SUSTAINABLE SONOMA UNITES SONOMA VALLEY'S EFFORTS TO IMPROVE OUR COMMUNITY UNDER ONE SET OF SHARED GOALS. THIS COMMON AGENDA WILL ALIGN AND SUPPORT ACTIVITIES THAT COLLECTIVELY BUILD A SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY.
 

history

After 25 years of working with our community to take care of this remarkable place, we realized that we cannot accomplish our mission of ecological health in Sonoma Valley without systemic change that’s supported by the whole community.
— RICHARD DALE, SONOMA ECOLOGY CENTER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
 

Sustainable Sonoma was conceived by Sonoma Ecology Center to achieve a common agenda for the Valley that most of the community can support. In the early stages, Sonoma Ecology Center led in building the Sustainable Sonoma partnerships, primarily with the Chamber of Commerce and La Luz. Over time, the founding partners have become just a few of the many interests at the table. As Sustainable Sonoma matures, it will take on its own identity—a standalone staff, independent funding—so that it belongs to the whole community, not any particular organization.

 
We can’t solve the challenges our Latino community is facing by only working inside the Latino community. It takes everyone pushing in the same direction for change to happen. This initiative is a foundation for this push.
— Juan Hernandez, Executive Director, La Luz Center

Sustainable Sonoma Council

The Sustainable Sonoma Council represents all the interests in the Sonoma Valley community, and identifies areas of shared agreement among those interests. Agreements could include priority issues to work together on, or shared intentions for the future of the community. The learning and trust developed among the Sustainable Sonoma  Council should, over time, produce multiple alignments around community needs. These areas of agreement will then produce tangible positive change in the community by creating allies and solutions that involve multiple sectors—solutions that could not have been achieved without aligning diverse interests.

See the roster of Sustainable Sonoma Council members and alternates here.

You will find Sustainable Sonoma Council meeting agendas, minutes and materials here


STEERING COMMITTEE

The Steering Committee governs the operations of Sustainable Sonoma, including directing staff. The Steering Committee is charged with operational oversight, including budget, HR, and driving the strategic planning for growth and success of Sustainable Sonoma. Its members make decisions using practical consensus, promote Sustainable Sonoma, and keep Sustainable Sonoma true to its mission, vision, and values.

  • Richard Dale, Executive Director, Sonoma Ecology Center.. Interests represented: Environment, economy health. Affiliations: Chamber of Commerce, Sonoma Valley Health Round Table, SDC Coalition.

  • Gary Saperstein, Co-founder, Out in the Vineyard. Interests represented: tourism, business, LGBTQ. 

  • Cynthia Scarborough, Area Agency on Aging Advisory Council, Sonoma Valley Health Roundtable, Vintage House, retired ED. Interests represented: Senior services, health. 

  • Veronica Vences, Associate Executive Director, La Luz Center. Interests represented: Latino, Spanish-speaking community members. 


STAFF

Beth Dadko
Health Action Community Engagement Manager
beth@sonoma-county.org

 

 

Caitlin Cornwall
Sustainable Sonoma Project Director
caitlin@sonomaecologycenter.org

Kim Jones
Sustainable Sonoma Coordinator
kim@sustainablesonoma.net     


Read the full purpose, governance and charter of Sustainable Sonoma here. 

SUSTAINABLE SONOMA

AT A GLANCE

 

 

A VISION FOR 2030

Sonoma Valley is a thriving, just, sustainable community, a model for Sonoma County, the state, and the nation.

WHAT IS A SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY?

 
 

A sustainable community is one that is economically, environmentally, and socially healthy and resilient. It meets challenges through integrated solutions rather than through fragmented approaches that meet one of those goals at the expense of the others. And it takes a long-term perspective—one that’s focused on both the present and future, well beyond the next budget or election cycle.

 As a result, a sustainable community manages its human, natural, and financial resources to meet current needs while ensuring that adequate resources are equitably available for future generations. 1

A CALL TO ACTION

This is our opportunity to exercise leadership and build a model of true sustainability for others to emulate. If not here, where? If not now, when?

