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Sonoma County, CA November 2, 2004 Election
Smart Voter

Four pillars of the campaign

By Chris Elms

Candidate for Member, City Council; City of Sonoma

This information is provided by the candidate
slow down; try new ways of thinking; connect to nature; more democracy and involvement

Happiness comes from being in the present and being aware of the world. It also comes from learning how to get out of habits that are producing unhappiness, whether it be an uncomfortable movement, or a harsh time in a relationship, or a life that is too busy. If we are in a rush, we miss happiness.

Slow down traffic, to create a mood of calmness on the roads, instead of the rush we all feel. Make it safe once again, for children, for people on bicycles, for people walking, especially for old people.

Specifically,lower the speed limit to 20 mph, and have much more enforcement. We now average 1.3 tickets a day, and we all know speed roads, all over town. This is not enough to get people out of the habits of speeding and cruising through stop signs.

As it is now, our streets ( and to some extent our lives) are dominated by the car. We need to take back our time from rushing around, come back to the present, enjoy the birthright of walking and connecting to people and to the trees and flowers as we move through our lives.

Let's slow down our minds, let's pause, breathe, enjoy, live a good life!

Slow down building. We are putting up too much new housing, too fast, too crammed in tight. Human beings are not meant to live like sardines. Make sure there is some open space around all building projects and lower the allowed rate from 88 units a year to 44 units per year.


The habit of seeing if I can see things outside of the habitual ways comes from who I am , and my Feldenkrais training. In the Feldenkrais Method, a sore back or a sore neck aren't mainly in the back or neck, they are in the brain, and how the brain is organizing the whole being to create and maintain that sore back and neck.

Try this experiment, which I've started to do sometimes door to door, and will do at all the debates. Pick up both hands. Wiggle the fingers around, and then interlace your fingers. And then move the now together hands around. Next, look at which thumb is on top, take apart the fingers and interlace them again with the other thumb on top, and all the fingers interlaced, now one notch up or down from usual, and then move your hands around. It feels very strange.

Then goes back and forth and look: from the point of view of two hands and what they can do, it's 50%/ 50% which way to choose. But from the point of view of the brain and our habits, it's actually about 100%/ 0% what we choose.

Our ideas about the car, about nature, about how things are done at city hall are all examples of habits that we forget are habits.


Most of you know I was instrumental in creating what has now become the Sonoma Garden Park. For 4 almost 5 years (some 5000 hours or so of volunteering on this beautiful piece of land) I persisted, often alone, and then with more and more help (thanks to Ken Brown for coming to the rescue at a crucial time; thanks to Richard Dale and the Ecology Center for always being in the background, and helping when the times were desparate). This is now a beautiful part of the city. Come visit it if you haven't yet, it's at East 7th and Denmark, on land that Pauline Bond willed to the city as a park. I call it the seventh jewel of Sonoma.

(Aside: the Seven Jewels of Sonoma: 1) the bike path, Field of Dreams, Depot Park corridor 2) the Plaza, where people can get out of their cars and be a real human for awhile 3) the Overlook Trail, created by a town that reject a hotel up there 4) the Sebastiani Theater 5) Readers' Books 6) The Community Center 7) The Sonoma Garden Park . End of aside)

I see nature as a place of coming back to ourselves. I see soil as a place to reconnect with soul. You can read all the ecological programs the first position paper.


Ecology is about connecting to Earth. It is about reversing the domination of the automobile in our civilization, about re-awakenin to the miracle of having feet and being able to walk. It is about using the resources of nature, the sun and wind and rain, and being in harmony with them. It is about getting out of our car boxes, and our house and office boxes, and out into the fresh world from which all humanity came. It is about building the soil more than we are using up, and living in harmony with trees and soil and other life forms. It is about sleeping outdoors sometimes, and having creeks that we can get to and enjoy and that are alive and full of happy fish. And so on. Your heart knows all this.

Slowing down brings up back to the rate of nature, back to the present, back to pace where we can know we are alive, and know the ones we love are important, and know how much we cherish and value nature.


City council meetings are like this (my opinion, which it seems I'm not afraid to give); from 7 to 8 PM, very interesting; from 8 to 9 PM, sort of interesting; from 9 to 9:30 , boring; from 9:30 to 10, really boring; from 10 PM on, deadly boring.

So, a lot of people are too worn down to participate. I see using my email contacts to get information out and back, and want to set up something on the city web site telling the budget, the important issues, and offering a chance for you citizen to vote on certain issues (the police/sheriff thing, say).

Many of you have met me going door to door; I love this interaction and want to continue this, when and if I get onto council. And, as you know, you can find me pretty easily around town, riding my bike here and there.

Slow down, even now, with all these good ideas. This is our life. Right now. (Really, this now, right now. Breathe, smile, you are alive!!)

It's a beautiful small town; vote for me to help keep it that way.

Call me at 996-1437 to help volunteer, to make signs, to contribute money, to talk. Or email See the website for lots of ideas and essays!

Thanks, Chris

Next Page: Position Paper 3

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