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Welcome to the Sonoma County Gazette ARCHIVE of PAST EDITIONS. Our NEW WEBSITE is up and running, so GazExtra is serving as your path to archived articles. Thanks for being part of our Sonoma County community...stay in touch...e-mail me - VESTA

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Money Movement to Support Local Banks

Keep your Money in Sonoma County
where it supports our Community!

We keep talking about it, writing articles about using CASH instead of CREDIT and it's becoming a movement. Remember “We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it any more?” The more people are aware of how greedy people steal from every person who earns a living, the more we have a chance to fight back and support the people who support us. It's all about aligning ourselves with people and institutions who share our values systems.

Check out the latest movement to take your money OUT of greedy banks and put it INTO local banks and credit unions. Put your MONEY where your value systems are supported - where your money goes to support your home community.

In Sonoma County we have credit unions and banks (see list and links below) who keep their money here - and the web site below was developed to help people find a local bank for their money.

But don't just take their word for it - do a little research of your own to find out how these banks USE your money. “The devil is in the details!”

Here are some SUGGESTIONS from Reader Magi Discoe and SCG Author Alan Joseph:

Hi Vesta,
The Huffington Post had an article yesterday entitled "A New Year's Resolution" ( ) that suggested we, as citizens, take our money out of the giant banks and place our money into community banks. It sounded like a great idea to me, but I am not sure which banks are "community banks" and which are just fronts for the ultra large banks. I think it would be a great service for the Gazette to encourage this theme and list real community banks.

This seems to be an idea gaining momentum and as background I would recommend the latest issue of Mother Jones (February).
Magi Discoe

Thanks Magi,
As you know - we've run two articles so far on keeping our money at home - it's becoming a movement which I support!!! Thank you! Here’s a more detailed response from Alan Joseph who wrote those two articles on keeping our money in Sonoma County.
- Vesta

Hi Magi,
Vesta, told me about your interest in local banks. I've been on this path for some time. As Vesta noted, she has published two articles....I wrote them both. The point I made in those two articles was to pay with cash as much as possible.....avoiding the 3% merchant fees and finance charges flying money out of the the sum of millions of dollars every year.

More to your point, I have also made it a personal mission to place my business and personal money in local banks and have some recommendations:

1. Community First Credit Union was started as the Sonoma County Teacher's Credit Union. This is truly a home grown venture with money put right back into our community.

2. Luther Burbank Savings was founded by the Trioni family....privately held, serving their community instead of their share holders.

3. Circle Bank is a fairly new venture but noteworthy because it was started and run by Their Santa Rosa offices have a childrens' play area and they bake cookies for their waiting room twice a day.....a refreshing approach.

4. Exchange Bank is the oldest local bank in the area. Founded by Frank Doyle, they have a long local history. I know lots of people who swear by them, but I have to say that in the last year or so, they have been in the headlines waaaay too much surrounding real estate loan losses in the Sacramento Valley. I pulled a substantial sum of money out of their bank this last year because of that, but will keep an ear and eye out to see what they do in the future.

I hope this helps with your quest.....and thank you very much for caring. - Alan Joseph

Just one more comment (their's) on two more LOCAL MONEY INSTITUTIONS:

Redwood Credit Union (RCU) is a full-service financial cooperative, assisting local consumers and small business owners with achieving their financial goals and dreams since 1950. As a Member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative, our focus is simply to provide our Members and communities with trusted financial services, friendly personal service and free financial education., or call (707) 545-4000.

Summit State Bank
- opened its doors in 1984. Headquartered in Santa Rosa, we serve Sonoma County and the greater Bay Area with branches in Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, Rohnert Park and Petaluma. As a community bank, we are committed to giving back to our community. We offer a generous Nonprofit Partnership Program, and support the local organizations and programs that serve Sonoma County.

Here's a BOOK SUGGESTION from our Ask EcoGirl columnist, Patricia Dines:

The book Agenda for a New Economy is amazingly hard-hitting, fact-based, and constructive. The author David Korten has been writing on these issues for decades and brings such a great perspective to this, laying out distinctions and a model that instantly make sense and finally for me give words to what we're trying to say - about what we don't want, what we do, how to frame the difference, and how to create the latter. I don't agree with everything, but he gives the conversation a much-needed shove in the right direction. Something I'm not seeing even in radical books let alone, of course, the mainstream conversation. I had the idea of everyone sending this book to Obama, that's how on-point I feel it is.

David C. Korten

David Korten Biography

In addition to an active schedule of writing and speaking on global issues, I serve as president of the People-Centered Development Forum, chair the board of YES! Magazine (, serve on the board of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. (living economies .org), and co-chair the New Economy Working Group. For more information and periodic updates, visit my website You can also follow me on and The Great Turning has an active group.

AND - just in from a Gazette reader:

The Huffington Post had an article yesterday entitled "A New Year's Resolution" ( ) that suggested we, as citizens, take our money out of the giant banks and place our money into community banks. It sounded like a great idea to me, but I am not sure which banks are "community banks" and which are just fronts for the ultra large banks. I think it would be a great service for the Gazette to encourage this theme and list real community banks. This seems to be an idea gaining momentum and as background I would recommend the latest issue of Mother Jones (February). - Magi

AND...You'll also find this other web site interesting with videos on senate hearings about our financial institution crisis

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Homeless by Choice - Another Perspective

The Art of Surviving Homelessness

By Kerry Echo
On the other side of expensive vacation rentals, the ocean is an edge of darkness dotted with lights from invisible boats in the distance. Parked at the end of the continent, I am feeling the terrible weight of my stark life. No one can know, really, in all truth, how I got here. It has been worth pondering in therapy, but no answer to the problem is permanent even if I can make it through another week. Week to week. Day to day.

One foot in front of the other, I struggle to endure the daily routines that circumscribe my life; and, to be honest, I am tired and bored of the radius of financial confinement to which I am presently condemned. I seem to be married to it. I am heartsick at the way money has grown to a staggering importance for me, overtaking everything else, but mostly and rudely the things I love. I have lost my focus for poetry, for long afternoons at the beach, for planning anything beyond the next few hours.

Yet, oddly, and to my own amazement, I would not trade my present circumstance for any other reality. I am not even tempted to find a shortcut or detour. For one thing, I'd be suspicious if things got too much easier too fast. For another, I am proud and competitive and want to see this weird life-warp out to the end: I want the victory over the odds as much as I want a ward against this kind of warp ever happening again.

Yet, I admit I wonder if I have not found a modus vivendi, a make-peace, passive compliance, with the warp rather than the path to defeating it. For all my more-than-occasional desire to run --- run anywhere to get out of here (and one could well ask where here is exactly) --- I cannot seem to find any reasonable alternative to the daily dance of seemingly going nowhere. And run? Run backward into a past that no longer exists?

I do enjoy imagining a prize at the end, if there should ever be an end; but I often doubt these feeble attempts at hope. Hope is tricky. Hope, even a little of it, can plunge one into deeper despair. Like salt or sugar, it is best to go light on it, walk gingerly, but just keep going. I hope, but I am not bragging I have any. I'm not running like a child with scissors. I'm keeping my head down.

