Saturday, April 9, 2016

Old Courthouse Square Civic Engagement, Last Round


A couple of months ago, those planning the reunification of Santa Rosa's Old Courthouse Square revealed their plans.  Most complaints focused on the removal of some redwood trees and the addition of parking spaces.

This week, another design was revealed, and the planners are again asking for comments.  Though no public meetings are being held before it is voted on at the City Council, you do have an opportunity to send in comments and questions which will be forwarded to the Council.  Here is some information on that.

Revisions to the Master Plan for the Reunification of Courthouse Square
The Master Plan showing the design features to be built into the Reunified Courthouse Square is being revised.  The design team of Carlile-Macy, has been busy making refinements to the design of the interior improvements for the Square. Revisions to the Master Plan are being proposed for Council approval.  The proposed changes are minor in nature, and generally relate to changes in placement of various features.  Changes to the Master Plan include:
  • The new site of the Asawa Fountain will be in the south end of the Square near Third Street and the public art space area will be in the north end of the Square.
  • The shade trees have been better distributed and relocated to accommodate various design features, and will be planted in a staggered alignment throughout the tree areas.
  • The location of the accessible parking space on Hinton Avenue has been placed closer to Third Street. The accessible parking space on Exchange Avenue has not moved.
  • Information kiosks that will also function as small storage buildings have been added at the south end of the Square.
  • Locations have been identified for the various commemorative plaques and time capsules currently in the Square.
  • The plaza paving has been revised to allow use of colored concrete.
Comment on the Revisions – We want Santa Rosa residents to view themselves as part of the team helping to reshape Courthouse Square.  The Square is the heart of our City and as such, you are part of this endeavor.  We want to know what you think about the proposed revisions to the Master Plan for the Courthouse Square Reunification Project.  Please click a button below to submit a comment or a question by Friday, April 15, 2016.  You may also submit comments and questions by calling Carlene Okiyama, Senior Administrative Assistant at (707) 543-4284.

City Council Meeting on April 19, 2016 – At the City Council Meeting on April 19, we will present your comments to the Council, along with the proposed revisions to the Master Plan, for their approval.  The Master Plan changes and any other direction given by the Council will be incorporated into the construction contract.  The construction contract is also proposed to be awarded by the Council at this meeting.
Construction Activity Schedule – The City opened bids for the construction of the Courthouse Square Reunification Project on March 30.  The bid results are available online.  Construction activity is expected to commence in late-May and be completed by mid-November.  You can track the progress of the project and subscribe for email updates at

Here are my comments:

Response to the Revised Courthouse Square Master Plan
Thanks for the chance to ask questions by Friday, April 17th on the changes to the Old Courthouse Square Master Plan.  I brought out my copy of the Master Plan distributed last week at the CAB Board meeting, and compared it to your new version.

Here are the changes I see:
·      18 fewer trees, with a huge shift from flowering accent to deciduous shade trees.  The previous version had 117 new trees, with 53 flowering accent trees, and 64 deciduous shade trees.  The new version has 12 flowering accent trees, and 77 deciduous shade trees.  Looks like you chose to lose the color.
·      102 fewer bike parking spaces.  The previous version had 120 spaces, the new version has 18. 
·      The elimination of all moveable furniture (16 pieces).
·      The elimination of four picnic benches.
·      The addition of hydration stations in the map key, but I can’t find any on the map.
·      Though there seems to be a designated area for children, it’s located amidst a cluster of trees, and the circular surface designation has been removed.
·      The four large trees with circular benches in the center of the Square have been reduced to small trees with circular benches, with indications that this is a future addition.
·      Moving the color-changing LED lights from the middle of the square to the ends of the pedestrian and vehicle passageways, tripling the number of them, and indicating this is a future addition.
·      As you did indicate, the northern and southern fountain and art space have been swapped.  And the handicapped parking space has been moved from in front of the existing restaurant, and placed in a distant isolated corner space.
·      You also indicate changes to the ground surfaces, most of which seem to be various types of concrete. 
How do you think these changes make the square a more inviting and pleasing environment?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Cost of Service


Those of us whose time and resources are consumed by nonprofit work are driven by doing good and serving others.  It's our religion, causes some grief, and often great sacrifice.  We like to believe that there will always be followers, who will take our place as we did for others.  But I'm worried about that assumption.
Volunteerism and community service have drawn from the ranks of those with reserve time.   Parents used their reserves to provide an enormous wave of service to their communities in the late 19th and twentieth centuries, supporting causes which benefitted their families and the future of their children.  Today, the reserve time of parents is disappearing.  Grandparents used their accumulated reserve to give back to their communities, but now find they have less available than they thought they'd have.

