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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 1, 2011

Sebastappeal - December 2011

Power to Our People
We are an unusual community: engaged, informed, researched, opinionated, ideological and passionate. What sets us apart is that we care deeply about each other and where we live.

Show Up and Speak Out Thoughtfully
We have interfaced with the ongoing Occupy Movement in an exemplary way - peacefully.  

While other city governments and institutions have chosen confrontation, our Council worked to avoid direct police action while we discussed the encampment on our Plaza.  We ensured citizens’ rights to free speech and assembly while we also preserved public health and safety and access to public space.

Moving slowly with care, we held five public meetings. During the twenty-plus days, our Staff provided regular updates and background information on the situation.  Our Police Chief and our officers met our overnighters and made sure they felt safe.  They built rapport, now symbolized in Chief Weaver’s delivery of the leftover food, including brownies, from the Veterans’ meal to the encampment – a news story that has spread across our country. 

Our community rallied. People delivered food and supplies, so much that the Occupiers donated their surplus to our food banks.  Citizens discussed the local situation and the wider issues on the Internet while some offered practical
help with facilitation training for the General Assemblies. Businesses expressed support with signs in their windows.  The “Solidarity Saturday” special event, organized in a short time frame, drew a hundred or more to sing old and new protest songs.

Some amongst us, citizens and business owners, felt uncomfortable and/or disagreed with the Council’s approach and with the requests of Occupy Sebastopol. These people remained patient and calm, deserving our appreciation.

Our Occupiers responded: they presented a possible “compromise” to the Council that requested continued use of the Plaza for an information/education tent and included disbanding the overnight tents.  We talked over this proposal in a formal meeting that relaxed into a dialogue.  The Council’s effort was met with a unanimous resolution from the General Assembly.

We are not done with this work and these issues.  The Council will consider a Resolution in support of the Occupy Movement at its next meeting on Tuesday, December 6, at the Youth Annex, 425 Morris Street.  Please check the City’s website to confirm the details and review the text.

Also, the community is invited to a forum on Thursday, December 8, from 7 to 9 PM at the United Methodist Church, 500 North Main Street.   The topic is the economic and political injustice in our country: “Are you one of the 99% and don’t want to live in a tent?” WACCObb and the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy are the organizers and sponsors.

Nominate and Appreciate
Coming soon is the annual Chamber of Commerce program called “Community Awards.” In place now for over 25 years, this program acknowledges the exceptional efforts of our own people.  There are several categories; most are well established and sometimes a new one gets added to spotlight dedication in a new area. 

The top award goes to our Citizen of The Year who will join a stellar list of recipients. This Citizen leads the Apple Blossom Parade, one of the fun responsibilities during the upcoming year.  The categories are: Business of the Year; Volunteer of the Year; Skip Gehrett Humanitarian of the Year; Service to Youth; Youth Volunteer Service to Others; Jeannine Willman Service to Seniors; Outstanding Public Service; and Environmental Consciousness.  Other public servants are honored: our Firefighter of the Year and our Police Employee of the Year.  Add possibilities like Excellent New Business, Beautification of a Visible Site, and Hall of Fame and the evening will leave your heart full and your eyes teary.

Nomination forms are available on the Chamber’s website and must be submitted no later than December 16, 2011.  Once completed, they can be mailed to P. O. Box 178, faxed to 823-8439, emailed to, or hand-delivered to 265 South Main Street.  All nominations remain confidential.

His special event will be on Thursday, January 26, 2012, at the Sebastopol Memorial Hall, 1000 Gravenstein Hwy. North. The Reception is from 6-6:45 p.m. and the Awards Program from 7-8 p.m. Mark your calendar.  We’ll be inspired.