I imagine a lot of things. My imagination, though, is much richer than what the world seems to have available. I wanted some good gypsy company out here and hoped for it ---- a gal friend with whom to chat over a beach fire, roast marshmallows, share some silence. I have wanted to record her life --- their lives, for my imagination gave me several women friends with whom to share the coming cold evenings. I thought I might write about these women, hoot about their courage. their intelligence, their strength in pulling themselves through difficult times. They probably don't exist. At least, not the way I imagine them.

For instance, there is a curious gal who lives in a truck about as ugly as mine. She spends most of the day on the Bay in one particular spot, though I could not say where she goes to park and sleep in the evening. I see her very early in the morning as I am washing and dressing for work and if I visit the outdoor washroom in her area before dark.

She seemed friendly at first. I often saw her chatting with people who brought their dogs out for a walk or with someone from the Parks and Recreation crew. However, when I tried to chat with her some time ago, I was politely rebuffed. I was offering food. She said she was on a special diet.

I was unsure how to extent myself to her, and I made a patent mistake. The truth is (and I knew this) the homeless are individuals with a keen sense of dignity: no one wants her state of homelessness pointed out to her, not even obliquely through the offer of food. We hide homelessness from ourselves so that we can do that impossible dance every day. We settle for a lack of definition, a myopic haze that takes some of the sharp edges off, and just plain guessing as to who or what someone once was or did. That is certainly more fun, and that, of course, is the wrong word.

No one talks much to each other out here, which should not come as a surprise. There is too much of a chance of tripping over a live wire of dense feelings that have not been examined or were given up on as yielding nothing but pain if unraveled. We are careful, in other words. There are land mines, you see.

The other homeless, truck-driving lady and I tend to meet coming and going from the public washroom. One day a week ago, she asked if I knew who was taking all the toilet paper off the rolls, a daunting feat, really, when you consider how long it must take to swipe the paper from 12 rolls without leaving a trace, save the cardboard shells they came on. I know we both wonder how the thief is going unnoticed, by what means the toilet paper is being displaced, and how it is being transported from the washroom.

It's the aggravation of being surprised, the grim idea of having to trot back to one's vehicle for tissue or paper napkins to fill the lack, and the curse-laden relief of finding that the thief conscientiously left one roll with enough paper on it in the last stall. It is an ill-timed, five-second emotional roller coaster that no one would enjoy in the early morning, least of all the homeless who have to trek the great outdoors to get to the nearest toilet. It is one of those relatively-small things, like the housed who drop trash in the park or play their radios too loudly, that unite the homeless.

A few days ago in the washroom, this same woman wanted to know if she could ask a personal question. I should have said, "No." I am not that clear headed in the morning, and I was caught off guard. After all, I was dressing, and I will probably never get used to having company in my outdoor boudoir.

"Do you actually shower out here? I mean, do you take cold showers?"

It was all downward from there. I was only half-dressed and felt defensive about something that is really no one else's business. But I am polite by nature and tend to deal honestly with others. I answered the questions: Yes. Didn't I know I could use the Y for only $30 a month? And, oh, she hates being cold. She could never take cold showers. I must run warm. I must have a high metabolism. Blah blah blah. Blah blah blah.

All that at around 6 a.m. My first draught of tea would be a half-hour and two miles away.

Her ignorance was deeply frustrating, even hurtful, as it bumped noisily against my fantasized gypsy girlfriends who would have known the secrets of the open-air shower: the exquisite sensation of cold water warming one's insides; the canopy of pines and palms filled with the sweet susurrus of birds; the high, star-studded, velvet sky overhead; and a privacy otherwise denied the homeless and about which the housed know nothing.

I cannot explain her--- the other truck-driving, homeless lady --- except to guess that she wanted to pretend she had choices and perks of which I might not have been aware. We might as well have been talking over our coffee cups at the fence between our backyards replete with laundry waving in the breeze, immaculate green lawns husbanded by men, and swing sets empty of children in school. There was always a standard histrionic quality to the middle-class housewife and her ability to spend, albeit wisely. That image of the other truck lady and myself persisted through the day, and it was a comfort of sorts, though another kind of fantasy that is far out of reach, existing as it does in another era.

Perhaps her fall from the grace of the middle class had been much harder than mine. It takes considerable time to embrace the notion that one has become part of that class against which the armies of the world protect the wealthy.

In any case, in my position, one can only do what comes to hand. I have a job. I have a vehicle. I amuse myself with crossword puzzles and New Yorker magazines I lift from the YMCA after yoga class. I write. I run in expensive shoes that were worth every hard-earned dollar I paid for them. I make friends.

Friends. They are of considerably more value than money alone. I am sitting now with my laptop aboard a sailboat that sways gently in its slip, lulling me as I pursue the educated idleness to which I am accustomed. The sound of a grand harp makes me curious enough to go topside to view well-dressed people gathering for a wedding about to take place on the grounds next to the marina. I return to the cabin on loan to me, the jazz music playing on the radio, and the appurtenances of the temporary world I have managed to eke out for myself, an accomplishment of the bare truth.

My truck stopped running in the middle of the freeway a few days ago, which means my world had come to an end once again. I had just received my new Triple-A card and had not yet paid the renewal fee, but I phoned anyway. The Highway Patrol pushed me off to the side of the road, and Triple A's truck showed up within the half-hour to tow me to the middle-eastern garage. That slow, sinking feeling of doom around not having a place to sleep for a night, a few days, a week, or worse began to swallow me. And what if the truck were, this time, beyond repair?

Despite having working solidly for six months at a new job, I had only a ten-dollar bill to get me to the end of week when I would get the first decent paycheck of my career there. That workplace deserves a few pages of its own, but suffice it to say that a vehicle breakdown at this time, while inevitable with an old truck, was nothing but bad luck after bad.

The cell phone, the necessity of which I have exhorted many times, was the one piece of good luck I had in hand. I phoned everyone in the area whom I thought might be able to help. I happened to reach a friendly couple whom I had met in yoga class who lived near my YMCA. I humbly stated my need, and they were more than willing to open their door to me.

Within the hour, I had a ride from the middle-eastern garage to the home of the most upbeat, offbeat, intellectual, and artistic couple I have had the pleasure of knowing in a very long time. Their simple, tastefully-remodeled beach house was filled with exotic sculpture Pattie had created and was a delight to my eyes. Bill, a former university professor and a keen, sensitive observer of human beings, had himself experienced homelessness. He seemed to know intuitively what I felt and what was needed. I was offered dinner, of course, but I was also offered a place to sleep and Bill would take me to work the next day. I could stay there at the house. Or on the boat.

The idea of sleeping on a boat was just too outre to pass up. So we packed me up and took me off to the marina where I boarded an old sailboat with the few possessions I could manage to carry away from the truck. Bill took me to and from work the next day, but, as though his kindnesses so far were not enough, Bill offered me the use of his vehicle so that I could drive myself wherever I need to go.

So it is now Saturday. I have barely left the boat all day, preferring the soft, back-and-forth motion on the water to going anywhere my legs could carry me. I sleep soundly in the prow of this little boat and feel rested in a way I have not in a long, long time. It is no wonder the history of modern man began in a boat. I am prayerful today, thankful for the blessing of new friends. I verge on feeling hopeful, but I know, too, that I dare every day, win or fail, to keep going, to keep doing the daily dance I think is going nowhere.

