Tuesday, August 11, 2020

‘Grav & Go!’ Pop-Up Replaces Canceled Gravenstein Apple Fair

Posted By on Tue, Aug 11, 2020 at 11:00 AM

  • photo courtesy Sonoma County Farm Trails

Sebastopol’s popular Gravenstein Apple Fair has celebrated the locally grown Gravenstein apple for more than 40 years with a weekend gathering every August that always features entertainment, education and lots to eat and drink.

Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the fair to cancel its in-person event for 2020. Agricultural organization Sonoma County Farm Trails, host of the fundraising fair, officially announced the cancellation in June, writing on the fair’s website, “Though we can hardly imagine August in Sebastopol without the Apple Fair, we are fully on board with the County’s decision to cancel large gatherings. We are so grateful for the health care workers and first responders on the front lines and for all of the essential businesses (farmers/producers, nurseries, grocery store workers, postage and parcel services, etc.) who continue to sustain and support our lives during these unprecedented times.”

Even though the Gravenstein Apple Fair is canceled, Gravenstein apples are still falling off of trees in West Sonoma County this month, and Sonoma County Farm Trails is setting up its first-ever “Grav & Go! Gravenstein Pop-Up” event in Sebastopol this weekend so that Gravenstein apple lovers can at least get the fresh Gravenstein apples and related products they love.

The pop-up will take place at the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 15 and 16, the same weekend the fair was originally scheduled. Anyone interested in purchasing apples or apple products must preorder online by Thursday, Aug. 13, at Noon.

Sonoma County Farm Trails farmers and producers make all the available products from local Gravenstein Apples. The apple and apple-related items that can be purchased include fresh organic Gravenstein apples, applesauce, apple juice, apple butter and hard cider (note: cider must be ordered on the Tilted Shed Ciderworks’ site due to alcohol sales rules). Other available apple treats include apple pies, hand pies, cider apple doughnuts and much more.

Upon checkout, shoppers will be guided to select which day and time they would like to pick up their order. Show up at your reserved time for contactless curbside pickup of your Gravenstein apples and related items, and enjoy.

For the health and safety of customers and Farm Trails staff and volunteers, facial coverings, social distancing and thorough hand-and-surface sanitization will be implemented at the “Grav & Go! Gravenstein Pop-Up.” Additionally, Farm Trails asks customers to abide by all County and State public health requirements.

Established in 1973, Sonoma County Farm Trails is a nonprofit promoter of local agriculture, and the Gravenstein Apple Fair is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser. Without the benefit of the fair this year, Farm Trails is in need of financial help to continue its efforts to preserve Gravenstein apples and keep farms a vital part of Sonoma County’s culture.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure that Farm Trails continues to make good on its mission to preserve farms forever in Sonoma County,” says Farm Trails Board President Vince Trotter, in a statement. “With our main fundraiser off the table, we’re certainly facing some financial challenges this year, but our farmers are fighting through this, and so will we. We’re cutting our expenses to the bone and looking at some creative ways to bring in revenue and make the 2021 fair better than ever.”

“Grav & Go! Gravenstein Pop-Up” takes place on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 15 and 16, at Sebastopol Community Center, 390 Morris St., Sebastopol. Online orders must be placed by Thursday, Aug. 13, at noon. FarmTrails.org.
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Monday, August 10, 2020

Marin Sanctuary Marks 75 Years of Arts and Gardens

Posted By on Mon, Aug 10, 2020 at 3:30 PM

LOVE BLOOMS The Marin Art & Garden Center’s floral backdrops make it a destination for weddings as well as conservation. - PHOTO COURTESY MARIN ART & GARDEN CENTER
  • photo courtesy Marin Art & Garden Center
  • LOVE BLOOMS The Marin Art & Garden Center’s floral backdrops make it a destination for weddings as well as conservation.
Even in picturesque Marin County, the Marin Art & Garden Center stands out.

The 11-acre property in the town of Ross is an oasis of floral beauty and historic buildings, and the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the center hosts year-round events and programs on the grounds, including performances from resident theater company the Ross Valley Players.

This summer, as the country stays shut down due to Covid-19, the Marin Art & Garden Center remains open to visitors on foot or on bicycle who are welcomed to safely enjoy the spacious gardens for some much-needed respite. This month, the center celebrates its 75th anniversary, and Marin Art & Garden Center Executive Director Antonia Adezio hopes the grounds remain a fixture of Marin for many years to come.

“We’ve been here for 75 years and the world is a very different place, of course,” Adezio says.

