Monday, January 28, 2013


What does "Community" mean to you?

On Thursday, January 31, we have a chance to express our views to the City Council through the Community Identity Meeting sponsored by the Sebastopol Planning Commission.

6:00 – 7:30 p.m., Veterans Building, 282 S. High St.

Sebastopol is known for its unique town culture.

For instance, our motto: Local flavor, Global Vision

Our designation as a "Slow City" by the Cittaslow international network of 160 small towns around the globe that priortize:
-       Supporting locally made products and agriculture
-       Celebrating our culture and history
-       Sharing the joys of our community with visitors and amongst ourselves
-       Integrating technologies for improved well being
-       Promoting the health of our environment
-       Developing community-friendly infrastructure

This community meeting is one of 8 that are designed as a "Prelude to the General Plan Update."

Every city is required to have a General Plan, and Sebastopol's is due to be updated in 2014. The General Plan is essentially the City's vision for the next 20 years, with suggested policies to help lead us there. 

To prepare for that update process, the Planning Commission is holding community input meetings. It's working with SSU Environmental Studies & Urban Planning students to gather information about what the community priorities are. What is our vision? These will ultimately be used for a Community Workshop on February 23 and a General Policy Report to the City Council on April 23 (Save the dates!)

The format of the Community Identity Meeting 1/31 is that of a brainstorming session. As with the prior meetings on other topics, all ideas are welcome. We sit in a circle and pass a talking stick. Everyone gets 30 seconds to express one idea, then they pass the stick. The ideas are written on papers on the wall.

The goal is to get as many unique ideas or issues listed as possible. "Unique" does not mean the ideas have to be exotic.  In this case, it means "non-duplicative." Typically 40-60 ideas are expressed. When done, everyone gets 3 dots to vote for their top 3 ideas.

In this way, the City gets the benefit of the many creative thinkers in our town. The meetings have been well-attended by people from both sides of the aisle. The energy has been positive and respectful.

And interestingly enough, we have been finding that there is more common ground that we might think. I have received several comments and emails noting that this has been a very healing process post-election.

Let's carry that energy forward!

What's your vision for Sebastopol?

How do we want our children to describe the town's personality 20 years from now?

How will that be expressed
-       architecturally?
-       by the businesses in town?
-       by our use of available land?
-       by the services we provide and the populations we support?

Whatever your vision, come to the Community Identity Meeting on Thursday, January 31 and let your voice be heard!

Guest blog by Tasha Beauchamp, Co-Chair Cittaslow Sebastopol

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