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What makes The Sun different

Posted on December 16, 2021 by Sonoma Valley Sun

All across America newspapers are struggling. Those that remain independent have turned to digital media to boost revenues, but user subscriptions – either for print or digital access –  don’t replace the advertising newspapers traditionally rely upon. Hedge fund acquisitions of small newspaper chains have succeeded in gobbling up local publications in diverse cities; with an eye towards revenue rather than journalism, corporations have cut reporters and journalism budgets. 

Here in Northern California we still enjoy a multitude of newspapers – daily, weekly, biweekly, and monthly – but the ownership has fallen into fewer and fewer hands. Truly independent publications not corporately owned are now a rarity. The Sonoma Valley Sun is proud to be one of the rare ones.

For more than a decade and a half we’ve positioned ourselves as the community’s independent voice, providing a platform for local writers, artists, photographers, and poets. Our content is what we call hyper-local, focused exclusively on Sonoma Valley and the City of Sonoma, and the issues and events that affect our community. 

Our publication schedule and edition size have varied over time depending upon the economics of offering a free newspaper. It’s been particularly challenging during the pandemic;  those who had been regular advertisers simply could not afford to purchase ad space. This has required us to reduce both the number of pages and the frequency of publication. Currently, editions are published on the 1st and the 15th of the month, and run 24 pages. Advertising is beginning to pick up, and we hope to increase to 32 pages once sufficient funds are available.

We also maintain Sonomasun.com, a free website updated daily.

Contributing writers are volunteers, and their time and efforts are made without compensation. Our Editorial Board meets weekly to plan future editions. Members are also volunteers and often content contributors as well, who do interviews, write articles, and provide photos. Our owner and editor Val Robichaud is a jack of all trades: a writer, photographer, ad manager, webmaster, and delivery man. He makes sure we print on time and that each edition makes its way to our distribution points across the valley. While not a volunteer, Val’s compensation is minimal. 

We like to think that The Sun, not beholden to a corporate owner and free to pursue its own vision, is helping to sustain the health and well-being of our community. We hope you agree.

The Sonoma Valley Sun is not a registered nonprofit, but does accept contributions and paid delivery subscriptions. Your support helps us pay the bills for pre-press layout and printing, and we encourage you to Keep the Sun Shining by providing some needed financial support, at Sonomasun.com. Thank you!

–The Sun Editorial Board

 



One thought on “What makes The Sun different

  1. here’s an independent voice
    Critique of an Elite Enclave
    Suburban liberal low density protection and equity

    The Niskanen Institute has a thesis*. A density divide sorts and polarizes rural and urban areas. Economic and values factors combine to create different in-group uniformities. Zero-sum game mind-sets have emerged nationally to play one group against another, with purity, loyalty, and scapegoating as social controls that reinforce group congruence. Could this density divide pattern hold if we substitute liberal suburban whites for conservative rural whites?

    Yes, the pattern transposes well. Liberal whites have sorted and segregated to North Bay suburbs. Here a polarizing wedge is driven to any newcomers. Growth, sprawl, and speculators are the enemies. The mostly white, uniform population has an aversion to density, which represents all bad things. Local control is code for minimizing density as much as possible, especially in single family-zoned, sub-urban areas. Low density protection in very real ways rests on an unethical history of redlining, segregation, and white flight, which are never acknowledged.

    Measure of America’s 2020 Census analysis divides California into four groups, the One Percent (1%), Elite Enclave (19%), Main Street (50%), and Struggling (30%). In the North Bay, Main Street and Struggling are heavily cost-burdened, mostly renters.

    Suburban protectors, NIMBYs, make any proposal for increased scale and density into a zero-sum game attack on their gentrified lifestyle. Real estate speculators and second home buyers are scapegoated. Local Development Code serves as a tool to protect low density and single family home neighborhoods. Control of density becomes a power struggle among the top 20% largest fish with the most wealth. North Bay essential workers who happen to be mostly Latinos end up as collateral damage. Welcome to the food chain.

    For low-density suburban land use policy, equity and inclusion is all talk and no action. Low density is always the highest value. The equity pillar of the sustainability triple bottom line is functionally left out of all policy. Territoriality and protectionism fuse North Bay NIMBYs with Green values.

    The result is suburban liberal white parochialism, protectionism, in-group loyalty, values conformity, and a tendency to zero-sum game thinking analogous to the national density divide between urban liberals and rural low educated rural whites. The only difference is in who gets scapegoated. Bubbled cultural isolation is the same.

    North Bay NIMBYs fight the same battles over and over: hotels, winery events, tasting rooms, casinos, raceway, Amazon warehouse, UGB, SDC, SB-9, Springs Specific Plan, Board of Supervisors Redistricting etc. These battles are not for equity but rather to protect low density character. The North Bay density divide is all about Elite Enclave tribal territoriality.

    Who is dominating the SDC conversation and the Sonoma city effort to subvert SB-9? It’s all a battle between the One Percent and Elite Enclave cohorts who together make up only 20% of the population. Main Street and Baltic Ave., the other 80%, are struggling to be heard and instead of a seat at the table they are more likely to be had for dinner.

    Sleepy Hollow Elite Enclaves, through density-restricted protections, make for high inflation and not enough housing. UGBs prevent any housing at the edges creating a Green Checkmate land use pattern: nothing allowed anywhere. Dense infill near transit and shopping is called smart growth, even as suburban property owners reserve dumb growth (low-density pleasantry and high property values) for themselves.

    Unfortunately, no one here wants any density near them and no one addresses the racial implications. Elite Enclaves are in a liberal bubble. Smart growth means stuffing all the poor into the worst areas under the guise of climate protection. Climate justice, equity, and smart growth all suffer the same fate: all talk, no action.

    The density divide is national. It’s the difference between suburbs and rural, between incorporated and unincorporated areas, between property owners and renters, between the moderate and far Left, between the haves and have nots. Moderates benefit from the status quo and don’t rock the boat; Green values provide cover. No wonder the Left’s boat is losing water, the base is kept outside the castle gates.

    Elite Enclaves make themselves the primary victims, scapegoating Park Place 1% speculators like Darius Anderson and Ken Mattson. Yet suburban liberal whites are no more on the same team as local working class POC than they are with low-educated rural whites. All these whites share an aversion to equity, some are just more explicit about it.

    As low wage, essential workers, and renters, white, brown, wherever, continue to be collateral damage of bigger fish battles, what holds these smaller fish from switching to Trumpism? Or from class revolution? To Baltic Ave. there is not much difference between Ventnor Ave. and Park Place elites. 25% of Latino men already support Trump populism. Meanwhile Elite Enclave land use rationales inevitably lead to the maintenance and perpetuation of segregation even as weak-tea claims for equity are mouthed. Sleepy Hollow parochialism is likely to drive even more small fish away from the liberal camp because at the end of the day suburban liberals care more about protecting low density and open space than they do about social equity.

    The cure for this business as usual limbo and density divide? Elite Enclaves give on the green space/ low density protection, make equity an equal plank, and get everyone on the same team against the One Percent. Will Elite Enclaves sacrifice some Mayberry character for equity? Or stay locked in their status quo, low density liberal bubble?

    * https://www.niskanencenter.org/the-density-divide-urbanization-polarization-and-populist-backlash/

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