The gardens were originally formed at the end of World War II by the women members of the Marin Conservation League, who also helped save Angel Island and Tomales Bay, among other Marin locales.

“(The Marin Conservation League) were very committed to the natural environment and the environment for people in the North Bay,” Adezio says. “We have that legacy, and there’s also the legacy of the groups that have come together to present programming and arts at the center, and that tradition is alive and well today.”

Working with the center for five years, Adezio is the nonprofit’s first professional executive director for many years, and she is helping raise the center’s profile along with expert horticulturist and garden manager Steven Schwager.

“He’s really taken hold of the gardens,” Adezio says. “People who come and see it now say, ‘I’ve been visiting here for 30 years and it’s never looked like this.’ And they’re right.”

Still, the massive property runs on a tight budget, and Adezio describes the nonprofit running the grounds as a small organization that does a lot with a little.

“We’re working to build our team and keep developing the garden for people to come and enjoy it but also to learn from it,” she says.

In light of the 75-year anniversary, Adezio invites Marin residents to look at the Marin Art & Garden Center with new eyes and to revisit the distinctive and charming gardens and buildings that were designed by mid-century master architects such as Thomas Church.

As the gardens remain open for foot traffic, the organization is also bolstering its presence online with its virtual art exhibition, “Rooted in Wonder,” featuring a video tour of works by painter Frances McCormack and interdisciplinary artist Miya Hannan.

“We have seen that during the pandemic it’s become more important to have a place like the gardens, and people are appreciating that they’ve been able to stay open and let people spend some time in nature,” Adezio says. “We want people to know that we are still here for them, they can visit and we hope to be able to gather again before long.”

Marin Art & Garden Center is located at 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross. oOpen daily, foot traffic allowed sunrise to sunset, parking lot is available 10am to 4pm. Free admission and parking. maringarden.org.
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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Champion Chefs Compete in Benefit for Napa Food Programs

Posted By on Wed, Aug 5, 2020 at 11:16 AM

Chef Chris Kollar of Kollar Chocolates will compete in a virtual cook-off to support families who are experiencing food insecurity. - PHOTO COURTESY KOLLARCHOCOLATES.COM
  • photo courtesy kollarchocolates.com
  • Chef Chris Kollar of Kollar Chocolates will compete in a virtual cook-off to support families who are experiencing food insecurity.

Five months into the Covid-19 pandemic, and the North Bay is still largely under sheltering orders that have forced many popular events to cancel their plans for the summer.

One of the most impactful financial fallouts of the canceled summer is the loss in fundraising revenue that these events generate for many local nonprofit organizations.

Case in point: Each year Oxbow Public Market's Fork It Over benefit and the Hands Across The Valley fundraiser in St. Helena each raise money for the Napa Valley Food Bank and other local safety-net food programs such as Meals on Wheels.

These two benefit events are cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic this summer, meaning that the Napa Valley Food Bank and Meals on Wheels stand to lose approximately $250,000 in funding at a time when the number of families using these programs has nearly tripled due to the pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn.

In place of these canceled live events, the organizers behind both Fork It Over and Hands Across the Valley are working together to create a new virtual event to help close the financial gap in funding.

“Participating in Fork It Over is a way of supporting local people who need help at one time or another in their lives,” Steve Carlin, founder and managing partner of Oxbow Public Market, says in a statement. “This year is different in that there are more of us confronting food insecurity challenges. At Oxbow, we are doing everything we can to be part of the solution, and we’re proud to partner with Hands Across the Valley on this creative new fundraising effort.”

On Sunday, August 23, Fork It Over and Hands Across the Valley host the first-ever virtual Napa Valley Champions Cook-Off, pitting two acclaimed Napa Valley chefs against each other in a friendly challenge. Both of the participating chefs have won national televised cooking contests, and now North Bay viewers are invited to watch the live streaming event that will determine the ultimate champion chef.

“We were very disappointed when we had to cancel our annual benefit event due to the pandemic,” Hands across the Valley founder and board president George Altamura says in a statement. “This is a great way to engage some of our talented culinary stars, have some fun and raise money for these very important programs.”

Chef Elizabeth Binder and Chef Chris Kollar are slated to appear in the showdown, and both have plenty of experience cooking in front of a crowd.

Chef Binder, owner of Hand-Crafted Catering in Napa, helped her team “Beat Bobby Flay” on the popular cooking competition show’s seventh episode of Season 23, which aired on January 26, 2020.

