Thursday, May 5, 2011

Living on the Russian River

What I love about this community:
  • Folks are friendly and care about our communities & local issues. We support our schools even when we don't have children in our schools through fund raising and tax dollars; We help the hungry & homeless who live here; we care about local issues and attend meetings when we can; and when the chips are down, we come together and help one another.
  • Our schools totally kick butt: Despite drastic budget cuts, local parents can make good choices for their kids thanks to strong principals & administrators; experienced & committed teachers; a handful of devoted parents; & smart, dedicated students. The Guerneville School has earned the only California Distinguished School award in Sonoma County, due to its rigorous academics, & high STAR test scores. The Monte Rio School also enjoys strong test scores, but devotes more resources to the arts & holistic learning approaches for students. Either way, parents & kids win.
  • It's beautiful, so beautiful: When I drive home down River Road from my job in Rohnert Park, I breathe in the Eucalyptus groves with delight, & then sigh with immense pleasure upon being enfolded by our protective redwood groves.
  • It's laid-back: You don't have to pretend to be anything you're not here, you can just be who you are.
What I find hard about this community:
  • The HUGE gap between "friendliness" & genuine warmth: Folks are friendly here, but not necessarily warm. Being on friendly terms with neighbors is one thing. Feeling connected & having friendships with your neighbors is another thing all together. Folks who relocate here need to be fiercely independent.
  • High cost of living vs. lack of jobs: Why are the basic costs of living -- housing, food, property taxes, & energy -- so high around here, when local workers' earnings are so low? The costs of living here in Sonoma County are almost as high as those in the SF Bay area, yet employers pay half as much. If you relocate here, you need to be prepared for that.
But ... don't let what I said stop you. Pretty much all similarly desirable communities here in California will present you with the same obstacles if you wish to live here. Visiting is another thing altogether.

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