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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Connecting with Butterflies – Carole Peccorini’s Success from the Heart

I interviewed Carole Peccorini in April of 2008.  Since then The Butterfly Project has raised over half of her goal of $60,000 to fund the college education of Uganda girls.  The Butterfly Project works in collaboration with Village Volunteers, a non-profit organization that works in partnership with rural village and capacity-building programs to support the development of sustainable solutions for

Carole Peccorini and Evaline, Uganda

Carole Peccorini and Evaline, Uganda

community survival, education, and growth.  www.VillageVolunteers.org

Carole Peccorini was my first inspiration to create interviews with people that are working and living from their hearts.  Whether making tons of money or not, it is truly Success from the Heart.  www.TheButterflyProject.com

1.         For your first trip to Uganda, how did you “get the nerve” to go to Africa?

Since childhood I have had a longing and connection with Africa.  My heroes are Albert Schweitzer, Jane Goodall with the chimps, Diane Fossey with the gorillas and the Leakeys searching for the oldest human remains in the Oldavi Gorge. I just love all of the wildlife and the new knowledge based on their long-term research and discoveries.  Over a ten to fifteen year period  I probably read every book they published about Africa.  So it was already in me; a sense and longing that got ignited.  It seemed to be my destiny.

The trip to Uganda in 2005 was with MannaRelief, a non profit program of a biotech nutraceutical company called Mannatech.   I have an independent business with Mannatech.  MannaRelief is devoted to children, providing vital nutrients to the orphans in the developing world.  Their first team went to Uganda in 2005.  I’ve been a pediatric nurse, with a passion and commitment for children.  I got the email about the pending trip to Uganda just 5 or 6 weeks before they were scheduled to depart.  I talked it over with my friend Leta, who also had a lifelong dream to go to Africa and we just said, “Should we say yes?” and we took the leap!  I didn’t have a clue how to come up with the money, had to clear my calendar and didn’t know how it would all work.  But I knew in my heart it would work.  I had made a commitment to myself that in my 60’s I would have life-opening experiences.  The decision came from my heart.  The majority of time you just do what is reasonable and keep things working.  But sometimes an inner self just knows when to make a leap. I trusted that inner self to say “Yes” to something that was transformational and life-changing.

2.         It was during that trip that The Butterfly Project evolved.  Do you remember a  specific incident that sparked the idea for  The Butterfly Project?

Probably a handful of things.  While there, we met with, Dr. Nsaba Butero, the Minister for Information & Broadcasting, in the Office of the President.  He had a PhD in Social Sciences.  I just loved this man! What he said touched me deeply: “We don’t need charity. We’re not looking for handouts. What we need are partners to solve problems.” This conversation happened early in the trip.  Uganda has amazing bio-rich resources and wonderful people. They need partnerships to develop what they have.  They not only want to solve problems for their people, but to participate in the global economy.

In addition to that experience, we were with the kids, the orphans, teaching them about the nutrients.  I had brought 1200 Blue Morpho butterflies, small replicas, to delight the children.  The butterflies were easy to include in my luggage.  The kids just lit up when they got a butterfly!  It was very joyful.  And then, when I would begin to leave, the kids would always hug us and say, “I love you”. They would also say, “When you go home, please tell everyone I love them.”  They made an extraordinary connection to people everywhere.

And, of course, I met Eveline, a young orphan girl who was very bright and engaging.  I asked about continuing school for her and could she go to the university. I found out from Bob, the orphanage director, that it cost $6000, total, to attend the university.  I said to him, “That’s doable!”  From that point I knew the funds would be there for her to go to college if she chose. And while in Uganda, it was my 62nd birthday. I met Bette, also an orphan since six.  She had been trained to be a masseuse and as a gift I was given a massage from Bette.  From learning her story and knowing about all the other girls, by then I just knew that I’d send 10 Ugandan girls to college. It was done and complete in my heart.   It was another big “Yes!”

3.         What’s the most daunting hurdle you’ve had to conquer to get The Butterfly Project going or keep it going?

At some point, transformational vision has to move back into the realm of reasonable.  It was about four of five weeks after I returned before I had the name, The Butterfly Project. In that transformational arena, connections and solutions come magically, but I had to go back and forth between practical actions and transformational connections.  The story made the connections.  The biggest hurdle was turning my vision into a non-profit organization, in addition to running my regular business!  It is an arduous process.  Three main things are needed to establish a non-profit that involves another country: it has to be a legal non profit; there have to be people on the ground in Uganda to make it happen; and there has to be a fundraising division.  I partnered with Global Partners for Development to establish the non profit status and I’ve been learning what it takes to bring The Butterfly Project into a mature, sustainable program that works.

