February 8, 2018
Yesterday I was invited to a lunch for event planners at winery in Santa Rosa. After spending a weekend at the amazing Westerbeke Ranch and Conference Center last week with powerful women entrepreneurs, I decided that I want to incorporate more fun and travel into my business. And what’s more fun than a trip to Sonoma County? So I took the an hour and a half drive up to the winery.
Walking around the property at lunch, I check out their 12 acres of vineyards and their gorgeous outdoor reception spaces. The sun is shining, it’s 75 degrees out and the hills are beautifully green from the rain. I love Sonoma.
In the afternoon, I head to the closest Starbucks to do some work. It’s in Coffey Park, Santa Rosa. My window seat shows me Old Redwood Highway, cars passing on their way from work and school, going on with their lives. Close to 5 pm, the sun still shines.
But across that street is Coffey Park, the entire neighborhood that burned down in the fire. There’s really nothing left... Foundations of houses are entirely wiped out. The only remaining structure I see appears to be the frame of a garage door, like a welcome arch with nothing beyond it. A crane is parked ready to clear more debris tomorrow. Posters at Starbucks announce lost pets gone missing in the fire, never to be found since.
It has been exactly four months since the fires started that changed Sonoma and Napa counties forever. The debris is still being cleared, and rebuilding will take years.
After looking out on the decimated grounds, I turn my focus inward to the flyer I am making for the event I am planning right now. It’s for a day-long gathering on Trauma, Justice and Healing, to take place at Contra Costa College in San Pablo, where faculty and staff can learn about the emotional and systemic traumas and racial injustices so many students in Richmond and San Pablo face on a daily basis.
I’m struck by the contrast, a contrast that Sonoma County is feeling deeply right now, but that is also felt in so many of our neighborhoods and regions of the Bay. Beauty and new life next to decimation and death. People getting inspiration right next to those who have lost everything. Young people thriving and others struggling so much just to get by. Trauma and healing.
People have asked me why I plan events only for nonprofits, why I don’t do weddings or corporate meetings. This is why. Even though I can see many beautiful weddings and corporate meetings happening at these wineries, I know there is so much need of community healing. Here in Santa Rosa I am reminded of what is really important, and why I do the work that I do. Sonoma has just started the tough work of clearing and re-building, and there will be so much more work to be done. Adelante.