Chef Kollar, recently named Yountville’s 2020 Business Leader of the Year, is best known as the owner of Kollar Chocolates. Chef Kollar was named a 'Chopped Champion,' winning a sweet and salty challenge on an episode of Food Network’s “Chopped” that also aired in January of this year.

The upcoming Napa Valley Champions Cook-Off will be held at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia’s large teaching kitchens, ensuring the chefs and crew can maintain social distancing.

Radio personality Liam Mayclem, known as the Foodie Chap on KCBS Radio, will host the streaming competition. Chef Ken Frank (La Toque in Napa), Chef Anita Cartagena (Protéa in Yountville), and Chef Tanya Holland (Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland) will all be on hand to judge the event.

The Napa Valley Champions Cook-Off will be free to watch via Facebook Live, and viewers will be encouraged to donate money throughout the approximately hour-long program to support The Napa Valley Food Bank and Meals on Wheels. Donations received during the event will be eligible to win $500 in OxBucks, redeemable at any Oxbow Public Market merchant.

The Napa Valley Champions Cook-Off streams online Sunday, Aug 23, at 2pm. Free. Facebook.com/OxbowPublicMarket.
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Monday, August 3, 2020

Are you medically exempt from wearing a mask?

Probably not

Posted By on Mon, Aug 3, 2020 at 1:50 PM

On Sunday, about thirty people gathered in a small mid-town park in Petaluma to stage a political protest march. They were protesting against a Black Lives Matter protest against the firing of Black teachers by a local high school. Many of the protest protestors were waving American flags and “Back the Blue” signs and chatting face to face.

Most of them were not wearing face masks.

I took a few photos. Why? Because I am trying to understand why it is now a badge of honor in some social circles to not wear a mask in public places. The day before the protest of the protest, I was buying a tool at a ranching supply store on Lakeville Street when a woman and two children flowed through the doors, only to be verbally stopped in place by the sales clerk.

She informed the customers that they had to don masks to enter the store. The woman exclaimed that her family is “medically exempt” and do not need to wear masks. The clerk sighed as the woman moved briskly towards us sans mask. I jumped into the conversation.

“Excuse me, Ma-am, but there is no such thing as a medical exemption that allows for you to not wear a face-covering in a store.”

She insisted that she and her children are “medically exempt” and that privacy laws do not allow her to explain why and it is none of my business.

I raised the stakes, saying “Shall we video this conversation? maybe it can go viral.”

She donned a mask and went shopping.

The clerk told me, “My son has really bad asthma and he has to wear a mask!” We shared a comradely moment of Covid-19 fatigue and parted.

Covid-19 is a truly nasty disease with life-long lasting debilitating effects if it does not kill you outright, painfully, and in isolation. The invisibly spreading malady does not respect age, gender, class, caste, or nationality. It has brought the world to its knees and the end is not in sight. The good news is that the spread of the dread disease can be prevented by wearing a cloth mask indoors, and by physical distancing outdoors, and by not breathing on other people, or sucking in air laced with spikey-deadly nano devils.

But to be successful, masking and distancing have to be widely practiced. Sadly, the health of 300 million Americans is at risk because hordes of mask-resisting true believers in lies promoted by ultra-reactionary media and insane politicians consider Covid-19 to be a hoax, a liberal scheme to weaken Trump’s authoritarianism, a Jewish or Antifa or Black Lives Matter plot. Wearing a mask is in their hormonally convoluted minds an assault on individual “freedom” – an illegal abrogation of their supposed right to freely infect other people.

When challenged to wear masks appropriately, many resort to the false claim that they are medically exempt. There is even a bogus “US Department of Justice” certificate of exemption you can download and flash as “proof” of your special legal status as a virus-spreader.

In reality, there is no federal law containing a medical exemption for masks, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises physicians to tell persons suffering from facial deformities or severe respiratory and heart problems that they do not have to wear masks. Although, they should then shelter in place, so that they do not infect others.

In short, there is no such thing as a law or order providing for a medical exemption that allows for the infection of others, nor should there be. Let’s look at the Covid-19 orders.

Under an order issued by the California Department of Public Health, people older than two years of age must wear face masks indoors when they are around those with whom they do not reside. They must wear them outdoors when closer than six feet to other persons.

There is an exemption for, “Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering. This includes persons with a medical condition for whom wearing a face covering could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance.”

Those persons are asked to shelter in place or to wear a plastic face shield if they must be in contact with others. They are not allowed to go shopping without a face mask or shield.

