Started by a group of nature-loving Glen Ellen residents, Eldridge For All - Save Our Space began as a grassroots fundraising campaign supporting permanent preservation of a large portion of Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) property as open space. That will only happen through hard work and careful guidance, which is why we’re helping raise money for Sonoma Ecology Center (SEC), a nonprofit dedicated to achieving and sustaining ecological health in Sonoma Valley.
Several months have now passed since the inception of Eldridge For All - Save Our Space, and activity is gearing up on the SDC transition front seeing that the facility will shut down by the end of 2018. In order to keep the public apprised of current developments, we have broadened our scope to include links to other organizations working towards the goals of 1) protecting SDC wild lands in perpetuity; and 2) envisioning a future for the property that serves the interests of the local community.
Check out some actions you can take right now to weigh in on the subject and make your voice heard by your elected officials by clicking on the "Actions You Can Take" option at the top of this page. And while you're at it, find out more about Sonoma Ecology Center. SEC has been at the forefront of this effort and takes part in several aspects of the SDC closure process. The nonprofit has volunteered hundreds of hours and many resources toward this worthy cause, and needs our help to continue this critical work on behalf of the entire Sonoma Valley.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors was scheduled to consider a two-part agenda item on the future of the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) on Tuesday, Oct. 23. Discussion of this item has been postponed until further notice (probably sometime in Dec.) The Board will (hopefully) be considering approval of county matching funds for developing a specific plan to guide future land use at SDC, and approval for staff to keep negotiating with the state—and the new Governor—over governance and interim uses of the SDC property. We will do our best to keep you updated on this dynamic process, but we won’t know details of the actual staff recommendation and board resolution until right before the Board of Supervisors meeting. So stay tuned! To stay up to date on developments, check the supervisors’ agenda here or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Under the theme of Protecting What We Love, the Parent Hospital Association (PHA), Glen Ellen Forum, Sonoma Land Trust and The Eldridge Portraits Project recently served as a host committee to sponsor three events commemorating and honoring the workers, residents and families of SDC. Protecting What We Love captured the true essence of what the services and property represent to Sonoma—a lasting legacy of client care and stewardship of more than 860 acres of land. Each of the event sponsors brought a unique perspective and a history of working together to advocate for the people and the land of SDC. Through the “SDC Coalition” chaired by Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin, these groups have partnered with Sonoma County agencies and other nonprofits to advocate for the needs of SDC residents as they move into community living arrangements, and to call for the preservation of SDC’s 700 acres of open space lands—especially those very special places on the property where time was spent with loved ones. The future of the SDC’s open space and wildlife corridor lands has not yet been determined, but the broader community is working together towards Protecting What We Love.
According to Kathleen Miller, PHA Co-Chair, “Such a critical event as this closure must be given the respect it deserves, and not simply erased and quickly forgotten. We must honor the past if we are to learn from it and if we are to move on. Now we must gather our resolve and look forward. While we must do everything we can to protect the legacy of SDC, our most critical task is to continue our advocacy to protect what we love – the people and the land.”
Protecting What We Love Community Events:
October 27 through November 4, 2018: Arnold Drive through the Village of Glen Ellen was transformed
into a gallery with imagery from the Eldridge Portraits Project. The Eldridge Portraits Project is comprised of a series of images of SDC residents and families taken by photographers Christian Pease and Joe Garappolo with Light11B. If you missed the event, you can still see the portraits by clicking on the link above.
Wednesday, October 31, 2018: SDC hosted its final annual Halloween Parade on Harney Circle on the SDC campus. Community groups participated with float entries in honor of SDC employees and former residents, many of whom returned to campus for this festive day. Sonoma Land Trust hosted a lunch buffet for SDC employees to thank them for their many years of service. See photos taken by Christian Pease in our photo gallery below.
Saturday, November 3, 2018: A thank-you and farewell celebration with a brief program took place at Hanna Boys Center. The Eldridge Portraits Project compilation of SDC clients and family photographic prints was also on display. Several hundred people attended, including numerous county and state dignitaries. Brief speeches addresses the history, people, land, and future of the SDC. Sonoma Land Trust generously provided delicious food and drink. It was a beautiful day and, while sadness prevailed on many fronts, a sense of hope and commitment on the part of the community to protect the things we love ruled the day.