Bill Clinton once advised Americans to “Follow the trend lines, not the headlines.” We have always agreed with this approach (both locally and globally), and here at the start of 2018 one big, positive and very important trend line is readily apparent.

Put simply, Americans – including Sonoma Valley residents – are more engaged with environmental issues than ever before.

This is true for a few different reasons. For many of us the stark politics at the federal level have been clarifying, forcing us to reexamine our beliefs and principles – and compelling many to become involved in local issues. We know, from long experience, the power of this kind of grassroots work and the dramatic change it can lead to.

In addition, last October’s wildfires have caused Sonoma County residents to reconsider our water and fire policies – and the ways in which those policies affect the larger world around us. As one example, prescribed fires, rather than total fire suppression, can make our local landscapes safer for people and more habitable for native plants and animals.

As the articles below make clear, there are a lot of reasons to feel good about the coming year: Sonoma Valley is bouncing back. Our advice, then, is to take heart, become active in your own community, and have a happy New Year!