This August marks my 20-year Cali-versary, a term dubbed by another transplant to this golden state. The exact date is lost to the analog existence I was living in 2003—no cell phone, nothing to post—buried in some journal entry somewhere. What I will never forget is driving long stretches of highway 80, in a Volvo with no AC and rotating mixed tapes, unsure about pretty much everything in my life except that I definitely wanted to write and probably teach and someday become a mama.
Check, check, and check. But the icing, what keeps it all together, is the loving and vibrant community I’ve found and cultivated here in Sonoma County. The layers of lives I’ve built, the friends who’ve become family.
So it’s with a heavy, conflicted heart when I find myself wondering if I’ll be able to afford to stick around. (The adjunct teacher-freelancer-single mom routine.) Don’t get me wrong, I love it; I’d also love to participate in this country’s most dominant form of securing wealth for my kids. More and more friends, mostly renters, are raising the same questions. We are among the 57% of Sonoma County renters who spend more than 30% of our income on housing, a statistic provided by the advocacy group Generation Housing. Their recent, comprehensive State of Housing and Making the Rent reports are a wellspring of data on all things related to our homes, from the structures themselves to “the human price of the housing cost burden.”
Read my exploration of Gen H’s efforts and how car culture can be a major roadblock (sorry) to building more workforce housing in the Make feature. In our back to school issue, Evan Wiig’s Eat feature covers the burgeoning farm-to-school efforts that have students eating fresh food grown a few miles away instead of packaged in factories. Our Hope in the Spotlight is devoted to Community Matters, an organization working to make schools safer both in our community and internationally, and Sheila Shupe’s Locavore column brings you the skinny on how to make gut-friendly onion dip for healthier after-school snacking. The End Bit is a peek into the mind and heart of Alegria de la Cruz, Santa Rosa School Board member and director of the Sonoma County Office of Equity.
Here’s to the promise of a new school year, to taking chances, to living somewhere long enough to see familiar faces all over. Who knows, maybe you’re celebrating a Cali-versary too?
Jess D. Taylor editor