Sonoma County’s health order explains why mask wearing is compulsory, “Persons have been shown to be infectious up to 48 hours before onset of symptoms, and as many as 50% of infections seem to occur from asymptomatic persons. All persons who contract COVID-19, regardless of their level of symptoms (none, mild, or severe), may place other vulnerable members of the public at significant risk.”

The Sonoma County order warns, “The violation of any provision of this Order constitutes a threat and menace to public health, constitutes a public nuisance, and is punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.” Those unmasked folks walking around with All Lives Matter signs might want to consider the implications of their defiance of the laws and the social good.
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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Local Cinemas Call for Help; Sonoma Film Festival Moves Online

Posted By on Wed, Jul 29, 2020 at 12:47 PM

Rialto Cinemas in Sebastopol is one of many local movie houses that have remained empty since March due to Covid-19.
  • Rialto Cinemas in Sebastopol is one of many local movie houses that have remained empty since March due to Covid-19.

A month ago, there was hope in the North Bay that public gatherings could re-open this summer; yet things are looking bleak for many venues and businesses that rely on socializing as the summer moves into August with restrictions on hosting events still in place to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Five months into the shutdown, movie houses in Sonoma County and elsewhere in the North Bay are especially feeling the effects financially. As the film industry continues to push back opening release dates for major films like Christopher Nolan's Tenet, local theaters are joining a national movement to call upon Congress to "Save Your Cinema."

The online campaign is asking for the public's help to urge Congress to keep movie theaters alive until they can fully reopen. Specifically, the "Save Your Cinema" campaign is gathering letters from the public demanding that Congress support the RESTART Act, which will provide seven-year loans covering six months of
expenses for theaters, and to press the Treasury and the Federal Reserve to implement more relief measures for cinemas of all sizes.

"The moviegoing experience is at the heart of everything we do as we work with lawmakers and film distributors to protect, innovate, and improve the movie theater experience for audiences everywhere," the National Association of Theatre Owners, who represent theaters in all 50 states, writes on the "Save Your Cinema" website.

Local theaters participating in the campaign includes Sebastopol's popular Rialto Cinemas, which recently celebrated its 20th year of screening films in the North Bay. Located adjacent to Sebastopol's Barlow Center near downtown, Rialto Cinemas has established itself as an anchor of the community, bringing world-class films to West Sonoma County, and updating its accommodations to include a full kitchen, beer and wine service and other modern comforts.

Now, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing shelter-in-place orders in Sonoma County, Rialto Cinemas fears not only for its own survival, but for the survival of the entire industry.

In a recent release, Rialto Cinemas writes that, "We closed for the sake of public health and are abiding by strict safety restrictions and guidelines as we plan our reopening. But even when we are able to reopen, it will be very difficult to sustain our business with limited capacity. We need more relief so that we can survive this crisis."

Without the relief offered by the RESTART Act and the loans that come with it, Rialto Cinemas and other local theaters fear that they will be forced to permanently close their doors. To take action and join the letter-writing campaign, visit SaveYourCinema.com.

Sonoma International Film Festival Opens Virtual Program

Last March, the Sonoma International Film Festival became one of the first North Bay events to cancel in the wake of a shelter-in-place order that made social gatherings impossible.

Now, the festival is turning to the Internet to turn it's globe-trotting party into an online affair for the SIFF 2.0 Virtual Film Festival, running Thursday, July 30, through Sunday, August 2.

The online event features over a hundred films streaming over the weekend, running the gamut from documentaries to short films, and representing 26 countries.

SIFF is also hoping to include socially distant offerings and plans to host up to 16 select film screenings at various outdoor venues, including local drive-ins. All in-place health orders and guidelines including social distancing, face coverings and hygiene requirements will be implemented.

Other highlights of the virtual festival include a showcase of student films from the Sonoma Valley High School media arts program, a program of short films by women filmmakers presented by the traveling Lunafest, video conversations with filmmakers, and more.

Those who purchased tickets and passes to last March's planned SIFF will have access to the virtual festival, and anyone can purchase streaming access per film, based on availability, or through a SIFF 2.0 Virtual Pass available at SonomaFilmFest.org.
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Monday, July 27, 2020

North Bay Author Offers Guide to 'Dying Well'

Posted By on Mon, Jul 27, 2020 at 2:31 PM

Katy Butler appears July 31 in a virtual author event hosted by Napa Bookmine. - PHOTO BY CRISTINA TACCONE
  • photo by Cristina Taccone
  • Katy Butler appears July 31 in a virtual author event hosted by Napa Bookmine.
The inevitability of death has always been a source of dread and anxiety, across all ages and human societies. But the modern age has produced a new, very particular dimension to that primal fear.

