Living in our times is not for the light at heart!
As I sit down to write a monthly President’s message, I am struck by the magnitude of the issues our County faces on a daily basis. March opens its doors with our focus on homelessness, a housing crisis, a volatile stock market, the Corona Virus, February’s drought-like moisture readings, and elections.
Resiliency has become a very popular word over the last two years in our County. Its definition is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” I have never seen a community that recovers the way Sonoma County recovers. We have an amazingly talented community that is well connected amongst each other, with a good mix of creative thinkers and institutional knowledge. We have citizens with strong beliefs in community engagement and philanthropy. Most communities can only dream of the resources that we bring to the table. If we have to endure this roller coaster ride of crisis, there is no other group of citizens that I’d rather do it with!
This month Tom Schwedhelm, Mayor of Santa Rosa, and Jack Tibbetts, SR Councilman and E.D. of St. Vincent DePaul, shared progress updates on the homeless crisis. Jack brought perspective to the challenges with erecting the village at Los Guilicos and transferring those from the Joe Rodota Trail encampment to the facility. Tom shared with us a snapshot of City strategies and results in recent years addressing the homeless crisis with a Functional Zero homelessness goal. Both touched on challenges stemming from the increased homeless youth population and the District Court 9 rulings that expose our public lands to encampments until alternate housing can be found. A recent bight point was the City of Santa Rosa’s Council approval of the Caritas Project in downtown Santa Rosa. This project, with operations by both Catholic Charities and Burbank Housing, is set to include 46,587 square feet of homeless support service facilities and 126 units of permanent affordable rental housing units. The Sonoma County Alliance supports projects that address the homeless crisis in meaningful ways. The Alliance is also taking a more active role in vocalizing the rights of business owners, who are negatively affected by the increasing presence of unaddressed homelessness on their doorsteps.
The Corona Virus appears to be our next “crisis du jour”. The temporary shutdown of Keysight and the identification of a few local citizens exposed to the virus have been a wakeup call to all of us. Many businesses across the County are having the conversation about mitigating a quarantine condition. Between the fires, PGE blackouts, and the virus, business temporary shutdowns are beginning to be all too familiar. As an organization, we are looking at what role we can play as a resource to our members.
It is in times like these that our organization can be a helpful gathering point for our members to compare notes and share ideas as we each face these unusual challenges. Our organization was founded on the pursuit of collectively addressing common interests. We certainly have a few of those in front of us to navigate!