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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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

PHO’ VIETNAM - Restaurant Review by Carolyn Horan


Last month I was asked to join a small group of current and former students of Hiroshi Fuchigami, the Department Chair of the Ceramics Department at Santa Rosa Junior College, to lunch to celebrate Hiroshi’s birthday. Dedicated staff member, Nancy Morgan, brought a birthday cake and we all promised not to sing Happy Birthday at the table. The restaurant was the PHO VIETNAM, a beef noodle and soup restaurant in the shopping center at 711 Stony Point Road #8 in Santa Rosa.

This restaurant was started by Michael Nguyen and his wife Dung Phu 10 years ago. Michael perfected and cooked all the recipes for the soups and now the cooks in the restaurant can follow the recipes to maintain the quality of the food. Because of the popularity of the restaurant about three years ago Michael moved to the current location so people wouldn’t have to wait in line to get in. Leann Sin is now the General Manager of the restaurant, leaving Michael and his wife time to do other things. Michael is volunteering at the Vietnam Church and currently teaching youngsters the intricacies of the ‘Lion Dance’.

I do like soups and this restaurant has an extensive and very interesting menu. The PHO or beef noodle soups come in three sizes like the porridge served at the home of the three bears: small is $5.50, large is $5.95 and extra large is $7.50. I tried one of their most popular soups, Pho Dac Biet which is a combination noodle soup with eye of the round steak, well done brisket, flank steak, tendon and tripe. The large size is plentiful and there is a side plate with additional vegetables and a stalk of fresh basil for additional seasoning to your taste. There were 17 different selections of PHO soup, mostly beef, but some pork. There was even one with eye of the round and meatballs. In this same price range you can also get chicken soups or just clear chicken broth.

If you prefer fish there are four selections of Hu Tieu Va Mi or seafood noodle soup. The price is $5.95 for small, $6.95 for large and $8.50 for extra large. This selection of soups all have prawns, crab, squid, fish cakes; and two have chicken included. Some of the soups have egg noodles and others rice noodles.

For the vegetarians in the group there are three Do Chay dishes: which combine rice, noodles, vegetables and tofu. These dishes are all $6.50. They also have a special menu for kids which include three choices or soups at $4.50 or Vermicelli with egg rolls or barbeque pork over steamed rice at $4.95. Speaking of Spring Rolls they are offered at appetizers at $4.50.

If soup is not your style you can select from about fifteen other options of various barbequed meats served in bowls with salad, bean sprouts, mixed cilantro and mint leaves, cucumbers and crushed peanuts. Or you can have a rice plate with your selection of barbequed meat or fish. All for $6.50 to $7.50. I can’t begin to describe the 11 kinds of beverages( Giai Khat) made with lemons or coconut milk or plum or soy beans etc. which are available along with a ton of soda options.

I found the food and the service very good and there is a general friendly atmosphere in this restaurant. I interviewed the General Manager, Leann Sin, who has been working there for seven years. She told me the favorite dishes included the Rice Noodle Seafood Soup, the Combo Beef Noodle Soup and the Vermicelli with barbecue prawns, barbecue pork and egg rolls. She also told me about a drink called Che Banh Lot “the little wormies” which she said is made with coconut milk and very tasty. Leann said that along with the standard menu they also have dinner “specials” which include soup and a main course.

Pho Vietnam is located at 711 Stoney Point Road in Santa Rosa (close to Highway 12). They are open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. The phone number is 571-7867 (571-SOUP)


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Green Living for a Blue Planet

By Vesta Copestakes
Each year we celebrate Earth Day, this year on April 22nd, with events highlighting both the joys of living on this paradise planet, as well as educational efforts to raise consciousness of how precariously balanced earth is.

While I sing the praises of what change we have accomplished, I also lament the lack of change fast enough to keep our earth in balance.

At our recent Easter Egg Hunt little plastic eggs were thrown out in the grass for children to find. Made in China. Filled with little candies wrapped in paper, etc. High fructose corn syrup, which goes straight to the brain asking for more.

Then I watched as children stomped on the plastic eggs to break them open, leaving shards on the ground. Why were parents not stopping them, helping them carefully open the eggs, then taking the plastic for recycling? I picked up tiny bright colored plastic bits so birds wouldn’t think they were food as I explained to these children the consequences of their actions.

Boo, Vesta. Can’t these kids just have fun? One day?

There are so many one days, one moments of unconsciousness. They add up and our planet is suffering. “I want it NOW” has a price of consequences over time.

In my own neighborhood we had frogs singing the joys of life each night. They mistook a community swimming pool left to winter for a large pond. It cost them their lives. The people in charge of the pool didn’t like the loud sound keeping them up at night, so they shocked the pool with chlorine long before anyone will swim in those now clear blue waters. Our nights are suddenly silent.

That ”pond” had attracted frogs from a neighbor’s pond across the hill, which now is also silent, because these frogs were foolish enough to seek out others they heard from a distance.

We used to have frogs in a little run-off stream at the bottom by Speer’s Market. Trucks slamming through the mud for entertainment killed off those frogs several years ago. It’s silent there as well. You can’t destroy habitat without destroying what lives there!

Just a bit of consciousness of how these frogs are our summer mosquito protection would go a long way. They are not noisy. They are singing for reproduction. Within a short time they would have been busy parenting, then eating bugs to keep summer nights comfortable for us.

We are all connected – we just need to see it that way.

Every time we pick up an object to purchase, if we think about where it came from, how long it will live in our life, and what we will do with it when we’re done, the choices we make from start to finish are likely to change. Consciousness is necessary on a grand scale in order for life cycles to be about healthy choices.

Think about it. Then at least try to do something about it. Every little change we make in the way we live that supports our planet, also supports life on it...our life.

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Russian River Low Flow Protest

Protest ALERT!
Russian River LOW FLOW!

EXTENDED until MAY 13th


By Brenda Adelman
Over a year ago, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued a Biological Opinion (BO) to institute management changes in the Russian River that would protect three fish species of concern: Coho and Chinook salmon and Steelhead Trout. While many support efforts to save the threatened and endangered species, the Order did not address many project impacts, such was water quality, recreation and the local economy. Furthermore, much of the project is a long-term experiment and results may not be known for many years.

Because of very low storage levels in Lake Mendocino, Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) was permitted to temporarily lower flows from 125 cubic feet per second (cfs) to between 35 and 70 cfs in 2002, 2004, 2007, and 2009.

SCWA was also ordered by the Biological Opinion to apply to the State Water Board for PERMANENTLY lowered flows in the Russian River, which they did on September 23, 2009. The State determined that protests are due by April 12, 2010, BEFORE they conduct environmental review. There is also a study of water quality by U.S.G.S. that will be released AFTER the protest period has ended. People are urged to ask for more time to express concerns.

For your reference, SCWA petition is entitled: “Petition for Modification of Water-Right Permits” and with State Water Board notices, can be found at the State Water Board’s website at

Lower flows to become permanent…..
It is being recommended that minimum flows in the lower Russian River be permanently decreased from 125 cfs to 70 cfs. As recently as 2006, summer flows were commonly running about 200 cfs. We do not believe that the State is required to adopt these changes as is, but before they reject or alter them, they must have good cause. We hope Russian River lovers will protest this project. The DEADLINE for PROTESTS is APRIL 12, 2010. To have a big impact, a lot of people need to respond.

Full environmental review should occur BEFORE the deadline for comments and AFTER all water quality studies and analyeses are released to the public. There are many unanswered questions about what impacts will result from this action. The process is backwards.

Long range impacts of low flows are unknown….
There are large gaps in information about the long-range impacts of lowering flows permanently. NMFS is making this demand on the lower river for the sole purpose of keeping the Estuary closed all summer in order to provide habitat for steelhead.

They did not adequately address impacts to water quality, other species (including the listed Chinook salmon), water supply, recreation, or other beneficial uses. We don’t know what will happen to the seals, the sea birds, and we don’t know why the frogs have all but disappeared.
We want something done about polluting nutrients, sedimentation, toxins, (including emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals) and temperature problems. All of these factors affect the fish and human use as well. We also wonder about long term impacts on recreation and the local tourist economy.

