Election Day has come and gone. Candidates have won and lost and various state and local measures were affirmed or defeated. The potential for future change exists, but for the moment, anyway, things remain largely as they were. The pandemic is raging across America, mostly uncontrolled. The economy is in tatters, and our government is struggling to come up with a plan for going forward. The rains in California are late again and the danger of fires is still real. So, now what?
Those of us living here in Sonoma Valley are exceptionally lucky, but the struggles of the past few years point to how important it is to develop and sustain community structures that provide support and resilience. From food to rent, jobs to healthcare, the basics of life have been challenged by terrible events, and were it not for the great efforts of many, life in our Valley could easily have tipped over into chaos and despair.
Our Mayor Logan Harvey championed food programs that have fed and provided necessities to the hungry and those who have lost jobs, and the grassroots Food for All/Comida para Todos sprang up to deliver food and supplies. FISH (Friends in Sonoma Helping), with funding contributed by the City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund and County funds, has stepped up to administer financial assistance to renters in danger of being evicted. The Boys and Girls Club has provided on-site support to help some of the many parents who can’t support Distance Learning in their homes. The City has relaxed rules to allow restaurants to expand to outdoor spaces where patrons can eat in relative safety. These are just a few examples of resilience, and the ways it can manifest.
Resilience is the capacity to recover from unexpected difficulty. While it is impossible to predict all the difficulties that might occur, a high degree of resilience can mitigate negative effects. For example, by supporting local farmers, our Valley offers an alternative to the industrial food supply chain; during an emergency, food may be in short supply, but our local farmers can provide high-quality produce the community needs.
Going forward, developing a resilience plan for the whole Valley is essential. We need to identify the players that would implement such a plan and establish priorities. We need to know what we consume and ways to replace it from local sources. Sources of generator power should be cataloged and policies adopted to make the best use of it. Plans on how we manage our drinking water and what to do if our sanitation plant suffers damage should not wait until an earthquake occurs; that’s too late. Resilience requires establishing redundancies and knowing when and how to utilize them. If recovery is the goal, resilience is the method, at least in the short term.
By all accounts, we have some challenging months ahead of us. The pandemic is expanding, not shrinking, and until a successful vaccine is developed and fully tested, we’ll be forced to continue to wear masks and socially distance. Local businesses will need our continued support. Election results aside, such challenges require continued discipline, cooperation, and generosity. We might even discover that going back to “normal” is a mistake, and that what we’ve learned about helping each other should become the new normal.
– Sun Editorial Board