‘First Course on Sustainable Tourism at Harvard University’

I am thrilled to witness as this “industry” broadens and becomes “mainstream”… =)

via ‘First Course on Sustainable Tourism at Harvard University’.

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Take a Look Up and Around Downtown Napa

Generally my main form of exercise has been walking.  Not a lot of hoopla about it, just a regular routine, two days a week with a good

Gordon Building on First St.

friend and an occasional outing with my hubby on the weekends.  With the riverfront development and promenade, one of my favorite walking destinations is downtown Napa.  Whether I start out at the Hatt Building or the Oxbow Market, I can create an interesting loop around the heart of downtown.  In this tumultuous time, some favorite dining and retail establishments have gone away and some new and exciting places have opened up; it all adds interest and intrigue to how our downtown area is shaping up.

My personal preference is to preserve what we have, sustaining the beauty of our historical architecture; polishing and refining it so that generations ahead can sense the pride of those who have worked and lived in this town. I am not an architect or engineer with the knowledge of what structures must be overhauled, and which ones will not make it much farther into the 21st century, but I have noted some beautiful pieces of construction that I thought I would point out. When you’re downtown again, you may pause and look up and around at these lovely points of architecture; artwork really, and treat yourself to a self-guided tour of the outdoor gallery of Napa’s downtown history.

As we hurry along First Street, with our shopping and dining destinations in mind, we are usually under a large awning structure that juts out over the sidewalk on most buildings. Many of the store fronts still exhibit the architecture of the 1960’s and 1970’s; aluminum framed windows and not so interesting to behold. One day, as I was walking along First Street, I happened to look up at the building across the street. It was 1130 First Street, the Gordon Building, circa 1929.  Up above the cumbersome awning is a display of intricate Spanish Colonial Revivalist architecture, with beautifully carved tile work, dramatic arched windows and blue and green accents that remind me of the ethereal paintings by Maxfield Parrish. The tile work and beauty of this building wraps around the corner into the Coombs Street Plaza, where across the plaza is a building of mixed eras and façades, commonly known as the Merrill’s drugstore building.

On the north corner of the Merrill building there remains a very Spanish colonial style of façade with terracotta tiles, faux-adobe surface and wrought iron bars on the small windows.  Although not intricate and beautiful architecture, the “jail house” look sparks my imagination.  I like to ponder what this quirky piece of architecture meant to someone, and I know that in time it will be redeveloped and erased, tucked away in distant memories. The good news is that “distant memories” and information about our history can be found at the Goodman Library, circa 1901, a native stone beauty that is home to the Napa County Historical Society at 1219 First Street.  For complete information about the library visit the website:  http://www.NapaHistory.org.

As I walk around downtown Napa I admire the work that shows our dedication to restore and revitalize our historic beauty.  The colorful Art Deco tile work at Downtown Joe’s, originally the Oberon building, circa 1934; Wells Fargo Bank, circa 1923, the Napa Valley Opera House.  Each project has that heartfelt commitment to sustain our history, recycle, re-use and showcase what we have.  Another beloved project is underway at 813 Main Street, restoring the mysterious Fagiani Bar.  This building is one of the few remaining native stone commercial buildings from 1908.  In November of 2007, Steve and Johanna Hasty bought the building and Noble House Construction and Development is painstakingly restoring it back to a lively bar and restaurant.  The vision is to maintain the stone structure, as well as the captivating 1940’s Art Moderne tiling on the entrance to the bar.  The goal is to open the new restaurant and bar in the summer of 2010.  Inquiries about the project are welcome by phoning 707-257-3482.

As we turn each corner downtown, we may come upon a sacred old space that we can’t help but overlook during our daily comings

Fagiani Bldg on Main Street

and goings.  Taking a walk in downtown Napa can become a treasure hunt eliciting mystery as well as acquainting us with our ancestors of a hundred years ago.  If interested, visit the Goodman Library, as mentioned above.  Visit www.PreservationNapaValley.org to learn how you can become involved in preserving our historic communities.  Maps and historic guides are also available from the Napa Downtown Association located at the Visitor’s Center, 1310 Napa Town Center, 707-257-0322.