In the Biological Opinion, NMFS did require limited water quality monitoring for conventional pollutants such as temperature, pH, turbidity, specific conductance, bacteria, and limited nutrients. The tests for phosphorus (a nutrient) were improperly done and the results are meaningless.

Although the excursions of bacteria at lower river beaches were quite numerous (You may have noticed warning signs on the beaches.), they are being characterized as no worse than previous years during higher flows. There has been no analysis of the data, so we don’t know on what basis they are drawing those conclusions. Many believe that low flow has and will make pollution worse.

All of last summer, when lower-river flows averaged about 70 cfs, volunteers took weekly pictures at several points along the lower river. Many canoeists reported and photographed gross algae blooms. We saw large amounts and many kinds of algae; we saw extensive blooms of invasive plant species, and we saw many instances of canoes scraping bottom.

We took pictures of people and pets standing ankle deep in the middle of the river. We heard second hand stories of pets getting very ill right after playing in the river. And, at our request, the Regional Board tested a few sites for toxic blue-green algae, which they found at one of the popular local beaches. It may also be occurring at other places.

Send protests to State Water Board, SCWA, & RRWPC….
PROTEST FORM CAN BE FOUND AT SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE WEBSITE AT: Protest should be sent to the State Board at the address listed on the form. (Please mail by April 9th, to make sure they get to the State in time.)


Copies MUST also be sent to Sonoma County Water Agency C/O Grant Davis, General Manager, P.O. Box 11628, Santa Rosa, CA 95406, and if possible, also to RRWPC at P.O. Box 501, Guerneville, CA 95446.

Please write a letter about your own river experiences and why you are concerned about lower flows. If you have photos to include, please do so, but make sure you send to both the State Board (address on form) AND SCWA (address above). You can use form as a template for your own letter or just fill out form directly. Please circle the ways in which you personally utilize the river.

Please tell us your stories about the river….
Russian River Watershed Protection Committee will be providing our own protest to the State Water Board. It would help us if we could submit your stories about the river. Please send information to address listed below. Your name and the date should appear on the letter and also note approximate date you were in the river. We would like to hear about how very low flows will affect your business, the local tourist economy, recreation and your use of the river.
We wonder if any person or pet you know had health problems resulting from contact from the river? Did you notice any changes in water quality last year from prior years (even if it was a long time ago)? What did the water look like, how has it changed, and what did you see floating in and around? Did anyone you know have stomach distress of any kind, skin rashes, eye, ear, throat, or nose problems, or anything else? Was it necessary to visit a doctor? How long did symptoms last? Where in the river were you located after which the problem occurred? How soon afterward did you or someone you know exhibit symptoms? Please share whatever details you can.

Email Brenda and/or RRWPC at with questions or comments or if you want to be placed on our mailing list. Please mail stories to RRWPC, P.O. Box 501, Guerneville, CA 95446

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. ~ Native American Proverb

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Salmon Creek Center Environmental Award

Green Building at its Best
Salmon Creek Environmental Center receives Highest Award

By Dennis Rosatti
Harmony Union School District will soon have an official plaque to show it has earned the highest possible award for our recently constructed Cafeteria / Auditorium / Environmental Education Center Building.

The Redwood Empire Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council will be presenting the prestigious LEED-Platinum (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) award at the Falls Center on April 21.

“This award publicly recognizes our commitment to inspiring students and community to become responsible stewards of the environment, not just through education, but through the example of this environmentally green building,” said District Superintendent/Principal Dave Miller.

Environmental consciousness is a longstanding part of the Harmony community. The school District supports a place-based, environmental education curriculum, taking advantage of the four distinct habitats of redwood forest, wetlands, grasslands, and creek found on this rural, 50-acre campus in western Sonoma County. Rooftop solar panels installed several years ago provide a portion of its energy. Its student-run recycling/composting program keeps thousands of pounds of waste out of the landfill every year, and students help tend the school’s organic garden that provides much of the produce served every day with the school lunch program.
Now, the District’s newest building—the first LEED-Platinum certified building in the county—not only supports but also extends the school community’s commitment to sustainability in a myriad of ways.

The floors and walls of the Falls Center are all made from such recycled materials as hospital surgical gowns, wine cork tiles, and ground glass; a wind-fallen redwood from the campus provided lumber for wainscoting; energy efficient florescent fixtures and skylights provide lighting; low-flow bathroom and kitchen fixtures are all high-efficiency and water-conserving. A complex drainage system collects rooftop rainwater, funneling it into a catchment system to enhance the existing wetlands; and a “living” roof, planted with 12 species of drought tolerant plants, covers one section of the structure, helping “reduce storm-water runoff, improve building performance, conserve energy, and provide habitat for insects and birds,” according to Kevin Falkerson of SYMBIOS, the firm that designed and installed the roof. Together with the living roof, landscaping around the building will offer further opportunities for students to study native plants and their uses. “Talk about getting an education!” says Alexis Persinger, architect for the project. “These students are living in sustainable design every day.” Adds project coordinator Victoria Johnston, “Our vision was to build the first LEED-Platinum public school building in California, which took a tremendous amount of perseverance and determination. I’m thrilled we succeeded.”

The new green building provides a cafeteria, assembly space, office space, and a meeting room for use by the school district as well as the surrounding community. Every lunch period, from tables in the bright, naturally lit, passive solar cafeteria, students can look out a wall of windows across the playing fields to wilder fields and forest beyond. A large, eco-themed mosaic mural (designed and created by students last spring) gracing the foyer and bathrooms serves as a starting point for elementary grade research into local flora and fauna. The assembly hall, with its state-of-the-art media center, already has hosted several author visits, musical performances, and various community events, with monthly movie nights in the offing.

“Green building is a blossoming field of study with very promising career paths,” says Dennis Rosatti, HUSD board member and executive director of the non-profit organization Sonoma County Conservation Action. “The District is proud to be setting this good environmental example for our students, while providing a glimpse of what might be in store for them in the future.”

The award ceremony on Wednesday, April 21 will run from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, starting with a 20-minute documentary on the history of the building, followed by the presentation of the plaque. Food and drink will be provided, and tours of the building will be available. The cost is $10. Due to the size of the assembly hall, participants will be limited to 80 people. To reserve a seat or for more information, contact USGBC’s Redwood Empire Chapter at

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Around Forestville - April 2010

I recently spent a week at a conference in Orlando, where I lived for 13 years. All the trees were now strip malls or superstores, traffic sped through mazes of toll roads and construction zones, the high school had 3600 students and permanent cops parked out front. I don’t need many reminders about how fortunate I am to have returned to Sonoma County, but this trip definitely made me recount my numerous blessings!

Here’s what’s going on Around Forestville this month:

Hollydale Happenings

Don’t miss the Beans, Greens & Dreams Fundraiser for the Hollydale Community Club’s Improvement Fund. April 24th from 6pm – 10pm. Enjoy beans and ham hocks, down home greens, corn bread, cobbler, and beverages. Music by Phenix, raffle prizes and fun, for a $15 donation. Tickets available at Bank of the West or call Raynetta James 887-8219

Next month:
Saturday May 22nd - Chicken BBQ w/ The Dirty Dub Band @ 6:00PM

Student Snippets:

Forestville Vikings

It’s Kindergarten registration time! Thursday, April 22nd 3:30 – 6:30. Receive information on readiness, registration requirements and the kindergarten program. Informal drop-in sessions with 15-minute presentations at 4:00, 5:00 and 6:00 will answer questions about the program and how to best prepare for this transitional time. Contact Principal Talin Tamzarian at 887-2279 or e-mail at

The school has joined Mycokerewards to earn points to buy athletic equipment for the sports programs. Simply register at and donate points to the school. Each point adds up so that they can receive the equipment on their wish list. Every point counts!

The students in Mrs. Swanson’s and Mr. Anderson’s 7th Grade History classes sponsored a Hot Chocolate for Haiti fund raiser. Thanks to cold kids and generous parents they’ve raised $579! One child brought in a $100 bill and told them to keep the change!

There will be three seats open on the School District’s Board this November. Anyone interested in serving in this most valuable capacity should contact the school for details at 887-2279.

