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Close to Come: Solving problems in a civil space

It is said that civility is dead in our public discourse and that democracy itself may be the next casualty. Cable news, the twitterverse and numerous other platforms certainly make a convincing case. But it's not.

Our county finds itself in a crisis similar to but different from the fires of 2017 and 2019. Similar in that many of our friends and neighbors are suffering loss, both physical and emotional, but different in its scope and uncertain nature.

That's why we've created SonomaSafe.org.

SonomaSafe is nothing more than a coming together of people from all walks of Sonoma County and spanning the political spectrum. Born of a recognition that COVID-19 isn't going anywhere soon, and the knowledge that we must pick up the pieces and adapt to a new reality, it is a solutions-driven platform. Despite the virus being a highly charged topic in an indescribably divisive election year, vitriol and acrimony are noticeably and beautifully absent.

SonomaSafe is predicated on the fact that the way forward into this new reality begins with our elected officials and seeks to both inspire and equip them to produce a general, rules-based system applicable to all businesses. Stepping into the future successfully and safely will not be a simple exercise and demands the creativity and ingenuity of all those who make their living in our county.

Elected officials are in an impossible position. Confronted with a crisis that by its nature requires specialized medical expertise, they are tasked with balancing public health and an economic catastrophe that is without precedent. And they must do it with changing and imperfect information.

Traditionally, business groups and trade organizations advise - and even lobby - elected officials on regulatory matters pertaining to the private sector. However, due to the unique circumstances confronted by thousands of businesses across dozens of industries, this model breaks down and lends itself to one-size-fits-all regulatory solutions that have the effect, even if inadvertent, of picking winners and losers.

The thoughtfulness in every post on the #SonomaSafe Facebook Group isn't only a tribute to the care and creativity of their authors, they are powerful evidence that even in a highly charged environment with people's lives and livelihoods on the line, civility and community are alive and well in Sonoma County. This collaboration and sharing in the face of extreme adversity may in the end become a permanent part of the fabric of how we treat and care for one another.

I think they will be.

Please consider bringing your ideas and insights to our county's table by joining the discussion on Facebook and signing our community pledge at sonomasafe.org.

John Jordan is chief executive officer of Jordan Winery in Healdsburg.

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