4.         What keeps your commitment going?

The fact that the decision came from my heart, from that sense of spirit within me.  It actually feels sacred, like a covenant.  With that it takes the will to get it going and the passion for it and then the results. There are policies to develop, strategic plans to be made and funds to be raised.  Whenever I do a presentation, the magic of the story re-ignites my commitment.  More stories will develop as the girls attend the universities and have opportunities in their lives that will benefit their villages and the world.  This keeps the juice and joy

Carole and kids, Uganda

Carole and kids, Uganda

going; people’s lives being changed and saying “yes”.

5.         Do you have a specific joyous result or incident that has come from The Butterfly Project?

My vision and prayer for what would happen in my 60’s is happening. My life opened and I have new amazing people in my life.  On a personal level, this is a very powerful result.  And my heart leaps for joy for Evaline!  For her progress in school and knowing she will be able to go to university if she chooses. I’ve seen friends’ lives open from the story and this has allowed them to say yes to transformational possibilities in their own lives.  These opening often arrive unplanned and they usually are not reasonable. But then to see it in action is joyful, to see the results ripple out to many.

1. For your first trip to Uganda, how did you “get the nerve” to go to Africa?

Since childhood I have had a longing and connection with Africa. My heroes are Albert Schweitzer, Jane Goodall with the chimps, Diane Fossey with the gorillas and the Leakeys searching for the oldest human remains in the Oldavi Gorge. I just love all of the wildlife and the new knowledge based on their long-term research and discoveries. Over a ten to fifteen year period I probably read every book they published about Africa. So it was already in me; a sense and longing that got ignited. It seemed to be my destiny.

The trip to Uganda in 2005 was with MannaRelief, a non profit program of a biotech nutraceutical company called Mannatech. I have an independent business with Mannatech. MannaRelief is devoted to children, providing vital nutrients to the orphans in the developing world. Their first team went to Uganda in 2005. I’ve been a pediatric nurse, with a passion and commitment for children. I got the email about the pending trip to Uganda just 5 or 6 weeks before they were scheduled to depart. I talked it over with my friend Leta, who also had a lifelong dream to go to Africa and we just said, “Should we say yes?” and we took the leap! I didn’t have a clue how to come up with the money, had to clear my calendar and didn’t know how it would all work. But I knew in my heart it would work. I had made a commitment to myself that in my 60’s I would have life-opening experiences. The decision came from my heart. The majority of time you just do what is reasonable and keep things working. But sometimes an inner self just knows when to make a leap. I trusted that inner self to say “Yes” to something that was transformational and life-changing.

2. It was during that trip that The Butterfly Project evolved. Do you remember a specific incident that sparked the idea for The Butterfly Project?

Probably a handful of things. While there, we met with, Dr. Nsaba Butero, the Minister for Information & Broadcasting, in the Office of the President. He had a PhD in Social Sciences. I just loved this man! What he said touched me deeply: “We don’t need charity. We’re not looking for handouts. What we need are partners to solve problems.” This conversation happened early in the trip. Uganda has amazing bio-rich resources and wonderful people. They need partnerships to develop what they have. They not only want to solve problems for their people, but to participate in the global economy.

In addition to that experience, we were with the kids, the orphans, teaching them about the nutrients. I had brought 1200 Blue Morpho butterflies, small replicas, to delight the children. The butterflies were easy to include in my luggage. The kids just lit up when they got a butterfly! It was very joyful. And then, when I would begin to leave, the kids would always hug us and say, “I love you”. They would also say, “When you go home, please tell everyone I love them.” They made an extraordinary connection to people everywhere.

And, of course, I met Eveline, a young orphan girl who was very bright and engaging. I asked about continuing school for her and could she go to the university. I found out from Bob, the orphanage director, that it cost $6000, total, to attend the university. I said to him, “That’s doable!” From that point I knew the funds would be there for her to go to college if she chose. And while in Uganda, it was my 62nd birthday. I met Bette, also an orphan since six. She had been trained to be a masseuse and as a gift I was given a massage from Bette. From learning her story and knowing about all the other girls, by then I just knew that I’d send 10 Ugandan girls to college. It was done and complete in my heart. It was another big “Yes!”