But an even greater threat to the nonprofit world has begun to concern me.  Beyond volunteers, we are running out of those who will work for pay within our organizations.  The conditions of the work, and the careers we offer, are not sufficient to attract and retain motivated young people.  And we are approaching the point where our excellent nonprofit managers, whose long-time dedication deserves far more than we've given them, are reaching burnout.  They are examining their ability to continue holding together our dreams, and are considering putting their own needs first for once.

That should frighten all of us into action.  We should see that change as unraveling the fabric of what holds us together.  We should re-examine the sources and levels of revenue for these organizations, and institute a new commitment which recognizes their real value.  We can't afford not to, and we don't have much time.  Every day, we're losing the best of the generation who responded to President Kennedy's call to "Ask not what your nation can do for you, ask what you can do for your nation".



Friday, June 13, 2014

Internet Conscious


On Google +, I've created 61 blogs, 34 communities, 8 pages, 153 videos, 55 maps, and 38,171 photos.  They support my volunteer activities in community nonprofits here in Sonoma County, and tell the stories of heroic work done by my friends.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Where's Your Charity? Put Your Mouth Where Your Money Is!


Now that most of us have filed or tax returns, and revealed to the feds who our favorite charities are, I think it's time to tell each other.  Here's mine:

Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods
Coastwalk California
Sonoma Coast Surfriders
Windham Historical Society
Point Loma High School Alumni Association
Roseland University Prep

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Time, Content, and Place Management on the Internet


My efforts to help my young and old friends learn more about the tools available n the Internet to better organize their lives has led me to think about producing some Google Hangouts on Air which show how I use them.  I'll also invite some of those I know have found them useful to explain how it works for them.

Time, content, and place management tools seem to be blending together in application packages which make it easier to keep track of what you and others who work with you are doing.  Those skills are essential for young people to learn if they are to make their way through an increasingly complex future, clouded with online activities and real world demands.

Hopefully, I'll be able to channel the results of my thinking through Sonoma State's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and Santa Rosa Together's work with our young residents.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Santa Rosa Civic/Community Engagement


Looking for opportunities to engage your skills and talents in the City of Santa Rosa?  Look no further. Santa Rosa Together is a group of residents who are working to improve those opportunities, and they've established a web blog and some pages which will be used to keep track of their work.

Check it out at: Santa Rosa Together

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Art that did Good


I want to tell you all about an exhibit that I'm working to develop with the Sonoma County Museum.  My inspiration for it came from a longing to recognize the contribution that a group of teenagers and their mentors at Evolution Art Institute made many years ago when a summer of energy resulted in dozens of struggling nonprofits receiving silk-screened t-shirts which promoted their causes.  It was a small part of a public employment program called CETA, and quite a few of the students pursued careers as artists.  For years, I wore the t-shirt that was made for the agency I ran in Cotati (KAIROS), and I would often see the t-shirts made for the other agencies.  In the history of social activism in Sonoma County, I thought this artistic effort deserved recognition.

But there is no history of the contributions by Sonoma County artists to social activism.  Earlier this year, I mentioned to a fellow board member my interest in getting old colleagues to see if we could dig those t-shirts out of the bottom of their dressers.  I imagined a clothes line full of organizational t-shirts promoting social activism.    My friend mentioned it to the Museum Director, and he contacted me.  It seems that he was also thinking of an exhibit celebrating the history of art in social activism.

Let's set some ground rules.  Artists in Sonoma County have long supported social activism by donating their work to raise operating money at fundraisers.  There's too many of those to include in the exhibit.  How about we narrow the entries to "artistry which motivated us to engage in works of social good"?  I want all of you to think back over Sonoma County's recent history (let's say 50 years), and come up with examples for the exhibit.  Contact me at or call t 546-5771 if you have ideas for me to pursue.

Gregory Fearon