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Sonoma County Gazette
Cotati Heart and Soul by Deborah Taylor- French

Creating Community Happiness

Jan 2, 2018
by Deborah Taylor-French


“Pleasure is short lived, and usually found alone. Happiness remains, can’t be achieved with substances, and most likely can be found when we are eye to eye with people.”Robert H. Lustig, M.D., MLS

How do you define happiness? According to Dr. Lustig, happiness and pleasure have seven distinct differences. I listened to him on Forum, an NPR Radio show. His book, The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of our Bodies and Brains, runs a parallel connection “American has devolved from the aspirational, achievement-oriented…(society). We once were to the addicted and depressed society we’ve now become. Because we abdicated happiness for pleasure. Because pleasure got cheap.” This January S.C. Gazette’s theme, how should we proceed? Begin with the assumption most readers want happiness. We know a cup of hot tea or a whip cream topped cappuccino does not last. Pleasures fade. Helping our friends, children or grandchildren seems to buoy those I know with a mysterious joy. So, does assisting those who lost their homes in the October Sonoma fires. How we proceed depends on what we want to create, physically and culturally as a community.

A walkable Cotati proceeds enhancing happiness and fitness, too. Cotati City Council and citizens continue to discuss and invest in retrofitting projects for a walkable city. This ongoing effort of cutting curbs for wheelchair accessibility benefits moms and dads pushing baby strollers and seniors not keen on changing levels quickly. Luckily, as a town, we don’t have hundreds of parking bumpers to trip on. Most critically, pedestrian controlled crosswalk signals and reflecting yellow flashers have been installed on high traffic streets. A crossing at East Cotati walking trail and bridge, one crossing Old Redwood north of the Veteran’s Park, and one more crossing Old Redwood and Highway 116 near Walgreens. We love to walk Valparaiso Ave. Then we climb uphill on Fehler Lane or through the connecting park to downtown. Never a day goes by on foot or driving that we don’t stop for dozens of wild turkeys crossing the street. Perhaps we need road signs warning visitors Cotatian’s stop for fowl? If you want to become healthier in 2018, enjoy our walking trails, safer crosswalks, and water fountains.

 Drivers stop for our wild turkeys or chickens: As drivers, Cotati’s also stop for our wild chickens. Locals know where the flock hangs and brings chicken feed and water bowls. They may be found in fields, flower beds, and parking lots. The busy intersection of Old Redwood Highway and Highway 116, recently improved for the safety of walkers has additional crosswalk safety lights, a drinking fountain, and a station for refilling water bottles. If you walk for more than a half an hour or north from Cotati to Rohnert Park, you carry a refillable water bottle as we do. One visit to Pete’s Coffee brings out the roosters. Years ago, another Pete, who works at Oliver’s Market in Cotati raised a brood. The city evicted him and bulldozed his cottage and chicken pen. Thus, the flock became Cotati’s wild chickens.

Songbird Open House: Saturday, January 20, 2;00pm-5: 30 pm.

Come nest with Songbird Community Healing Center. Enjoy FREE 10-minute educational talks. Relax with affordable 15-minute well-being services. Discover the best class for you. 8297 Old Redwood Highway, Cotati,, 707-795-2398,

Joys of Growing Older, Jan, and Ken OgrenFriday Flock Night, 2/9, 7:30pm-9:30pm, suggested donation $10-$20. Jan and her 99-year-old father will share readings, and photographs from her book, Choose Life: Poetry, Prose, and Photography. Get inspired by stories of an almost century-long perspective of life that is practical, affirming & fun. Try exercises to let go of cultural myths on at Songbird Community Healing Center,, 707-795-2398



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