The quaint Kenyon villages never saw it coming. Days were sunny and warm and each evening brought a pleasant marine layer to dust the crops with all the moisture they’d need as the harvest grew near. Perhaps radar could have spotted the approach of the millions upon millions of tiny attack “aircraft,” but no defenses on earth could’ve delayed their arrival that morning. It’s one thing for a rancher to lie in wait for the return of a coyote or mountain lion stalking his cattle; it’s a wholly different battle for a farmer to protect his or her crops from locusts. They arrive without warning and don’t flee until their appetites are sated. The locust is a one-ounce terrorist with a single mission: eat or die.
Locusts have been around since ancient times, yet we’re beginning to understand how to battle them. In August, the BBC reported that scientists have discovered the chemical pheromone that causes locusts to swarm. Their perfume-like scent attracts other locusts, causing a loop, which results in colossal invasions. Scientists hope this discovery will help them genetically engineer insects without scent receptors, or use the pheromone to attract and trap these pests.
With all we’ve been handling in the North Bay this year, I sure as hell hope the locusts don’t swarm the North Bay. Yet, who would’ve anticipated hundreds of lightning strikes singeing thousands of acres of dried leaves and trees, along our coastlines and mountain ranges? Who would’ve have anticipated this after all the flooding and water damage to homes and businesses that soaked our earth just two seasons ago?
Perhaps our better, more optimistic selves prevent us from anticipating the doom and gloom caused by fires, floods, and now the coronavirus pandemic. We accept inadequate watersheds, fail to budget for healthier forestry, and no local, regional or federal agency ever built the necessary stockpiles of personal protective equipment to battle a virus like COVID-19.
But you know what else many of us, myself included, never anticipated? The amazing resilience and strength within our communities to overcome each calamity. Since 2017 we’ve managed to fight back every disaster, and creatively solve every problem we’ve faced in recent years.
We’ll weather these recent fires, viral outbreaks, as well as the political and social battles. When you act to protect your family and yourself, as well as your community, I hope you’ll look for solutions that cause the least damage to those around you. We always succeed best when we succeed together.
Santa Rosa’s makeshift mecca
Restauranteurs along Fourth Street in Santa Rosa have created a makeshift, outdoor-centric dining and retail environment for patrons. Clothiers and boutique shops roll out their wares each morning. Restaurants have constructed dining areas upon the asphalt that were originally designed for SUVs, pick-up trucks and German sedans to drive along. Plywood and two-by-four sheets of untreated wood have been erected to differentiate walking areas from table space. EZ-up tents emblazoned with antiquated logos shield diners from the sun’s rays. Orange barricades filled with water are placed strategically at various entrances of this newly-constructed, pedestrian only space. Yet, the messages are hardly welcoming: “No Parking,” “Stay Clear” and my favorite, “Road Closed!”
But oddly enough, this makeshift mecca for diners and shoppers is working! My trusted workmate, Cyndy Dorn, reached out to many of these downtown proprietors and her sense is that with some fine tuning, our city should consider extending the October 15 end date and see how we can further improve upon it to draw more patrons downtown to support local businesses.
Her first suggestion? Create signage for the various entries that welcome pedestrians, rather than just shoo away motorists. The signs could also direct them just as Disneyland directs its guests to each unique amusement. Additionally, why not improve and brighten the dining areas? Adding true outdoor lighting that strings along Fourth Street as a warm blanket of decorative light, is sure to draw more guests to downtown Santa Rosa. Let’s take this space that was intended to be a temporary solution and make it permanent.
Though 2020 remains a challenging year, we’re strong, resilient and creative. Let’s reimagine our region’s largest downtown to set an example for others.
We’ll need your help to do so; write me at Lawrence@Northbaybiz.com