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These are a few of our favorite things

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Yes, the holidays should be about spending time with friends and family, enjoying big meals together and expressing gratitude for our many blessings. But you still gotta buy stuff. Fortunately, we in the North Bay are blessed with an abundance of creative folks who make and sell some great local things.

It's become a cliché to bemoan the commercialization of the holidays, but you can fight back by avoiding the malls and supporting locally made goods and businesses. With that in mind, we present some of our favorite things to bring a little cheer into someone's life—or maybe your own. You've been good, right?


Petaluma native Scott Lowrie has always loved maps. He studied geography at Sonoma State University, and has been a geographic information systems (GIS) pro for 10 years.

Lowrie also studied art in school, an interest that turned into a creative outlet six years ago, when he began designing and creating artful and often vintage-inspired maps on the side. That project evolved into Griffin Map Design, Lowrie's custom cartography and large-format printing shop located in the heart of downtown Petaluma's Putnam Plaza.

Highly detailed and convincingly old-school, Lowrie's maps are more than throwback drawings; they look and feel authentic. Lowrie's portfolio includes maps that recreate Civil War battles, highlight railroad lines from 1895 and offer bird's-eye illustrations of North Bay towns, as the maps would have accurately looked at the turn of the last century.

"They tell a story," says Lowrie. "People come in and look at, for instance, an old map of Petaluma, and they'll tell you where their house is or the way things used to be. It creates, not an escape, but a way to look back."

Lowrie makes original maps and repurposes historical (and public domain) maps. He takes inspiration from antiques of all kind and incorporates patterns and images that he finds in his frequent antiquing trips.

Feeling a connection to the local art scene, Lowrie opened Griffin Map Design as an art gallery and storefront two years ago. Monthly art shows hang on one wall of his shop, and many of Lowrie's prints and works from visiting artists are available to purchase. In addition, the shop boasts a T-shirt printer and large-format printer, so he's able to satisfy custom orders of all kinds.

December's show will be Prohibition-themed, says Lowrie, keeping to the vintage aesthetic. Lowrie will also be selling his work at Petaluma's Holiday Crafterino on Sunday Nov. 27, at the Petaluma Veteran's Memorial Hall.

Griffin Map Design, 122 American Alley, Ste. A, Petaluma. Friday–Saturday, noon–5pm, and by appointment.—Charlie Swanson


I was headed up Highway 101 recently in the vicinity of Cotati, and the traffic was just starting to move again after an accident had been cleared. I rolled up on a hybrid SUV slow-jamming in the middle lane that was sporting all sorts of American flag and pro-veteran, pro-gun stickers and decals, including a custom "Gun Owner for Trump" decal. I suppose the driver was trying to intimidate or threaten North Bay snowflakes in their precious liberal Priuses with the Bernie stickers.

I'm not a big fan of bumper stickers as a general rule, though I do enjoy reading them on others' cars. And I'm pretty good at resisting the urge to rear-end some mean-faced old white man on the highway for expressing his opinion, however odiously obnoxious it may be. I sat behind old cranky in traffic for a bit and thought about a bumper sticker that would reflect my view on politics, but that wasn't posturing in opposition to anyone, or declaring an allegiance to Bernie or Hillary—but simply declaring my allegiance to an all-American ideal. Enter the Gadsden flag.

NOT JUST FOR RIGHT-WING NUTS ANYMORE It’s time for anti-Trumpers to claim the Gadsden flag. Get yours at Cotati’s S.O.G. Military Surplus Collectibles.
  • NOT JUST FOR RIGHT-WING NUTS ANYMORE It’s time for anti-Trumpers to claim the Gadsden flag. Get yours at Cotati’s S.O.G. Military Surplus Collectibles.

I believe the American left does itself a disservice when it allows a bilious right wing to claim ownership of the message of the famous yellow-and-snaky flag and its "Don't Tread on Me" warning. I love the flag, I love the idea, and I live in a town filled with militant-trickster hippies who do not want to be treaded upon, either.

I say: seize the potent symbols of right-wing dissent and reclaim them as the prerogative of a cranky left with militia intentions of its own. And, hey, they make for great stocking-stuffers in the threatened jackboot moment of Bannonian horror. There are all sorts of patriotic online portals that will fit the bill for anti-government leftists eager to throw down, but it'd be better to hook yourself up with Gadsden swag locally at S.O.G. Military Surplus Collectibles in Cotati. 8581 Gravenstein Hwy., Cotati. 707.588.8438.—Tom Gogola


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