Toward the end of the month, Cloverdale will be host to a listening session as part of the Voices of Sonoma County Project, from the county’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).

According to a press release from the commission, the event “is intended to gain a comprehensive understanding of local women’s concerns about issues impacting women and girls.”

The commission is going to various locations across the county and hosting the sessions, with Cloverdale being the only north county stop.

“As the dedicated women’s advocate in local government, CSW wishes to gain the best possible understanding of local women’s concerns,” said Jan Blalock, commissioner and project lead. “We are encouraging women to speak up during this project, so we can speak out on their behalf. Project results will be presented to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, providing data to help make positive changes in public policy.”

The event is free and open to women across the county.

“We will be asking all of the women in the room if they would like to stand up and talk about issues in their lives and in their community and we’ll be writing those down (and putting them on a wall) and we will have people go around and choose their top five,” Blalock said.

This, she hopes, will help the commission get a good idea of the top concerns among women in northern Sonoma County. The commission has already hosted three live listening events — in Petaluma, in Santa Rosa’s Roseland neighborhood and the Sonoma County Women’s Jail. She said that after Cloverdale, they’ll be holding another session in Santa Rosa.

So far, some themes have emerged when it comes to common concerns.

“One is seeing a need for more women in leadership, affordable housing is huge and for some populations, concerns about retirement insecurity, aging parents,” Blalock said. “A lot of other things have come up. With the incarcerated women — homelessness, lack of support, domestic violence, drug addiction, mental health.”

“What we’re hoping is when we consolidate all of this information from the live listening sessions as well as an online survey, that it will be relatively clear what areas need attention,” she said. “Whether that’s with programs that we already have countywide that people aren’t aware of, or programs that need to grow or be created.”

The listening session in Cloverdale will be on Wednesday, Sept. 25 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Cloverdale High School library, 509 N. Cloverdale Blvd.

“For us it’s about being more visible, it’s being out there and seeing the communities and connecting with people.”

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