El Molino Lion Pride-

For the first time since 1984, the El Molino cheerleading squad went to Nationals at Disneyland on March 25h! Congratulations girls on this impressive accomplishment.

The Drama Program has begun rehearsals for the Spring Play, a hilarious comedy, The Complete History of America (abridged) on May 20th, 21st, and 22nd at 7:30. Tickets only $7 at the door.

“West Sonoma County High School 2009-2010 “Teacher of the Year” Recognition Program. Everyone’s invited to submit nominations, postmarked by May 7, 2010.

Faith and Friends

It’s Easter time and the Forestville United Methodist Church has many activities celebrating this Holy season:

HOLY THURSDAY SERVICE- April 1, 7pm in the Sanctuary Upper Room Communion based on the Passion of Jesus Christ as told in the Gospel of Luke.

FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE- April 2, 7pm at Pastor Carol’s, 6537 Center Street. Showing The Passion of the Christ, directed by Mel Gibson. No charge and free popcorn.

Easter Sunday April 4th

6:30am- Sunrise Service at the Forestville Cemetery.
7:45am- Breakfast at the church. (no charge)
8:30am and 10:30 am- Services in the Sanctuary (Children’s Godly Play Sunday School will be available at the 10:30 service.)

Don’t miss the sermon series, God's Renewed Creation, concluding on Earth Sunday, April 25th, 9:30am with a special offering for Native American Community Developers, a ministry of the UMC. Meet special guest, Mr. Alfred Tenaya, a descendent of the Chief of the Yosemite Valley tribe.

22nd Annual Variety Show on May 2nd Come join this fun and funny event, with a "South of the Border" to raise money Haiti, Chile and elsewhere.

Other Events

Boy Scout Breakfast, April 11th 8am-12pm: Great food and outstanding service that warms your heart!

Come to the Graton Community Club Free 2010 Spring Flower Show and Plant Sale, April 16th and 17th, 8am to 4 pm at the historic club house at the corner of Graton and Edison. The show provides the best bargains around, such as 4-in pots for $2 and bonzai crab apple trees for $5. Find everything you need to whip your garden into shape!

April 24th 2010 - Soul Food Clubhouse Fundraiser

Just around the corner, something new to the Clubhouse with down-home roots…We’ve just added a “Beans, Greens & Dreams Clubhouse Fundraiser” Dinner on Saturday April 24th from 6:00 - 10:30PM. The dinner includes Beans & Ham Hocks, Down Home Greens, Corn Bread to soak it all up, Cobbler Dessert and a Complimentary Beverage. Help support this great cause to raise funds for the Hollydale Community Club’s 63 year old Clubhouse Improvement. Raffle Prizes and Music by Phenix at 8:00PM. Presale Tickets available at Forestville Bank of the West or at the door…for more information call Raynetta @ 887-8219.

May your Easter be joyous and your gardening be Green!


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Our Sonoma County by Efren Carrillo

Please join us for a public meeting to discuss PG&E’s SmartMeter installation program on Wednesday evening, April 21st from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Sebastopol Veteran’s Memorial Building. A panel discussion will take place, followed by time for public comment and questions of the panelists. We hope that this conversation will allow concerns ranging from meter accuracy, health and environmental risks, security and privacy issues, to fire safety to be aired and addressed. Panelists will include representatives from PG&E, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), TURN (Utilities Reform Network), and an authority on health risks associated with the meters.

Join the iWalk challenge which began March 15th…30 minutes of walking a day, 5 days each week for better fitness and overall health. Sign up (I did!), get fitness tips, and find walking groups today at

Many of you have received your 2010 Census forms in the mail by now. Returning your Census form promptly helps reduce the need for canvassers to go door to door seeking compliance. If you receive mail at the Post Office instead of your home, you will be contacted by a canvasser as each form is specific to your household address. If you are not contacted, please obtain a blank form from the Census office and file before May 1st.

Our local Census headquarters is at 1403 Corporate Center Parkway, Santa Rosa.

Our current economic struggle highlights the importance of each and every person being counted this year. Important funding allocations, political and social decisions are made every year based on the data resulting from the US Census. These factors affect how more than $400 billion dollars of federal funding are allocated to our local economy.

Census information determines everything from the number of seats that California occupies in the US Congress to the infrastructure funding for hospitals, schools, senior centers, emergency services, and public works projects like our poor West County roads. Everyone living in the United States is required by law to file for the Census regardless of immigration status. But that’s not the reason you should file your form…the resources allocated to our community are directly affected by the results of the Census.

Some have concerns that the data collected might be used against individuals. Nothing could be further from the truth! Your information is protected in a number of ways…including the oath that everyone employed by the Census Bureau takes to protect individual information…not only during their employment with the Bureau, but for the rest of their lives. Individual census records are not shared with anyone, including other federal agencies and law enforcement entities. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents' answers with anyone, -- not the IRS, not the FBI, not the CIA, and not with any other government agency. There are steep penalties for violating or sharing information on individuals-- from heavy fines up to $250,000 to prison sentences or both.

So, please, for your community and yourself, complete your census form and return it as soon as possible!

Early March, I traveled to Washington, DC with colleagues to attend the National Association of Counties Conference. Leaving several days early allowed time for meetings with Congressional and Senate staff members to request funding for local projects and infrastructure needs. Our meetings played a major role in thwarting a proposed $2.1 million cut in our Geothermal revenues. The funding was restored during the time we were in Washington, DC directly as a result of our efforts. We made requests for increased funding for Community Health Centers, Emergency Operations Center, perinatal alcohol and drug treatment, clean natural gas buses, and fire mitigation due to Sudden Oak Death. The Bodega Bay Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail project has been in the planning stage for years, and we hope our meetings will pay off in Federal dollars to augment State Coastal Conservancy, Measure M, and State Transportation monies allocated to this project.

Both Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods and Gold Ridge RCD are recipients of California Department of Fish and Game fisheries restoration grants. Stewards will use their grant to improve fish passage and remove barriers in Willow Creek, and Gold Ridge plans to improve and protect critical Coho habitat in Green Valley and Purrington Creeks…both projects are critical and it’s exciting that this important work will move forward this year.


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Cloverdale Comments by Carol Russell

To paraphrase the old country song: "We were 'Green' when 'Green' wasn't cool!"

That's because our city's argi-focused founding mothers and fathers were smart. Smart enough, even given the limited science and technology of 150 years ago, to grasp the sensitive, mutually dependant inter-relationships among themselves, their land, their enterprises, their community, their environment and their legacy.

Smart enough to know they must be environmental stewards (not that they would have known that term) because if you take care of the land it is far more likely to take care of you and all the generations that follow.

Smart enough to take good care of their animals, tools, barns and homes, too. Smart enough to conserve, recycle and reuse every resource--waste not having any part in their "economic development" planning.

They did all this, and more, down the years not only because it was a good personal ethic, but also because it was a common sense approach to life and work that usually lead to prosperity and protection from unexpected lack. They kept at it even when it was increasingly disregarded in a country becoming preoccupied with excess consumption and growth for growth's sake.
It would take pages to document but, looking around Cloverdale today, it's clear we're fast returning to our "Green" roots; not because it is trendy but because "Greenness" is a good personal ethic and the budding Green Economy good business.

Our long-established businesses are incorporating what I call "Greenology" into their daily routines and winning awards for it, too. To name just two, the family-owned Reuser, Inc., a bulk manufacturer and distributor of organic landscape materials, received the Business Environmental Alliance Award for their innovative reuse of waste wood, as well as for their conversion to biodiesel in all trucks and in-plant equipment; while Asti Cellar 8 at Italian Swiss Colony also received a Business Environmental Alliance Award for their conversion to solar power at the winery as well as their protections to the Russian River watershed.

Then there are the new businesses, like Jane Elias' successful residential energy audit business. Like all her clients around the counties of the North Bay, Cloverdalian property owners of houses apartments and condos' are taking a serious look at their total energy usage; not only it's spiraling costs but also its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. (After vehicles, residential buildings are the major cause of GHGs.)

Generational Energy, Inc. ( started in the midst of the second-worst economy since FDR's first inauguration but it was also after the institution of new laws like AB32 and at the start of the fast ramp-up of innovative tax credits, rebates, grants and county-wide programs like the "Sonoma County Energy Independence Program" which provides financing for energy efficient audits, retrofits and improvements payable as assessments on property taxes.

