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Vision Story, Suzanne's perspective

It was Saturday, not the day of the week you would normally expect such a thing to happen. I had just unloaded my bike from the passenger train that stops in Ukiah on its way from the Bay Area to Eureka. As usual, it was a gorgeous railride--no driving, just looking out the window--passing forested hills, acres of neat vineyards, olive groves, orchards and fields fat with lavender. I tucked my purse into a corner of the market basket slung between the handlebars of the bike and rode through the nodding grasses along the path that leads from the historic railway station toward downtown Ukiah. I always feel the most wonderful, oh, I don't know how to describe it-- eagerness, I guess, groundedness, happiness, as if these crystal blue skies and serene vistas are welcoming me home. It feels so healthy here.

Of course, I'm not the only one who feels that way about Ukiah. As I reach the huge farmer's market that stretches two blocks toward downtown, I join the throng of people from all over who come here to gorge their eyes and stomachs on the image of plenty. Anyway, my plan was to visit friends, stay overnight and catch a play, then bicycle along the river to Lake Mendocino on Sunday, stopping on the way back at Parducci to taste their wines.

But when I reached the stretched white canopies of the Ukiah Farmer's Market, it was obvious something was up. Instead of the crowds calling over one another to vendors selling scented soaps, forest mushrooms, grassfed lamb and beefsteaks, and neatly stacked organic fruits and vegetables in rainbows of mouthwatering colors, the crowd was encircling something. What was it?

I noticed security people with earsets watching the crowd. I heard a German accent, and then the crowd laughed. It was Schwarzenegger, California's governor, re-elected once again. I edged my bike around the crowd, and heard the governor say: "This is paradise! You have created the most wonderful County in all of California, no, the entire country. Every place I go in Mendocino County are these wonderful little towns, where all the diversity of people and the land is celebrated."

The Governor raised a glass of wine. He sipped. "This the best wine I've ever tasted, organically grown. This is the future hallmark of California!" He held the glass high. "To your health!" he cried. A reporter asked him a question I didn't hear. Schwarzenegger said that every town in Mendocino County offered what people want most: a small town lifestyle with close neighbors, clean air and water, fabulous food, energy self-sufficiency, plenty of opportunities for learning, meaningful work, and for recreation in the natural environment. "Look around, there are no fat people here!" he said. "Everyone looks healthy. If every County in California was like Mendocino, we'd have no health care crises!"

Someone asked the governor how Mendocino County became so special. This County took the best things that all its residents had to offer and crafted its own unique paradise, he said. Any place can do that, but it's like politics, people have their special interests so its hard to get anything done, he said. "But in this County, people sat down together and decided what they wanted their future to be. Then they created it. Together." Our legislature at the state level should be so lucky, he laughed. The crowd cheered.

The governor turned to walk on toward downtown, surrounded by his small group of press and security personnel. Then he raised his head and sniffed the air. "It smells like lavender," he said. The crowd laughed. "Not manly," Schwarzenegger said, cracking his knuckles. "But, I'll...be...back."


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