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Sonoma County Gazette
Savory Sonoma by Stephanie Hiller

Feliz Navidad

Dec 29, 2017
by Stephanie Hiller


Nothing could have been more appropriate than the celebration of Las Posadas December 20 sponsored by the Sonoma Valley Action Coalition, which has undertaken to support immigrants as the threat of deportation hangs over their heads.

Las Posadas is a traditional Mexican celebration of the nine days before Christmas. It begins with a candlelit procession enacting Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter as the birth of the divine child approaches.

Held at the Sonoma Community Center in Boyes, the celebration began with the procession of several dozen Latinos and Anglos outside and around the center, returning to sing outside the door their need for shelter.

There are three doors to the building. At the first two, they were denied entrance, but at last they were admitted back into the hall where a big pot of warm atole awaited them!

We sang Feliz Navidad, cheered the winners of a raffle led by Mario Castillo (who is also the center coordinator) enjoyed a marvelous feast of tamales, posole, salads, baked goods and the usual potluck miscellany. And then, the Ballet Folklorico danced for us! The culmination, of course, was the two giant star piñatas whacked apart by kids of all sizes to disperse their fabulous wealth of candies.

We were, at last, together, Latino and Anglo, la gente, celebrating our lives despite the tightening belt of the Trump regime, which passed its horrific budget that very same day.

It has been a terrible year. Week by week we have witnessed the Republican tyranny launching one rotten initiative after another, telling us all the while it is good for us to build a wall, prohibit immigration from Muslim countries, cripple the Affordable Care Act, decide that Jerusalem is the true capital of Israel, drop out of the climate agreement and threaten to cancel the agreement with Iran, ended net neutrality, and more.

On January 20, the second Women’s March will be held in Sonoma and across the country to speak out against these outrages with a united voice only rarely heard: the voice of women, supported by the voices of men.

It is time. Time to come forward, time to protest, time to say we don’t support this permanent state of war that benefits only the weapons makers, that we want to ban nuclear weapons, that we want to see a strong effort to combat climate change, that we are tired of divisions and oppressions and lies, that we humans are capable of joining together in solidarity to work for the common good. Join us at the Plaza at noon to hear powerful women speak up for that better world!

So much has been happening in our town, for good and for ill. We are still thanking God and the First Responders for keeping that Nun’s Fire from crossing the hill to plunge our city into flames, but not everyone was so lucky.

Nearly 100 of us welcomed Jodie Evans, one of the founders of Code Pink, which celebrated its fifteenth year this month. Praxis Peace sponsored the event, which was attended by many local feminists, including long-time Representative Lynn Woolsey, now retired, and former mayor Laurie Gallian, and our host Georgia Kelly.

Code Pink is launching a new campaign to Divest from the War Machine, an idea I support although I wish it would just tackle nuclear weapons for now; not everyone thinks we can live in this world without weapons. But Jodie seemed more interested in local peace economies and the many projects that support communities by creating farms in “food deserts” where access to fresh foods is limited (Soul Fire Farm), feeding homeless youth (Safe Place for Youth), helping youth write (826LA) and so forth, the kinds of projects that our North Bay area helped pioneer (before it became Wine Country).

It was all very inspiring, but neither the divestment program nor the local peace economies will change the direction of this country fast enough, if it’s not already too late to stop its decline into fascism. But for those of us working for change, there’s no faulting CodePink, one of the most radical and fiery women’s groups around.

Speaking of warriors for truth, Sonoma was saddened to hear of the death of one of its own. Kevin Sullivan was killed by a car that made a left turn in front of his motorcycle on Highway 12 near 80; he was 63. He was a Comcast engineer and peace activist. His wife Sherry and two children Sean and Keleighlive in Sonoma.

Keep the faith! It’s 2018.


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