I asked Jane about her business, especially the misconceptions some of us may still have about all this. First, she assured me that saving energy "doesn't mean you have to live in a cold, dark house" because you cut back on lights and heat.

However, since 3/4ths of all California homes were built prior to the first energy code in 1978, about 13.5 million homes (160,000 of them in Sonoma County!) need Jane's help. With all the Victorian and 50s-style ranch homes in Cloverdale, not to mention that, since homes here and around the county built post-1978 don't necessarily perform any better than pre-code ones, thanks to a consultative style and a long list of reassuring certifications, Jane gets a lot of calls.
Jane reassured me that, after a thorough interview, top to bottom look-see and audit, her most common recommendations are no where near as costly or complicated to complete as a client might think. They might include sealing the crawl space, insulating the walls and attic (the fastest ROI) and sealing the ducts at connections and seams.

Of course, as Jane says, each house and budget are different.

So, since what we've just covered is for general information purposes only, before you start anything or hire anyone, always get a qualified professional to give you the best unbiased advice.

To learn more about Cloverdale - click here:


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Ask EcoGirl: Greening Medicine


Dear EcoGirl: Thank you for your recent column, "Eco-Remedies for Our Health Care Crisis." Could you say more about the specific ways that we can use environmental knowledge to help care for people and the planet? Signed, A Motivated Healer

Dear Motivated Healer: Thanks for your great question!

Three Key Eco-Objectives

Amidst all the fiery debates about who should pay for health care costs, a more essential question can get lost: How to trim costs (and heartache) by reducing the rates of disease. A vital but often overlooked way to accomplish that goal is for all of us to embrace and prioritize these three key eco-objectives:

1) Drastically reduce our individual and shared exposure to toxics and pollutants. Compelling evidence demonstrates that millions of people annually are being made seriously ill from these materials. We need to "just say no" to involuntary poisoning.

2) Emphasize an eco-healthy diet, both in our lives and our hospitals (please!). We receive the highest nutrition and lowest toxicity by eating food that's fresh, whole, organic, and low on the food chain. Organic agriculture also proves that we can grow our food without poisoning our air and water.

3) Integrate earth-friendly traditional healing as an equal partner with modern medicine. Traditional modalities treat the body and earth gently, reducing the negative impacts on both. These approaches are often better at identifying and adjusting health imbalances early, when they're easier, cheaper, and less traumatic to treat.

Assess Your Priorities

To identify your next desired actions in each of the above areas, ask yourself:

1) "How much do I know about the problems and solutions in each arena?"

2) "How much have I implemented the related solutions in my personal and professional life?", and

3) "How much am I supporting community-level action in these arenas?"

As you consider your answers, notice the issues to which you feel especially drawn. This will help you choose actions most connected to your passions and priorities. Many resources exist to help you find out more, including my past columns at

Pharms in the Water

Both patients and health professionals can reduce medicine's eco-impacts by disposing of pharmaceuticals properly and using them only when necessary.

While pharmaceuticals can help treat disease, they can also bring negative side effects to patients, and harm wildlife and water supplies through disposal and excretion. Most sewage and water treatment facilities aren't designed to remove these materials.

Actions you can take:

• Dispose of leftover pharmaceuticals responsibly
, not in the trash or drain. Local dropoff information is at www.scwa or call 547-1900. Or bring them to the Household Toxics Facility (, 565-3375).

• Minimize your pharmaceutical intake. If you're prescribed a new drug, consider getting a second opinion. Buy drugs in small quantities to limit leftovers. Don't pressure your doctor for medications they're not recommending.

• Doctors can help by prescribing only the amount needed and learning which drugs have the highest eco-toxicity.

• Explore non-pharmaceutical approaches
to nurturing your health and addressing problems. Discuss options (such as herbs, acupuncture, and lifestyle changes) with a health care professional experienced with these options. Traditional remedies are often cheaper, more effective, and lower in risk than more drastic measures later on.

For more information about reducing pharmaceutical waste, see and the Teleosis Institute's Green Pharmacy Program (, (510) 558-7285).

Greening Operations

Health professionals can also help protect both the earth and our health by avoiding mercury medical devices and not burning waste. This prevents dispersal of toxic mercury, lead, and dioxin into our shared air, water, and food.

Operations staff can make medical facilities healthier for both patients and workers by avoiding toxic cleaners and pesticides, building and remodeling with non-toxic and eco-materials, and serving fresh nutritious organic food instead of depleted mainstream food.

For more about greening medicine, check out Health Care Without Harm (

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. View past columns at .

You can also become a Facebook fan of "Ask EcoGirl", to show your support and stay in touch! Join at

"EcoGirl: Encouraging the eco-hero in everyone."

© Copyright Patricia Dines, 2010. All rights reserved.


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Barrister Bits - Returning to Maiden Name

DEAR READERS: Do you have a legal question is burning in your mind (but are hesitant to ask an attorney…cha-ching; cha-ching)? Please send your questions to Debra A. Newby via email (contact information below). Your name will remain confidential. Although every inquiry may not be published, we will publish as many as possible. Finally, this Q & A Legal Column is intended as a community service to discuss general legal principles and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Q: I noticed that you changed the name of your column—used to be called “Shark Bait” (I’m still adjusting to the new name—not quite sure if I like it). Anyway, I’d like to change my name back to my maiden name—how do I do this?
Signed: Maiden in Pursuit of Identity

Dear Maiden: Hope the new name of the community column, “Barrister Bits”, will grow on you. I was trying to capture a name that is professional (hence the reference to “Barrister”, an English term for lawyer) and still keep a sense of levity to the column (“Bits” of advice, blended with a swirl of humor and philosophy). Hopefully, the new name will be accepted by you and other readers.

Name changes are relatively simple, yet controlled by state statute (California Code of Civil Procedure sec. 1279.5 and Family Code sec. 2082). Bottom line: If you are in state prison, on parole, on probation, a convicted sex offender, or want to change your name to defraud creditors, you are out of luck. The law specifically prohibits a name change. But let’s say you just want to change your name because you were conceived during Woodstock and you are continually embarrassed when they announce over the loudspeaker, “Petal Moonglow, your car is ready”. You are in luck.

Generally, you have to first formulate the reason for the name change, as I assure you, the Judge will ask. Your request for a name change will likely be granted if your reason is to reconnect to your cultural heritage, to avoid embarrassment, to reclaim your maiden name (assuming it is not already ordered/granted in your divorce decree), or to realign your self-identity (think Muhammad Ali, who legally changed his name from Cassius Clay to honor his conversion to Sunni Islam).

Next, you need to file “paperwork” with the court in the county where you reside. Go to and fill out no less than five forms—NC-100 (Petition for Change of Name) and its accompanying cousins (NC-110, NC-120, NC-130 and CM-010). If you are already overwhelmed, you may consider a Legal Document Preparation Service, which will complete the forms, but typically will not file the paperwork (or front the filing fee, which can be rather hefty, so ask the court clerk about a Fee-Waiver—if you are at a certain income, you may qualify).

When you file the forms at our local courthouse, you should also request a hearing at least six weeks from the filing date…the same time it supposedly takes to develop a new, healthy habit and shed a old, unhealthy habit. Why six weeks? Well, you must also publish in a local newspaper once a week for four consecutive weeks an “Order to Show Cause (NC-120).
Once the paperwork is filed and the Notice is published, you will then appear before the Judge who will ask you why you are changing your name. You best have a legitimate answer. Then, voila, if granted, your new identity is assumed. But wait, you must then complete the circle of identity. You should then take the signed, approved Order in hand, and contact the “purveyors” of our Society—you know, Social Security Administration, DMV, banks, credit agencies, etc. Then, sit back and revel in your new identity, until the dust settles.

As Salman Rushdie so eloquently phrased, “Names, once they are in common use, quickly become mere sounds, their etymology being buried, like so many of the earth’s marvels, beneath the dust of habit”.

Float like a butterfly through the dust.

