Returning recently from vacation, “home” took on a deeper meaning than ever before as I reflected about the many people who suffered the loss of their homes a year ago.  This year, in the light of the thousands who lost the comfort, assurance, and sense of belonging and well-being associated with having a home, I feel a heightened attachment to, not the house, but of everything around me that is Santa Rosa – Sonoma County and the close ties and support from neighbors and community. 

It’s been resonating with me since I got back. I think that sense of “home and belonging is innate in many of us, wherever we actually live. 

It’s clearly not about being home in a house but about belonging to something much bigger – it’s being part of the comfort of community. My coming home renewed my sense of our community and what a special place we live in. The events of last year, brought us together in ways we could not have planned. Offering support, being nice to one another, the synergy that started between us during and after the fires, has impacted the recovery and has helped to build confidence in our community – our sense of hope and belonging. 

The Alliance is is also a community. With a positive and realistic approach – the need to continue to work together, be inclusive of new ideas and focus to keep our people & families here is paramount. Of course, housing is and will be for some time, the key issue.

It’s encouraging to see the City and County working more closely together to find solutions to obstacles that have impeded affordable home building.

There is finally visible evidence of new housing starts and this landscape is changing rapidly. Construction activity accelerated during the summer and continues into fall.  Hundreds of homes are being built and hundreds more are still in various permit and pre-building stages.     

How do we maintain the incredible momentum that was made over this last year and keep that energy moving forward? How can we embrace the opportunities that are now before us to help fuel our economy and keep people here – home.

Looking to our elected officials and being an advocate for our community is a shared responsibility among all of us. We have many opportunities to be involved and an active participant in shaping where we live and the quality of our lives here.

I encourage you to jump in and cultivate others to join boards and commissions that impact policy making and decisions that shape our city and county. Share your thoughts and find a “voice” by sending Letters to the Editor in to our local newspapers and becoming involved with the many rebuild & recovery efforts. The key word is Belong.

The General Election, Tuesday, November 6 is the biggest opportunity before us where we can make a difference. Use your right to vote – look at key issues that the SCA has endorsed, such as YES on Measure N for more affordable housing and why the SCA has taken positions on State ballot initiatives: NO on propositions 6 and 10 because there is too much at stake that can impact all of us. A NO vote on rent control so new construction isn’t stifled.

 I encourage you to read the SCA endorsements on our website and in the Business Journal’s SCA insert. If you’re concerned or confused by what a measure or ballot initiative really means and how it can affect you, your business and organization, reach out to us. Our political action committee (SCAPAC) has put countless hours and much energy to provide insightful, informed endorsements. 

Sonoma County is our home and should be the home of the next generations to come. We could take pride in knowing we’ve been diligent, responsible and positive in rebuilding and recovering – to ensure a healthy economy, community and environment.

Our county is known for being a unique and special part of the world – it’s important that we retain that specialness and not let the disastrous fires define who we are.   

You belong here. Welcome home.

 

Kris Wilson, President, Sonoma County Alliance