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



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


This is our opportunity to exercise leadership and build a model of true sustainability for other 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.

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 
  • Traffic

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


    • 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!

    • A public goal-setting event that answers the questions: What do you want to see in Sonoma Valley’s future? 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.
    • Establish an independent financial home for Sustainable Sonoma

    • Capacity-building and fundraising

    • Add partners

    • Set priorities for 2018


    SS Timeline.jpg

    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.