3. What’s the most daunting hurdle you’ve had to conquer to get The Butterfly Project going or keep it going?

At some point, transformational vision has to move back into the realm of reasonable. It was about four of five weeks after I returned before I had the name, The Butterfly Project. In that transformational arena, connections and solutions come magically, but I had to go back and forth between practical actions and transformational connections. The story made the connections. The biggest hurdle was turning my vision into a non-profit organization, in addition to running my regular business! It is an arduous process. Three main things are needed to establish a non-profit that involves another country: it has to be a legal non profit; there have to be people on the ground in Uganda to make it happen; and there has to be a fundraising division. I partnered with Global Partners for Development to establish the non profit status and I’ve been learning what it takes to bring The Butterfly Project into a mature, sustainable program that works.

4. What keeps your commitment going?

The fact that the decision came from my heart, from that sense of spirit within me. It actually feels sacred, like a covenant. With that it takes the will to get it going and the passion for it and then the results. There are policies to develop, strategic plans to be made and funds to be raised. Whenever I do a presentation, the magic of the story re-ignites my commitment. More stories will develop as the girls attend the universities and have opportunities in their lives that will benefit their villages and the world. This keeps the juice and joy going; people’s lives being changed and saying “yes”.

5. Do you have a specific joyous result or incident that has come from The Butterfly Project?

My vision and prayer for what would happen in my 60’s is happening. My life opened and I have new amazing people in my life. On a personal level, this is a very powerful result. And my heart leaps for joy for Evaline! For her progress in school and knowing she will be able to go to university if she chooses. I’ve seen friends’ lives open from the story and this has allowed them to say yes to transformational possibilities in their own lives. These opening often arrive unplanned and they usually are not reasonable. But then to see it in action is joyful, to see the results ripple out to many.

Carneros – Wide Open Spaces

2CarnerosEastweb

Carneros, Napa Valley

Sometimes I feel surrounded by traffic and noise.  All the progress and construction going on in Napa!   Maybe it’s good to just get away from it all, alone in wide open spaces to stretch our legs, our minds and perspectives.  I know just the place to do this, out on the edge of the Carneros.

The Carneros is the largest of the Napa Valley wine growing regions and shared, as well, with Sonoma County.  Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are its most famous grapes, others include Merlot and Syrah and it was the first region to be designated an appellation in 1983. Continue reading

Moving into new territory

I feel a little guilty…leaving the “other guy”, the other blogging place.  But what can I say?  WordPress is giving me more of what I want.  So here I am and I hope our relationship blossoms.

Connecting people + places + things. All around the world.

All in a day’s journey…

A “walkathon”. Remember that word? I guess a marathon is 26 miles, and then folks would do fund raisers by walking the 26 miles, so that everyone could participate. Well, this noble idea grew and the Susan G. Komen, 3Day Walk for Breast Cancer became a walkathon XXL. Sixty miles, over three days. I just completed this 3Day Walk last weekend. We started out on Friday, September 5th. No, make that Thursday night, September 4th. Because we decided to stay overnight in South San Francisco to get to the Cow Palace at 6:00am. So really, the event starts the night before, when you’re apprehensive, excited, buzzed and tired all at the same time. It takes a lot of logistics to get families and jobs wrapped up and put aside so that you can get off on your adventure. I slept just fine that Thursday night and got up with my roommate at 4:30am. Can’t eat breakfast that early, so granola bars were toted along. A long weekend of many granola bars lay ahead.

Our 3Day route was fantastic! I love San Francisco and lived there for many years, but never have I walked all over the city. All over the entire city and more. On Day 1 we started at the Cow Palace, walked through South San Francisco over to Westlake, down to the beach and along the Great Highway, up into Golden Gate Park, taking Arguello to Jackson Street and up into Laurel Heights, up, up into Pacific Heights and down, down to Lombard Street, crossing to the Marina District and out to the Marina Green stretching way out along the new (to me) trail into Crissy Field…our campsite for two nights. 20.4 miles and it was 88 degrees in San Francisco on Friday.

I trailed behind as our team made it in to camp. Now we had to find our gear bags (35lbs.), drag them to our tent site, pull out a pink pup tent and spread it out, hook up the poles. My tentmate and I just kept moving, plodding, feet burning, legs aching, but nothing mattered more than getting that tent up. And then the air mattress. “Whrrrr” as the battery pump puffed up our mattress; our eyes and fingers working in tandem, focusing on that pump like it was our last hope for survival. Oh what a beautiful sight! The mattress! Toss in the sleeping bags and phoof! Laying down!