Oberon Bldg/Downtown Joes, Main Street

Walking the River

Every year I am dazzled by the autumn views along the Silverado Trail.  Breathtaking, awesome, splendiferous, are words that come to mind.  The gold, scarlet and green, with the late afternoon sun glowing through the vines bring a surge of gratitude to be able to live in this valley.  In November I was on my way to Rutherford for a special opportunity to get up close and personal with the Napa River.  As I drove north on the Silverado Trail, marveling at said vines and views, I realized that many of our visitors may not even be aware that the Napa River meanders this far north through the valley.  Gazing out over the vineyards the river is hidden; one might think the land just stretches solid and flat, straight across from the Vaca Mountains in the east to the Mayacamas in the west.  But down in its well worn trench, crossed by our historic stone bridges is the artery of life as we know it in our famous Napa Valley.

In our history the river was used for its bounty of stone for buildings, dredging the rocks which left too sandy a bottom for the natural habitat of salmon and trout.  The flow of the river has been controlled by building up the banks to protect one property, only to send it flowing too high to another; and so it goes as we worked with and against our Napa River.  I believe that for centuries the people living and thriving in the Napa Valley have held the Napa River close to their hearts and fortunately, we learn from our mistakes.  People will take a stand to repair and restore what seemed like a good idea at the time.

Since 1994 the Rutherford Dust Society has stood firmly committed “to encourage and promote the highest quality standards in grape growing and winemaking in the Rutherford Viticultural Area.”  (www.RutherfordDust.org)  In 2002 a subcommittee of the Society was formed to initiate a plan to manage and restore the Napa River that is so vital to their land and community: the Rutherford Dust (Napa River) Restoration Team, RDRT, or think of it as “our dirt”!  The restoration project will manage and restore the 4.5 mile stretch of the Napa River and its watershed between the Zinfandel Lane Bridge and Oakville Cross Road.  RDRT has successfully pioneered an innovative partnership with Napa County to realize this vision.  With over five years of detailed engineering and ecological studies the project construction commenced with Phase I in July of this year.  The team is chaired by Rutherford Dust Society board member, Davie Piña of Piña Vineyard Management, LLC and includes over twenty five riverside property owners.  The project is coordinated by leadership from Napa County, the Napa County Resource Conservation District, and Napa County Water Conservation.  To review the details of the project please visit the project website at:  http://www.napawatersheds.org/Content/10027/Rutherford_Dust_Society_Project.html

For my “river walk” experience I met with Gretchen Hayes, of Tessera Watershed Partners, and facilitator of the RDRT team.  Gretchen’s professional title is “Geomorphologist”; geo = earth, morph = change, and “ology” being the study of such.  Studying the changes in the earth and bringing her expertise to monitor the flow and erosion of our Napa River.  Gretchen represents the folks I admire that get right down in the dirt of our land to figure out how to support nature and give back what we have taken away.

I wriggled into big rubber waders, cinched them up to my chest and followed Gretchen down the bank to a section of river.  Our objective was to be able to walk right into the river and be surrounded by the trees, bushes, rocks, gravel, birds and critters that make their home along the banks.  I learned that a river “pools, riffles and glides”.  Create in your mind the meandering line of the river, as the water pushes through a gravel bank (a riffle) and then rushes into an open space (a pool) then gently glides to the next riffle.  “Pool, riffle and glide” sounds like a graceful dance step doesn’t it?

The section of river that we explored exhibited how the river banks have eroded below the land surface, down 15 to 20 feet.  Great oak and willow trees, root systems exposed will inevitably break away and fall into the river.   “LWD” was pointed out to me: “large, woody debris”; tree trunks, stumps and limbs as we know them.  These logs, pushed to the side, form a new extended bank and eventually become a beneficial habitat for fish and wildlife.  If needed the restoration team will introduce logs into the river for this purpose to aid the flow of the river.

We’ll have more salmon swimming and spawning and flourishing in our river!  There are many ripples winding around the gravel banks, providing the perfect environment for spawning.  As the Rutherford Dust Napa River Restoration advances there is a plan for a salmon ladder at the Zinfandel Bridge.  Our Napa River, often chided for being sluggish, will be brought back to a thriving natural habitat for wildlife and our community.