We must act locally to replicate globally!

The Challenge

How do we preserve what’s great about Sonoma while adapting to new pressures and solving the chronic problems facing us?

No single organization has the ability to solve any major social problem by itself.

Some of TODAY'S hot-button ISSUES

  • Housing and affordability crisis
  • Effects of tourism on local community character
  • Rural community character
  • Wealth and economic divide
  • Groundwater depletion 
  • Transportation and mobility

We Aren’t Sustainable, Equitable, or Thriving. Yet.

  • Local groundwater, our largest source of water, is being depleted rapidly. 2
  • Households in our poorest neighborhoods have median earnings less than $20,000, far less than the poverty threshold in this high-cost region. 3
  • About 1,000 new parcels were created since 2005, most with development rights. 4
  • Nearly 40% of households spend over 40% of their income on rent. 5
  • 43+ kinds of animals and plants are listed as rare, threatened or endangered.
  • 69% of businesses surveyed are concerned about the shortage of housing. 6

    Our problems, and their solutions, cross over multiple sectors. For example:

    a Wildland Management project would achieve

    • Reduce fire risk and economic loss

    • Employ and engage young people

    • Increase water supply

    • Sequester carbon

    • Increase biodiversity

    COMPACT, INFILL, AFFORDABLE HOUSING would achieve

    • Safe, decent housing for all

    • Access to services and community life

    • Protect open space, agriculture and our water supply
    • Support our workforce backbone
    • Better youth and education outcomes

    Why Do We Need Sustainable Sonoma?

    Over 100 nonprofits and agencies work to make Sonoma Valley a better place. Most share a similar vision of a better Sonoma Valley. But we lack a coordinated workplan, common goals, and shared, measurable outcomes that would lead to efficiencies and greater success.

    Sustainable Sonoma is a platform for organizations and community stakeholders to come to the table for the benefit of Sonoma Valley. Our core partners are working together to build a common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and backbone support for our partners. 

    Process design principles

    • Avoid duplication, search for integrated coordinated solutions that move beyond current silos.
    • Transparency.
    • Focus on longer-term solutions.
    • Include all community constituencies, learn from diverse views and voices.

    Sustainable Sonoma is a Collective Impact initiative that aims to unite these efforts through a common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and backbone support organizations.

    Near-term objectives

    • Hearing from community members, through multiple channels, on their goals and strategies for making Sonoma Valley a better place—add your voice here!
    • Hold bi-monthly Sustainable Sonoma Council meetings that cultivate commitment to working together, build trust, understanding and uncover common ground

    • Work towards equity on the Sustainable Sonoma Council

    • Focus groups and public events that ask the questions: What do you want to see in Sonoma Valley’s future? How do we get there? What do you NOT want to see? 

    • Adopt a strategic plan written by a broad partnership of community interests.
    • Recruit influential community champions. Suggestions welcome!
    • Use best practices from “collective impact” and “place-making” processes.
    • Capacity-building and fundraising

    • Add partners

    • Produce Spanish outreach material

    timeline

    January 2015:  Concept creation
    August 2015: Focus groups start
    October 2017: Sustainable Sonoma Council forms
    March-August 2018: Listening sessions, including public meetings
    August-January 2019: Council prioritizes 5-8 shared goals & values
    January 2019: Work Groups form


    1. Institute for Sustainable Communities
    2. Sonoma County Water Agency report to Sonoma Valley Groundwater Management Basin Advisory Panel, 2014.
    3. Portrait of Sonoma County. Sonoma County Department of Health Services. 2014. The California Poverty Measure. PPIC and Stanford. 2013. Learn more here.
    4. Sonoma Ecology Center analysis of Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department data. 2015. 
    5. Sonoma County Economic Development Board, Community Foundation Sonoma County.
    6. Sonoma Valley Economic Development Partnership, 2014.