Many of us fear not so much death itself, but rather the chaotic, disorienting and often extremely expensive process of dying made common by modern medicine.

But if dying is still inevitable, a messy and inhumane death it does not have to be. That’s the message behind journalist Katy Butler’s recent book The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life (Scribner).

Butler, who discusses the book online in a virtual event hosted by Napa Bookmine and the Yountville Community Center on Friday, July 31, has crossed this terrain before. Her 2013 book Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death was part memoir and part investigation, offering the story of her father’s death as an illustration of what she calls “the Gray Zone,” the suspended state between an active life and clinical death largely created by modern medical technology.

“I felt I had laid out a problem in the first book,” says Butler, a long-time Bay Area reporter and writer. “I felt there was a need for a book that was about solutions, and that’s really the difference—this book says, OK, granted we have a broken medical system that is very fragmented toward the end of life, and we are afraid of death anyway. So given these problems, here are the workarounds—stories of people who have actually risen to the occasion and trusted their own best instincts to create a death that was less bad, or maybe even really good.”

The Art of Dying Well works best as a kind of handbook. Its seven chapters are determined by the particular stages of life, from “Resilience,” when you’re still active and healthy, all the way to “Active Dying,” the moment when it’s time to say goodbye. Along the way, each chapter outlines the attitudes and methods of preparation that can lead to a dignified and emotionally fulfilling end of life. The book’s format, says Butler, allows readers to return to it at different times in their lives.

“If you’re in the ‘Resilience’ part of life,” she says, “where you can still reverse a lot of health conditions, then you might want to read that chapter and call it a day, and put it away until you’re in some very different stage of life. And, if you’re in crisis, if there’s someone in your house who is dying, then skip the early parts and turn to the last two chapters and you’ll get a lot out of that.”

Butler’s inspiration was an antique text called Ars Moriendi, translated from the Latin as The Art of Dying. The text dates back to the 1400s and is a kind of medieval guidebook on the best way to meet death. She calls it one of the first bestselling self-help books. “It framed dying as a spiritual ordeal, and it named five different sorts of temptations and emotional struggles at the end of life, and how your attendants or friends could reassure you and help you through that.”

Though the fact of dying hasn’t changed, the circumstances of death have been upended since the Middle Ages. Butler started the writing process mindful of what links ancient ideas of death with contemporary ones.

“I do think there’s some commonality to what people think of as a good death. Clean and comfortable and relatively free from pain, having people that you love around you, being spiritually at peace,” she says. “Those things are still the same.”

The new book also offers up practical policy ideas to address what she calls a “technology-rich but relationship-poor” health care system. One such idea is a Medicare program known as PACE, which keeps ailing seniors out of hospitals and nursing-care facilities when it’s practical to do so, while still meeting their needs for home care, therapy and medication. The problem is, PACE is limited in its capacities and its funding. Still, there are many more down-to-earth approaches people can adopt to make a fulfilling end of life better for everyone—approaches that previous generations knew something about.

“You look at the ‘Greatest Generation,’” Butler says, referring to those who lived through the Great Depression and World War II. “They had stronger social networks and more of an understanding to bring a covered dish when someone has a major health crisis. We need to relearn some of those more rural or red-state values of neighborliness and being part of community groups. That stuff matters.”

Katy Butler discusses 'The Art of Dying Well' on Friday, July 31, online at 5pm. Free; $5 donation suggested. RSVP required at Napabookmine.com.

Original article by Wallace Baine, with additional reporting by Charlie Swanson.
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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Join This Weekend’s Socially Distant Cleanup on the Petaluma River

Posted By on Wed, Jul 22, 2020 at 12:41 PM

  • Scott Hess; ScottHessPhoto.com

Each spring, the Petaluma River usually gets a revitalizing and refreshing environmental facelift courtesy of the stewardship and educational community organization Friends of the Petaluma River, who annually host a major river cleanup project on the first Saturday in May.

Yet, the trash and debris is piling up in the Petaluma River this summer after concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic cancelled the planned 2020 iteration of the Spring Petaluma River Cleanup scheduled for two months ago.

Now, organizers at Friends of the Petaluma River are ready to roll up their sleeves and get back to work, and the organization welcomes the public back to the river for a socially distant river cleanup event taking place on Saturday, July 25. Volunteers are invited to sign up online and choose one of several creek locations where small groups will meet to pick up trash from 8am to noon.

