A Self-Healing Community Initiative in Sonoma Valley
Can we help our communities build the resilience that will help everyone, and especially youth, survive and thrive through adversity?
Every child in Sonoma County deserves to grow up healthy and resilient, no matter what has happened to them and regardless of family resources and circumstances. But too often, this isn’t how the story goes. We know that thousands of Sonoma County kids grow up with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) exposures. This is reflected in the high rates of illnesses like depression and substance abuse.
Here and now in the Sonoma Valley, we know many of our kids face stress and trauma related to the October fires. Others suffer with fear that their parents and other family members could be detained and deported without warning. The high cost of living puts a strain on family resources and, often, tempers. Access to the healthcare that could blunt the impact of these stressors isn’t nearly what it should be. And in the end, shouldn’t we aim to support families further “upstream”, before the impact to health and well-being is felt?
The beginnings of an answer may be hiding in plain sight. The Sonoma Valley’s tight-knit communities have many of the building blocks, including strong kinship and friendship ties, strong faith communities, and strong cultural affinity. Those strengths, supported and leveraged by Valley leaders, stakeholders, agencies, clergy, and others, hold the promise and power of healing. Our first community meetings were held in February 2018, facilitated by Laura Porter, the nation’s leading expert on the Self-Healing Communities Model.