A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.              Phyllis Diller

It has been almost a year since we’ve met face-to-face with our business associates and since the Alliance’s last breakfast meeting at the Santa Rosa Golf & Country Club.  What I miss the most is your smiles!  I look forward to our monthly General Membership Meetings so that I can see your smiling faces, at least on the Zoom screen, and hear your voices before the meeting starts.  This is a distant second to meeting in person.  This last year has made it clear to me that we don’t appreciate what we’ve got until it is gone!  I miss seeing your faces and the handshakes and hugs as well.  And I appreciate you coming to the Zoom meetings to hear important updates on what is going on in our community and for connecting with one another.

Today I also want to express my deep appreciation to each of you members of Sonoma County Alliance.  You follow your passions to become intimately involved in a variety issues that affect the quality of life for your employees and all residents of our community.  Collectively we have amazing knowledge, resources and assets in Alliance members who lead our community and stay abreast of trends and issues.

Each of our monthly General Membership meetings are educational, informed by the activities and expertise of our leadership and Committee members.  We aim to bring you a deeper dive into the background of current issues.  I appreciate that in the 40-minute presentations I am informed about many years’ worth of meetings and research by experts in each field.

Our February meeting featured another example of involved Alliance members who brought updates on forest management designed to mitigate the wildfire catastrophes we’ve experienced in past years. Lisa Micheli with Pepperwood Preserve showcased their collection of real-time data to aid firefighters before, during and after an event.  Pepperwood science advocates for creating defensible space and healthy forests with controlled burns, noting that healthy forests can sequester more carbon when they are well-managed.  An expert, and contributor to the SCA Environmental Committee, with a 40-year career in natural resource management and economics, Bob Ewing pointed out the need to reduce ignition sources.  This can be done through fuel treatment programs such as tree thinning, forest restoration, protection of beneficial species, and prescribed burns of ladder fuels.  Dee Swanhuyser, active participant in the Alliance Environmental Committee, stated that half of the parcels of land in Sonoma County are forested, with almost 90% of them in private ownership.  Sonoma County has begun a Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Planning process to find funding sources and resources to aid landowners in protecting their land.  In upcoming public meetings, information will be presented on the natural hazards and vulnerabilities in the County, including public input to inform risk reduction strategies.  The first meeting is February 25, 2021 03:30 PM – 5:00 PM Pacific Time (US)   Please register in advance for this meeting at https://sonomacounty.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_4qsfJ-N3Q1qZVeT0yfSwfQ

The focus of our 2021 Annual Plan is meeting the needs of our members.  As a leading community collaborative, Sonoma County Alliance participates in local decision-making because we believe a strong business economy is the foundation of a healthy environment and community.  We want to keep you informed about current events in Sonoma County.  If there are topics you feel the Alliance should follow, please contact Executive Director Brian Ling to make sure we are aware of your concerns.

Thank you each for your participation in the Sonoma County Alliance and for the work you do for our community.  It is important and appreciated!

What are you grateful for today?

Marlene Soiland, 2021 President


Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.     Voltaire