We expected this new year of 2020 to be a very full 12 months of news, it being a presidential election year, a Leap Year, the start of a new decade and the continuation of an age of digital disruption. But we didn’t also expect so much news about homelessness, endless tax questions on our election ballots and plenty of employment but not enough money to pay our rents and mortgages. And then there’s all that presidential impeachment news, too.

Rollie Atkinson Column Photo

Rollie Atkinson

When you’re in the news business like we are, one shouldn’t complain about too much news. And we’re not complaining; we’re just pointing out some of the harder, more serious news items we’ve been chasing. But hard news is not all we do at this newspaper. 

In fact, we publish more of the softer type of news than the items that bleed, blow up or befuddle. We’re talking about ribbon cuttings, civic club gatherings, school pageants, prep sports and community events. Recently we’ve reported on a baking contest winner, a visiting book author, a new art gallery opening show and the restoration of one of the county’s oldest one-room schoolhouses. If we haven’t written about you or a group you belong to yet this year, we still have 11 months to go.

With any luck at all — which we all deserve — we will not be reporting this year on historic floods, more wildfires or other natural disasters. We’ve had too much of all that in the past few years. We’re looking forward to a busy local news year that will be filled with celebrations, local winning sports teams, great weather and fair elections. And, hopefully, another great harvest.

To start the celebration, we plan to be at the Cloverdale Citrus Fair next weekend, Feb. 14 -17. In fact, some of our newspaper team will be marching in the parade on Saturday, Feb. 15. (A few others of us will be photographing the parade and preparing news reports on the weekend.)

February’s Citrus Fair always kicks off the new year of local fairs, festivals, outdoor concerts and community gatherings. When we get to October this year, we hope there is no wildfire that will postpone Halloween trick or treating or Healdsburg Corazon’s Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) as happened in October 2019 with the Kincade Fire.

In between now and then, we hope to see large crowds at the Russian River Chamber’s new Vine & Dine event (April 25), Sebastopol Apple Blossom Festival and Parade (April 18-19), Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival (May 2-3), Healdsburg’s Future Farmers Country Fair and Twilight Parade (May 23-25), the Healdsburg Jazz Festival (May 29 – June 7), summer outdoor concerts in Windsor, Sebastopol, Guerneville, Healdsburg and Cloverdale, Farm Trails’ Gravenstein Fair (Aug. 15-16) and lots more. And, let’s not forget all the bounty and friendly farmers at our many local certified farmers markets.

At our newspapers in Sebastopol, Windsor, Cloverdale and Healdsburg we practice what is called “community journalism.” We look at a community like a collection of closely related families, all sharing the same place, local economy, schools and other institutions, and old traditions and new ideas. As with families, sometimes the dinner conversations are light and spiced with laughter. Other times, the shared talk gets serious when money, politics or problems have to be addressed.

Come to think of it, it’s the same with a year’s worth of news. Most of the news we print is “interesting,” but it’s not earth-shattering. But, we also report a steady diet of “dull, but important” news about government meetings, tax issues or changing laws. “Important” news is like Brussels sprouts; it might not be too appetizing, but it’s good for you. The not-so-important, but interesting news is like the cotton candy you can find at the Citrus Fair. It’s not at all nutritious but it’s fun to eat.

-Rollie Atkinson

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