For more essays by Kerry Echo, visit

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Astrology Jan 2010

Allow the New Year to start slowly. We often have a tendency to try to hit the ground running after the first. Whether due to New Year’s resolutions, overindulging during the holidays or simply perceiving an opportunity for new beginnings, we could start the year with lots of energy and enthusiasm. This year begins with Mars retrograde, indicating that our overall drive and energy level will tend to be lower than usual.

What is begun when Mars is retrograde will often not reach the end that is sought or, if it does, the results may be unfulfilling. This is a time of research and planning. Considering the challenges coming from some of the other transits this year, taking time to get things going and being more thoughtful and thorough in our strategizing will pay dividends in the long run.

The challenging transits are primarily continuations of what we’ve been experiencing in the recent past with a couple of exceptions. The ongoing patterns are the square between Saturn and Pluto, and the opposition between Saturn and Uranus. This year those two transits will coincide in an aspect dynamic called a T-square. I will be writing more about this as the year progresses. Suffice to say at this point that we will be challenged to respond to influences that require integration between stability of tradition in one area, with innovative, progressive, cutting edge change in another. Tying those forces can facilitate major transformations in our lives. For many of us this will lead to closing some part of our life and being open to starting something new. This can be an exhilarating experience no doubt, but one often fraught with trepidation. One of the challenges, therefore, is to respond to the impending transformations with an attitude of surrender to the process. Attempting to hang on to the past, or to parts of our lives that are over or outgrown is an exercise in futility that can only increase the difficulty of the process. Surrender enables us to take an active part in the creation of the new ideas, perspectives and possibilities that are unfolding before us daily.

One of the new developments this year is Uranus transiting into Aries in late May. It will retrograde back into Pisces in August and return to Aries in March of 2011, where it will remain for approximately 7 years. The past 7 years that Uranus has been in Pisces has seen the proliferation of changes in areas that Pisces focuses on, such as the arts. Pisces by nature is a gentle sign. It is more oriented toward transcendent awareness than in physical manifestation. It is probably the least ego centric of the 12 signs. It replaces the need for ego gratification with the drive to acquire wisdom. Uranus is about change. Sometimes the changes are inspired and oriented toward personal or consciousness liberation. Other times the changes are haphazard, extreme and counter productive of anything other than change for the sake of change. Many of the changes that Uranus in Pisces has offered us have been internal, focused more on consciousness and our connection to the universe than on personal expression or behavioral interaction. That will change with Uranus entering Aries. Aries is a fire sign, it is about expressing the self in a direct, assertive, authentic way. Whereas Pisces can be subtle and nuanced, Aries is bold and self-affirming. Pisces can be aware of the complexity of things, Aries tends to perceive things one dimensionally. On the other hand, Pisces can be dreamy, idealistic and self-deceptive in its awareness or choices. It can be easily distracted or dissuaded from acting in accordance with truth or reality. Aries has no such problems. Although at times it may be impatient or opinionated, it always remains true to itself.

One of the challenges of Uranus in Aries is being too impulsive in our actions. We could feel so clear in our inspiration and right in our choice of action that we fail to see any difficulties on the path until we bump into them. Yet, Uranus in Aries is clearly an indication that new options are on the way. The time of deliberation and analysis of Uranus in Pisces is ending. So one challenge we face this year is to integrate the wisdom and psychic sensitivity of Pisces into our decision-making and taking action with Uranus in Aries.

Another new dynamic this year is Jupiter entering Pisces, which will take place on January 18. Jupiter is the co-ruler of Pisces and is said to be in its dignity in that sign. This means that the nature of Jupiter will be easily expressed. Jupiter pertains to the principle of expansion. This can include an attitude of gratitude and joyfulness, a desire to develop the consciousness through learning or travel and a willingness to share what one has in a spirit of generosity and inclusiveness. Even though Uranus will leave Pisces temporarily this year, the presence of Jupiter more than accommodates Uranus’ absence.

We could assume that this transit will increase diplomatic efforts between nations and humanitarian attitudes among people. This could lead to an increase in charitable donations, more people interested in things like the Peace Corps or even a call from politicians for some type of national service for youth. This could also bring about increased interest in indigenous cultures from the point of learning from them rather than seeking to exploit them or their natural resources. Similarly, the Jupiter in Pisces transit suggests an increase in both religious fervor as well as spiritual seeking, often two entirely different experiences.

So take your time and ease into the New Year. There may have fireworks on New Year’s Eve, but there will definitely be explosions that we will all have to address and deal with throughout the year. The more centered we are the better we will be able to respond to the challenges with awareness and creativity.

Aries: This is a good time to increase self-awareness through interaction with others. Spending time with friends or colleagues could facilitate more in understanding how you affect others, and how they affect you. Growth comes from replacing judgment, either of self or others, with a deepening realization of the intentions behind your actions.

Taurus: This is time to expand your social horizons. Be open to people whom you might not normally associate with. Experiment with different behavioral patterns that may feel risky simply because they are new. Growth comes from being more inclusive of others, since this can lead to being more accepting of parts of yourself that may feel awkward.

Gemini: Deep analysis and thorough contemplation can lead to clear understanding about fundamental and profound elements of your life. This could involve deepening personal relationship, updating your values, finding your way through financial challenges or feeling more comfortable with your place in the universe. Answers are found more abundantly through deepening of the mind than through social activity.

Cancer: Ease into your New Year by spending time in artistic pursuits as well as spending romantic time with your partner. You may often be spontaneous and like to be in the flow of the moment. This is a time to be more organized, defined and self-disciplined in order to take advantage of the gentle, harmonious energy available to you this month.

Leo: Some Leos find this time of year difficult. The cold and darkness seemingly take away your normal radiance and positivity. This year offers you a way out of those doldrums. The key is to spend time with people you really care about. This could be a partner or very good friends. Entertaining in your home or engaging in shared creative projects can get your year off to a beautiful start.

Virgo: Spending time clarifying values now can enable you to be more productive in generating stability and security later on. However, remember to include everything that has meaning to you, not just on the material plane. Growth can come from integrating things that you want and like to do with things that are more necessary.

Libra: This could be a more playful time for you than for most other signs. Expressing yourself artistically, romantically or recreationally can help the year get off to a pleasurable start. Whatever you do, try to make it easy and effortless. Sharing the activities with others enhances the experience and can enable you to make new friends or find new ways of being social.

Scorpio: Clearing up old problems with siblings, neighbors or good friends can be an uncomfortable but beneficial way to start the year. After deep contemplation, engage the other person in ways that bring the problems out in the open and thus lead to acceptable resolutions for all.

Sagittarius: Jupiter is your ruling planet. Its presence in Pisces all year could lead to a joyful connection to family and an increased sense of connection to your inner being and higher self. Travel would be educational and real estate dealings beneficial. Growth comes from taking advantage of these opportunities without getting carried away with dreamy idealism.

Capricorn: Early month can bring a desire to be social and the ability to relate to others in comfortable, harmonious ways. Around mid-month take some time to review professional activities. This could involve anything from satisfaction on the job now to long range career goals. This is not a time of action. Contemplation, analysis and planning of strategy is the way to go at this time.

vAquarius: Positive changes in your financial situation could manifest in mid-month. Help may be close at hand that enables either shifts at that time or the clarity to make changes later on. Spend time reviewing the nature of your finances, and clarify your material needs, before making any decisions or taking any action.

