2021 Resiliency Showcase

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NTTW celebrates the importance of tourism and hospitality to local communities. This year’s theme, “Power of Travel,” allows us to celebrate the ingenuity, resilience, grit and creativity that hospitality businesses have in the past year, and put a face and a story to some of the individuals who have persevered.  

As we celebrate the creativity of the industry, it also allows us to recognize that the arts community, both a part of the hospitality community and a community of its own, has served as a respite and has also suffered its own fallout from the pandemic. 

Through this Resiliency Showcase we have featured some of the stories across the county – both of the small business owner, and the artist. 

Moving us Forward

The foundation of the tourism industry in Sonoma County is wine. Here is the story of a winery that weathered the storm, and the essential workers that helped the wine industry survive when customers couldn’t visit.

Erik Castro, photographer

When the editor of Sonoma Magazine reached out to me during the height of the pandemic to create a portrait series of local essential workers, I was asked if I had any suggestions as to what occupations the magazine should feature. I had seen many recently published photo series showing front line doctors and nurses, but there was one job that immediately stood out. Because COVID-19 made purchasing in person a health risk, the package delivery person was now given a massive Sisyphean task of daily delivery on an almost impossible scale. UPS delivery truck driver Jerry Tolman, 55, generously offered me a few minutes of his time to capture him in his truck. I photographed him through the truck’s windows—not out of caution from the virus—but that view through glass and boxed-in by packages represented to me the claustrophobic feeling that so many of us felt during those first months of isolation.

-Erik Castro, Photojournalist
Erik shot a series entitled Essential Workers during this past year. 

A photo of a UPS driver in the back of his truck. Photo by Erik Castro.
You wake up one day, and it’s like, ‘What happened here?’” says Jerry Tolman, who has never felt such an “eerie feeling of driving empty roads” in his 29 years of delivering packages for UPS. 

For the past decade, his rural route has taken him through Dry Creek Valley, where he delivers packages to residents and picks up shipments from wineries. Since the Covid-19 outbreak, he’s worked 10-12 hours a day. One winery owner told him, “You’re right below the doctors and the nurses. If it wasn’t for you guys picking up our wine and shipping it for us, we’d be dead in the water.”

-Credit to John Beck and special thanks to Sonoma Magazine 


Out of the ordinary

The story of individuals who took the word “pivot” to a whole new meaning in the past year. A restaurant that opened when others around them were closing, and a hands-on ceramics artist that started teaching virtual classes to reach students around the globe.

Kala Stein, ceramics artist

Kala Stein, a ceramic artist and Director of Ceramics and Arts at Sonoma Ceramics, Sonoma Community Center was an early adopter of virtual teaching once the pandemic forced the studio to shut down in March 2021. Normally reaching local audiences with in-person classes and public studio programming, the ability to provide virtual workshops launched Sonoma Community Center into a new position, allowing them to reach international audiences including students from Dubai, India, Canada, Ireland, Australia and Europe.

Kala has taught mold making classes around the world in person, but with those cancelled she pivoted to filming the workshops and working with students over Zoom. The porcelain bowl featured in this article was a piece designed, prototyped, and made as part of this workshop that was developed as a result of the COVID lockdown.  

The bowl is a share bowl, or larger single serve bowl. Great for salads or as a petite serving bowl, this piece has a unique triangular form and has a modern, clean aesthetic.  

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A ceramic bowl by Kala SteinA ceramic bowl by Kala Stein

Appreciating the beauty around us

With in-person connections shuttered, this yoga teacher found new ways to teach in the outdoors, while an artist who typically runs an artist residency shifted her focus to a new medium for her – collage.

Macy Chadwick, collage

In her art practice, Macy Chadwick strives to reveal that which is unspoken: to make tangible the ephemeral, to make visual our human experience and interactions. In her recent series of collages, she creates a visual language of shape and color, referencing emotion and a sense of place.

A collage by Macy Chadwick
Macy Chadwick. Reflection, 2021. Collage with gouache and ink. 10 x 10 inches


The Essentials

There were certain objects that had a heightened meaning of importance in the past year. Among those were tents that allowed restaurants to remain open during the winter months, and the all-important N95 mask. Here is the story of a local company that helped restaurants stay open, and a local artist who started a series to feature the important objects of the pandemic – fashioned out of paper.

Kathryn Clark, fiber artist

History tells stories. By looking back we learn something about our history that can inform our present and our future. This doesn’t seem to have happened much during the 1918 Pandemic when we all frantically searched for any relevant information we could use to prepare us for the 2020 Pandemic. My art practice involves documenting current economic and societal data for future generations. During the lockdown, with plenty of time to ponder what we should remember about 2020, I began to list objects that became critically important to society. I made paper models and graphite templates of these objects, from seed packets to N95 masks. The body of work was inspired by the MoMA design series ‘100 Useful Objects’ which began during the Great Depression (Useful Objects under $5.00) and continued through World War II (Useful Objects in Wartime). With our newfound wisdom, what could future generations learn from us to better prepare for a future pandemic?
An abstract drawing from artist Kathryn Clark.

A paper mask artwork by Kathryn Clark.


Connecting with the world around us

While the beauty of the coast was an important point of respite for many visitors in 2020, the need to protect it remains. Here are the stories of a local fisherman, who both supplies seafood to local restaurants, but also works tirelessly on sustainable fishing practices, and a poet, who has captured the stillness and beauty of nature.

Elizabeth Herron, poet

It was a morning in late autumn. I had come out to the bay to buy fresh crab and decided to walk the trail on the bayside of Doran Beach, when I noticed a blue heron fishing in the tidal marsh. She stood absolutely still a long time; and then, with supreme slowness, picked up one foot and put it down again and then the other, making her way toward the dense salt grasses near the inside edge of the marsh. Not the slightest ripple stirred the surface so intent was she not to alert a possible meal. The sky was full of storm clouds with spats of sun breaking through. In one brief opening in the clouds, the heron was reflected on the surface of the marsh before the clouds closed again and she disappeared in the reeds. Looking after her, at the place she had been for a moment perfectly doubled, I felt like a pilgrim visiting a sacred site. And after all, isn’t this Earth a place of constant miracles? The fishermen know, out on the water, away from the tragedies of the world – the famine and desperate migrations, the wars and shootings. Don’t we all long for the moments of awe when impossible grace reveals itself before our own eyes – here and now?

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A poem, titled Impossible Grace, by Elizabeth Herron