As a follow-up to a conversation I had the other day with a longtime Sonoma resident, I received this email. His perspective is one I’ve not heard expressed in our town’s ongoing discussion about growth, so I wanted to share it. I think it adds an important dimension to the discussion. This is what he said:
“For those who wish to keep Sonoma rural, rustic, small town, etc., their effort is about 40 years (or more) too late. When the ribbon on the Golden Gate Bridge was cut in 1937, the destiny of small, rural towns north of the bridge was destined to forever change.
“For those who rail against the tourist/wine-based culture, there is a simple question, what is the alternative?
“The commercial poultry industry is gone. The dairy industry is shrinking. Plums, pears and apples are long gone.
“Sonoma and Napa are two of the best places in the world to produce wine grapes. Tourists love to come, see and sip. And, when they go home, they ask their local wine vendor, ‘can you get me a case of …?’ When I took economics, this was called ‘pull through.’ First, it employs people who look after tourists, then it helps wineries sell wine, which employs lots more people. It is pretty simple. If you want a viable local economy based on something other than social security payments and distributions from IRA accounts (and other forms of retirement payments) this formula is our best shot.
“When employers make money, it is a lot easier for all the folks in the ‘neighborhood’ to make money. And when people are working at something, doing a good job and making money, they are happier.
“I know capitalism is kind of out of fashion.
“I will put the soap box away now.”
Thoughts to ponder.