Pisces: Jupiter is your co-ruling planet and its transit into Pisces bodes well for you throughout the year. It will enhance your sense of self-worth and self-confidence. It can impel you to expand your horizons through travel or higher education. It can also enable you to feel more comfortable in the social world even as you affirm and deepen the fulfillment of your spiritual path.

Rio Olesky has been studying astrology since 1967 and has been a practicing professional astrologer since 1976. The author of Astrology and Consciousness, Rio offers classes at SRJC and Crystal Channels in Santa Rosa. To make an appointment for a reading, or to find out more about his classes, call Rio at 707-887-1820. Check out his website:


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The lower back in Chinese Medicine is the residence of the Kidneys. If the back pain radiates down the leg from the back it indicates a more Full condition, usually from Damp-Cold in the leg channels. Occasionally it may also be due to Damp-Heat. The pain may also only occur in the leg without affecting the back. This syndrome of back pain is called Sciatica. It is important to try and find out what channels are involved so that certain acupuncture points can be used. As mentioned in many of my other articles, pain can be caused by both a deficiency or an excess condition as well as be an acute problem, which occurs suddenly or a chronic problem which continually occurs over time. Chronic conditions are always due to Kidney deficiency which can be combined with retention of Damp-Cold or stagnation of Qi and Blood.

Throughout my eighteen years in acupuncture, I have seen many types of Sciatica and the use of both Acupuncture and Herbs have gotten some very quick results. Many times there is a radiating leg pain in the very back of the leg or on the side of the leg. It usually occurs down one leg only and can be resolved in just a few treatments. The use of the herbs helps to release the cold, nourish the Kidneys and remove the dampness. Along with these treatments, I have given herbs to many patients to take for several months afterwards to minimize further back problems. It is also interesting to look at the function of the back, which helps us to stand erect in the world and move forward. In times of stress, many people experience back problems.

When a backache is accompanied by sciatica it usually takes a little longer to treat. As mentioned above, Sciatica is usually caused by Wind-Cold in both acute and chronic cases. The pain is usually worse in the morning and better with light exercise and movement. The pain can be relieved by an application of heat and is worse when the weather is cold and damp. During an acupuncture treatment I use both a special heat lamp and a warming herb called moxa. When Cold predominates there may be stiffness and contraction of the back muscles and the pain is more aggravated by rest and stagnation. When Dampness predominates there may be swelling, numbness and a feeling of heaviness.

My 55 year old patient complained of an acute backache, which had started after working at one of her jobs as a gardener. The pain was intense and was centered around the lower left kidney area. It radiated downwards to the left buttocks and the back of the leg. She was so uncomfortable that she came directly from work to see if she could get some relief so that she could go back to her job the following day. We even did her verbal intake with her standing up rather than sitting. The muscles on her left side were in spasm and the entire area felt very stiff. She was treated with both distal points and local points for a period of 45 minutes with both needles and moxa. I also sent her home with a fabulous Chinese formula for Sciatica. Upon getting off the table 80% of all her pain was gone and in the next couple days we gave her one more treatment and she took the herbs for four days. After the last treatment she was totally pain free.

Lower backache and Sciatica can be treated perfectly, adequately and successfully according to Chinese Medicine. The results are profound with no Western pain medications or treatments. For any questions or for a free ten-minute diagnosis, please call Marcy @707-824-8747.

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Fire Fighter News Jan 2010

4th Annual Bucket Brigade Blood Bank of the Redwoods
Fire departments around Sonoma County are still competing in the Blood Bank of the Redwoods’ 4th Annual Bucket Brigade, which continues into January. Of course the West County Firefighters would like to win the Trophy this year but we will need the help of the community to do so. To help us you can donate blood, through the Blood Bank of the Redwoods, anywhere in the county between now and the end of January and ask that the donation be made in the name of your favorite West County Fire Department.

Christmas Tree Farm/New Fire Station

Thank you to everyone that came to our new property on Highway 116 to get a Christmas tree... We sold a lot of trees and cleared more space for the new station! A big “Thank You” to our tree farm manager, Heather O’Dell, for all of her hard work getting the tree farm looking so great. We had a great time meeting everyone and raised a lot of money to go towards the new fire station. Remember- your Christmas tree was also a donation and, therefore, a tax-deductible item for your taxes. We look forward to seeing you next season!

Toy Drive... Another Success
The 2009 Toy Drive was a fantastic success, thank you! Graton Fire was able to deliver presents to over 50 children, brightening their holidays. We wish everyone could experience the joy we see when the fire engine pulls up and delivers your presents... once again, thank you. A tremendous thanks also needs to go out to the Graton Post Office, Andy’s Produce, and Graton Community Club for being toy collection points.

Toy Drive – 2009

The Forestville Firefighters Association toy drive was a huge success despite a slow start. Your donations provided toys to 60 families through the Giving Tree at the Forestville School, 78 families through the Forestville Methodist Church and over 50 families through Toys for Tots.
The Forestville Firefighters Association also donated several movie passes for some of the older recipients. A special thank you to all who donated to this wonderful cause!

December Blood Drive
The Forestville Firefighters would like to thank the 42 citizens and firefighters who donated a total of 39 units blood at the December 16 blood drive at the Forestville Fire Station.

Property Tax Information
Did you know that the Forestville Fire Protection District is almost entirely funded by the property taxes paid by its citizens? Each property owner in the District pays 1% of the assessed value of their property in annual property taxes. The Forestville Fire Protection District receives an average of 11% of that 1% for its annual operations. The remaining 90% of the 1% is distributed to the County of Sonoma and to other agencies within the individual’s tax rate area. The property taxes received by the District in December and April make up approximately 85% of the Districts total revenue. An additional 11% is derived from a Special Tax for Fire Protection and Prevention, typically $40.00 per parcel/household, which is also included on your annual property tax bill. The Districts remaining revenue, approximately 4%, is derived from various sources such as grants and State reimbursements. Because the District is so dependant on property taxes the number of foreclosures and the downturn in property values could cause a reduction in the Districts revenue for the next few years. The Board will again be watching the results of the first installment of property taxes, later this month, closely to determine the effects of the current economic situation on the Forestville Fire Protection District.

Toy Drive

The Sebastopol Firefighters would like to thank the local citizens, Sebastopol I.O.O.F. Lodge and CVS Pharmacy for a very successful toy drive. In cooperation with the Sebastopol Alliance Church, we were able to provide toys to 266 children in 102 families in the Sebastopol area. We received a record number of cash donations, which helped to purchase gifts for older children, who are often left without gifts.

Community Emergency Response Team Classes
The department will be publicizing the CERT classes for 2010 soon. If you ever wanted to be better prepared to survive and respond to natural disasters, this is the class for you. 196 Sebastopol residents have already been trained and you are next. Watch the City of Sebastopol website for class dates and details.

Russian River
Toys for Kids

Thank you all for assisting us with the annual toy drive it was a very successful year.

Please help us by attending the RRROC meeting at the Guerneville Vets Hall on January 21st, at 6 pm. We are ultimately asking for funds to purchase and equip a new and much needed ambulance. This will be a difficult decision when goes up in front of the Supervisors since the law is very grey in this area (my opinion) and not likely to be approved.