Debra A. Newby is a resident of Monte Rio and has practiced law for 29 years. She is a member of the California, Texas and Sonoma County Bar Associations and currently maintains an active law office in Santa Rosa. Her law practice emphasizes personal injury law (bicycle/motorcycle/motor vehicle accidents, dog bites, trip and falls, etc.) and expungements (clearing criminal records). Debra can be reached via email (, phone (707-526-7200), fax (526-7202) or pony express (930 Mendocino Avenue, Suite 101; Santa Rosa, 95401).

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

350 Garden Challenge Sonoma County

TUES, MARCH 30th 7-9pm

Imagine a garden on every block in Sonoma County! On a single ambitious weekend, May 15th and 16th, we will transform 350 Sonoma County landscapes into bountiful gardens, which save water and emissions, grow food and habitat, and promote greywater and Low Impact Development (LID). Daily Acts, GoLocal, and iGROW Sonoma, with the generous support of Sonoma County Water Agency and countless community partners and the cities of Sonoma County are spearheading this initiative to involve everyone in homegrown food production! By choosing the number 350, we’re participating in the international campaign to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis.

Please join us Tuesday, March 30th, from 7 to 9 pm to:
• hear from sponsors and supporters
• meet others organizing the event
• get details about projects, key organizers, and the May weekend
Sonoma County Water Agency Meeting Room
404 Aviation Blvd., Santa Rosa

Every community will have at least one higher profile model garden, be it an entire block transformed into edible landscapes, a water efficient annual vegetable garden, a perennial food forest, a native drought tolerant prairie or a garden irrigated by greywater. These educational sites will model specific techniques that produce food and save water.

Local businesses are getting involved by offering discounts and donating materials, including a potential donation of wine barrels, potting soil and tomatoes for container gardens in areas with limited access to land. We will emphasize local economic development to generate support for our local businesses.

With hundreds of new gardens being installed this spring, we intend to highlight these efforts and build a community movement, while also challenging individuals to grow even more gardens. Helping create a homegrown local food system directly addresses climate change by shortening the miles food travels to the table, and improves the health of county residents by increasing accessibility of fresh food. We encourage everyone to join by registering their garden and volunteering at or calling Beth Dadko at 707-565-6681.


Daily Acts and the City of Cotati have formed a unique partnership to offer Cotati residents these incredible workshops throughout the year. These April workshops are just the beginning. Come tour a greywater system and hear from greywater experts in June! Join the Cotati Garden Wheel and initiate your own lawn to food transformation in your own backyard! Come to these April workshops to build your skills, then contact the City of Cotati to get rebates and resources to help you save water and money, and live more sustainably!

Workshop: Transform Your Thirsty Lawn!
Saturday, April 3rd 10am –– 4pm, Free for Cotati Residents, $10-20 non-residents
Location: Pocket Park, corner of LaSalle and Loretta Avenues, Cotati
Register by calling 707-789-9664 or emailing
In this incredible hands-on workshop, we’ll kick off the gardening season and our Cotati Water Conservation Education Series by completing the lawn transformation we started in 2009. Patrick Picard, award-winning landscape designer, will revisit the permaculture principles incorporated in this 5,000 square foot neighborhood park. We’ll cover topics such as fruit tree guilds, insectory and habitat-producing plants, and the soil-building and earthwork techniques that Cotati residents and Daily Acts implemented at the park last fall. We’ll learn about, Carex pansa, a drought-tolerant sedge alternative to turf, and plant a model native grass lawn at the site. We’ll talk about Cotati’s Cash for Grass program, and show how the model garden at Pocket Park ties in with this larger city effort to save water and build resilient and rich community landscapes!

Workshop: Transform your Thirsty Lawn: Sheet Mulching 101
Sunday, April 18th 10am––2pm, Free for Cotati residents, $10-20 non-residents
Annually in the US, millions of pounds of pesticides are used and billions of gallons of fuel consumed in lawn care. But there’s no need to rip out your lawn, transport it to the landfill, buy more soil, and waste time, money and emissions! By composting your lawn in place, it mimics a natural forest’s process of soil building and provides a host of benefits – saving water and money, building soil, suppressing weed growth, reducing herbicide and pesticide use and much more. We will discuss easy-to-find local waste and recycled resources to inexpensively turn your yard into fertile ground for growing the water-savvy garden of your dreams. We will cover the benefits of sheet-mulching, local incentive programs and how to do it. Then, we’ll get some hands-on practice at Cotati’s beautiful Demonstration Garden smack dab in the middle of town as we put sheet-mulching theory into weed-subverting action!

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Roblar Road Quarry Hearing April 1


The Planning Commission meeting is still planned for April 1, 1:45 p.m. at the Permit & Resource Management Dept. hearing room in Santa Rosa. The commission will again take public comment, but only on the hydrology issues related to the FEIR. Due to the letter sent in December to the County from the California Regional Water Quality Board pointing out serious deficiencies in the FEIR with respect to blasting next to the closed landfill and its potential impacts on water, we think the County and the applicant have been scrambling to come up with some plan that will attempt to mitigate these serious issues. Since the County staff recommended the Planning Commission accept the project last December despite there being more than 160 conditions of approval to be addressed, we think they will approve it on April 1 and pass it along to the Supervisors for a vote this spring.

CARRQ (Citizens Advocating for Roblar Rural Quality) is trying to mobilize more support for a fight at the supervisor level. As a small grass roots organization this is definitely a David and Goliath story. We are working a little bit with the Sonoma County Conservation Action group and we have support from the RussianRiverkeepers, Community Clean Water Institute and the Sebastopol Water Information Group. Supervisorial candidates (Second District) John King and Pamela Torliatt are opposed to the project, with John King speaking against it at the last planning commission meeting.

This quarry should be of concern to all Sonoma County residents, not just those of us who live nearby.

Some key reasons are:

The use of $2.3. million of taxpayer dollars to purchase property from John Barella (owner of North Bay Construction) to preserve 750 acres of dairy land as Open Space. Now he and the County want to take back some of those acres to run 200 to 400 gravel trucks a day over this pristine area.

The County will be liable in perpetuity for any environmental hazards/impacts caused by the quarry if it is built and permitted to operate for 20+ years (and aren’t they already in a big enough mess with the current landfill let alone the closed, unlined landfill on Roblar Road?)
The County has not adequately tested the potential health hazards that could be present from particulate matter blowing westward toward Cotati/Petaluma from the quarry site once blasting and hauling the gavel begins.

The County has shown no economic need for the rock from this site. Blighting this area to provide John Barella’s company with up to 80% of the rock from this quarry (therefore not really making this rock widely available to other companies or citizens at a cheaper rate) would be a travesty.

We need all the help we can get publicizing this quarry beyond the ~300 residents in the Roblar/Valley Ford/Meacham and Pepper Road areas who support CARRQ. We know this project isn’t as sexy or as visible as the Dutra asphalt plant on the Petaluma River. But blasting the daylights out of a beautiful hillside when there is no public benefit to do so surely would be of interest to people who love living in Sonoma County—we need to get the word out and would appreciate as broad of coverage in the West County Gazette as you can give us.

I’ve attached the public notice about the upcoming Planning Commission meeting and a document with some key issue points.

Thank you very much,

Donna Spilman
Become a fan of CARRQ on Facebook!


1. This proposed Roblar quarry is surrounded by a dairy belt off Roblar Road, allegedly preserved as Open Space.

2. The property is directly adjacent to an old unlined and uncapped landfill, closed in 1975, which long time local residents have admitted contain many undesirable chemicals dumped there in the years it was an active landfill, prior to public understanding of the harm in the chemicals.

3. In the 1980’s and 1990’s two separate applications to develop this land as a quarry were strongly objected to by neighbors and rejected by the County.

4. In 2001, the County's Open Space District offered the owner of the land around the rejected quarry $1.6 million of taxpayer money to buy development rights to preserve it as Open Space. The owner died before accepting.

5. Later in 2001, John Barella, the owner of North Bay Construction, bought 750 acres of this land. Mr. Barella asked the County to buy his development rights for the same 750 acres and put it into Open Space.

6. In 2003, the County paid John Barella $2.3 million for the same 750 acres it had previously offered for $1.6 million, to preserve it from development.

