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There always will be a place for hotel mini-bars, luxury suites and room service, and for the kinds of go-go-go vacations that whisk people to the latest museum exhibit, to the trendiest restaurant, to a must-see show.

But some of the folks in Sebastopol would like to suggest another way: travel at a more relaxed pace, something more organic, more mindful of the natural world and open to the sharing of experiences with strangers encountered along the way.

That's the idea, at least, behind a burgeoning movement to promote the city and surrounding environs as a kind of ecotourist destination — one that caters to those interested in outdoor recreation, in connecting with the land and food production, in meeting new people and experiencing a place the way the locals do. Maybe even staying with one.

The campaign, an off-shoot of the city's designation nearly four years ago as an official Cittaslow city — literally "slow city" in Italian — is motivated by a desire to build tourism and the economy in a manner that reflects and benefits the local culture and community, organizers say.

The volunteer Cittaslow Sebastopol steering committee is developing a public campaign it hopes to roll out later this year highlighting the city's slow vacation cred, co-chairwoman Tasha Beauchamp said.

More immediately, it's promoting expansion of home stay and farm stay opportunities of the sort made popular through Airbnb, VRBO, Farm Stay and other Internet sites through which property owners can reach out to potential short-stay visitors.

A workshop is scheduled for March 1 for people interested in learning what's involved in opening a home or farm to paying guests, and what tax and use regulations might apply.

<NO1><NO>"It just felt like the kind of thing that would resonate with our town, and indeed we are getting a tremendous reception," Beauchamp said.

Christine Cook, a farmer who has hosted hundreds of guests on her West Sexton Road property over the past decade, will be a leader at the workshop. A primary benefit from participating in the movement is developing a second income, she said, but "It's also a way to share our county with tourists, and specifically Sebastopol. We're just a really cool little town.

The Cittaslow Sebastopol crowd considered using phrases like "green hospitality" and "slow tourism" to describe the new thrust. But for the moment, participants decided the principles of ecotourism closely matched their vision of a respectful, environmentally aware, mutually beneficial tourism industry, Beauchamp said.

The local effort aims to leverage the community's rural beauty, agricultural traditions and proximity to the coast and Russian River, as well as the region's thriving wine industry and broad embrace of the Slow Food movement.

But it also seeks to celebrate the unique flair of a city with unabashedly progressive politics and a thriving counter-culture, where solar energy and sustainable building have deep roots and eccentric sculptures made from salvaged junk dot the terrain.

Organizers have in mind promoting shared experiences through programs that bring locals and visitors together for meals, along the lines of existing models in which tourists can arrange to eat with or in the homes of local hosts.

"We don't want to be just another Wine Country destination," said Beauchamp. "It's got to be people who like our values and our quirkiness."

With its Cittaslow designation in 2010, Sebastopol became one of just three cities in the United States to win accreditation. Sonoma Valley was the first. The Marin County community of Fairfax also is so designated.

The international organization, begun in Italy, stresses principles that include support for local foods and products, avoiding standardization, promoting healthy lifestyles, sustainable economies and protection of local culture.

Cittaslow Sebastopol has culled its list of priorities from resident surveys and public forums, and developed the ecotourism initiative as a reflection of conversations about wholesome economic development, in part.

Ideas include an emphasis on walkable communities and local recreation, taking in city parks and the Laguna de Santa Rosa, as well as local agricultural traditions and Slow Food.

Sebastopol Mayor Robert Jacob noted Cittaslow is also about community interaction, sharing and hospitality, making it a good fit with the ecotourism initiative and the home stay/farm stay effort.

"This is all about providing better hospitality, developing robust main streets (and) business communities," he said.

Community organizers and several local residents who already are in the farm and home stay business say the kinds of tourists who eschew the convention of a hotel or motel share many of the same values as those who want to experience a community on a more intimate, low-impact level.

At Cook's Full House Farm west of town, for instance, guests are invited to try their hands at milking one of her goats, hunting for freshly laid eggs and picking vegetables and herbs from her gardens to make their meals. There are goat milk caramels and cheese to sample. She's got three horses, too.

Rolando Ramos, a recent guest from San Jose, came north with his girlfriend and was so inspired by the fresh cheese and vegetables they harvested at the farm that they decided to eat organic all weekend as they explored the region, enjoying the scenery and looking for local honey.

Another Full House Farm visitor, Michelle MacKenzie, stayed with her two sons from San Carlos and her parents, St. Helena residents. She said the farm offered beauty, relaxation and a chance to go beyond shopping at her suburban farmer's market.

"You want to go some place and it feels like that place instead of every other place, with three Starbucks on every corner."

"I think there are more and more people that are interested in a deeper travel experience," said Councilwoman Sarah Glade Gurney, an early supporter of Cittaslow. ".<TH>.<TH>. They're very curious, and they will take that curiosity to the downtown, to the restaurants that serve local food, to the art galleries that have something different — someone who doesn't want to be distanced from the community by being put in a conventional, anywhere-lodging choice."