My story about the second Leadership Santa Rosa program day, Government and Politics, truly began several months ago at the Class XXXII retreat where several of my classmates and I had a discussion about the reunification of Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, an important and contentious project which has been in the works for many years. That spirited discussion inspired me to complete our homework assignment by attending the City Council meeting in September where the City Council decided to move ahead with funding the project, and that meeting became a tipping point for me to speak out in support of the City Council’s decision by writing a letter to the local newspaper, the Press Democrat.
And so, with my freshly inspired spirit for civic engagement, I entered the City Council chambers again in October to learn all about government, policy, and politics during our program day.
The topic of Class XXXII’s first Leadership Santa Rosa program day was Agriculture. After our fascinating pretour of a mushroom farm in Sebastopol, I was excited to see what the day would bring, but not so excited about starting at 6am. Ugh! I can’t complain too much though, since our first stop was the Bucher Dairy, a 2nd generation family-owned organic dairy farm on 360 acres near Healdsburg, where they are up every day at 1am to start milking the cows. Yikes! They have 700 dairy cows producing milk for Clover Storneta, and in recent years planted a 40 acre vineyard to support their own wine label, Bucher. I learned a lot about how the farm operates and how they have integrated new technology over time to increase efficiency, including creating their own “plate cooler” that works like a heat exchanger to passively cool the milk with stored water.
Our next stop was Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm for a panel discussion with Tony Linegar, the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner, Karissa Kruse, the President of the Sonoma County Wingrowers, and Doug Beretta from Beretta Family Organic Dairy.
I recently began my two-year participation in Leadership Santa Rosa, an “educational program intended to develop and equip effective community leaders via exposure to pertinent issues, broad thinkers and the richness of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County.” The program was created by the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce and as a part of Class XXXII, I hope to join the distinguished group of community leaders who have graduated from the program over the years, including TLCD Architecture’s own Don Tomasi (Class VIII) and Jason Brabo (Class XXIV). Through a series of full-day educational and interactive seminars, I will learn directly from experienced leaders about various aspects of our community including challenges we face and opportunities for our future.
The topic for our first program day was “Agriculture” and our first official activity was a tour of Gourmet Mushrooms, a mushroom farm off of Gravenstein Highway north of Sebastopol. Justin Reyes, the Manager for Sales and Marketing, led us on a tour through the facility where they grow seven varieties of gourmet mushrooms that are sold under the Mycopia brand at groceries throughout the United States, including our local Safeway, Raley’s, and Whole Foods. The mushrooms are grown in bottles packed with a special wood based substrate that is first “seeded” with mycelium, then incubated for several months, and finally moved to harvest rooms where the mushrooms grow. Their mushrooms have been certified organic and their operations are highly sustainable, including using very little water and producing very little waste. All of their used wood substrate is sold to local farms for compost and the approximately 1 million bottles in circulation at the facility are continuously reused.
The tour was incredibly fascinating and I learned a lot more than I ever thought I would while wearing a hairnet. I can’t wait to see what other experiences this journey will bring and I promise to keep sharing them with you! For now, I’ll leave you with a few fun facts about mushrooms:
- The largest living organism on Earth is a mushroom in Oregon that is over 2,000 acres and can be seen from space.
- Fungi are their own kingdom, but they are closer to animals than plants.
- Nearly all plants have a symbiotic relationship with a partner fungi.
Stay tuned for more in my Leadership Santa Rosa Series – there are a lot more adventures to come!
To learn more about the farm Gourmet Mushrooms, Inc. watch this video.
A small but important TLCD Architecture project was featured in an article, ‘County Overhauling Mental Health Services for Those in Crisis’ in today’s Press Democrat. The Sonoma County Crisis Stabilization Unit is a new facility that will replace the existing, outdated facility currently housed in the old Sonoma County (recently Sutter) Community Hospital complex on Chanate Road.
The Crisis Stabilization Unit will expand and improve the County’s emergency mental health services which treat 4500 clients each year. This new, larger facility located at The Lakes business park in west Santa Rosa will be more accessible to the clients they serve and visible to the community. In addition to providing services to adults, it will also provide much needed services to adolescents who are currently among the most underserved in the North Bay mental health care community. Project Manager Jason Brabo, Project Architect Carl Servais, Project Captain Julie Wycoff and Interior Designer Domenica Sheets are the project team.
The 15,000 sf unit is a Tenant Improvement in an existing business park and has been designed to meet the specific needs of the clients and staff. It will serve those who come in on a voluntary basis as well as those who arrive involuntarily or by law enforcement and will provide a calm, clean and welcoming place for them to access treatment.
The Crisis Stabilization Unit is the second mental health services project TLCD has worked on – the first being the recently completed 95-bed Aurora Santa Rosa Hospital, mentioned in the article.
Mental health facilities present a wide range of design challenges and requirements. Clients need a safe and secure place in which to be treated where they cannot harm themselves or others, and the built environment should support that. Staff also need to be able to observe and monitor clients at all times. The finishes play a large role in creating a warm and welcoming environment while also being durable. The right finishes and color palette can help create a hospitality feel rather than an “institutional” feel. Natural lighting is used as much as possible because evidence has shown that natural light helps balance moods and aids the healing and recovery process. As Stephen Parsons, client case manager at the facility noted in the article, “It will be the kind of place where people who walk in will feel welcome.”
TLCD’s design team has worked closely with the Crisis Stabilization Unit care providers to create a space that will greatly improve emergency mental health care for Sonoma County residents. The work is interesting, complex and challenging. It is also very satisfying to know that the work we do will help improve care for some of the most vulnerable people in our community.
You don’t often go out on a Saturday morning in January and think to yourself, “Did I need to put sunscreen on this morning?” But that’s what I found myself doing a couple Saturday’s ago with a crew of folks from the AIA Redwood Empire, including four from TLCD Architecture; Nick Diggins, Peter Levelle, Ron Starkey (Marina‘s husband), and myself. We spent the better part of that Saturday working on the second of five houses to be built at the Woodland Hills project in Cotati for Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County. We were split into two groups, one crew building a wood fence and the other crew placing sand and pavers for the driveway. I think I speak for the whole group when I say we put in a lot of hard work, and we also had a lot of fun that day. It’s very rewarding at the end of the day to see the fruits of your labor in something as beautiful as a rustic driveway of pavers, or a fresh wood fence. It’s even more rewarding to know that your labor has helped provide a home for a deserving family in your community.