7. In 2003, Mr. Barella and North Bay Construction asked for permission to mine gravel from the rejected quarry.

8. In 2008, North Bay decided that it would need to run its gravel trucks through the Open Space to operate its planned gravel mine. North Bay Construction’s lawyer wrote and asked the County’s Open Space District to allow them to run gravel trucks through the same land whose development rights they had sold to the County for $2.3 million in 2003.

9. North Bay Construction said the proposed quarry will have 200 to 400 trips of gravel trucks on the roads every day for the next twenty years. There will be blasting causing excessive dust.
10. Serious concerns of harmful air quality and potential damage to local water quality, both for area wells and the Estero Americano, have not been able to be mitigated.

11. On December 17, 2009, based on the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR), the staff of the County Planning Commission recommended that the County let North Bay Construction develop the quarry, even though the County admits there are more than 160 conditions surrounding the project that cannot be mitigated to prevent hazards to water, air quality, health and safety, and environmental impacts to nearby streams and wetlands.

12. The County’s Planning staff recommended that the County approve mining in the gravel pit and allow North Bay Construction’s trucks to run through the Open Space land.

13. The County’s justification for the project is that rock from the proposed Roblar quarry is needed for local construction projects and that County residents will be able to get cheaper gravel. The Russian Riverkeepers organization has investigated the need for gravel and determined there is “no documented shortage of aggregate (gravel) and the future supply from existing sources is well over 100% of the demand.”

14. Neither the County nor North Bay Construction have tested the dump to know what kind of poisons are in it and how much of them will flow out when the mining digs into its side. For that reason, the California State Regional Water Control Board has told the County the EIR is deficient.

A gravel mine at this location is a terrible idea. It’s bad for the land, bad for the water, bad for these narrow two lane back country roads and bad for residents, drivers and bicyclists who travel along Roblar Road, Valley Ford, Pepper and Meacham Roads.

The County will decide whether or not to permit the quarry operation very soon. Now is the last opportunity to speak up. Write or call your County representatives!

Citizens Advocating for Roblar Rural Quality (CARRQ)
For more information:
Spread the word! Become a Fan of CARRQ on Facebook and log in with your opinion.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

BUSINESS LEADERS: 40 Under 40 Recognized

Forty under 40 winners for 2010

The North Bay Business Journal
released the names of the winners of its fourth-annual Forty under 40 awards today. The winners, selected from more than 75 nominees, were chosen on the basis of their leadership in companies and organizations across the North Bay.

Winners of 2010 awards will be honored at a gala reception on April 27, 2010 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa. Tickets are available for $49 per person or $510 for a table of 10, including company name on the table. To attend, contact Linda Perkins at or 707-521-5264, or register online.

Listed alphabetically, 2010 Forty under 40 winners are:

Clay Angel, Kaiser Permanente San Rafael Medical Center

Michelle Ausburn, Moss Adams

Nate Bisbee, TLCD Architecture

Kadin Blonski, Lanahan and Reilley

Jefferson Buller, Bank of America

Linda Chavez, Safety & Environmental Compliance Associates; Chavez Family Cellars

Karen Cividanes, Optio Solutions

Geoff Coleman, BKF/Carlenzoli; Santa Rosa Junior College

Jason Cunningham, West County Health Centers

Patrick Donohue, Scott Technology Group

Dylan Dupre, SPG Solar

Jason Ehn, Redwood Credit Union

Judd Finkelstein, Judd’s Hill

Brian Finnegan, Burr Pilger Mayer

Dominic Foppoli, Foppoli Wines; W Real Estate; Pureland USA/China

Michael Green, Abbey Weitzenberg Warren & Emery

Jeremy Greer, West Coast Solar Energy

Nate Gulbransen, West Coast Solar Energy

Susan Hansen, 4-H Foundation of Sonoma County

Mike Harris, CrossCheck

Steve Jannicelli, Moss Adams

Jessica Jauregui, St. Joseph Health System

Bob Just, St. Joseph Health System

Geoff Kruth, The Farmhouse; Guild of Sommeliers

Ken Kurtzig, iReuse

Carol Larson, Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center

Kevin McGee, Jackson Enterprises; Healdsburg Beer Co.

Dustin McMullen, Lavid Designs

Dustin Mowe, Portocork

James Nevin, Brayton Purcell

Carlos Perez, Bike Monkey

Chris Reiter, Woodruff Sawyer & Company

Ylisa Sanford Seymour, Sanford, Jigalin & Seymour, a financial advisory branch of Ameriprise Financial

Michelle Scanlon, Brown & Brown of Northern California

Nicole Smartt, Star Staffing

William Soper, Beels Soper

Marcos Suarez, Prominent Realtors

Jana Trout Wacholz, Wild Oak Saddle Club

Amber Twitchell, California Human Development

Rich Vitali, Coordinated Project Installations

Randy Waller, W Real Estate, 5th Street Financial

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

What Gets Heard By Marc Polonsky

The New Cacophony

The Supreme Court handed down a ruling recently that may destroy our democracy.

The tricky thing about free speech is that if everyone is talking at once, only the loudest voice gets heard. If you have a room with, say, eight to ten people, and they're trying to discuss a subject or resolve some issue, and one individual has a megaphone and yells into it nonstop, drowning out everyone else, is this an exercise of free speech?

The John Roberts Supreme Court seems to think so, and they just gave big corporations an overwhelming megaphone, reversing over 100 years of federal (and state-level) campaign finance law that had been upheld repeatedly by previous Courts.

The effects of this ruling will manifest over time, very possibly this year. For example, it may help to defeat long-time Democratic senators Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer, both of whom stand for reelection.

In the meantime, most of us have other things to pay attention to.

The Cry of Pain

I feel hurt by the Supreme Court ruling. I want to cry out, like those idiot Tea Party protesters: "I want my country back!"

Meanwhile, my friend David in Atlanta has responded to a different cry, the cry of pain from Haiti. Just giving money to the Red Cross felt too easy, so he put out a call for donations of real goods--shoes, clothes, canned foods, medical supplies, tools, toiletries, gloves--and he promised to somehow get it all to Haiti. At first he invited the general public to bring donations to his own front porch, but the area in front of his house was quickly inundated. He eventually needed to partner with City Storage in Atlanta, and secure the help of "some of Bill Clinton's people" to arrange for the transport of goods. (For more information, see

Another friend said she heard on the radio about orphanages in Haiti and it was "killing her"; she is in the process of arranging to go there, to help care for the children.

The images and reports from Haiti are being heard, and people are responding, some with money, others with direct action. The response has been raw, visceral, and authentic.

(The stories keep coming. Today I heard from yet another friend that a seafood buffet restaurant in Daly City, CA donated all its revenue for a day--including tips--to Haitian relief efforts. This restaurant, which seats over 500, saw waiting lines out the door all day long.)

Other Distress Calls

I recently read the book The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith, which disputes the idea that being a vegetarian can help save the planet. Ms. Keith points out that, apart from anything else (and there is much else), human agricultural practices have been inexorably depleting our topsoil for centuries, and this process has greatly accelerated with the introduction of petrochemical fertilizer mere decades ago, rapidly squeezing out every last ounce of productivity from our remaining fertile ground.

Keith offers no hope. If you read her book and believe her research--which is amply footnoted and quite impressive--then you must agree that the number of humans alive has already exceeded the Earth's carrying capacity multiple times over; "green technology" is a fairy tale that cannot save us; and we're headed for a massive crash very soon.

Currently, perhaps as a tonic to Keith, I'm reading Tom Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded. Friedman recognizes the same crises that Keith does, yet holds out hope of possibility for a sustainable future. (I haven't reached the hopeful section of the book yet, so I don't precisely know what price Friedman envisions we must collectively pay, but I trust he won't prescribe easy answers.)

The cry of our planet--the decimation of species, the slaughtering of forests, the draining of aquifers, the depletion of life-sustaining resources everywhere--is, I think, for most of us, a constant background noise. We hear it, but we're so used to it that we don't respond.

Selective Listening

We are intelligent enough to imagine the pain that we don't see, pain that is not right in front of our eyes, such as the suffering of the inhabitants of Port-au-Prince. We are even sensitive enough (most of us) to feel compassion for nonhuman life; few of us would lack sympathy, for example, for an injured dog keening in pain.

