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Petaluma Perspective by Houston Porter - March 2017


Petaluma Perspective by Houston Porter - March 2017

I grew up in Penngrove, attended Petaluma High, spent the next two decades in San Francisco and the East Bay, before returning to Petaluma, where my family is and where my heart always was. I am currently a criminal prosecutor by day, with the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office, and writer by nights and weekends. In past careers, I’ve been a builder, a realtor, a developer, a human and physical resource manager, a security consultant, a financial analyst, and an economist, among other things, with companies ranging from music stores to publicly traded corporations to Burning Man. 

Petaluma is truly unique in that “locals” are always willing to step forward in order to help indoctrinate the new folks about what it means to be a Petaluman. Petalumans lead by example, volunteer where they can and donate when they cannot volunteer, support local businesses whenever possible and generally take care of their community, whether individually or collectively. So far, we have been able to maintain a close-knit old-timey feel, and I hope through my writing I can help encourage this to continue. 

Petaluma Perspectives will be twofold. First, I plan to present community events that may be of interest to Petalumans, who on average tend to be highly engaged, which is one of the reason Petaluma has such a great small-town vibe. Second, I will give non-Petaluma residents a heads up about upcoming events that may entice them to cross over the Cotati grade and venture down into Petaluma for a look around. While in many respects it remains deeply rooted to its rural past, Petaluma has also developed into a mini-cosmopolitan epicenter with cultural and culinary delights to rival anywhere else in the Bay Area.  

That all being said, I look forward to serving both Petaluma and the larger Sonoma County community.

The Petaluma Downtown Association is looking for volunteers for this year’s Butter & Egg Days parade, held on April 29. Volunteers get some pretty cool swag, like t-shirts, water bottles, refreshments, and a training dinner prior to, and a thank you dinner a few weeks after the event. But best of all, volunteers get the satisfaction of helping put on Petaluma’s premier yearly celebration. Any volunteer group of 10 or more will get their logo printed on the back of their parade t-shirts! Apply at

Meet “The Muslim Next Door” at a special event put on by the Islamic Center of Petaluma on March 11 from 6:30-9 PM at the Petaluma Community Center (Lucchesi Center.)  Speakers will include Imam Tahir Anwar, Rabbi Ted Feldman (from B’nai Israel Jewish Center, a Petaluma institution dating back to 1864), and Petaluma’s new Chief of Police, Ken Savano. It is great to see my hometown embracing the idea of tolerance, understanding, and education, even with the world in apparent chaos all around us. 

Copperfield’s Books welcomes the Writers Forum on the 3rd Thursday of the month, March ~  October. “The Forum is a unique opportunity for participants to share ideas and explore the many facets of writing.  Workshops are led by a variety of speakers presenting information about the craft and the business of writing.” The March 16th Forum will start at 6 PM.

Petaluma Museum’s honors Women’s History Month with a March 16-26 exhibit titled, “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business.” Housed the in the historic 1906 Carnegie Library building, the Petaluma Historic Library & Museum is a true piece of architectural history, as well an incredible music venue, aptly nicknamed the “Carnegie Hall of the West” due to its superior acoustics. Upcoming performance include “The Scandinavian Spirit:  Grieg and Norse Myth” on Monday, March 20 and “The Eastern European Spirit:  Dvorak, Janacek and Bartok” on Monday, March 27. 

The March main event is “The Outrageous Muse: An Evening with Alma Mahler” on March 31.  Alma Mahler was a composer in her own right, as well as having been married to composer Gustav Mahler, architect Walter Gropius, and novelist Franz Werfel, and muse for many more men of genius. Although known as the “prettiest girl of Vienna”, concertgoers will get to experience first-hand that Mahler’s talents were more than skin deep.

Mary Bales of the Petaluma Art Association ( informs me that the artist deadline for inclusion in this year’s Petaluma Open Studio Tour (May 6 & 7) is March 16. This is one of my favorite events of the year because I get to view (and sometimes purchase) great local artwork, while also getting to meet the artists behind the artwork and see the studios where they create their masterpieces.