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It was Pulitzer Day Wednesday at Columbia University’s Low Library, and The Press Democrat was there.

Reporter Julie Johnson, photographer Kent Porter, managing editor Ted Appel and executive editor Catherine Barnett all traveled to New York City for the award ceremony. The PD won for its coverage of the North Bay fires.

My newsroom colleagues were in awe of the company they kept at Columbia. They sat one table over from prize-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar. Actress Mia Farrow snapped a photograph that included the PD foursome and, among other 2018 award winners, her son, Ronan Farrow, honored for his investigation in the New Yorker of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Roaming the crowd with her camera was famed portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz.

“Awesome,” texted Porter, who brought his camera, too.

They were especially favorable toward Columbia President Lee Bollinger, who grew up in Santa Rosa in a family integral to the PD.

Bollinger, who recused himself from voting in the breaking news category because of his ties to Sonoma County and his former hometown newspaper, told the assembled winners that while the Pulitzer Prizes are always important, “I believe this year will stand out in the now centurylong history of the Prizes as among the most important.

“This is not only because of the new and wider reach of the Prizes into realms where creative genius resides ... but also because we are living in an era that demands of us a new understanding of and confrontation with the abuses of power.”

Appel savors the moment Sandra Greer, the mother of Prize-winning novelist Andrew Sean Greer, approached him after the ceremony to say she deeply appreciated how the PD kept her and her Sonoma neighbors informed back when much of the region was on fire.

THAT THERE IS A MEDICAL CANNABIS club in the 55-and-older enclave of Oakmont isn’t surprising for many reasons.

A key one: Today’s senior citizens include millions of baby boomers who came of age in the high times of the 1960s and ’70s.

There are Oakmont residents who use marijuana for ailments or for pleasure, and many others are taking a look at pot. But that doesn’t mean the east Santa Rosa retirement mecca is digging the proposal to locate a marijuana store/dispensary on Oakmont Drive.

“I will go full throttle to put a stop to it,” said Heidi Klyn, a member of both the Oakmont cannabis club and homeowners’ board.

The governing panel of the Oakmont Village Association is strongly thumbs-down on a plan promoted by Ted Meeker of the East Bay to open an Herbal Holistics store near the senior community’s market, Chinese restaurant and Wells Fargo branch.

“It’s not a good spot,” Klyn contends. She said there’s no need to draw more traffic and U-turns to Oakmont Drive when there are other cannabis retail businesses proposed for locations not far from Oakmont, and when marijuana products can be home delivered.

Potential cannabis retailer Meeker has described Oakmont as “under-served.”

Hardly, says Klyn.

CHILD SURVIVORS of the October fires might benefit from telling their stories. And it could be good for us to hear them and consider if there’s more that we can be doing for impacted youngsters.

Sheila Morrissey, a Santa Rosa grandmother and retired nurse, seeks to collect children’s stories of what they experienced and what’s going on in their lives now.

She calls herself “a grandma who wants all Sonoma kids to know we care about them and hope that they are doing better these days.”

She asks that parents and other adults encourage youngsters affected by the firestorm to sit down and write or draw their stories.

Whatever the kids produce can be mailed to Sheila at 122 Calistoga Road, No. 355, Santa Rosa 95409, or emailed to tellyourstoryoct2017thennow@gmail.com.

Sheila imagines sharing the kids’ expressions by compiling and distributing a journal, or in some other fashion assembling the stories and pictures and sharing them with a community in recovery.

A HANDMADE QUILT just might be the most comforting, heart-warming gift on Earth. Legions of child and adult survivors of the fires would no doubt agree.

The quilt-makers who’ll show more than 400 of their works this weekend at the Veterans Memorial Building in Santa Rosa have since the fires given away hundreds more — and also handmade Teddy bears and pillow cases — to survivors and first responders.

These artisans have reached out grandly, too, to the two dozen or so local quilters who lost their homes and quilts and sewing machines and fabric, and are starting over.

Participants in Saturday and Sunday’s 2018 Wine Country Quilt Show stand ready to give many more quilts, Teddy bears and pillow cases to fire survivors who’d love to have one but don’t yet have a place to put it.

Members of the hosting Moonlight Quilters of Sonoma County are dedicating the show, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, to all survivors and first responders — and, of course, to the soothing, charming nature of the quilt.

Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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