BJ Blanchard: Notes from Glen Ellen, March 22

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Scratch the surface in Glen Ellen, and you discover many unseen champions. These winners never boast or call attention to themselves, but contribute to the world in valuable and creative ways.

Take Lance Morgan, for example. Dr. Lance Morgan of Warm Springs Road heads up an organization called the Marine Conservation Institute with headquarters in Jack London Village. This crowd is dedicated to securing strong protections for the world’s ocean places. They fight acidification, preserve wild coral, explore sea floor habitats and so on. Morgan and his charismatic wife Angela are flying off to Monaco, of all places, where they will meet with Prince Albert II of Monaco. Yes, that Prince Albert of Grace Kelly fame. Albert is the initiator of “Blue Monaco” and wants to hear what our Lance Morgan has to say about protecting the ocean floors.

Have you met Sachiko Kanenobu? This gal lives quietly on Arnold Drive almost opposite Star Restaurant. Born near Osaka, Japan, she is a folk-pop singer, and was once known as the Joni Mitchell of Japan. Who knew? Sachiko had signed as a teenager to Japan’s first indie label at the dawn of the 1970s, then met and married Paul Williams, the renowned American rock journalist and founder of “Crawdaddy!” magazine, and emigrated secretly to the U.S. She has been quiet for many years, but recently reappeared to become a cult figure in Japan’s psych-folk underground.

According to a Jan. 8, 2019 New York Times article, musician Steve Gunn heard of Sachiko a few years ago, when, at the advice of friends, he listened to her 1972 debut album “Misora” recorded in Tokyo. Gunn is known for his neo-folk guitar playing (and as a former member of Kurt Vile’s backing band, the Violators) and has more recently moved into producing albums for like-minded artists. He was instantly taken with Sachiko’s ”lush guitar playing and multilayered psychedelic melodies,” and joined the singer-songwriter’s small but devoted fan base. Sachiko will soon go on tour with Gunn and open for concerts tied to his soon-to-be-released new album.

Most recently, you’ll be stunned by the beauty of the new book titled “Where the World Begins: Sonoma Mountain Stories and Images.” This is a work of love by Glen Ellen’s local historical ecologist Arthur Dawson, local hiking-writer Tracy Salcedo, Richard Dale of the Sonoma Ecology Center, and others, with moving contributions by Micky Cooke, Pat Elliott, Bill Murray, Jim Berkland, Milo Shepherd, whose lives started and remained in Glen Ellen.

Ed Cooper has caught and photographed vistas that you see daily on your commute.

Dawson includes many legends from the Miwok people, stories of the settlers and early maps, the plants, wildlife, and geology of the mountain slopes and, my favorite: “Gifts of Inspiration: Artists and Visionaries” about the unusual, often spiritual or philosophical nonconformists who settled for awhile on the mountain’s shoulders.

It’s all about the people of a place.

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