July 4, 2017

The parade had already started when the screen door rolled up and I slowly pull my truck out of the garage on First Street East. I roll past the line of red, white, and blue clad celebrants like a slow moving death mobile from the movie Animal House. I have converted my truck into a small island, a 5-foot by 10-foot replica of Molokai, and as I reach the plaza the theatre begins to develop.

First to join is mayor Rachel Hundley who has endured a shocking barrage of negativity since winning her seat on the city council. Her decisions, her age, her gender, her politics, her leadership all have been publicly attacked by various trolls within the community. As a smart, outspoken, independent, and nasty woman we should be cheering her efforts not dissing them.

Hate is the enemy, we have to remember that every time we go on Facebook and spread negativity (66,000 posts are taken down each week because of hate speech) or log in to our local paper to complain about whatever or talk with friends about how crappy things are.

Opinions are good but please be solutions-based and be open to others points of view. Ranting about how terrible our current administration is will not help nearly as much as working on a campaign for change.

Next to jump on the island is ex-superintendent Louann Carlomagno who’s decision to leave the district was sparked by a feeling of helplessness and not being able to do her very difficult job.  She smiles as she throws pencils to the kids, forever student centered, forever giving.

As the truck rounds the corner of first street East and West Napa, sculptors Albert Paley and Jim Callahan join. They are the artists responsible for Sonoma’s new array of public art. Albert’s 9 temporary art pieces around town have been called, “hideous” and “unpleasant” while Jim’s Vallejo sculpture has been attacked for political reasons, social reasons, and was even called a, “monument to conquest and oppression”.

Public art is vital to society, period. Love it or hate it but appreciate that it exists. If art wakes you up enough to cause a reaction and get you off your screen, it’s always a good thing.

It is always better to create than not. Is it productive to criticize public art, the farmers market, Transcendence, Sonoma Arts Live, SIFF (and that beautiful SONOMAWOOD sign) and all the other creative, unique programs that make Sonoma the best small town to visit? Think about what it would be like if all those things didn’t exist.

At the corner of West Napa and First Street West, out come the staff of the Sonoma Index Tribune whose small town balancing act of investigative journalism and limited advertising dollars makes their job complicated.

Rolling up First Street West, District 1 Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin and US Congressman Mike Thompson join the group. They have been deflecting the haters their whole careers, it’s a part of their job description, but they would like to put more focus on getting things done and less on appeasing the disgruntled. Politics should be about improving people’s lives, that’s how democracy works.

By the time the island passes EDK it is full of school board members, artists, city council representatives, and community leaders.

I smile and wave to the crowd knowing that there is no more room on Haters Island.