By Anna Pier | Sonoma Sun
Bringing together over 30 people from a broad spectrum of interests in the Valley, the group Sustainable Sonoma Council met for the first time as representatives of nonprofits, health, business, wine, tourism, workforce, construction, and city and county government sat together to share fire experiences and identify their top post-fire priorities.
Kim Jones, coordinator for the infant organization, remarked, “Where else would a real estate agent hear how a fire ecologist views the fires? Or the Health Center learn why the Visitors Bureau is doing what it is doing?”
Held in the wake of the fires, the October 27 meeting was designed to launch the process of finding common ground and overlap of interests. The conversation highlighted that most of the priorities for action already existed, but were exacerbated by the fires. Richard Dale, of the Sonoma Ecology Center, opened the gathering commenting, “We are living the proof of what we’ve been saying: the environmental issue is always a social and economic issue too.”
Urgent, short-term fire-related priorities identified were to help the most vulnerable recover from losses, including finding temporary housing and helping with access to services. Nearer-term priorities include creating an emergency plan including information system, training workers for the construction fields, and getting youth involved. Long-term priorities affordable housing for all, and rebuilding better with updated energy infrastructure and codes.
Patricia Shulz, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, said that the two biggest issues are “housing and a workforce that lives here.” She emphasized that this is not one organization, one issue, saying, “it’s our community.”
The goal of Sustainable Sonoma is to develop collaborations and find solutions to those social, economic and environmental problems which no single organization or agency can address. For more information, including the collaborative partners, visit: https://www.sustainablesonoma.net.