Chris Smith: TEDxSonoma County talks will feed mind, soul and belly

David Best with a moveable sculpture at his studio on Tuesday June 27, 2017. Scott Manchester for the Argus-Courier


If you haven’t been to the TED Talks that return Saturday to Sonoma County Day School, there’s something amiss from your life that can be easily rectified.

Fascinating people will address TEDxSonoma County from 1 to 5 p.m., and a food-and-wine reception will follow.

The theme: “A world with(out) limits.” The dozen-plus speakers include Pulitzer-winning photojournalist Renée Byer, author of “Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of the World’s Poor”; artist David Best, renowned for the temples he’s built at Burning Man and beyond, and Dr. Hoby Wedler, who was born without eyesight and hosts blind food-and-beverage tastings.

In response to the fires, two top supporters of TEDx invite participants to bring donations of money or nonperishable foods for the Redwood Empire Food Bank — and they’ll match cash donations up to $30,000.

For tickets and information go to

FEEDING F.I.S.H.: The squeeze is on at the busy and heroic food pantry operated in Santa Rosa by volunteers with Friends In Service Here.

“We find ourselves in a dilemma,” says Kaarin Lee, who directs the people-feeding operation on McBride Lane.

F.I.S.H. lost one of its largest donors of groceries with the closing of the partially burned Trader Joe’s store on Cleveland Avenue. With so many families struggling and the holidays coming, the pantry faces an increase in demand for food.

Kaarin said F.I.S.H. needs volunteers and donations of groceries and of money for purchasing food. There are more details at

WHERE’S KATY? They lost their home off Mark West Springs Road, but Maureen and Wayne Wendle escaped with their dog, Katy, and thought it a miracle when their two mules got out and, two week after the fires, a firefighter came upon their burned but alive cat, Max.

Last Sunday,Wayne went to the ruins of his home with, Katy, an Australian shepherd/Catahoula hound. They’d been there a couple of hours when Wayne noticed three cyclists pedal by, and minutes later realized Katy was gone.

Katy’s name and the Wendels’ phone number are stitched into her collar. Wayne and Maureen watch for word of Katy.

EARL HAS ASTHMA, so that was one more reason Jim Scally and his family believed there was no way the 8-year-old orange tabby cat could have survived the fire that devoured their home near Coffey Park.

But Monday night, three full weeks after the disaster, a neighbor phoned with the best news of the year: He found Earl, and the cat’s OK.

A GARAGE NON-SALE is in the works for Santa Rosa and Windsor on Nov. 18.

The vision of Diane Madero is for people in several neighborhoods to collect the sorts of things needed by our neighbors who lost their homes and are moving into either temporary or permanent living spaces.

Think furniture, lamps, wall art, kitchenware, barbecues, all manner of household goods.

Diane wants to tell victims of the fires which neighborhoods will have items out on driveways or yards, and invite them to go take what they need.

If you’d like to organize people in your neighborhood to take part, contact Madero at

Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and