Chris Smith: An archive for when this nightmare becomes part of Sonoma County history

One fine day, Sonoma County school kids and researchers will go to the library to delve into Sonoma Responds, a collection of personal records and reflections from the pandemic of 2020.

Your drawings or photos or letters or poems or journal entries could be part of that archive.

“Researchers and students will be able to use your work to understand what it was like living in Sonoma County during this challenging time,” Connie Williams said. She’s the History Room librarian at the Petaluma Regional Library.

Williams and her colleagues in the county library system invite us to start now to record, through the written word and images, our reactions to life in the time of COVID-19.

She suggests putting paper our thoughts and observations on “what life is like in your neighborhood, how you communicate with others and what has changed.”

Library staffers ask that our submissions to Sonoma Responds be no larger than ?11-by-17 inches, and stackable.

Of course, we won’t be able to take them to the library until the coronavirus crisis has passed.

If you’d like more information on the project, drop a note to

Says Sonoma County Library director Ann Hammond, “This is a great way to help our community preserve memories of an important event.”

And it’s something to do!


THIS RAIN will wipe clean some of the colorful, playful chalk art that folks have created on sidewalks and driveways while sheltered in place.

Once the pavement dries, it will be ready for fresh, chalked art to brighten our lives at a dark and frightening time.

I believe it’s safe to say on behalf of everyone who’s encountered the messages and images in chalk while taking a break from in-home isolation and venturing out for a walk:

Thank you, chalk artists. This helps.


MENDO SAYS ‘GO!’: Who could ever have imagined roadside signs in and near the tourist-dependent village of Mendocino that urge, “Go home!”

Strange, scary times, these are.

A dozen or so handwritten signs have appeared on trees or on roadside stakes. They read, SPREAD KINDNESS NOT ILLNESS - TOURISTS GO HOME!

A publicity-shy fellow from Little River spotted the signs and became ever more concerned that tourists violating the state’s shelter-in-place order might carry the virus to the Mendocino coast.

He reached out to Brian Chesky, co-founder ?of Airbnb, the online homestay and tourism service. The coastal resident advised the Airbnb chief that Mendocino County people are being put at risk by visitors traveling there to stay in vacation rentals.

It pleased the Little River man to receive a personal reply from Chesky by email. Chesky shared a notice that was sent to Airbnb property owners, directing them to comply with Mendocino County’s personal isolation order and prohibition of short-term rentals and nonessential travel.

Watch this space for word that the crisis has passed and that Mendocino has dug out the welcome mat, swept it off and set it back at the front door.

You can reach Staff Writer Chris Smith at 707-521-5211 and

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