hospitals in the area because we hadn’t needed any before this time. So when the time came for me to need a hip replacement, I really didn’t know where to go. My primary care physician recommended Dr. Michael Bolllinger of Sebastopol for the procedure, a recommendation seconded by a good friend of mine. 

The staff and the care at Dr. Bollinger’s office were amazing. Right from the beginning I felt like all the details were attended to.  I was gently led through all the steps I needed to deal with before surgery, and fully informed about what to expect after the surgery. 

Once our local hospital, West Sonoma Medical Center, got on board it was smooth sailing. Everyone, and I mean everyone, at the hospital was a focused and conscientious healer and professional.  I was well attended to, had a private room, which allowed for privacy as well as space for visitors and staff to move about freely.   

The nursing staff and physical therapists that I experienced were compassionate, informed, and efficient.  Some shared their personal stories about their own journeys to health and recovery which made me feel both awed and humbled.  

This personal touch gave me a sense of “connection”, something that I usually don’t expect from an institutional setting, but that I think is vital for the healing process.

We are so fortunate to have the quality and state-of-the-art small hospital in our area. I was fearful of going to any hospital before this experience and now feel like if I land in West Sonoma Medical Center for any reason, I will be in good hands. Thank you to this community for supporting such a place. 

Jaydean Franco, Bodega

Broken Bridge 

The bridge to the Guerneville Community Church is in need of repair. Until it is repaired we do not have vehicular access to the property. We have been offered by a generous donor to match any donations  up to a total of $10,000.  Originally only for the month of August, the deadline for the matching funds has been extended by the donor.  A donation made between now and September 30 in any amount will be doubled.  Donations after the date are welcome too. .  Permits and professional fees and supplies and labor will total over $100,000.  If we can raise enough to match the $10,000, we will have $20,000 toward our larger goal of restoring the bridge.  We have a little over $3000 now. If you can send a donation, send it to Guerneville Community Church, PO Box 765, Guerneville CA 95446.  Or visit the church website at and make a donation through PayPal. If you know folks who may be willing to donate, please pass the word.

The Guerneville Church has existed in this community for 121 years and at its current location for 52 years. It has served the community in many ways and continues to do so today.  It is home to KGGV Community radio station, Salvation Army/St Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, the Empowerment Center (a self-help program for the mentally ill),  Alcoholics Anonymous, and is a location for community events, concerts, weddings, funerals, and parties.

 Please help if you can. Thanks.

Kit Mariah, Guerneville