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Remembering HolLynn D’Lil

Graton activist HolLynn D’Lil passed into the mystery on June 24. She was one of our own, as a Graton columnist in the Gazette. She is remembered here by Liz Junge, board president of the Graton Green Group and Anthony Tusler, disability activist.

“HolLynn moved to Graton from Sacramento in 2004 and soon became very active in the community. She became a member of the Graton Community Club, served on the Board of Directors of the Graton Community Services District, and founded the non-profit Graton Green Group (GGG). The GGG began as a conversation around HolLynn’s kitchen table in 2007. The group founders hoped to create a park in Graton accessible to people of all abilities and ages. After an attempt to purchase the old Fire Station property on Ross Rd. was unsuccessful, HolLynn never gave up her dream of building a park.

HolLynn tirelessly sought funding sources, fostering a connection with local developer Orrin Thiessen. HolLynn worked with Mr. Thiessen to facilitate the purchase of his property and the donation of his materials and labor for the development of a park. She also helped write a Sonoma County Agricultural and Open Space District grant to obtain funds to match those raised by the community for the new “Graton Green.”

The Green opened in 2019 and is located just off Graton Road between Bowen and Edison Streets. HolLynn’s indomitable spirit, creative vision and perseverance made her dream of a park in Graton a reality. From planning to fundraising to designing accessible benches and picnic tables, HolLynn provided inspirational leadership and donated tremendous amounts of her time and energy. A memorial gathering for HolLynn was held on June 29 at the Graton Green. She would have been pleased to see the community gather in the place she worked so hard to create.

(Contributed by Liz Junge, Graton Green Board President)

“HolLynn D’Lil, a ferocious disability advocate and sweet friend, died Wednesday, June 22. She was 77. She dedicated her life to promoting disability access by writing many letters and filing not a few lawsuits. She brought that same energy and drive as an advocate in her town of Graton to create the Graton Green.

Besides her two children, her primary accomplishments included the photographs she took for Ms. Magazine documenting the 1977 demonstration and sit-in at San Francisco for the signing of Section 504 to ensure civil rights for people with disabilities. As a disability advocate, she wanted to be one of the people who camped out in the SF Federal Building, but she had two small children to take care of. A press pass allowed her to enter and leave the building, unlike the demonstrators who were prohibited from returning if they left. The photographs she took resulted in her book, “Becoming Real in 24 Days”, available on Amazon. Sales will benefit Sebastopol Library.

She was interviewed in the Academy Award-nominated documentary film “Crip Camp” (on Netflix), and 94 of her stunning photos appear in the movie.

Over the years, she played host to many gatherings of her disabled friends and members of the disability community at her wonderfully wheelchair-accessible home. She was always the best dressed and well-turned-out wheelchair user in the room.

A Zoom memorial is being planned. Further details, when available, will be on my Facebook page: Anthony Tusler. “

(Contributed by Anthony Tusler)

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