Conrad and I are sitting with the Moon tonight, the dark one (we call it Horned Moon), as we have done twice a lunar month for nearly fifty years now, his Horned Moon, my Full Moon. We will be up late and tuning in with high energy, so I’ll be sleepy tomorrow morning. Doesn’t matter. I’m getting up early to go to a 9 AM meeting of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. I don’t know if I can add my voice, but I’m going to try. What’s at stake is the next decade or so of the health and availability of the Sonoma Coast.
I fell in love with California, not just this specific area, back in 1963 when we first arrived here from the Midwest. It hit me like a thunderbolt and I knew my heart would live here wherever I paid my rent. Conrad finished his Stanford PhD in 1966, we left for the first teaching job in South Carolina, and it took me 33 years to get back. I’m here for good. We went to the ocean today, as we do every Sunday, to have a slow quiet picnic on a bluff overlooking the rocks and the waves. I suffer from depression, and this is one of my life-giving resources that helps me stay afloat. It’s my medicine, and I’ll fight to keep it.
In the 1970’s the town of Bolinas underwent an epic struggle, beautifully told in a book called The Town That Fought To Save Itself. I found it somewhere not long after we arrived in 1999, and I read and re-read it often until I loaned it to someone. It made clear how ruthless and powerful the moneyed force of development is, but also made clear that the people of Bolinas had the grit and passion of a strong community. It was touch and go, but they prevailed, at the cost of having no other life but that struggle until they won.
In our twenty-three years of living here I have seen orchard after orchard fall to the juggernauts of vineyards and development. I like wine. People need houses. I wasn’t born yesterday: I’m eighty-three years old, and I read the news. I’ve seen the skirmishes of the past few years, the attempts to install Iron Rangers and charge for ocean access, and I’ve wondered what would come next. Now I know. The current push is here, and it will make its voice heard tomorrow morning.
There is a single specific development being proposed at Timber Cove by a New Jersey developer. His interesting tactic is to propose modification of the protections currently in place for the whole Sonoma Coast, not just his Timber Cove site. There’s also a threat to the prohibition of toxic chemicals used in agriculture, particularly vineyards.
It has been said, “The coastland has not been saved. It is ALWAYS being saved.” If Arizona can’t limit the Saudi alfalfa farm from draining their aquifers to ship fodder overseas, if Nestle is still draining California’s aquifers to fill little plastic bottles, it shows what we’re up against. It’s all too easy to lose hope. Bolinas, we need you, we need to remember what you did.
Tomorrow morning I’m gonna be foggy, but I’m gonna be there.