“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision”                   -Helen Keller

If perfect vision is 20/20, what could be revealed in the year 2020?

In January and February we enjoyed a seemingly unstoppable economic recovery and the lowest unemployment rate experienced in almost 100 years.  Then came March, when we started an array of new conversations with different words that were not previously a part of our everyday vocabulary.  Coronavirus, Shelter in Place and essential business were the first unfamiliar phrases that we would soon become accustomed to.  Business closures created record unemployment and stock market volatility.  Shuttered schools began distance learning.  We practice social distancing and work remotely.  In April government announced subsidies to attempt to buoy households and the economy through the pandemic. PPP became a well-known abbreviation.  In May the killing of George Floyd triggered nation-wide protests against social injustices towards blacks and marginalized people.  Our conversations necessarily turned to social justice.  In June COVID 19 cases began to decline so in July partial business openings were allowed with restrictions.  Then in August Coronavirus cases began to rise and dry lightning with thunderstorms ignited fires across CA.  Evacuation orders and air quality again closed many businesses that were barely making it through the restricted openings.

It is now September, the end of the 3rd quarter of 2020.  What are we talking about today?  Record-setting heat waves, CISO, Flex Alerts, Public Safety Power Shutoffs, Diablo winds, dark days with orange skies.  Traditional Wildfire Season hasn’t even begun.  So much is new and unfamiliar.  What are we learning?  What are we seeing?  Do we have clear vision or is it obscured by the smoke?  What is really important and essential?  How long can we hold on?  How can we right size our businesses and our lives?  How can we right the many wrongs of our society?  How do we adjust to so many changes?

The human body has natural stress responses, yet those are intended to steer us away from immediate and short-term threats.  Long term stress can take a toll on our bodies.  How do we cope with the significant emotional, physical, financial and relational impacts?  Many find ourselves out of our comfort zones, irritable and short.  This is a vulnerable time for some of our least resilient people.  With much of these circumstances out of our control, what can we do?

The world is forcing us to pay attention to lingering problems more urgently than ever before.  Acknowledge.  Accept.  Adjust.  Be with the uncertainty of these times without resisting the truth of the circumstances.  Have compassion for ourselves and others.  Listen with our hearts to the words and feelings of others.  Be patient and understanding.  We don’t know what burdens others are carrying. Be flexible, yet be strong and responsible for ourselves and our loved ones.  Support one another.  Take it easy on ourselves and be kind to others.  Optimism is an attitude and a choice.  Stand for what is just and right for our community.    Find things that we can contribute to and work to improve.

At our September General Membership Meeting, 4th District Supervisor James Gore spoke about these circumstances and asked us to provide grace and support to one another.  He said now is the most important time for the Alliance and leaders to speak out to support the economy by providing the truth about what is going on for businesses today.

Dennis Harter, Alliance Transportation Committee Chair and current Chair of the Sonoma County Transportation Authority Citizens Advisory Committee asked for our support for Measure DD in November.  This 1/4 cent sales tax extension would become effective in 2025 and will continue to allow Sonoma County to be a self-help county to leverage Federal and State transportation dollars.

John Bly, Executive VP of the Engineering Contractors Association spoke of the many parks and projects that contractors have built in our community with their donated time and talents.  He said the 16 year return from being a self-help county generated $5 in federal and/or state funds for every $1 raised through our local sales tax.

The year 2020 is telling us that we must keep showing up to make the change we seek.  Each voice is critical to the future of our society.  Our participation is required.  Each vote is important.  A Healthy Economy is needed to support a Healthy Environment and a Healthy Community.  Make your voice heard.  Do what is meaningful to you.  Continue to show up day after day with persistent commitment, making things better over time.  We need one another.  What conversations can you have today to improve our experiences in 2020?

“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning”        –Maya Angelou