A lot of the weekend is a blur to me. The grass at Crissy Field is long and lush and lumpy…a gopher cityscape! We plodded over the grass. Fifty some-odd yards to porta-potties and funny, little stainless steel shower trailers, and cafeteria style food lines for dinner and breakfast. I remember the amazing foot massage machines in one tent along the amenities “boulevard”; a life saver! Medical tents and kind and generous volunteers everywhere. It was roughing it with lots of hugs. On one morning, at about 4:30am I plodded through the cold, wet grass to the potty. As I made my way back to the tent I looked around me and saw others moving slowly through the fog and fuzzy semi-darkness. Hunched with arms hanging, methodically stepping, plodding over dirt clods with bruised and wounded feet. All I could see was a scene from “Night of the Living Dead”! I’m sorry! But that’s what we looked like…zombies!

Day 2: As we walked over the majestic Golden Gate Bridge at about 8:00am and marveled at how sunny and balmy the weather was, I knew we were in trouble. The GGB should have been shrouded in fog, with an icy wind. This meant heat and the temperature in San Francisco on Day 2 sizzled it’s way to 93 degrees. In Mill Valley, our halfway point, it reached 101. I didn’t make it all the way that day. I only got as far a the end of Sausalito; my feet burning and a particularly angry blister on my right foot. I got it cleaned and bandaged at the lunch stop. My tentmate got as far as our Mill Valley lunch stop, over 12 miles. But her feet were burning and blistered too. We made the woeful decision to be bussed back to the camp, to rest and hopefully heal enough to get all the way through Day 3. We had to! We had to do all of Day 3 and we would bandage our feet, stoke up on Advil and walk until we were bloody!

Now, my teammates will tell you that I am a complainer. Yes, I know it was said. But I don’t see it as all that negative. My complaining is simply thinking out loud, letting off steam, and telling it like it is! Ooh, ow, why so many hills?, this is just mean, my feet are on fire! And “Uff da” became my mantra. (Uff da is an exclamation of Norwegian origin that is relatively common in the Upper Midwestern states of the United States, meaning roughly “drats,” “oops!” or “ouch!” especially if the “ouch!” is an empathetic one. http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Uff-da) Up and down every curb…”Uff da!”

This beautiful walk, exciting stories and new women (and men) to meet and talk with. Wild and crazy “cheering sections” that greeted us over and over along the route with costumes, music, candy and wet wipes. “Pit stops” with water, food and porta-potties. Water, food and porta-potties. Water, food and porta-potties. That was our life for three days.

Day 3: Fog. Glorious fog! Cool, damp, fluffy, beautiful fog! No sun! We started out for our last 14 miles in loving fog and gray skies. We were all sore and beat; but the cool morning and anticipation of our achievement gave us strength. We walked together all the way. We made our first 6 miles and 2nd pit stop in about 1.5 hours. We were stoked! Piece o’cake! A little sun came through and we enjoyed our walk through magnificent San Francisco. The intricate architecture of Pacific Heights. The crowded downtown streets and glamorous stores of Union Square. Sax Fifth Avenue had all of its windows done in designer stilettos! Eek! It looked like a torture chamber to me! I hope I recover from the shock; I do love those shoes.

Advil is a wonderful drug. I took my doses every couple of hours and my nasty blister rested in peace. As we marched through the Financial District and up into North Beach we were closing in on our final destination. At 12 miles we all hurt. A lot. But we did it. We marched/hobbled together into Fort Mason, our holding area before the closing ceremonies at the Marina Green. We whipped on our victory t-shirts and sat on the asphalt to cheer the stream of walkers as they arrived. We cried at the site of their limping and pain, disabilities, sweat, red faces, huge smiles, whacky costumes, team spirit, war-whoops and laughter. We hugged. Each other, group hugs. And finally, we located our husbands and families and at the end of the ceremonies we scattered; anxious to start our final journey to home, bathtubs and beds.

My cast of characters? My team? The Tickled Pinks! Lani, Lorri and Tami – mother, daughter and granddaughter. Three generations of a family that knows the terror of breast cancer. Lani is our 10 year survivor and a beautiful 60-something! She has never camped in a tent, or walked miles and miles, just cuz. I think Lani logged about 12 to 15 miles each day; taking care of herself and using the “sweep vans” as needed.

Lorri and Tami, mother and daughter, a vision of determination and fortitude. They walked the entire 3 days. I am truly inspired by them.

