Who doesn’t love a good map? In this hyper-digital era, old-fashioned paper maps hold the promise of true adventure and explorations of places otherwise missed with the quick scroll of a screen. Take the West Sonoma County Field Guide, a project born of Sebastopol native Lowell Sheldon’s desire to catalog—mainly for visiting friends—his favorite eating, drinking, and hiking spots in West Sonoma County. One year later, the map grew in scope, morphing into a team effort, with illustrations by local designer Tami Lovett, input from other businesses, and a 40k print run. What started as a promotion of Sheldon’s two restaurants, Lowell’s and Handline (with partner Natalie Goble) became a community minded effort that includes other businesses with a like-minded ethos of local sourcing, sustainability, seasonality, and organic ingredients.
“West Sonoma County is a unique gem,” says Elizabeth Gorrell, a manager at Lowell’s and map team member. “Perfect weather and geographic features support an abundant artisan food, wine, and cannabis scene. The culture here supports the innovation and initiative of small, family-owned producers who are passionate about what they do.”
Gorrell places emphasis on the project’s spirit of collaboration. Readers can share photos of West Sonoma County Field Guide-inspired adventures on Instagram by tagging @wsc_fieldguide. An interactive website is also in the works, where people can participate by posting their own notes about West County explorations. The free, full-color guide is now available at all of the featured businesses, including Estero Cafe, Ramen Gaijin, Osmosis Spa, and Handline, along with hotels and other select establishments in West County.