July 2019 BoD Meeting Minutes
Glen Ellen Forum Board of Directors Meeting
July 18, 2019 at Mayflower Hall; submitted by Jim Shere, secretary
Present were Melissa Dowling (Board President), Jim Shere (Board Secretary), Nick Brown (Chair, Steering Committee), Shannon Lee, Nancy Padian, Bettina Sechel (Board Member), Larry Davis (Community Member), Margie Foster (Board Treasurer), Rob Schermeister (Board Member), Marilyn Lewis (Glen Ellen Community Church), Alice Horowitz (SDC/Eldridge Committee member), and Angela Morgan (Board Vice President). Excused absentees were Tracy Salcedo, Poppy Darby (Secretary, Steering Committee), Laura Schermeister (Chair, Commerce and Tourism Committee), BJ Blanchard (Member, Projects Committee) and Jody Ketcham.
Melissa reported on the accomplishments of the past quarter by the various committees, including the following:
The shed project has awarded 33 sheds. The post office parking lot beautification project is underway, with a new kiosk to be completed soon; the old kiosk will then serve perhaps as a community bulletin board. There are now books in the community lending library nearby that are available for exchanges. A fire warning sign has been placed. The Earth Day cleanup was effective, and a team painted out the graffiti under the bridge.
The Commerce and Tourism Committee has distributed the new map brochure, which has been well received and seen in use by tourists; it will be discussed in more detail later. The Eldridge Visioning Session held at Hanna Boys Center Saturday morning, June 15th, was attended by about 200 people and was successful with very good feedback.
Nick reported on the three monthly Forum meetings listing the presenters, which included: representatives from the Jack London Yacht Club, the CEPAC project, Steve Lee from the Sonoma Ecology Center, representatives from Sustainable Sonoma, Stephen Sorkin, and committee heads presenting on their activities. The change of venue to the vacant restaurant next to the Jack London Saloon was noted as a pleasant though temporary location for the Forum; we will be returning to Dunbar School when it resumes in the fall. Attendance has been 50 to 60 people and Nick said he is especially proud of the community and pleased with the decorum of each meeting.
It was agreed that Melissa would speak for the board in reporting to Stephen Sorkin’s planner that his presentation was well received. The minutes of the previous board meeting had been sent out for review; Melissa moved and Angela seconded that they be approved with no corrections, and they were.
Before Margie made her treasurer’s report, Melissa noted that she had put rough numbers she found interesting into the Agenda (see attached), and Margie said they were approximately correct. Margie introduced and described the Quarterly Financial Summary for the quarter since April that is attached to these minutes. The formation of a Fund Raising Committee, and ways of encouraging donations during Forum events were discussed, including uses of sandwich boards and banners at Forum events. An annual fundraising campaign was suggested; a signup sheet will be made available at the next monthly meeting of the Forum for those willing to be on the Fund Raising Committee to pursue these suggestions. If the Forum wants to have a booth at the Glen Ellen Fair, an application will need to be submitted soon. Nick was asked to announce this also at the next monthly meeting of the Forum, and to provide a signup sheet for those willing to staff the booth.
Margie introduced the financial reports (attached), showing a current balance $10,400 in the bank, running an average of between $6,000 to $7,000 in general funds, some of which is still allocated.
Donations to the Forum through purchases using an eScrip card at the Glen Ellen Village Market was discussed at length. We have received $11 in donations so far, which is far less than we would expect from current purchases. It is understood that 1% of sales under $600 per month at the market would be donated to the Forum, and sales over $600 per month would result in a 3% donation. Melissa will research this problem; she asked people to estimate their eScrip usage and report their findings to her.
Margie reported on the $5,000 we received from the RiseUp grant titled “Together We Can” from Rebuild North Bay. This enabled the purchase of the remaining sheds needed for distribution and landscaping needs of local fire victims. She is now researching local nurseries for sourcing $3,200 worth of landscaping materials. Margie has contacted several nurseries including Urban Tree Farm, where 15-gallon trees are $65 and 5-gallon shrubs are from $18 to $25. Margie is also reaching out to Paul Martinez of Sonoma Valley Wholesale for quotes. Nancy will contact the Sonoma Ecology Center to see if they can be a source for landscaping. Angela will also help Margie in this project.