Most areas of the river are on private property, and not accessible for the public.  Therefore, I encourage everyone with a curiosity and love of our Napa River to contact the Napa County Resource Conservation District to participate in their programs that bring people to the river throughout the year.  Visit: http://www.naparcd.org/programs.html or call the Napa County RCD at 707-252-4188 x100.

Before we panic….

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My good friend, Carole Peccorini, RN, MA, sent me this timely information:

With all the news about the Swine Flu swirling around in the media, don’t board the Panic Train. Focus on building a strong immune system.  It is wise to provide all the support we can to our immune systems on a regular basis, but especially at times like these when we could face additional challenges.  I am increasing the amount of products that I use to build my immune support and encouraging my family and friends to do the same.

Some facts to keep in mind for sanity’s sake – from report by Dr. Mercola (http://www.mercola.com/forms/background.htm)

The Swine Flu came around before in 1976.  More people died or were paralyzed from the vaccine than the flu itself.

To put things into perspective, malaria kills 3,000 people EVERY DAY, and it’s only considered “a health problem”. Continue reading

Have you wondered what you can do?

Sometimes we wonder how we can make some little impact. Sometimes we think that it must be special people, maybe they “have no life”, that they just give of themselves and hopefully they’ll get it all done for us. But the truth is, those “special” people are just you and me and others like us who know in our hearts that we love our life here on Earth and we want to contribute in some way.

Check out this simple…yes, SIMPLE, way to learn more and find a way to fulfill your heart’s desire. Thanks!

Pachamama Alliance: Awakening the Dreamer

O Happy Day

O happy day. In my humble home, on my cushy sofa, in pajama pants, I indulged myself in front of our plain ol’ 27″ TV. What else could have been more important for me to do right now, this special morning? I watched the Inauguration of our 44th President, Barack Hussein Obama.

Gratitude. I felt the surge of emotion and joyous gratitude, resonating from the thousands of people packed shoulder to shoulder in the 27 degree D.C. morning. I am so grateful to be able to watch, to share this moment, just as millions more watch on TVs around our nation. And I am grateful for this time in our country, when one man, with the nation’s hope and faith will take the helm and steer our nation, government and people; making the difficult turn to set us on a better course. Hope and Faith that we will unite, forgive, trust and work together. It’s a prayer, sent out into the vast and mysterious atmosphere of our lives. I declare it a happy day!

I love the smell of PVC in the morning…

I love shopping and playing dress-up in the fabulous fashions at Nordstrom and designer stores. I say “playing dress-up” because most of the time that’s as far as it’s gonna go. I’m not in the bracket to actually puchase real designer clothing. Our outlet stores give a pretty good quick fix, but I haven’t gotten very close to the real thing.

Now with the downturn of our economy, even those who can afford to splurge are cinching in their Prada corsets. Never fear! In last Sunday’s New York Times I read about the “Recessionistas”; those Fashionistas that are making do with what Nature never intended…polyvinyl chloride!Designers are designing for the masses (that means most of us) and thanks to Target and others you can get your designer fix. Knock-offs are nothing new, but I suppose they are on the upswing right now.

I’m sticking to my Hippocritical Oath! I too have an adorable PVC bag or two. I’ve got PVC stuff all over the house; laundry basket, coffee maker, coat hangers, mop, stereo equipment, computer, TV…anyone out there NOT have any of the toxic stuff? (I’d love to hear about it..nothing, really??) And to be sure, it is toxic. So, I’m just saying…let’s be aware. Read about PVC here. And some great alternatives for a healthy home here.

But I like the Recessionista idea a lot! I say take it a bit further and make it more about recycling. I was about to buy a new pair of shoes the other day, then decided to wait until I got home and do my closet switch over from summer to fall/winter. Lo and behold I dug out 3 pairs of brown shoes and others that were, yes! back in style again! Really, what goes around definitely comes around in fashion.

And how about a Swap Party? Organize a free-for-all with your friends (I would think men’s clothing could work too). More fun to share and sans the often musty ambiance of the local thrift store. Read about “how to” here.

I encourage you to visit http://therecessionista.blogspot.com Mary Hall’s got it down and is providing a great resource! And she’s been written up in the New York Times! The lady is living my life I tell ya! Big Smile! =)