For 2010
Regretfully by the time you read this article, The Russian River Fire Protection District will have hosted a public hearing on January 6th, at 7 pm, at the fire station to discuss another special tax headed to the voters on June 8th, 2010. We are up against statutory deadlines and have to get this out to you for a first look. The Board has indicated it will hold more public hearings if the public indicates a need or desire.

Following the advice of many after our failed tax initiative of two years ago, we hope to present to you something more palatable. The new tax measure still asks for more money, but it is easier to understand than our last measure. Vacant parcels will be charged $70, no matter the size. At property owners’ suggestion, contiguous vacant parcels will be charged $70. Parcels with one home will be charged $140.00. If your parcel has more than one home on it, the first home is charged $140.00 and each additional home on the same parcel is charged $70.00 (2 homes on one parcel = $210.00, three homes on one parcel = $280.00). Most commercial and industrial properties will be charged $350.00 per parcel. The exception to that is if you have more than four specific uses on your parcel. As an example, if you have a 500 acre parcel with crops on 200 acres and you have a bed and breakfast for a maximum of ten couples, a 1000 square foot retail store and a house your tax will be $350 based on the single highest use (the bed and breakfast).

If you add one more use to this property, let’s say a factory that is industrial in nature, the single highest use changes to industrial use and the fire tax becomes $700.00. Most of our parcels do not resemble anything like this but it is used to illustrate my point. Agricultural parcels are charged $175.00. This new tax measure is asking for $100 more from most of you per year. That equals $.27 more per day than what you are paying now for a total of $.38 per day.

The Russian River Fire Protection District has done everything in its power to save money and reduce expenses but it is not enough. We are not willing to reduce the level of service to balance the budget. It is simply not in your best interest for us to do that and the wrong thing to do; your safety depends on us. It has been thirty years since our last tax measure was overwhelmingly passed. We need your help as much as you need ours. We will make every effort to keep you better informed. Thank you.

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Abuse a la Carte

The Full Meals and the Specials are glaring, dramatic and can be horrifying.

But what about those daily small bites – what I call the “a la carte” menu for elder abuse – little insensitivities, that happen all around us, maybe innocuous, but often painful?

Here’s one example (I see it often) that bank accommodation – you know, handicap sign by the chair, low counter where theoretically one can sit and do bank business comfortably?
The scenarios are amazing! Loud comments, rolling eyes, waits without being acknowledged. This “accommodation” can be easily distorted into humiliation, embarrassment and nervous fumbling.

I’ve witnessed many examples (and lived a few!) where a perfectly composed person is methodically reduced to a nervous wreck – with all eyes re-directed onto an errand-turned-predicament.

Have institutions merely complied with logo and set-up, but really view it as a big annoyance?
Are clerks and service folks trained to automatically assume anyone grey-haired and walking slowly is hard-of-hearing and must be addressed at full volume and in baby talk? Hello?
A recent personal experience went like this: I entered a bank using a cane, sat at the handicap window, and waited. . Eventually, a woman in a big hurry zoomed by, then back-tracked, and asked me (loudly) if I wanted something! Yeah? Do bank business?

She replied again loudly: Is someone holding you a place in line “over there” (pointing across the room)? No. Well, can’t you step to the window? No, I’m seated here, and am waiting my turn.

Well, there’s no one at this window! Well, can there be?

Before moving on, she asked a teller: Can you take care of her if you get a chance?

(Even though the “window” is fully equipped, service there often consists of a teller running back and forth with your materials, processing your transaction away from your line of sight, then asking you to step to another window anyway to run your ID – even ‘tho there is a slide unit sitting right there!)

Despite unnecessary attention called to me, teller explanations to others, and loud comments about my transaction-…. it finally gets done.

I can take care of myself in situations like that. I ask for lower voices and respect for confidentiality. But, not all elders can or will bite back like I do. Many just take this kind of treatment on the chin. The list goes on and on: counting out change with shaking hands, struggling with electronics at check-out …..

WHY do these activities often invite vocal impatience, rude comment, and impudent suggestions from some insensitive younger persons? Do any of them have grandparents? More important, do they treat them that way? Are they just clueless?

I’ve watched elders reduced to humiliation and tears when made the focus of unnecessary attention; watched one frustrated woman simply walk away from her purchase, totally embarrassed.

An old gentleman ran out of a store; I found him sitting on the curb weeping. He’d handed the clerk a dollar coin instead of a quarter. The clerk laughed and proceeded to “educate” him, and questioned why he couldn’t see the difference.

Most elders don’t want to be mini-spectacles as they move through everyday life dealing with the realities of physical limitation. When I experience or witness one of these small indiscretions, I vow to raise my own awareness. When reasonable, I step in and advocate.

Of course, there are many positive examples, and I think it is too easy to languish in those (especially if they are what is closest to our experience and our circle)… and too often, we simply reminisce and wonder what has become of the structures, which assumed and fostered more respect and helpfulness for our elders.

We are outraged when we hear of gross physical, emotional, and mental abuse done to the old, weak, helpless. We should be. We should intervene, contact authorities, and do what we can to end such behavior.

In our everyday path small outrages are happening right in front of our eyes, which I believe are indicative of a coarse and insensitive societal shift.

Zoë Tummillo is a Business & Marketing Consultant/Trainer/Commercial Writer, dba COMMUNICATION CONCEPTS, in private practice since 1974. In addition to Commercial work, she writes “Senior Momentum: A Series of Situations”; & “Pieces of My Path”, essay memoirs of growing up first generation Italian American. To contact her -- email: Phone: 707-869-1726

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WINE BANTER - John Haggard on Pairing Wines with Fish

Oftentimes people drop by with Recipes to my store, many of which are seafood, and as we begin to break down the different kinds of seafood, broth, vegetables and herbs, I to try to figure out whether a red wine is going to be appropriate. Recently, I received an article (The Economist) which answered a question I’d really never thought too much about: why are there so few red wines that can be paired with fish that don’t create a fishy after-taste? – and the answer is actually quite simple: wines with high levels of iron turn out to be the culprit. While it seemed obvious not to pair seafood with big red wines like Bordeaux varietals ( such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Petite Verdot,), or Zinfandels and Syrah, to name a few, it wasn’t obvious to me that perhaps it was a chemical component (iron) that may have been the reason (Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry).Thank you, Harvey Mendelson, for bringing this article among others to my attention.

While so many white wines (which I’ll go into later) may be paired with fish, I have often found that some pinot noirs make a great pairing with fish, if they are not heavily extracted – and it turns out these pinot noirs have little or no iron – some great examples being; Ferreira’s Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Preston Estate 2007 (ret: $30-$35) or EMTU’s Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2006, from organically grown grapes (ret: $35), and am looking forward to the release of the Paul Mathew 2007 Ruxton Vineyard Pinot Noir which normally retails ($35-$40) as his past vintages of this vineyard designate pinot noir have been exceptional and versatile to pair with fish and many other dishes. All of these pinot noirs make great pairings for fish dishes from grilled salmon to paella. Remember when pairing any wine with a cream based sauce that may contain herbs and or aged cheeses such as a pecorino romano that it will most likely pair better with a red wine, such as the aforementioned pinot noirs rather than a white.