Melissa introduced a new attractive, wooden donation box, built by Paul Goguen. Margie announced she has filed all our taxes in a timely manner.
There will be no reporting requirements for grants given out by the Jack London Yacht Club, which will be announced at the end of August.
Nick spoke about upcoming speakers at the monthly public meetings, which will include Marty Winter and D’mitra Smith (vice-chair of Sonoma County Commission in Human Rights); Shannon will provide a synopsis of her survey, Jillian Beall (principal at Dunbar School) and Jason Mills (Fuel Management specialist from Sonoma Ecology Center) were also listed as future speakers. Rob suggested that a speaker about local wineries could appear; it was also suggested that people who run sheep and cattle for fuel management on properties vulnerable to wildfires be invited to speak. Nick concluded with appreciative remarks about the friendly and attentive nature of recent Forum meetings.
Jody Ketcham of the Projects Committee is beginning to develop historic signage for various significant places in Glen Ellen. This involves an inventory of locations, developing a design, gathering cost estimates, and soliciting historians to provide 50-75 words for each sign. They will appear on the future version of the map being designed. It was decided to have text only on the signs, and not include QR codes. Town signs will be decided upon after funding is secured, perhaps spearheaded by Jim Burch, whose company makes such signs.
Public water fountains were discussed, or perhaps water bottle filling stations, but there is as yet not any feasibility study on this project. The post office parking lot beautification project, funded by the Sonoma County tourism impact funds, has placed one trash can there, and another is to be placed there in the near future. An organization called Becoming Independent has been contracted to empty the trash cans weekly, funded for six months by the grant.
Christmas lights on the Jim Berkland Bridge has cost $9,000 the past two years; they were paid for by PG&E in the past, but will not this year. The Projects Committee is in discussion with the Visitors Bureau regarding this project. Paul Goguen has now joined the Projects Committee.
Nick of the Traffic & Safety Committee reported two possible additional members, Bill Olsen and Chuck Gillet.
Rob of the Commerce & Tourism Committee reported on the maps featuring Glen Ellen businesses that have been distributed and have proved successful. The second printing will incorporate corrections and changes and will be subsidized by McCormick’s Mercantile. The passport project, involving a booklet advertising local businesses for distribution at no cost to the Forum, is moving along well. Like all other committee meetings, the Commerce & Tourism Committee meetings are open to the public; the next meeting is Wednesday 24th at Schermeister tasting room at 5:30 pm. From 12 to 20 business owners attend; Karen and Chris Kennedy of the Glen Ellen Inn have joined, and have donated $70 to the Forum.
Alice reported on the SDC/Eldridge Committee, filling us in on the current situation since the general meeting at Hanna Boys Center on June 15th. Nothing further can happen now until the end of August, when the county will have hired one of three competing consulting companies that have submitted proposals for the Specific Plan, as was described in a recent article in the Press Democrat (at https:// www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9800829-181/sonoma-county-moves-stepclosure). Milan Nevajda (see https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/PRMD/Newsletter/March-2019/), as Deputy Director for the Planning Division of Permit Sonoma, will coordinate the county input process regarding the future of Eldridge. Affordable housing was discussed as a potential part of the Specific Plan for Eldridge, as promoted by Sustainable Sonoma, a local organization; their website is at https://www.sustainablesonoma.net. The Land Art Generator Initiative, which promotes an international competition for esthetic renewable energy installations (see https://landartgenerator.org) has selected Eldridge as a location for their next competition with the county’s support, pending state approval. Alice also announced that the Community Foundation of Sonoma County has awarded a $700,000 grant to the Sonoma Land Trust for preserving the open space at Eldridge. Melissa announced a two-hour walk the Grandmother Tree at Eldridge, at 9:00 am the following Tuesday morning. It was suggested that this become an annual or weekly pilgrimage.
