Two moms and their children stand in a field at Radical Family Farms
Leslie Wiser and Sarah Deragon of Radical Family Farm; photo by Emmalaine Berry

Sonoma County honors International Women's Day

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International Women's Day on March 8 is the perfect time to celebrate the 42nd anniversary of Women's History Week, which eventually became National Women's History Month, at the movement's birthplace: Sonoma County.

The Movement's Birthplace: Sonoma County

Up until the 1970s, women's history was practically an unknown topic in school curriculums or in general public consciousness. So 42 years ago the Education Task Force of Sonoma County created the first 'Women's History Week' starting March 8, 1978. More than 100 women participated by making special presentations in classrooms, and an essay contest drew hundreds of entries. The week's finale was a parade and program in downtown Santa Rosa.

In February 1980, President Carter declared the week of March 8, 1980 as National Women's History Week. The National Women's History Project was founded that same year, with its headquarters in Santa Rosa and a goal of 'writing women back into history.'

By 1986, 14 states had declared March as Women's History Month, and in 1987 Congress declared March as National Women's History Month in perpetuity.

Sonoma County Women Leaders

This unique place has been shaped by incredible women paragons in their fields. They've taken the lead in cultivating the land and learning from it, like Leslie Wiser, who grows the food of her Chinese-German heritage with her partner Sarah Deragon on their Radical Family Farm in Sebastopol. Or like Katina Connaughton, who guides sustainable agriculture practices and foraging as owner and head farmer at Sonoma County's first Michelin 3-star restaurant, Single Thread Farm Restaurant & Inn.

A farmer in a pink jacket and denim vest looks down at the plants she is holding inside of a greenhouse with a smile on her face
Katina Connaughton of Single Thread Farm; photo by Eric Wolfinger

They've broken barriers and built community in the wine industry, like Brenae Royal, the Millennial, Black vineyard manager making all the farming decisions that make Monte Rosso Vineyard grapes so premier.  Or Akiko Freeman, an acclaimed former art historian who now infuses elements of her native Japan into her winemaking at Freeman Winery. Or Amy Bess Cook who champions women-owned wineries through WOW Sonoma. These women continue adding to the legacy in many ways started by industry legends like Merry Edwards and Carol Shelton who call Sonoma County home. 

They distill top spirits (like Ashby Marshall of Spirit Works Distillery and Amy Groth of HelloCello & Prohibition Spirits), brew world-class beer (like Natalie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing Company), shine a cider spotlight on Sonoma County (like Ellen Cavalli of Tilted Shed Ciderworks), and make waves in the culinary world (like entrepreneur Crista Luedke of boon eat + drink, Big Bottom Market, and BROT fame; Dusky Estes of Black Pig Meat Co.; and Sondra Bernstein of the girl & the fig).

They've led us outdoors (Margaret Lindgren of Unbeaten Path Tours), run museums (Jean Schulz of the Charles M. Schulz Museum), and launched film festivals (Kathryn Hecht of the Alexander Valley Film Festival).

Upcoming events around International Women's Day:

Celebrate the sound of International Women's Day

March 7 at 7 p.m., Hopmonk Tavern Sebastopol

Come celebrate women in song as world traveling blues and bluegrass band Dirty Cello teams up with some of the North Bay’s top female performers to present a concert in honor of International Women’s Day at the Hopmonk Tavern in Sebastopol at 7 p.m. on March 7th. Proceeds from this concert will benefit Sonoma County’s Living Room Home, a day center in Sonoma County serving homeless and at-risk women and their children.

For the first half of the concert, Dirty Cello will be joined on stage by jazz diva Stella Heath from the French Oak band and Billie Holiday project; homegrown rocker Shelby Lanterman; inventive songsmith Claudia Russell; and newcomers the Muted Jewel Tones, whose 3 part harmonies are evocative of the Andrew Sisters.

For the second half, Dirty Cello will present their usual crazy and unpredictable performance of blues, bluegrass, rock, Eastern -European music and whatever else tickles their fancy or yours.

Santa Rosa Rosie the Riveter Rally

March 8, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m., Courthouse Square, Santa Rosa

Bring your "We Can Do It" and "¡Sí Se Puede!" spirit and dress up as Rosie the Riveter or as any groundbreaking woman in history who inspires you. There will be plenty of family fun, food, and live music, featuring The Swingin' Blue Stars Singers, a trio known for their 3-part harmony of the songs of the WWII era, especially those made famous by The Andrews Sisters and groups like the McGuire Sisters. Best of all, there will be a special guest appearance by two WWII Original Rosies, sisters Phyllis Gould and Marion Sousa from Richmond Kaiser Shipyard.

Sonoma County Women in Conversation

March 25 at 6 p.m., Luther Burbank Center for the Arts

Prepare for an extraordinary evening of thought-provoking conversation with actress Laura Dern. Arrive early for a 4:30 mixer and mingle with extraordinary Sonoma County citizens who are making waves in their fields.

The 19th Amendment Art Exhibit

Through March 27, Santa Rosa Arts Center

Santa Rosa Arts Center invites you to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which enshrined women’s right to vote in this country. This exhibit explores the struggles and the victories of women’s movements since that time. The exhibit features artwork on suffrage, the Equal Rights Amendment, the Glass Ceiling, equal pay for equal work, violence against women and the #MeToo movement exposing the prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual assault, expressing the diverse aspects of feminism, the milestones, their relevance today and the continued strength, perseverance and wisdom that these women bring to the future.

From Suffrage to #MeToo: Groundbreaking Women in Sonoma County

January 25 - September 13, Museum of Sonoma County

Women stand with shovels in a photo from the 1890s
Saturday Afternoon Club’s groundbreaking ca. 1908; courtesy of Museum of Sonoma County

2020 is the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the constitutional right to vote. The recent #MeToo movement and women’s marches also represent that same revolutionary spirit and continue to demonstrate the power of  collective action to challenge the dominant culture. This exhibit features some of the remarkable people who have broken through the barriers, featuring local Sonoma County women throughout time, in relation to the challenges they have faced. 

Lucy! Fussbudget to Feminist

March 15, 2020—March 7, 2021, Charles M. Schulz Museum

From her earliest moments as #1 fussbudget in the early 1950s to the empowered young lady who embodied the movement toward equality in the 1960s, 1970s, and beyond, there is no mistaking Lucy Van Pelt: Confident, crabby, compassionate, and ready to tackle anything in all she does. Lucy! Fussbudget to Feminist features original Peanuts artwork, never-before-seen material from the Museum archives, and much more. Plus, visitors will have a chance to dish their own advice straight from Lucy’s Psychiatric Booth.