May 29, 2019
by Stephanie Hiller
If you’ve been reading my column lately, you might think Sonoma is all about affordable housing, climate change, and more housing; because that’s I’ve been about for the past five years since returning to Sonoma County from New Mexico.
But now I have to confess – that I can “hear” Sonomans muttering – that Sonoma is also about Food. Wine. Visitors. The film festival. The plays at Sonoma Arts Alive. The artists and art shows. Our magnificent library, with its free concerts, book clubs, and meetings. Our dozens of nonprofits. And what about our schools? Our well-apportioned Senior Center. Our churches. Omigosh, what have I left out now?
So I want to announce that at 75 years of age, I am going to step back a bit from all that heavy-duty political activity I’ve been engaged in and enjoy some of the cultural and social activities of our unique Valley town. After all, it’s summer, isn’t it?
This Sunday, for example, I will be attending the Free Spirits Spring Concert as the guest of one of its members, Norma Barnett. I can’t promote it, as so many of my colleagues do, tracking diverse events in their towns and publicizing them in advance. But if people send me announcements of their events (and maybe complimentary tickets?), I could do that. So here’s an invitation: if you would like coverage, let me know! You can write to me care of this paper or send an email to the address below.
Those dreadful fires are behind us now…but new ones may be ahead. We’re glad to see that the County is taking proactive measures to inform us of best practices for protecting our property. You may have missed the April and May workshops they’ve been holding, but information is available online: see https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/PRMD/Fire-Prevention/Vegetation-Management-Services/Hazardous-Vegetation/ www.ReadyForWildfire.org and www.fire.ca.gov.
You’d better become informed because Permit Sonoma has recently announced that it will be making inspections!
That is a good thing! Even if it reminds us somewhat of grade school. Some people still need a little pressure from authority to cut back the vegetation – especially those tall dry grasses – from growing close to the house.
And we don’t want to hear Donald Trump crowing about how the fires – on federal lands – were the result of state negligence. Negligence it may be, but not the government of our big blue state, which has been taking a stand on numerous important social needs, like immigration, housing, childcare, single payer health, oil drilling on the coast, and carbon farming (also known as sequestration) to help drawdown carbon.
We may have to secede from the union after all! Remember when we used to talk about separating California into two states? Not this time; Southern Cal has been catching up…
The topic of fire brings us back to climate change. No matter how I may try to lighten up, I don’t see how we can avoid talking about climate change. We just aren’t living in a stable world full of concerts and films and trips to the beach; and if we travel this summer, we’re likely to utilize one of the worst climate offenders: airplanes. But we may not want to hear about that just now, when we’re getting ready to visit the grandchildren. What a shame that they don’t live closer! But maybe that has to do with the high price of housing? So we are forced to fly. Or maybe we can drive, not so bad.
Many people just don’t want to hear about all this. “Not in my control,” they say with a shrug. Or, “too scary.” Can’t be true, say others. “God wouldn’t allow it.”
Maybe that’s why the PraxisPeace event last month was not well attended, featuring the energetic and highly effective head of the Sierra Club, Michael Brune. Brune’s talk began with how he became an environmentalist, a story you can readily find online. He grew up in Chadwick Beach, New Jersey, on the Jersey shore, and when he developed a rash from chemical discharges into the sea, he joined community action. The chemical company was eventually closed, and the beach was reopened. He was very good, striking a balance between the urgency of the climate situation and the progress being made.
If you missed him, you’ll have to get his book: Coming Clean — Breaking America's Addiction to Oil and Coal
Don’t buy it from Amazon.
The children are not afraid to shout about climate change. Our Children’s Trust, the lawsuit that started in Sonoma against the federal failure to protect youth from climate change, will be heard June 4 in Portland!
Maybe theirs was the spark that ignited the Green New Deal?
As you can see, there’s no getting away from climate change.
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