Melissa, Poppy Darby, and Leslie Vaughn had met informally to discuss reconvening the Engagement Committee as an event planning committee. In the past, this committee had provided community meals and small living room gatherings. Four future events were suggested. One is a family fun day at Moran Goodman Park in an outreach to families, including the Hispanic community; Emily Robledo is taking the lead on this. (This event has since been changed to Morton’s Warm Springs, and will be held on September 29th.) Somewhere around Thanksgiving, a community meal is suggested at the Valley of the Moon Winery, the Kenwood School, or the Kenwood Depot, perhaps in combination with the Kenwood Rotary. (It’s a little known fact that Kenwood falls within the Glen Ellen Township.) A Winter Gala was suggested as a high-end fundraising event with a lottery for reduced price tickets, featuring entertainment such as aerialists and belly dancers. An Artists and Writers (and perhaps Music) Festival were also discussed, with booths for Glen Ellen artists and authors to reach out to the public in a grand weekend, perhaps at the Jack London Village. The Engagement Committee has not yet formally formed and there is no chair, but these suggestions will be informally pursued as that committee evolves.
The Communications Committee is evolving, and several ways of getting information were outlined. Future events such as meetings are announced on our website (as facilitated by Melissa) at https://glenellen.org, and Shannon’s work managing our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=glen%20ellen%20forum%20%20glen%20ellen%20ca&epa=SEARCH_BOX is also an important source of information. At least once a month a newsletter is sent out to the email list, with links to relevant events on the website. There is also a link to subscribe to an RSS feed ( ) on the website at the bottom of the calendar at https://glenellen.org/forum-calendar that will keep people informed. Having a Facebook account and following the Glen Ellen Forum will automatically send a notification of new events by email. It is emphasized that the committee chairs
should send any information they want publicly announced to firstname.lastname@example.org. Nancy and Rob volunteered to serve on the Fund Raising Committee. Melissa will calendar a brainstorming session with them in preparation for the formation of that committee.
Jim spoke about the report he had sent out regarding the naming of the Jim Berkland Bridge, which is attached. The county is willing to place signage on the bridge at the cost of $2,196.94. This will include supplies and labor, while the original signs designed by Archie Horton will be used. It is not certain that the county will also charge us for signage upon entering Glen Ellen in the future. Sources for funding will be discussed by the Glen Ellen Historical Society at their next board meeting July 19.
Melissa and Shannon have discussed rewriting a section of the Manual of Policies & Procedures to clarify the structure of the Forum monthly meetings. In particular, this should specify updates from committees, followed by speakers, followed by public question and comment. It was moved and seconded that a revision of the Manual will clarify the language describing a standard agenda that will separate the official business of the Forum from vetted speakers and public input; the motion passed.
Shannon presented the attached survey that had been distributed and collected at the past three monthly meetings of the Forum, which provided interesting and useful demographics regarding those attending. Discussion included significant changes in the community and the need for outreach to underrepresented groups. There is a deadline in October for submissions to the Impact 100 Community Grant for 2020, so we must begin thinking about our application. It’s a highly competitive grant of $5,000 to $20,000. Landscaping to replace wildfire damage was suggested as a reasonable purpose, but other purposes should be explored soon. Larry presented the attached outline of a course he has designed to help educate members of the community in how to effectively participate in future development at Eldridge and in Glen Ellen. His focus is upon teaching how to analyze the arcane elements of the planning process and how it is traditionally framed, so that an informed public may exert real influence rather than be guided into decisions made by professionals.
He explained that the County lacks the funds to do a county-wide General Plan at this time and so it is being postponed for eighteen months, although it is already eight years out of compliance with state law. The State has funded 3.5 or 4.5 million dollars to the County, to do a General Plan of sorts called a Specific Plan for SDC, but the Specific Plan is supposed to follow the General Plan. The Specific Plan will drive the General Plan instead, which Milan Nevajda (Deputy Director for the Planning Division of Permit Sonoma) says is tricky but can be done.
His course is intended to help perhaps twenty-five people understand the nature of planning in time to take an effective part in what is about to take place, teaching twelve people at a time in twelve sessions of two hours each, perhaps three times a week. Larry emphasizes the course assumes self-directed learners willing to invest $15 for the books and an hour at least of preparation each week. About a dozen people have already shown interest in taking the course.
Larry plans to produce the material for his course, and provide the facilitation and the place; he asks the Forum to promote his course. The board is interested in doing this, but it was suggested that describing the course as an exhaustive program may dissuade potential attendance and that an open-ended first meeting to introduce the subject may be more effective.