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The Redwood Empire Fights Back

Looking for silver linings in the coming age of Trump

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The future of our culture, locally and nationally, is not going to be determined by Beyoncé doing a stadium tour; it's going to be found in the cafes, clubs, parks, libraries, galleries and town squares where we engage with friends and neighbors on a personal level.

North bay event promoters like Shock City, USA and Sonoma County Metal & Hardcore bring the best of anti-establishment music from around the country and the world to our doorstep, and local bands like post-punks Red Wood, whose latest EP Wildfire is out now, fearlessly rail against a society that embraces false positivity and stays silent in the face of fascism.

Painting Trump in a bad light is not enough. We'll be looking for art that employs compassion in all forms of creativity.—Charlie Swanson


While Trump is busy stacking his administration with stalwart climate-change deniers in service of the petroleum industry, Sonoma County and California continue to be leaders in the fight against climate change.

At the state level, Gov. Brown threw down against Trump in recent comments to the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco.

"We've got the scientists, we've got the lawyers and we're ready to fight," he said.

As the fifth largest economy in the world, what California does to combat climate change will have real impact, Trump or not. At the local level, Sonoma Clean Power reports that it has saved customers more than $62 million in electricity bills with energy that is 48 percent lower in greenhouse gas emissions than that offered by PG&E.

"It's such a huge achievement for this community," says Ann Hancock, executive director of the Santa Rosa–based Center for Climate Protection.

Meanwhile, spurred in part by Sonoma County's example, more than 300 communities are considering the creation of local clean power utilities.

"It's going gangbusters across the state," she says. "Sonoma County's impact extends far and wide."

Even though Trump has threatened to pull out of the Paris climate accord, Hancock is cheered by the fact that 198 other signatories are going forward. "It's going to be hard for [Trump] to mess with something that big."—S.H.


Although the election was just a few painful weeks ago, donations to state and local nonprofits working to fight challenges to human rights, reproductive health, the environment and other causes at risk to the new administration are already pouring in. Fear, anger and defiance are apparently good motivators.

Three days after the election, the Sierra Club reported it had added more monthly donors than it had in all of 2015. The Oakland-based nonprofit also raised $110,000 in less than 24 hours after making an appeal to supporters. That was the most from a single email appeal in its history.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood said it had received an unprecedented 160,000 donations in the week after the election, a good thing since the federal government subsidizes the organization to the tune of $390 million for clinics across the country, mainly for services to low-income Medicaid patients, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and non-abortion-related birth control.

Closer to home, Elizabeth Brown, executive director of Community Foundation Sonoma County sees some encouraging trends. Her organization helps donors channel their resources into hundreds of local nonprofits.

While she's aware of increased donations to national organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund and the ACLU, she says many local philanthropists are "doubling down" on local organizations they already supported in defense of immigrant rights, women and children in need, and LGBTQ issues.

"Some of them are saying, 'This is a time maybe when we need to step up.'"

Since we don't know what Trump will do, there's an effort to be strategic rather than reactionary, she says. That's heartening, because strategic philanthropy is likely to be more long-term than a one-time, for instance, to help victims of a natural disaster.

Brown also reports that donors are looking to do more than give money and are wanting to get personally involved, with efforts aimed at bridging the social and economic divisions laid bare by the election in the Sonoma County and nationwide. "We're having a wake-up call about how well we know each other," says Brown.

San Rafael's 10,000 Degrees, a nonprofit that helps low-income students in the North Bay with funding and supportive services for college, is seeing a jump in both the number and size of donations, as well as open-ended offers to volunteer.

"People are really thinking about how they can have the greatest impact in the fastest way," says Kim Mazzuca, the group's president and executive director. "The spirit of philanthropy has become much more deeply personal."—S.H.


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