Yet most Americans habitually consume the carcasses of animals that have been tortured, subjected to misery beyond imagining in the commercial concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) where they were raised to become food for humans.

Similarly, very few of us pay attention to the cries of pain from the wilderness, the displaced and immiserated creatures, the clear cutting of trees, the disappearing plant and animal species.

If we were to let all this into the field of our awareness, how exactly might we respond?

No Business As Usual

A group of political activists in the San Francisco Bay Area have, over the years, staged protests entitled "No Business As Usual," to bring dramatic attention to wars and other ongoing atrocities. Occasionally, NBAU protesters have succeeded in, for example, holding up traffic for hours on the Golden Gate Bridge.

The net effect of their efforts has been to infuriate and alienate a lot of people.

"This can't go on!" is their message.

"Get a life!" is the general response.

Listening to Fear

I think many people hear more than they realize. I doubt there has ever been a time in history when more people have been haunted by vague fears, free-floating anxiety, stemming from who-knows-where.

Perhaps unwisely, I deliberately seek out the voices of fear, because I want to know the truth, and the truth of the human condition is very scary right now. (Maybe it always was.)

Listening to Faith

An old pal once put it like this: "I believe absolutely that the spiritual realm has things under control, even if I don't understand what the spiritual realm actually is."
To paraphrase: my friend believes that as awful as things appear, and despite all the terrible things that are happening and have already happened and have yet to happen, existence is not random, there is a benign undercurrent pervading the universe, and in the words of T.S. Eliot, "All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."

What more could anyone possibly wish to believe?

The Long, Long View

I attended a presentation recently, put on by a group called the Pachamama Alliance, which focused on the planet's ecological crises and diminishing resources, and traced the situation we're in to historical patterns of greed, exploitation, and mushrooming population.

However, they also examined what is known about the origins of life, the miracle that we are here at all, the vast cosmological forces that had to conspire to bring human beings into existence. Taking the longest view possible, they put our current dilemma into an epochal perspective, from which it is possible to feel not only great awe but also boundless hope, even optimism.

The Pachamama Alliance does not prescribe a specific program for action. They don't claim to know what any individual should do. Their only directive is "Don't go back to sleep." Apart from that, they offer suggestions about educating ourselves, getting involved in policy discourse and community organizations, and engaging others in "this conversation." (For more information, see

What Are You Hearing Now?

The facilitators at the Pachamama event suggested that we look inside and listen to our own deepest wisdom to tell us what we, as individuals, need to do now, how we need to "plug in."

Who could dispute such advice?

Then again, who can follow it? Presuming you can discern a "voice" inside yourself, how can you tell if it's the voice of wisdom, as opposed to, say, the voice of vain hope, or self-deception, or your parents' judgment, or deeply imbedded institutional logic?

Still, whatever truth there is to be found inside us cannot be drowned out by advertising or propaganda, regardless of how pervasive the noise is, or how broad the Court's ruling.

Our collective response to the Haitian earthquake seems to indicate that, at the very least, there yet lives an honorable American spirit, capable of responding to the plain truth of others' suffering.

Namaste. Peace. God bless America.

Marc Polonsky
Let's Get to the Heart of Your Message!
Writing and Editing Services


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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Russian River Watershed Geologic Mapping

As part of the Baseline Watershed Assessment for the RRWAMP (Russian River Watershed Adaptive Management Plan), the California Geological Survey (CGS) prepared a “Geologic Map and Landslide Potential Evaluation of the Russian River Watershed” under contract to the US Army Corp of Engineers. CGS completed the landslide potential evaluation using an approach similar to that developed by CGS for watershed investigations under the North Coast Watershed Assessment Program, the Watershed Mapping Program and other programs.

The methodology used in this investigation included the compilation of a watershed geologic map, the preparation of a Landslide Potential Matrix that evaluated the slope stability characteristic of the geologic unit for several categories of slope steepness, and then creating a Relative Landslide Potential Map that was modeled from these data using ArcGIS. The geologic map and landslide potential map was digitized into ESRI shapefiles using ArcGIS.

The CGS maps and accompanying report are available on the Russian River Interactive Information System web site:

The Geologic and Landslide Potential maps consist of GIS files available at:

...under the “File Name Data Hyperlink” of “Geology”. There are four GIS files with “Source” of “CALGEO.”

The CGS Report is at:

...under the “Short Description” heading of “Geology”. The report is the first citation. The direct link is: Haydon, W. D. California Department of Conservation California Geological Survey. 2007. Landslide Potential Evaluation, Russian River Watershed, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties, California

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding CGS’s investigations in the Russian River Watershed.

Best regards,
Wayne D. Haydon
Engineering Geologist
California Geological Survey
135 Ridgway Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
phone (707) 576-2162
fax (707) 576-2844

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Flood Safety Awareness Week

It’s Flood Safety Awareness Week -- Did you know that in many cases flood dangers can be diminished by removing unsafe dams or poorly located levees? Is there an outdated dam or levee in your community? Catch a sneak peak of our new video about how communities removed dams and levees to solve flooding problems.

American Rivers is working with communities across the country to bring flood management into the 21st century. By protecting wetlands, moving development out of floodplains, and removing outdated dams, we can cost-effectively protect homes and businesses, as well as healthy rivers and clean water.

After you watch the trailer of our new film, please share the film. With your help, we can protect communities from unsafe dams and damaging floods!


Stephanie Lindloff
Senior Director, River Restoration

To contact American Rivers, email us at
American Rivers ©2010

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Rialto Cinema Forced to Move After 10 Years

Sonoma County’s Favorite Art House Forced to Move
After Stellar Decade of Innovative Entertainment

Rialto Cinemas Lakeside – a theatre synonymous with high quality art and independent films since its founding more than 10 years ago – has lost its lease and will be forced to find a new location after August 31.

“We were shocked and dismayed to learn that the property owners, Lynn Duggan and Family, who had repeatedly given us every indication that all was well with our lease, decided to kick us out and lease to a competitor without any attempt to negotiate a new lease with the Rialto,”
said Ky J. Boyd, Proprietor. “We were completely unaware that our location was at risk.”

Owners of the property, Lynn Duggan and the Duggan Family Partnership, have leased the theatre effective September 1, 2010, to Dan Tocchini’s SR Entertainment Group, which runs the Airport, 3rd Street Cinema Six, and Roxy theatres.

Rialto Cinemas Lakeside opened in 2000 with the mission of bringing the best films in the world to Sonoma County, noted Boyd. “We cater to the vital and active audience that wants to see movies outside the Hollywood mainstream.”

Consistently ranked as one of the top 50 art houses in the country, Rialto Cinemas Lakeside has won Best Movie Theatre in Sonoma County for nine consecutive years by local movie-goers and has been profitable since its inception due to the caliber of its films, and such innovations as Movies in the Morning, the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD, and London’s National Theatre Live programming. Rialto Cinemas Lakeside was the first theatre in the country to present the annual Oscar shorts program as a week-long engagement in 2001, which due it its tremendous success, has led the shorts being screened in over 125 theatres nationwide annually.

Both the Metropolitan Opera and The National Theater of London have agreed to allow Rialto Cinemas to continue their popular programming at alternative locations in Sonoma County following their departure from the 551 Summerfield Road location in Santa Rosa this August.

In addition to partnering with numerous non profit organizations in the community to help raise funds (such as Face to Face, Council on Aging, Jewish Film Festival, KRCB, Sonoma County Library Foundation and Santa Rosa High School Art Quest program to name a few), the theatre sponsors a literacy project at Slater Middle School, providing free movies during the year as an incentive to reward students for reading. Boyd estimates that the Rialto has helped local non- profits raise over $100,000 annually.

“We are actively searching for a permanent new location in Sonoma County,” explains Boyd. “In the meantime, we have plans to take the Rialto on the road after August 31. We may have lost our lease, but we haven’t lost our passion for bringing the best films to this community that has been so supportive the past 10 years. We didn’t devote ten years of our lives to throw in the towel just because someone doesn’t want to lease a building to us. Rialto Lakeside Cinemas will find a new permanent home and we are confident that our loyal audience will make the journey with us.”