Some white clones of pinot pair wonderfully with fish: Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Blanc. The Italian clone and its descendants all over the world being known as Pinot Grigio, typically (but not always) is harvested earlier and has a more steely, citric and mineral quality. The French clone, pinot gris, typically picked later, has a little more residual sugar, though still a dry wine, and creates a much rounder, softer quality and can be paired with seafood, and occasionally will have a mineral finish. I tend to find the Pinot Gris wines a little more elegant, perfect for pairing and sipping, whereas the Pinot Grigios more typically for pairing, but this is my palate, and I recommend you test your own. Pinot Blanc, yet another mutation of pinot, typically has a more floral quality to it, and once again, pairs well with some seafood items.

With Dungeness Crab Season in full swing, you can find some great white wines to pair from buttery Chardonnays; Hart’s Desire’s Carneros Chardonnay Ceja Vineyard 2008. (ret; $25) or Rielle’s Ritchie Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay (ret: $30) to crisp dry Sauvignon Blancs.such as PKNT 2008 Sauvignon Blanc from Chile (ret; $7) – it’s really a matter of your own personal preference but they will all pair well with crab. On these cool crisp days, it’s well worth heading out to Bodega Bay and the Spud Point Crab Company: 1860 Westshore Road, Bodega Bay. Tel; 707-875-9472.

Moshin Vineyards gets a new winemaker: Mat Gustafson
Congratulations to winemaker, Mathew Gustafson in his move as winemaker for Moshin Vineyards. Mat has long produced some of my favorite pinot noirs under his own label Paul Mathew and Dutton Estate. Moshin Vineyards has a spectacular facility; gravity fed, custom crush, used by several small producers. I anticipate that there will be much to look forward to in the coming years from Moshin Vineyards.

John Haggard is owner of Sophie’s Cellars, The Sonoma Wine & Cheese Market in Monte Rio, California. Sophie’s Cellars is open 11am – 7pm, closed only on Wednesdays.


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Restaurant Review - Pesto Bar Café

This month we are looking at soups. I could go on and on about favorite soups but I am concentrating on a new restaurant I visited in Sebastopol, the
PESTO Bar Café located at 101 South Main Street. I had heard there were good soups in this restaurant—and here are some examples: Sweet Potato Pear Bisque, Summer Squash Bisque, Carrot Ginger, Cream of Broccoli, Ham – Potato and Pea and French Onion. The price of a cup of soup is $4.50 and a bowl is $7.00. But if you add a cup of soup to a sandwich or burger it is $2.00 on top of the sandwich price.

The restaurant’s main feature is the wide variety of dishes with pesto. Along with traditional basil pesto there are pestos made with heirloom tomato, lemon parsley, arugula-walnut, cilantro-almond, kale-pecan, sun dried tomato, caper, basil pesto cream, roasted red bell pepper and many, many more. The pesto menu is based on seasonal items purchased at the Farmer’s Market in Sebastopol and other local farms. They feature a pesto of the day and they even have pesto potato chips.

Jerri Luzania is the owner and Adam Knaak is the chef, assisted by Ivan Redus. Jerri runs the business details and the front of the house with support from her sisters who live in this area. Previously, Jerri was a partner in a marketing firm in Southern California, but she moved here to be closer to her family. Adam has worked in the restaurant business in this area for 15 years.

The menu features the soups ($4.50 to $7), fresh salads ($6 to $9), and Ravioli, Chicken, Filet Mignon, Pasta, French Burger, fresh fish, Duck Confit and Polenta Napoleon. Main course prices range from $8 (Pasta dishes) to $17 with one exception, Filet Mignon at $29. Desserts are $10.

They also have wine and beer and offer a selection of interesting wine based cocktails.

This restaurant is still going through some initial organization, offering new special holiday and brunch menus and planning new and different items on their regular menu. Their hours have fluctuated during the holidays and there may be some fluctuation during the winter months. Currently they are closed on Monday. They are open for Tuesday through Friday for lunch and dinner. On Saturday they open starting at 9:00 a. m. for brunch and continue through dinner till 9;00 p.m. Sunday open for brunch but not dinner. I recommend you call the restaurant at
707 829 3212 and check on the schedule. If they are not open they have a message machine that will tell you the hours and also tell you about the specials they may be running.


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Ask EcoGirl - Patricia Dines on Greening Your Resolutions

Dear EcoGirl: How can I include the earth in my New Year's resolutions?

Signed, Making a Plan

Dear Making a Plan: Thank you for your question. Yes, the new year offers us a handy time to step back and identify the changes we want to make in our lives. And it's smart to include caring for the earth among our intentions, because (1) the planet's well-being is key to our survival and the foundation of all we do; and (2) aligning with the earth can help us save money, be healthier, connect with others, and have more fun!

Here some example ways that you can eco-charge your New Year's resolutions. More about these and other useful actions is at

Resolution: Improve Your Health & Diet
Strategy: What's good for your body is often also good for the planet. Eating fresh whole local organic foods and less meat can help you lose weight, have more energy, avoid disease, and save money. Plus you'll reduce the eco-impacts of pesticides, packaging, industrial agriculture, and food transportation.
Action ideas:
• Explore recipes that get you excited about cooking from scratch with fresh produce and whole grains. You'll soon prefer it to processed products!
• Buy organic foods, to enjoy truly tasty and nutritious goodies grown without toxics. Organic is affordable when you buy direct and lower on the food chain. It's especially important to feed children organic, to reduce their exposure to toxics that can harm their development.
• Plan outings to local farms and farmers' markets. This trims food miles while helping local farms survive. Choose organic farms to reduce local toxics.
• Shop regularly at your local farmers' markets, or sign up for a farm CSA subscription, then savor your steady stream of farm-fresh delights.
• Plant an organic garden, to enjoy tasty healthy food that further trims your food miles.
• Designate one day a week or month as a vegetarian or vegan day, to reduce your livestock eco-impacts. (If you buy meat, choose organic from small farms.)
• Take walks in nature, alone or with others, for exercise that nurtures body, heart, and soul. Bring children along to encourage nature as their lifelong ally.

Resolution: Cut Home Energy Costs & Pollution
Strategy: Trimming home energy use saves money while reducing energy-related pollution and greenhouse gases.
Action ideas:
• Install a programmable thermostat to automatically lower heating costs while you're at work or school.
• Get a home energy audit, to identify your best opportunities for cutting energy waste and increasing efficiency. You can avoid up-front improvement costs with funding options such as SCEIP (www.sonomacounty
• Consider solar power, after improving your home's efficiency, to reduce your use of polluting fossil fuels.

Resolution: Trim Driving Miles & Costs
Strategy: By cutting your driving miles, you can reduce your car expenses and pollution without buying a new car, plus often enhance relationships and integrate more exercise into your routine.
Action ideas:
• Seek carpool buddies for your trips to work, school, and more.
• Add public transit to your schedule. Get information on your local system and start by exploring a simple route.
• Designate one day a week or month as your "alternative commute day" and get to work or school by walking, biking, or taking public transit.

Resolution: Act at the Community Level
Strategy: By joining our efforts with others, we can help create the community-level changes needed to ensure that both we and the earth flourish.
Action ideas:
• Regularly contribute to groups you value. In addition to donating money, consider offering your time and skills, even for just a few hours monthly. You'll feel good connecting with like-minded souls and being part of the solution.
• Educate yourself and take action on eco-issues. E-mail lists from nonprofits can make that easier.
• Encourage your workplace and church groups to take eco-actions.

