Thankful in Sonoma
Gratitude, we are often told, is a healthy quality to cultivate. What better time to take stock of the multitude of gifts for which we Sonomans have to be thankful than the week of Thanksgiving itself, a holiday that dates back to 1621 when the people who would become Americans had a very short thank-you list.
Here’s a quick tally of some of the places, people, programs and things we’re grateful for having in Sonoma:
• The Overlook Trail and Montini Preserve, a soon-to-be contiguous band of beautiful open space protecting the northern side of Sonoma from development while offering stunning views and next-door nature for generations to come.
• The Sonoma Creek watershed, a liquid trail of interconnected drainages tracing a near-wilderness corridor through the heart of our valley, and reminding us the world is not principally composed of concrete, asphalt and steel.
• The beloved Plaza. Enough said.
• The incomparable Clydesdales of Neil Shepherd and the Castagnasso family that grace so many parades with their noble carriage while dressing up the town and the countryside around it.
• Infineon Raceway, a world-class venue with visionary leadership and unparalleled commitment to both environmental sustainability and financial support of Sonoma Valley nonprofits.
• A balanced city budget in an era of deficit disasters is a beautiful anomaly for which we can thank the wisdom of successive city councils and an impressively competent city staff.
• The Sonoma International Film Festival, while it has sometimes stumbled and lurched, has survived and matured while showcasing Sonoma to the world and introducing Hollywood to the real face of Wine Country.
• The Sebastiani Theatre, and Roger and Diana Rhoten, all three sacred institutions who, through film, theater, performing arts and nature camps, weave us all into a tighter, more cohesive family community.
• The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art proves that even a town of 10,000 can support a first-class facility to showcase, explore and teach us about art.
• The extraordinary number and variety of nonprofit agencies serving the Sonoma Valley – including the Sonoma Community Center, Vintage House, the Sonoma Ecology Center, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley, the Mentoring Alliance, FISH, La Luz, the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, WillMar Center, the Sonoma Valley Hospital Foundation, the Sonoma Valley Fund, Pets Lifeline and countless others – that add new meaning to the act of giving.
• The Hispanic community of Sonoma Valley that enriches us economically, culturally, socially and politically, even as we struggle with ways to communicate better across barriers of language, tradition and race.
• Our geographic proximity to the Pacific coast, redwood forests, snow-capped mountains, wild rivers, the West Coast’s most important estuary, not to mention one of the world’s great cities, all blessed with weather that rivals any place on Earth.
That’s a lot to give thanks for. But when you throw in the pervasive generosity, compassion and civic concern embedded in the people of Sonoma, you have the ingredients for a place almost without peer.