“While we can’t have our big gathering and BBQ, we can still work together to protect the Petaluma River,” Friends of the Petaluma River executive director Stephanie Bastianon says in a statement. “People are eager for a way to do good in our community and our annual river cleanup is a safe way people can come together outside, from a distance, and support our local waterways.”

The cleanup event, dubbed “Protect Our River from Six Feet Apart,” is meant to be a day of environmental volunteerism that will also keep participants as safe as possible during the pandemic. Organizers urge volunteers to bring their own water bottle and gloves and to wear sturdy shoes. Trash pickers will be provided, along with buckets, bags, sanitation wipes and gloves as needed. Registration and safety waivers are online now, and it is requested that volunteers sign up in advance to receive their preferred creek assignment.

The annual Spring Petaluma River Cleanup normally removes approximately 3,000–5,000 pounds of trash from the river and surrounding watershed each year. While this socially-distant event is expected to be smaller than the annual spring cleanup, which often includes many student and civic groups participating, the Friends of the Petaluma River still anticipates the removal of hundreds of pounds of trash from the river.

“The trash in our river impairs water quality and pollutes sensitive habitat,” Bastianon says. “It will also ultimately contribute to the astounding amount of trash that ends up in our oceans. With researchers predicting the plastic in our oceans to outweigh fish by 2050, we really need to act now to stop trash from reaching out oceans.”

In partnership with the City of Petaluma, Friends of the Petaluma River was formed in 2005 to celebrate and conserve the Petaluma River Watershed through education and stewardship activities.

The group manages Steamer Landing Park and the David Yearsley River Heritage Center where it hosts educational programs. Throughout the North Bay, the group's educational reach includes a watershed classroom that travels to local schools as well as youth nature camps like the award-winning Green Heron Nature Camp; an 'Adopt A Creek' initiative; the twice annual river cleanups; weekly 'Boating at the Barn' outings and the new after-school nature program, Friends’ Flickers.

In addition to the canceled spring cleanup, the Friends of the Petaluma River have also had to cancel several other community events and fundraising festivals, including the immensely popular Rivertown Revival this month. That event, which takes place at the David Yearsley River Heritage Center each July, was instead presented as a virtual variety show series on Facebook. Other planned events that have been canceled or postponed include the Transhumance Festival and the Wine & Whiskey for the Wetlands benefit event. As the Friends of the Petaluma River work to reschedule these events, the organization also invites the public to support the river through an online Clean Water Pledge.

The Socially-Distant Petaluma River Cleanup takes place Saturday, July 25, throughout Petaluma’s watershed area. 8am to Noon. Registration and additional information can be found at FriendsofthePetalumaRiver.org.
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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

LGBTQ Connection Seeks Nominees for Youth Leadership Teams

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2020 at 4:14 PM

One of LGBTQ Connection's youth leadership teams participates in a recent Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Conference. - VIA LGBTQ CONNECTION
  • via LGBTQ Connection
  • One of LGBTQ Connection's youth leadership teams participates in a recent Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Conference.
Since forming in the spring of 2011, LGBTQ Connection has grown from a small support group into a comprehensive, multi-county initiative fostering healthy, diverse and inclusive communities in the North Bay.

From the beginning, young emerging leaders have driven the organization, which annually engages 3,500 LGBTQ people, their families and their community and trains providers from local organizations across Northern California to increase the safety, visibility and wellbeing of LGBTQ residents.

This fall, LGBTQ Connection invites the public to nominate individuals age 14 to 24 to join the organization’s youth leadership teams and continue the community-wide work to create positive change in Sonoma and Napa counties.

Each semester, LGBTQ Connection recruits interested and motivated youth to work with the youth leadership teams in five- or six-month cycles in Napa, Santa Rosa, Calistoga or Sonoma.

This upcoming semester, these teams will be meeting virtually to maintain social-distancing practices in the wake of Covid-19. Without any transportation barrier, LGBTQ Connection plans to connect these once-separate cross-county teams into one virtual ensemble.

This past spring and summer, LGBTQ Connection was forced to cancel all in-person events when the shelter-in-place orders went into effect in Napa and Sonoma counties last March. In place of those events, the organization has transitioned into online programming via video or telephone services.

This programming includes weekly online meet-ups for youth and young adults, twice-monthly video check-in meetings for older adults, free online counseling appointments with LGBTQ-friendly therapists, wellness calls for youth and seniors, LGBTQ information and referrals for all ages and much more. All of these services are offered in English and Spanish, serving the entire community.