I hope these ideas help you enjoy the fun of turning our current challenges into opportunities for a better future!

Ask EcoGirl is written by Patricia Dines, Author of The Organic Guides, and Editor and Lead Writer for The Next STEP newsletter. Email your questions about going green to for possible inclusion in future columns.

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Gail's Garden: Gail Fanning on Winter & Spring Gardening

Happy New Year! Looking back over the past year and my resolutions made last January, I’m happy to report that I’ve done pretty well in fulfilling my plans. I have supported my favorite garden charities, the Royal Oak and Garden Conservancy. I have improved my irrigation to be more efficient and have eliminated a portion of my lawn to reduce water use. I have been composting my kitchen scraps regularly. I have learned a lot of things about plants and gardening from many sources: my current source of inspiration is the new book by “Grassman” John Greenlee: The American Meadow Garden. This beautifully illustrated book (photos by Saxon Holt) is full of great ideas and options for those of us working toward eliminating traditional lawns.

I have also had the pleasure this year of designing several yards with “mini-lawns”. These postage stamp size lawns (250 to 400 sq. ft.) are perfect for those of us from the Midwest and the East who really want to have a lawn (I think this is a genetic trait from which we cannot escape!). We feel that a garden needs that jewel of green at its center to be complete. With a “mini-lawn” we can have our soft green spot for barefoot walking and rolling with children without bankrupting the water budget. And on my latest project, sub-surface drip irrigation was used to reduce water use even further. Since the lawn is so small, mowing with a push mower is easy: no release of pollution from gas burning engines, just a little good old fashioned sweat!

Mark your calendar for these fun and informative classes coming up in 2010 on Saturdays at 10:30am at Bassignani’s Nursery- they are all free! 1841 Gravenstein Highway South, Sebastopol Info: 823-3984

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Listening 2 Children: Sharon Wikoff - To Spank...or Not?

Welcome to 2010! Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? I invite you to consider a different way of thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. How would you like to “BE” as a parent in 2010? As a grandparent? As a teacher? Would you like to be more loving, more caring, more gentle? This is an excellent time for change! One area to consider is how you want to discipline your child.

Pam Leo, author of the book, Connection Parenting, has written an excellent article on the subject of Spanking. Below are excerpts from that article, printed with permission. The entire article can be read at

Spanking Undermines Discipline
- Loving Alternatives - by Pam Leo

“It’s not nice to hit people; children are people.” - Pam Leo

Parents hitting their children has been accepted as a form of discipline in our society for so long that some parents can’t imagine that it is possible to discipline children without hitting them. We have learned that not only is it possible to discipline children without hitting them, but it is impossible to discipline children by hitting them. Making children feel worse does not make them behave better.

Most parents intend to teach their children to be courteous, respectful, responsible, kind and loving. Children learn most from imitating what they see us do. Since hitting is not courteous, respectful, responsible, kind or loving, how can we possibly expect to teach our children those things by hitting them?

Hitting is punishment, not discipline. Punishing children doesn’t teach them why their behavior was unacceptable or what they should do instead. Punishment is meant to deter children from repeating the behavior by being painful or unpleasant enough to cause the child to want to avoid being punished again. In theory, this method may sound effective, but in reality, being punished causes children to think more about the wrong that was done to them than the wrong they did.

Hitting children not only hurts their bodies, it hurts their hearts and minds. Instead of giving them the message that what they did was bad, being hit causes children to believe that they are bad. Research shows that children who are hit have lower self-esteem than children who are not hit. There is even some evidence from a British study that children who are hit may be less able to learn because physical punishments reduce children’s IQ.

While not all people who were hit as children grow up to be hitters, all adults who hit grew up either being hit or witnessing hitting. When an adult hits another adult we call it assault. When a husband or wife hits the other we call it battering. When a big kid hits a little kid we call it bullying. When a parent hits a child we call it spanking. No matter what name we give it - a swat, slap, tap or spank, it is hitting. When the adults in a family hit each other we call it domestic violence. Why then, when the adults hit the children in the family, do we call it discipline? Nowhere else in our society is hitting considered acceptable. Isn’t all hitting violence?

Most parents love their children and want to be good parents who raise good kids. Many parents feel badly about resorting to hitting their children and are anxious or at least open to learning methods of effective, loving discipline. To those parents I offer some alternatives.

It Wouldn’t Hurt To Try:
• When a child is about to do something dangerous like going into the road or climbing on a bookcase, gather them into your arms, tell them “Danger!” and explain to them why their behavior frightens you. The word danger is more effective than just saying no.

• Children need lots of attention. When we give enough positive attention, children don’t become so starved for attention that they resort to any behavior that will get our attention.
Ending all forms of violence against children will be the beginning of the end of domestic violence. However we treat the child, the child will treat the world.

Sharon Ann Wikoff is a credentialed teacher and an EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Practitioner. Parenting teleclasses begin in January and can be viewed at:

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Our County: Efren Carrillo Jan 2010

While we face the New Year with a mixture of enthusiasm and trepidation, there is much to look back on in this final month of 2009 that is worth celebrating. 2009 has been a year of economic turmoil, which brought unprecedented demand for services to the disadvantaged and disenfranchised delivered with increasingly limited resources. Still, some remarkable accomplishments by our Sonoma County community this month give cause for hope and appreciation.

On December 17th, the Sonoma Land Trust celebrated its acquisition of Jenner Headlands! Not your average accomplishment, Jenner Headlands is the single largest North Coast conservation acquisition in history with over 5630 acres of critical wildlife habitat being preserved forever. This was a truly once in a lifetime opportunity which required the perseverance, grit, and dedication of the Land Trust over a five year period.

The epic struggle to acquire Jenner Headlands culminated in success through creativity, collaboration of public (local, state, and federal government supported the acquisition financially) and private partners, and purposeful dedication by Ralph Benson, Amy Chesnut, and the Land Trust family. Their fortuitiveness will benefit Sonoma County for generations to come.

2009 was a wild ride for Ralph, Amy, and their partners, with the $36 million deal requiring that every part of a complex financial puzzle aligned and came together with no mishaps…all during this incredibly tough year. That coupled with the patience and dedication of the landholders to the outcome yields a remarkable achievement. I am proud to have played a role in supporting their efforts along with Assemblyman Wes Chesbro, former Supervisor Mike Reilly, and former Congressman (current Chair of the Coastal Commission) Doug Bosco. Congratulations to them, to us, and to all future residents and visitors to our beautiful County!

Steps both large and small have been made this year toward greater sustainability for the County. The vision of policy makers in adopting and pursuing the innovative Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP) continues into its next phase. The early part of 2010 will see us move forward toward a regional approach to retrofitting homes and commercial properties, using the financing mechanism of SCEIP along with developing a “one stop shop” with all the tools needed for retrofits: energy audits (maximizing the return on retrofit investment), financing, maximizing education, incentives, and implementation.