It will be business as usual at the popular theatre through August 2010.

Ky Boyd

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Law Enforcement Related Death Study

Family Members Needed for Study on Law Enforcement Related Deaths

The Investigative Sociology project at Sonoma State University (SSU) and Media Freedom Foundation are conducting a study on the commonalities of law enforcement related deaths in the San Francisco Bay/Northern California Area. We are seeking to interview individuals in families of people who have died in a law enforcement related incident within the past twenty years. Students from the spring 2010 SSU Investigative Sociology class will be conducting confidential one-hour interviews with family members in April. The purpose of the study is to evaluate support programs for families who have experienced such a tragedy, and the lowering of the overall number of law enforcement related deaths.

SSU professors supervising the study include: Peter Phillips, Sociology Department, Tryon Woods and Diana Grant in the Criminal Justice Department.

To arrange a confidential interview or refer a family contact—e-mail, Dr. Peter Phillips:


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Monday, March 8, 2010

Sebastopol Saves! Energy Audits for Residents

Sebastopol Saves!

City’s Energy Committee and local realtors group walking for clean energy

The City of Sebastopol Energy Committee, along with members of the Sebastopol Chapter of the North Bay Association of REALTORS® (NorBAR) and other local organizations, want to help Sebastopol residents save money by making their homes water and energy efficient. Sebastopol REALTORS® will be going door-to-door in March to give residents and businesses the information they need to do just that!

Businesses and residents might be paying much more than they need to if their home or place of business is not energy efficient. Inadequate insulation, cracks and leaks, single pane windows, low efficiency showerheads and toilets result in high utility bills and don't help the environment.

Walkers will be providing information to encourage residents to spend a little to save a lot by performing an energy audit on their buildings. The audits will itemize the improvements needed to reduce water and energy bills by making buildings water and energy efficient. This will enable residents to do their part to help the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing our dependence on diminishing fossil fuel supplies.

“We have installed a new green furnace and double pane windows which made our house much warmer, reduced our heating bill and gave us rebates from PGE and a federal tax credit,” said Councilmember Kathleen Shaffer.

The Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP) will offer help with financing the improvements. SCEIP may also finance the energy audit to help determine what is needed. All of the information necessary will be in a reusable bag delivered to every address in Sebastopol. Coupons for FREE low flow showerheads and toilet replacements will also be in the bag.

“This is a wonderful contribution to our community by NorBAR and our other partners. Once again, Sebastopol is at the forefront of smart energy action,” said Councilman Larry Robinson, co-chair of the City’s Energy Committee.

Other partners in this community effort include PG&E and Solar Sonoma County. Sebastopol residents and businesses should expect a knock at their door during the second or third weekend of March. Packets of information and coupons will be left at each home and business.

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Sonoma County Nurseries and Gardener's Guide 2010

This is our 7th Annual Guide to Gardening in Sonoma County… including gardening resources located from Sonoma to the Coast and from Cloverdale to Tomales. Articles written by landscaping professionals educate you on why purchasing plant materials from local sources is important, tree care, intensive farming, invasive imported pants and native species, and more.

This self-guided tour is designed to entice gardeners to explore Sonoma County’s locally owned nurseries and to do business with local professionals.

By purchasing plant material that has been propagated locally, we know these plants will thrive in our eco-system. By supporting local nurseries and garden related businesses, we support our home communities.

Please go to for the complete nursery, landscape materials and landscapers list. If you see something missing, e-mail Vesta at and we'll add it to the web site list. The list includes businesses who responded to our inquiries for information, so if there is a business not on our list, we were simply unable to confirm their information.

Please refer to the Nurseries page for addresses and info, and the map to guide you to their locations. And just for fun: enjoy the ride along the way. We live in our very one paradise!

Thank You & Happy Gardening! - Vesta Copestakes

The Real Value In Buying Locally Grown Plants
By Michael Skurtun, Healdsburg Nursery

In today’s economy it seems that every dollar becomes harder to hang on to or to spend efficiently. I find myself thinking through and weighing some of the most seemingly simple and inexpensive purchases.

What I hope to learn in the process is not to jump at price without thoroughly examining the product. To me, this is where real value is determined. I don’t want to be caught in that cliché of being “penny wise and dollar foolish.”

This especially applies to buying plants because they are living entities. Starting with a healthy plant, regardless of its size, is one of the keys to successful gardening. Although not all varieties are locally available, buying plants that were propagated or grown in Sonoma County from a very young age is a good way to get started.

For the most part, locally grown plants are acclimated to our climate. As a result they generally do well here and are in sync with our seasons.

Buying too soon…
A classic example of purchasing plants by price is going to a “Big Box” center that sells nursery stock. It’s early March and we are experiencing a classic Sonoma County “false spring”. The sun is out, it’s 60+ degrees and we have a touch of cabin fever so we go out to look at plants. It feels like gardening season has arrived and we’re anxious to get started. The “Big Box” Center has a Bougainvillea in full bloom. There are perennials, annuals and even vegetable starts that look ready to plant so we spend a nice chunk of that ever-so-valuable dollar, load our vehicle and head home in anticipation.

Little do we know that these fresh looking, beautiful plants have recently arrived from a completely different climate that is much milder than ours, most likely somewhere in Southern California, and have only been out of the greenhouse for a matter of days.

Sooner or later we get back to our normal weather pattern. It starts to rain again, temperatures dip and guess what happens to those fresh, beautiful looking plants from out of our area?

Unfortunately, they either die or suffer so much that they never fully recover. Yes, the “Big Box” has a policy to replace your dead plants, but they can’t replace your time and labor, and they can’t make up for your disappointment. To make matters worse, ahead lies considerably more work in removing and disposing of these fatalities just to get back to your original starting point.

Foreign invaders…
Another and even greater issue is that of pest control. In the State of California, virtually every County, including Sonoma, (you and I, the tax payers), spend millions of dollars annually in attempting to control the interstate transportation of pests such as the Glassy Winged Sharpshooter and the Light Brown Apple Moth. These pests pose a serious threat to Sonoma County’s number-one industry, agriculture.

Both of these pests, as well as numerous others, have been introduced to Sonoma County from other regions of the State. The most common form of transportation is via nursery stock. All plants that are to be transported outside of their region of origin are inspected upon leaving and upon arrival in Sonoma County. As outstanding a job as our County inspectors do, pests in one form or another continue to slip through the cracks and land here safely.

And it’s not just insects. Diseases also travel on plants from molds and fungus on leaves and in potting soil. Once you import these into your yard, you’ve introduced the potential of putting your existing plants and future new introductions at risk as well.

The local advantage…
Not all plants can be obtained that were locally grown, but the next best thing is to buy from
local nurseries that grow at least a potion of their own stock and buy the vast majority of remaining nursery stock from within Sonoma County. Plants that are raised and grown locally are naturally adapted to our weather patterns, and any pests or diseases they may carry are more readily controlled with minimal use of pesticides. This protects our environment and allows you to nurture your plants with minimum or no chemicals. Locally grown plants also don’t have to travel far from growers to nurseries, so they don’t suffer from shock, drastically different light conditions or temperature variations.

Keeping your hard-earned money within our home community also helps in every way, and you may be getting tired of hearing it, but it’s worth repeating. Taking care of our home from the environment to the economy is part of maintaining what we all treasure…Sonoma County.

Finding local resources….
The Nursery Tour & Gardener’s Resource Guide provided in the center of this publication is a valuable tool to help you achieve the multiple goals of protecting our environment, getting plants in season and adapted to our climate, as well as supporting our local economy. From plant resources to landscape materials and landscapers/gardeners, it’s easy for you to garden with Sonoma County resources.

Michael Skurtun has been a Licensed Landscape Contractor in Sonoma County since 1974. He specialized in custom residential landscapes including design, plant installation as well as all phases of “hardscaping”. After almost 25 years of landscaping, Michael opened Healdsburg Nursery in 1991. He sometimes misses the variety of the many different facets of landscaping but continues to enjoy working with customers, and of course plants. Because Healdsburg Nursery offers a free landscape consultation service with the understanding that the clients will purchase the plants from his nursery, Michael continues to stay active in the landscaping field.

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