The opposite of isolation, depression, and powerlessness is being proactive and reaching out. Whether we’re discouraged about personal or political issues, the cure is to redirect ourselves towards productive action. Citizen fatigue can make us turn inward, but stay involved in life instead.
We are reeling from strange times. PG&E rendered us powerless; people getting ill from stress or losing sleep, no gasoline, food or income, panic on faces. We drove in streets without stoplights and lay in bed in the dark. We were cut off from conversation because our phones weren’t easily charged. What’s up with that, we asked. Who’s got the power?
There were alarming stories, like a man unable to get insulin and a woman without dialysis. This should not be our new norm. It’s time to push communication (means “common” – the common good) about what we want in Sonoma. “Power has been grabbed from the people, but it has also been abdicated by the people, and we should take responsibility for that.” (Marianne Williamson, Healing the Soul of America.)
So, now’s the time to step up with proposals for the Sonoma we want. Here in the proverbial “promised land” of fun and sun, things are changing. Please write me at [email protected] with ideas and solutions for a better Sonoma.
How do we want to go forward? Change begins with an idea and is followed by small steps. Example: In Zimbabwe they discovered that grandmothers were able to sit on benches and listen, reflecting back to people their needs and feelings. The mental health in this location improved greatly. They call this endeavor the Friendship Bench.
Here are a few of my own visions for Sonoma: A proclamation of Independence on a plaque in the Sonoma Square stating our purpose and principles. These values could underlie all activities, decisions, and government here. Maybe slogans like “Serene and Safe Sonoma” as one possibility, with SLO-NOMA stop signs on streets. Silence on the 4th of July, with fabulous, big, quiet, fireworks. Permits for remodeling that are easy to get, more employee-owned businesses, tiny houses lining Eighth Street in multiple colors, allowing dogs and cats in rentals. Everyone on their porches visiting and a small portion of the Plaza for pets at our farmers market. Affordable counselors for everyone, and a coordinator of services for housing, personal, and legal issues. An emergency hospital and elder homes with doctors who care passionately about us. Neighborhood gatherings and town hall meetings with “we, the people” speaking. Two towns no longer divided – the Springs and Sonoma integrated by a walking/bike path. Diversity and affordable housing everywhere, no empty houses owned by wealth, no hunting of creatures, no daylight savings making our evenings black, a clear posting site for our town wish list, a bulletin board for our acknowledgements, and postings about people who give service beyond the call.
Ideally, politics should provide a context for the care of the public good. After all, the word “politics” comes from the ancient Greek root politeia, “gathering of citizens.”
“The source of power in America is not the government; the source of power is us.” (Williamson)