Trains, pipes and butterflies

Posted on September 1, 2022 by Sonoma Valley Sun


Faline Howard is doing great work saving Monarch butterflies, and has a proclamation from the City of Sonoma to prove it. She was born in China but grew up in Sonoma. Now 17 and a Girl Scout, she’s working toward her Gold Star Award with her project for the Earthings, the Sonoma Ecology Center’s environmental youth group. Faline has succeeded in growing over 1,000 native milkweed plants – a favored habitat of Monarchs, an endangered species – which she has planted at school gardens in Sonoma and Santa Rosa. The Sonoma City Council signed a pledge three years to protect Monarch butterflies; that’s Mayor Jack Ding backing it up with special recognition for Faline… Says her advisor, Cindy Lindh, “Faline is enormously passionate, bright, articulate, dependable, friendly, and hard-working – a model Sonoma youth!  She plans to continue with her conservation efforts on behalf of Monarch Butterflies.”


The steam locomotive Southern Pacific 2472, parked in Schellville for years, was due to fire up its boilers for excursion runs on Labor Day weekend. It would have been the first public ride in seven years for the SP’s 1950s bi-level commuter car. The owner, Golden Gate Railroad Museum, thought it had a solid deal with SMART, which is responsible for the track line. But when two bridges (Wingo and Railroad Slough) failed a recent inspection, SMART canceled the event. 

The Sonoma Valley Aqueduct picked a bad year to start leaking. The 16” line near the Verano Avenue Bridge is under emergency repair after a rupture was discovered on August 17, releasing 5 -10 gallons a minute onto the creek banks. It wasn’t a faulty pipe, but rather the impact of a falling piece of concrete that caused the fissure. Apparently it’s a complicated job; the Board of Supervisors had to declare an emergency to get everything in place for the fix.  ”We don’t want to start a repair job until we know that all equipment and materials are on hand when we shut down the aqueduct,” said Sonoma Water General Manager Grant Davis.

I’m sure the food was delightful at the girl & the fig anniversary party, marking 25 years for the esteemed Sondra Bernstein operation. But more impressive is the $50,000 donation the company made to the Sonoma Community Center. It will allow the Center’s Community Kitchen program to go year-round and involve more young cooks. To date in 2022, the program has hosted more than 75 children. The after-school classes are themed around different cultures, countries and celebrations to combine learning with a late-afternoon snack… Founded in 1997, the girl & the fig has become a destination restaurant, and grown into a culinary signature.  “Twenty-five years ago, I wouldn’t have imagined that the girl & the fig would become the culinary brand it is today,” said Bernstein. “I’m grateful for all of the people who have supported our mission to not only serve French food with a passion, but care for our community through experiences that make a difference, and I’m excited to give back to that community through this partnership.”

Did you know that any store that sells you a bottle or can with a redemption value (that you’re paying extra for), that store is legally required to recycle the container and pay you the CRV? Safeway, Lucky, Sonoma Market, even 7-11 and so on, all of them. But they certainly don’t make it easy. In fact, you wouldn’t really know it’s an option – no clear signage, no bins, no handy options but to go to Santa Rosa, one of the region’s few redemption centers. (Think of the hundreds of millions of unclaimed CRV dollars collected in California every year). Actually there is one way for stores to stay in compliance – pay the state $100 per day for permission not to redeem. That’s what Whole Foods does. Maybe they could just take the cans and donate the CRV, and the $3k per month, to charity? 

– Val Robichaud, [email protected] 

Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA