Red, white and green all over
Vintage Festival, after all, pre-dates the Pinot Noir Era, reaching back through the mists of time to the Dawning of the Age of Zinfandel.
But tradition isn’t always measured in linear time or cases of wine (witness the annual City Party, a cherished institution but still less than 20 years old) and the Red & White Ball, which will occupy the Plaza on Saturday, is already imprinted in the core of Sonoma’s social DNA.
Which is good, because over the years it has helped pay for numerous Plaza improvements, including lights, landscaping and the duck pond. This is the second year the bi-colored ball will benefit the Sonoma public schools through the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, which itself is closing in on 20-years and almost $5 million raised to support school programs.
In a galaxy of good causes, it’s hard to find a more urgent priority than the successful education of our children, and because we have examined and written about many of the programs initiated and supported by the Education Foundation, we know firsthand how important its work is to the futures we all want for our children.
Four of those programs occupy the cutting edge of public education:
The Sonoma Valley School Garden Project has initiated a local revolution in school lunches and student understanding of food. Now kids in every public school in the district have the opportunity to plant, grow and eat their own food. The program has benefitted more than 3,400 students in 10 schools, all of which can now serve school garden vegetables in their cafeterias.
Another timely collaboration is the Exploratorium Science Project, a hands-on curriculum created in conjunction with the San Francisco Exploratorium, now taught in five schools. The program covers a broad spectrum of basic science – from snails to electromagnetism – while improving cognitive language proficiency and putting the fun back in learning.
Another program – Visual Thinking Strategies – uses art to promote independent thinking, language development and communication skills while helping kids discover their own creative potential.
The Teacher Support Network has more than 60 volunteers participating with 30 teachers at Sonoma Valley High School, where they have contributed more than 4,500 hours a year to support the learning experience.
As we search for ways to help public education survive and thrive in a fiscal landscape that is too often depressingly bleak, the initiatives of the Education Foundation take on ever greater importance.
It’s therefore comforting to know that the city can come together and party for such a crucial cause. It’s also nice to know that you can come to the ball without breaking your personal budget.
Tickets range from $25 for the do-it-yourself zone, where you eat and drink what you bring, to $75 for a family-style barbecue picnic, to $150 for a catered, sit-down dinner with a cocktail reception and a farm-to-table feast from those very school gardens.
So bring on the red and white and turn it into some long green.