Rachel, our road-side warrior. We met her during our training walks and she was alone, ready to do this crazy thing all on her own. We scooped her up into our team and she walked the entir
e 3 days. Her husband, two kids and mother showed up all along the route to support her, and us. A beautiful family, a continuous beam of love throughout our journey. And Sally and Christine. Often they walked slower than us. Not always with us, but…always with us. Smiling faces, hugs and support. We all gave and gave and gave.

My tentmate? Linda! Apparently we were separated at birth. Such an odd story. She is Lorri’s aunt and Linda and I have been connected all our lives through our extended families; beginning in Vallejo, CA. I babysat her niece and she babysat mine. We both graduated from high school in 1971; but across town from each other at “rival” high schools. All my life I’ve heard, “you know Linda, right?” No, I had never even set eyes on her. And she has the same story. For some reason our paths would not cross until we were 55 years old. For me it was like a scene from “The Parent Trap”, seeing my twin for the first time at camp! We had an instantly great time. We laughed and laughed and made wonderful jokes about how miserable we were. I whole-heartedly thank God for Linda!

I’ve got two things, two gifts of life, that came from my 3Day experience:
1. The magic of an all out physical challenge and exertion for a cause exclusive of oneself is a stress and anxiety purge. Whatever projects and problems were festering and nagging at me just the week before are now simply my stuff to do. I am calm, restored and harmonized. It has to be a challenge that is for and about someone or something other than yourself. The fortitude it takes to keep going and push through real and imagined pain to finish just because you said so. A commitment, a promise and an achievement that will make a difference to someone, some world.

2. I am now awake and present to the importance of fighting cancer. Over the 3 days I was immersed in the loss and longing for family members and friends that lost their battle with breast cancer. Any cancer; it’s all an unnecessary evil. Cancer is mutated cells. In a sense there will not be any cure for cancer, it’s not a bacteria or virus we can inoculate. But there is research and science that is developing cellular health through glyconutrients and more. I’m a novice at this, but I want to know more and I want to support it. http://www.glyconutrientsreference.com/whatareglyconutrients/scientificvalidation.html

Will I do this 3Day walk again? I don’t think so. Uff da. BUT, I will be a cheering station! I will jump up and down and dance along the route and bring joy, laughter, love and Kleenex to the walkers. What a great bunch they were, the Cheering Stations!

It’s Wednesday and I’m still in flip flops. You couldn’t pay me to put on a pair of shoes yet. The blister was really ugly, but healing. I had a massage on Monday, more healing. I’m walking normal again, not hobbling. I so had my doubts a few weeks ago. I thought I had made a mistake with all this stress of fund raising and training walks. But last February a message came through my mind that said I needed a physical and spiritual challenge. I chose the 3Day and I got everything I asked for! (wink)

www.the3day.org, www.komen.org, www.nptrust.org

Who Knew?! Making a great connection…

I’m in training for the Susan G. Komen 3Day Breast Cancer walk. My team, The Tickled Pinks, will be walking in the San Francisco Bay Area walk, September 5,6 and 7. Well, this is indeed a commitment. And the walking is arduous. No doubt about it. We’re training at about 12-14 miles now. That’s about 4 hours of walking. I’ve been a bit of a whiner too! My Sundays are kaput! Walking at 7:30am on a Sunday! Phooey! But, in my heart, I knew there are good reasons for this and some hidden benefits…I just knew it…Today, I happened to look at a photo I took in Florence, Italy.

It was a photo of the plaza around the Uffizi museum and gallery. My hubby and I traveled there just last October, 2007. The walking!! All over Florence, Rome and Venice. My feet felt like pounded beef! In fact, I had to trick my husband into walking to this plaza in the photo. “Oh, there’s something I want to see just over here”; “just around this corner”; “oh, just a little farther down this street”; “um, just over there”…really! I kept him in suspense until we were there because he had dug in his heels and said, “I can’t walk anymore!!”

When I reminisced over this photo a connection sparked! WALKING! Oh my! After all this walking we’ve been doing, to get to the 3Day event in San Francisco, I could walk ALL OVER ITALY!! I could frickin’ walk from France to Italy! Bigga deala!

So, think of it! How great this walk is for raising money for breast cancer, and how it effects our lives in ways we never expected. I’ll get back to Europe, or any other magnificent destination, and I’ll be able to get myself around in the most intimate way without feeling like my legs are lead. This is like a gift! New feet, new legs! Who knew?!

And here I present you the opportunity to be a part of this widespread joy and gratitude. Make a donation to the Susan G. Komen 3Day Breast Cancer Walk here.

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.