Together, this fall's youth leadership teams are responsible for creating more virtual events and internet-based initiatives that advocate for increased awareness, visibility and wellness of North Bay LGBTQ youth.

In partnership with LGBTQ Connection, these teams give young people the opportunity to learn how to be a part of a team and to be community leaders. Each team meets once a week for five intensive months.

“That intensity is what we’ve found that it takes to come together as a team and organize impactful projects and events for our community,” LGBTQ Connection organizers write in a statement. “These projects bring people together across generations and cultures to build a stronger, more vibrant, and more inclusive LGBTQ community.”

This fall, the youth leaders chosen to participate in LGBTQ Connection’s cross-county teams will work on one of two initiatives. First, a community connection team will work on a project centered around community building and creating inclusive spaces; in addition, a community change team will work on a project centered around advocacy and systems change. In response to current events regarding police protests and the Black Lives Matter movement, both team’s projects will include racial justice as a primary focus.

“The modern LGBTQ movement erupted through uprisings against police brutality led by Black and Brown transgender women. We will work to remain connected to their legacy … throughout the many months ahead,” LGBTQ Connection organizers wrote in a statement last month. “LGBTQ Connection was founded with the goal of listening to and lifting up underrepresented LGBTQ voices, changing unjust systems, and investing in community leadership—especially with our youth, people of color, elders, transgender people, and people from rural areas. Today, we recommit ourselves to those values, to continue to be in relationship with our communities, and to let our actions speak as loud as our words.”

LGBTQ Connection is a program of On The Move, a nonprofit that partners with communities and mobilizes emerging leaders to take action in pursuit of social equity. Those interested in learning about becoming a Fall 2020 youth leadership team member can attend an information meeting hosted by LGBTQ Connection via Zoom on Tuesday, Aug. 4, at 3pm. If you know a youth that would benefit from being on this team, nominate them. If you’re a youth, apply now.

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Monday, July 20, 2020

Seghesio Family Vineyards Selects Artist for Anniversary Mural

Posted By on Mon, Jul 20, 2020 at 12:46 PM

Artist Angie Mattson's proposed mural, "Night in Zinfandel" will be painted at Seghesio's Healdsburg tasting room later this year.
  • Artist Angie Mattson's proposed mural, "Night in Zinfandel" will be painted at Seghesio's Healdsburg tasting room later this year.
Founded five generations ago, Sonoma County’s historic Seghesio Family Vineyards is preparing to celebrate its 125th anniversary this fall, and in addition to planned parties and events, the winery’s tasting room in Healdsburg will receive an artistic commemoration courtesy of acclaimed artist Angie Mattson.

Mattson is the winner of the Seghesio Family Vineyards’ recent online Anniversary Mural Contest, and her design, “Night in Zinfandel,” won out over hundreds of entries submitted by artists from across the country. Mattson will turn her design into a large-scale art mural at the tasting room later this year.

Mattson’s design is a monochromatic illustration of grape-picking with symbols of nature interwoven throughout. She says it reflects the people, places and values of Seghesio Family Vineyards.

“Since Seghesio is so well-known for Zinfandel, I did a lot of research to get the shape of the leaves and the grapes just right,” Mattson says in a statement. “I also did a lot of research into the flavors of Zinfandel and tried to incorporate those elements into the design. I love the idea that wine is influenced by the land it comes from—the mountains and the sea, the wild herbs, flowers, and plants that grow in and around a vineyard. I wanted to capture the way it feels when you’re in a vineyard and especially at night under the stars when it’s very peaceful but there is still a lot happening—that’s when the animals are coming out and there is some mischief.”

Seghesio Family Vineyards launched the online mural contest in April, and received over 100 submissions from artists of all backgrounds. The entries were viewable online, and visitors were encouraged to comment on their favorite designs, with each comment counting as a vote. The votes were considered when choosing the finalists, along with input from a panel assembled by Seghesio Family Vineyards.

“We were humbled by the outpouring of interest by talented artists across the country who desired to participate in our 125th-anniversary celebration with a mural design inspired by Seghesio’s incredible wines and story,” Stephanie Wycoff, estate director of Seghesio Family Vineyards, says in a statement. “There were many stunning designs, but Angie Mattson’s submission was visually striking and captured the essence of our charm and history with many thoughtful details.”

