Saturday, September 18, 2010


Four years ago the leveroni winery in Sonoma Valley, California halted an ambitious hospital board, who wanted to build an expensive new hospital as well as exercise Eminent Domain on their property, by enlisting engaged community members, including myself, who proved that bottom up change can indeed happen: Allen L Roland

Every time I drive by the vast pristine Leveroni pasture on 5th Street West, I smile to myself ~ for if a small group of enraged vineyard owners, citizens and environmental activists had not teamed together to stop an environmental injustice ~ a half built 148 million dollar white elephant hospital would be sitting in the middle of this verdant pasture as a constant reminder of arrogance and misplaced priorities.

Pat Stornetta and Joe Leveroni, a sister-brother team, are winegrowers on the 570-acre Home Ranch with its 250 acres of vineyard and the family’s dairy of 500 milking cows. They continue a four-generation tradition of farming and conservation that has preserved this historic site since 1886. Their Estate grown award winning wines include an exceptional Merlot, exquisite Pinor Noir, a lush Chardonnay and a crisp and fruity sauvignon Blanc.

I'll never forget the morning I stood with a small group of Sonoma Valley grape growers, farmers and residents as Joe Leveroni stood on a small stage, in a local mobile home park, and shared how unfair it was for the hospital to attempt to take away his precious land through eminent domain ( Yes on Measure C ).

I was moved to action as I raised my hand and said ~ Joe, you are the face of the No on Measure C campaign and we support you 100%.

And support him we did ~ to the extent that within two months the Yes on Measure C campaign collapsed through public pressure and a costly and unneccessary misadventure was avoided.

The dagger in the heart of Sonoma Valley's controversal Measure C $148 million million bond issue was not just the unfair annexing through Eminent Domain of the Leveroni property ~ it was the NO recommendation to the voters of the district by the Sonoma County Taxpayers' Association ~ who thoroughly reviewed both sides of the measure and found the measure was not only unjustified but that its costs were misleading.

It made me realize that the bottom-up power of the people ~ once they know the truth ~ can be an awesome force where all pretense and hypocrisy can be quickly swept away and replaced with honesty and integrity.

That's why my column is dedicated to the truth and especially the truth regarding the abuses of power by the Cheney/Bush administration, the 9/11 cover up and the continued shocking revelations regarding our illegal wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Not only did that bottom up local fight against injustice bond me with my community but it set the stage to tackle greater injustices throughout the world ~ and in particular, the United States.

It was Robert Kennedy who said ~ " Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope ~ and, crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

That's bottom up change ~ and it starts locally.

Allen L Roland

This weblog is sustained through donations from people like yourself. Please send check or Money Order to Allen L. Roland, PO Box 1221, Sonoma,CA 95476 Also accept Visa, MasterCard and Discover .

Freelance Alternative Press Online columnist and psychotherapist Allen L Roland is available for comments, interviews, speaking engagements and private consultations ( )

Allen L Roland is a practicing psychotherapist, author and lecturer who also shares a daily political and social commentary on his weblog and website He also guest hosts a monthly national radio show TRUTHTALK on


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