We expect to see results from leveraging American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds which will continue the job creation begun by SCEIP, and result in a much needed, concerted effort at retrofitting existing properties. Retrofitting has been identified as the number one priority for meeting our green house gas (GHG) community targets. Retrofitting benefits individuals through reduced energy costs and our entire planet through lowered GHG emissions. More information can be found at the Regional Climate Protection Authority’s (RCPA) website ( or by contacting Dave Brennan of RCPA ( or Chris Cone at the Climate Protection Campaign (

It is expected that the new program will launch in April 2010, with the initial focus on single family residential units, and moving forward with multi-family and commercial properties within the year.

While we’re on the topic of resources and conservation, there will be a continuing focus on reducing our use of water in 2010. Recent changes in state law regarding greywater are propelling our County to look at alternatives to the use of drinking quality water for landscaping and other high use water needs. Public health is a valid concern, but the time to move forward in dramatically reducing our water use is now.

The past few years of drought and the declining health of our river and salmon populations have brought urgency to the topic. While 2009 showed that community concern is high, and urban users can and will reduce their water consumption when needed, much remains to be done to accomplish a permanent behavioral shift. We will continue to move forward, taking a hard look at water reuse and other methods of water reduction.

I’m looking forward to a very wet (but not too wet) winter to give us a necessary buffer while we work on policy, alternatives, and solutions.

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Rio Nido News & Events Jan 2010

Rio Nido is buzzing with enthusiasm these days. This community is mobilizing itself to reclaim the identity it seems to have lost in recent years. Our quaint hamlet of canyons and one-lane streets is undergoing a fundamental shift in how it views itself and how it wants to be viewed by the world. This community is determined to reclaim its’ historical rights as a well thought of entertainment venue, relaxation summer destination and homes to everyday folks as well. This community is home to nurses, lawyers, architects, contractors, administrators, training professionals, marketing consultants, actors, singers, dancers, poets, bloggers, activists, artists, laborers, web designers, and many others of professional significance. The perception of Rio Nido has long been that this is an impoverished community of substance abusers and low income households. The residents want to restore our community to it’s rightful heritage as a thriving, vital, interesting place to visit and live.

Recent Happenings:
Buzzing! Perhaps because Rio Nido now has a wonderful and successful community garden, and a well used dog park, along the children’s play area in Bruno Farnocchia Park. All are gathering places for the locals to share, laugh and enjoy our quaint sunny community common areas. Rio Nido has in it’s wonderful community park, a tennis court, picnic tables, barbecue pits, and the streets surrounding are also very walkable. Thanks to the Parks District and several wonderful volunteers Rio Nido built a dog park on a razor thin budget and donated materials. A day has not gone by without doggie friendships being made.

Homeowner’s Events:
The Rio Nido Homeowners Association led by it’s President Douglas Misner makes sure the weekends during the summer months is filled with family oriented gatherings and fun. Rio Nido has long been known for live music and great parties.

Parade of Lights:
Are you aware that Rio Nido recently won a 1st place trophy at the “Parade of Lights” for it’s wacky and inspired group of folks who wanted to represent the community in the parade? Well, we did! The contingent was quickly assembled, the entry planned out and executed without a moment to spare, but the biggest challenge of the evening was avoiding the surprises left by the horse in front of our contingent. Some people missed it and others did not. Thanks horsee!

Feeling of Community:
Fed up and tired of the substance abuse and prostitution problems at the Rio Nido Lodge, this community is now making efforts to avoid allowing this to be repeated. Several recent community meetings have been focused on neighborhood security and solutions to the problems created by a long ignored social problems. Rio Nido has had enough and is working on ways to curb the perception of Rio Nido as “Rio Needle”, or whatever the current favorite term may be. As a community, Rio Nido is feeling a sense of empowerment as we work together to accomplish our goals. You need not look further than our recent successful parade entry, the several successful community meetings held to address neighborhood issues and working together on community projects. No longer does Rio Nido want to be the place on River Road where you slow down and drive through on the way to Guerneville, that is if you remember to slow down at all. Rio Nido wants you to visit and get to know us.

Place to Visit:
So you see, there is a lot of buzzing going on in Rio Nido. Like the Phoenix rising out of the fires of blight, the Rio Nido community is determined to be economically vibrant again. With the potential ideas being talked about for the Rio Nido Lodge and the formation of task forces, it may soon again be added to the list of ‘places to visit’ on the Lower Russian River. Rio Nido has many interesting people and with that many interesting stories to be told. If you have any suggestions or topics to share, please feel free to contact us. When you get the chance be sure to buzz into Rio Nido.


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Monte Rio: Winter News & Events Jan 2010

Happy New Year!!! Can you believe it is 2010 already! I hope that this year is one filled with peace, love, joy and prosperity, as well as health and happiness for all of you. I wish everyone success with their New Years’ resolutions, this year I am actually making some and do hope to keep them.

I wish all business owners in the West County the best for the New Year, I hope this economy comes around because I know how everyone is struggling to keep the doors open. From the closing of the Pink and all the businesses that have closed in Guerneville---it is getting to feel like a ghost town. If you love a local business, now is the time to support them in any way you can if you want them to be here next year!

The Rio Theater is now open 5 days a week again (Wed – Sun), as we get closer to the Academy Awards! There are some great movies out there and don’t forget, we have rolled our prices back to just $5.00 for a great film! Imagine that, $5.00, all ages, all movies! Make sure you dress warm though---it is very cold in the theater! Don’t miss Pirate Radio starting on January 10---the two local radio stations, Guerneville and Occidental, will be performing at 2pm with some great music, talks and all around fun!

Don’s Dogs Café is also open 5 days a week and putting out some great sandwiches, incredible breakfast burritos, great Peet’s coffee in the Espresso Machine, and of course all those yummy dogs and chili dogs---steamed or grilled!

The Village Inn will be closed for a short vacation from January 3 – 12 and will reopen with all those fabulous dinners on Wednesday January 13. Also, they have a locals discount on hotel rooms for your out of town guests—just $75.00 and up, per night!

Sophie’s Cellars has a great deal going with many of the local restaurants. Bring in a bottle of wine that was purchased at Sophie’s and there is no corkage fee, the limit is one bottle. You can do this at the Village Inn, Highland Dell, Cape Fear, and Rivers End---just to mention a few. Call for details.

Also, don’t forget the Highland Dell and Café Les Jummels for other delicious and different meals.

Well, that’s all for this month; please let me know if you have info for this column. You can call me at 865-4190 or email me at

Happy New Year and Happy birthday wishes to some pretty famous locals and friends: 1/1: my friend, Zelda Michaels, 63; and Rio artist Arthur Longoria; 1/2: J’Mari Curtiss; 1/3: Kei Lani Howard; 1/4: Kristina Haynes, 18; 1/6: Andy Bosch, 18; and Gregorio Pehrson---ageless; 1/7: Ricardo Silos, 66; 1/9: Philip Hampton of Village Inn fame; 1/12: Ashley Ogletree; 1/14: Josh Curtiss, & Gloria Potter, great lady!; 1/15: Georgie Gildea, sis-in-law & Andy LeCount; 1/16: William Palmer; 1/17: Morgan Conway-O’Neil, 21; 1/20: Sherry Chojnacki, ageless beauty and another ageless beauty---Sean Loundagin; 1/21: Allen Rivers, my forever “old” boss resting in peace; also Jared O’Connell; 1/23: Gideon; 1/25: Steven; 1/26: Consuela O’Malley, ageless & great! And finally 1/29: Waylon Nicholson, 27.


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