Success from the Heart – The Heart of the Mendocino Coast, Part 1

I’ve visited the Mendocino coast nearly every year; as far back as I can remember.  My dad was passionate about the Northern California

Village of Mendocino, CA

Village of Mendocino, CA

coast and the rugged shores of Mendocino.  We headed there on summer road trips, to brave the bracing winds and stinging-cold water and watch my mom comb the beaches for shells and pretty pieces of glass.   In my early adolescence I became fascinated with the bohemian lifestyle of the village of Mendocino: a grocery store in an old church, charming bookstores in funky water towers, and colorful people and their artwork all over town.

This year I traveled to the Mendocino coast again as I planned and assisted the Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce with a press trip for travel writers.  I was meeting and working and getting to know a few people who live and work in Mendocino and Fort Bragg.   As I listened to them I somehow began to sense what it feels like to live there.  I could feel how different and unique it is to dwell on this coastal edge; edging up against the rocky beaches, cold and windy days, forest roads and rural living.

It’s not completely easy to live on the Mendocino coast.  The town of Fort Bragg, the village of Mendocino and a few small hamlets along Hwy 1 are on their own for providing all of the modern conveniences that we, in the 21st century, take for granted.  Cell phone service is limited, having just landed in Mendocino about two years ago; still, most likely, you have to duck around a corner, or go outside on your porch to pick up a signal.   There are not a lot of choices for employment; working and making a living takes creativity and diligence. Keep reading

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Eco Travel In Our Own Hometown

When talking about ecotourism, I don’t think many people envision the Napa Valley, California and its infamous Wine Country. I live here, in Napa, California and in 2006 when I returned from an inspiring trip to Kenya and Tanzania my head and heart were full of the concept of responsible travel. I had seen the vast beauty of the Rift Valley and I became aware of how our Earth is actually the same no matter if it is the wide open landscapes of the Rift Valley or the concrete freeways throughout California. It is our home and here we are, all of us, all over the globe, digging and toiling in our Earth; completely dependent on our planet. In addition to this, I believe that deep within each of us is an inherent commitment to care for our planet, our home. Africa raised my environmental consciousness and now I view my own tromping around quite differently. I started to think about other “eco-travelers”, travelers who want to be responsible wherever they go and I began to perceive that ecotourism has more than one issue to it; that we can support others in making choices for responsible travel whether on a short road trip in our own region or traveling around the world. I presumed that those who travel responsibly, “eco travelers”, are not exclusively planning adventure excursions in the wild. They may be from the Bay Area, perhaps statewide or international and they may want to visit the illustrious “Wine Country”. In addition to enjoying beautiful scenery and warm, seductive weather, they also love wine-tasting, fine restaurants and plush accommodations. And they will want to know they are being responsible and respectful of the destination they are visiting. Napa Valley is just about 30 miles from end to end and about five miles across at the widest and we have nearly 5 million people visiting here each year! So, I began to research the possibilities of finding tours, attractions, accommodations and restaurants that support the eco traveler in matching their values and commitments when traveling. It wasn’t easy to uncover, but the good news is that during 2007 the county government and the people of the community strengthened their commitment to be environmentally responsible. Throughout the Napa Valley there are tours, attractions, accommodations and restaurants that strive to be environmentally responsible and raise awareness of ecology and conservation. The Napa Chamber of Commerce now lists businesses that have become “Green Certified”, a business that has been certified through the Bay Area Green Business Program (www.greenbiz.ca.gov) and other acknowledged certification programs and “green-minded” businesses that are taking steps to conserve natural resources and prevent pollution, such as using more efficient lighting, purchasing in bulk, watering landscapes efficiently, recycling cardboard, using less toxic products, etc.

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ and it is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. In November of 2006, the Gaia Hotel (www.gaiahotelnapavalley.com) opened in the Napa Valley, setting precedence in accommodations as a LEED certified “green” hotel. Along with this positive movement, a limousine and tour company, California Wine Tours, has introduced its “Green Fleet” of “luxury hybrid vehicles”, giving tourists the alternative to the dreaded Hummer. This is brand new green but there has also been devotion to the Napa Valley landscape and the major trade it yields for many years. The winemaker that first catapulted Napa Valley wines to world renown with his highest scoring chardonnay in the Paris Tasting of 1976 went on to develop Grgich Hills Winery, one of the valley’s foremost vineyards that are certified organic using biodynamic farming. This holistic farming practice uses the earth’s natural cycles and organic preparations to grow balanced, healthy vines without artificial fertilizers, pesticides, or fungicides. In 2006, Grgich Hills switched the winery to solar power.

I think the more we know of our own regions and what is being done to further our sustainability and environmental protection, the more we can encourage others to seek out eco friendly choices for our local recreation and leisure activities. I hope to venture out to as many wonderful places around the world as time and money will allow and I also hope to call myself an “eco traveler” in my own hometown.