Contest finalists included acclaimed artists such as Amanda Lynn for her design, “Taste of Life,” Monica Tiulescu for her design, “Zen of Zin,” ELLE for her submission “Vineyards Poetry” and Kimberly Yaeger for her unnamed design. All works can be viewed on the contest website.

Mattson, who also goes by her artist moniker Uto X, is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her art has increasingly been defined as a minimalist folk-art style for the past several years. Also a musician, Mattson began making art by designing merchandise for her band, In The Valley Below, splitting her creative time between music and visual art inspired by her life on the road.

The Seghesio family has been a part of the North Bay’s wine culture ever since Edoardo Seghesio planted his first Zinfandel vineyard in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley in 1895. Today, the winery’s 400 acres of vineyards in Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys produce award-winning Zinfandel and Italian varietals under the direction of winemaker Ted Seghesio.

Due to Covid-19 health and safety restrictions, Seghesio Family Vineyards’s tasting room in Healdsburg is currently opening up its adjacent grove for outdoor wine tastings Thursday through Sunday. Reservations are required and are available on Seghesio.com.
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Friday, July 17, 2020

Art Heads Outdoors in Sonoma

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2020 at 9:53 AM


Soon after shelter-in-place orders went into effect in March due to Covid-19, several arts groups in the Sonoma region joined forces to form the Sonoma Valley Arts Task Force, a Justice League for the arts that aims to support artists and connect the community while large group gatherings remain impossible.

In May, the task force initially set about creating at-home art projects the community could easily participate in. Soon after, the group installed its first public art offering, 22 large-scale artist-designed hearts in front of Sonoma City Hall.

Now, the task force is unveiling its largest project yet; a community-wide self-guided art tour, the Summer Arts Stroll, beginning on July 25.

Sponsored by the City of Sonoma and Sonoma Plein Air Foundation, the Summer Arts Stroll will feature art on display in storefront windows, in public areas or outdoor areas, and at residences and studios, where the art will be visible from the sidewalk.

“We took inspiration from the Sonoma Art Walk’s First Thursday series where artists are paired with businesses, and with the help of our community partners, adapted the concept to meet Covid-19 health and safety requirements,” Kala Stein, director of ceramics & arts at Sonoma Community Center, says in a statement. “This self-guided experience will bring art to the public eye throughout the Valley while connecting businesses with local artists and creative youth. We truly believe that art and art making are essential to the quality of life, especially now.”

Beyond the role that art plays in maintaining the community’s quality of life, it is also the source of income for many of the North Bay’s working artists. The pandemic and resulting shelter-in-place orders have had a notable impact on artists. With many venues closed or operating with limited capacity and the cancellation of summer art fairs and events, it is estimated that 95 percent of artists have lost income.

“It’s no secret that artists, like businesses, have faced unprecedented challenges and loss of revenue due to the pandemic and shelter-in-place orders,” Mark Bodenhamer, executive director of the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce, says in a statement. “The Summer Arts Stroll is a win-win for artists and businesses; artists get new venues to show and potentially sell their work, and businesses get increased visibility and foot traffic.”

When the self-guided Summer Arts Stroll opens on July 25, patrons will find an interactive virtual map on the City of Sonoma’s website, complete with emblems identifying exhibits of interest. All are invited to take part in the Summer Arts Stroll, though patrons are advised to maintain the required six feet of physical distance from others and wear a facial covering when physical distance cannot be maintained.

The Summer Arts Stroll, as well as the hearts installation and the at-home art prompts are all part of the task force’s Sonoma Valley–wide “Heart of Sonoma” community art project, which the task force launched to help connect those sheltering-at-home during the pandemic and to provide opportunities for meaningful creative expression for the Sonoma Valley community.

The City of Sonoma and the Sonoma Community Center, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, Art Escape and the Chamber of Commerce developed the Sonoma Valley Arts Task Force, which quickly grew to over 24 nonprofits throughout Sonoma Valley. While it was primarily formed to support the community during shelter-in-place orders, the Task Force continues to evolve and respond to the needs of the Sonoma Valley community during the pandemic.

Co-chairs of the task force, Connie Schlelein and Kala Stein, write in a statement that they, “are hopeful that everyone in the community will be inspired to get involved in heartfelt displays of creativity. Whether it is an expression of appreciation for the work of first responders or essential workers, or just an expression of joy or change, positive messages will provide strength for our community as we continue to navigate these trying times.”

The Summer Arts Stroll begins Saturday, July 25 and will be on display throughout Sonoma until August 31. Maps and details will be available soon at Sonomacity.org.
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