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Santa Rosa resident and LandPaths executive director Craig Anderson tells all
Describe your perfect day in Santa Rosa?
On an early spring weekend day, the chorus of birds in our Santa Rosa Junior College 'hood backyard wakes us up (always the crows that do the waking part); espresso as the chorus winds down, followed by a bike ride with the family to a local breakfast place like Dierk's or Hank's or A'roma Roasters, to be followed by a visit later on to King's Nursery to buy starts and seeds (I never can manage all the tomatoes, but hope does spring eternal).
Where is your favorite place to eat in Santa Rosa and why?
How does a true-blue Santa Rosan answer this but to say, "Here's my favorite place given this occasion, and favorite for that . . ." When pushed on this one, it's Simply Vietnam. We love supporting family-owned restaurants, especially ones that speak to a certain place and culture as expressed through cuisine and art. Simply Vietnam is what we aspire to be: it's not fussy, it's quick and to the point, healthy fare with various shades of taste and texture—soups or noodles, barbecued meats and enough basil and hot peppers to scare the devil. The staff is nice and it feels extra-positive now to support an establishment run by a family that broadens the weave of our cultural fabric, who we truly are as Americans.
Where do you take first-time visitors to Santa Rosa?
We typically go to Bayer Farm & Community Park in Roseland, and not because it's a city park envisioned and largely built by LandPaths, but because we delight in the place and its people, and what that breeds as hope for our future. Bayer Farm is a confluence of a historic barn, gardens with 40-plus families from a minimum of seven different ethnic and cultural traditions farming it (including potlucks on Friday evenings). There are always interesting people to talk with and learn from. And what says more about Sonoma County than a beautiful place to farm right near downtown within the historic shadow of local son, Luther Burbank?
What do you know about Santa Rosa that others don't?
Probably nothing, but what little-known fact intrigues me? A mountain lion has been spotted more than once in the Paulin Creek area (near the old Sutter Hospital off Chanate Road), and yet I've heard of few pets gone missing, though that flock of turkeys there never seems to get much bigger.
If you could change one thing about Santa Rosa what would it be?
I'd like for Highway 101 to be magically relocated and allow Santa Rosa to be reconnected into its former, whole self. What would be done, then, with the linear "hole" through the heart of Santa Rosa left by the former 101? It would become like the Highline in New York, that elevated green parkway, but instead it could be the great Santa Rosa Farmway, with community garden allotments and even production farms linked by bike trails both north-south with spurs going to east and west. This is ground zero in Luther Burbank's "chosen spot on Earth"; it is also a time in our history where economic and ecological costs for shipping food is not only increasingly expensive, but has been shown to reduce nutritional value. Participatory farming, like Bayer Farm and LandPaths Rancho Mark West, time and time again builds communities through relationship. Imagine what a three- or four-mile farmway could do for our city? That would be something to see.