Category Archives: SDC News

Looking Back and Moving Forward

Post by Tracy Salcedo in Eldridge for All blog


 – Tracy Salcedo, Glen Ellen, CA

It’s been nearly a year since the Glen Ellen Forum’s SDC/Eldridge Committee hosted a workshop to explore the community’s hopes and goals for transformation of the Sonoma Developmental Center in Eldridge. In the year since the workshop, which drew 260+ participants, the committee has done its best to advocate for Glen Ellen’s vision with movers and shakers in the policy and political arenas. Now, with SDC in warm shutdown and questions swirling in the void, we thought we’d look back at what’s been accomplished, where things stand, and next steps.

To date, the committee has:

  • Synthesized and collated feedback and follow-up input from the April 2018 workshop, which focused the committee’s mandate on preserving the property’s open spaces, advocating for site-specific land-use planning for the campus, and promoting governance that includes a strong Glen Ellen voice. 
  • Participated in the state’s site assessment process with consultant Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT).
  • Strengthened working relationships with the Sonoma Ecology Center, the Sonoma Land Trust (SLT), and the Glen Ellen Historical Society, and fostered collaboration with the SDC’s Parent Hospital Association (PHA).
  • Represented the Glen Ellen Forum at SDC Coalition meetings.
  • Sent letters to county and state officials, appointed and elected, reiterating the community’s goals and asserting its willingness to be proactive in all aspects of the property’s transition.
  • Met with county supervisors and attended public meetings to support countywide understanding of the impacts redevelopment will present locally, and to reiterate the importance of comprehensive planning for the site.
  • Talked with and/or attended meetings with other organizations with aspirations for the property or its assets, including the Eldridge Ecovillage Association, CEPEC, and the Valley of the Moon Water District.
  • Circulated a petition asking then-Governor Jerry Brown and state officials to support the community’s priorities and ensure adequate funding for the planning process. To date, more than 3,500 signatures have been collected. A letter-writing campaign took place in tandem with the petition drive. The petition and letters will be delivered to state officials.
  • Supported SDC staff, the PHA, the Eldridge Portrait Project, and the SLT in commemoration events honoring closure of the 127-year-old institution.

Arguably the most productive thing the committee has done—and the most promising thing we’ll do moving forward—is participate in the SDC Coalition’s Leadership group. The Coalition is a broad-based collection of organizations—county offices, nonprofits, fire and water districts, and others—convened by Supervisor Susan Gorin to help guide and support Sonoma County as it grapples with the complexities of Eldridge’s redevelopment. 

We can say, without hesitation, that Supervisor Gorin and county staff hear Glen Ellen loud and clear. When we bring issues to their attention they listen and, more importantly, translate our concerns to officials at the state level. Through these contacts, as well as the letter-writing and petition campaigns, we are confident officials at the state level also know who we are and are aware of our priorities.

In April 2018, the community clearly stated that Eldridge’s open space lands should remain open, and that redevelopment should be compatible with the surrounding community and honor the site’s cultural, historic, environmental, and economic legacy. Preservation of the open space, protection of the wildlife corridor, and recreational access are all in good hands, with stewardship of those resources spearheaded by the land trust, the ecology center, county parks and open space departments, and local nonprofits including Jack London Park Partners and Sonoma Mountain Preservation. The committee will continue to support these efforts. 

Ensuring redevelopment of the campus is thoughtful and harmonious within its community and historical context is the bigger challenge. Securing governance that includes a local voice and initiating interim use on the property also remain tricky and delicate. We believe a community-driven visioning and planning process, as promised by state and county officials, needs to take place before any special interest land-use proposal is considered. We are prepared and determined to help make this happen, in any and all ways possible.

Looking ahead, we will host another community workshop to consolidate an enduring and actionable vision for Eldridge. The goal is to build consensus among ourselves and within the broader community—Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, and the greater North Bay—to guide thoughtful and responsible transition of a place so central to our identity, well-being, and prosperity. 

Please let us know if you have specific questions or concerns you’d like us to address before the visioning effort begins. We may not have answers, but we’ve got ears—our own and those of our colleagues on the SDC Coalition and beyond. We’ve created a website,, where you can learn more, sign up for action alerts, subscribe to a blog, and become better educated about all the issues surrounding the future of this complex and beautiful property. We look forward to your feedback.

Blessing read at the PHA 3/10/18 legislative meeting at SDC


This is a sacred time,

gathering here on the cusp of change,

this is in-between time,

like dusk on a summer night,

This moment

holds opposites of light and dark,

clarity and obscurity

tears and hope.

This is mystery time,

standing with one hand

on the garden gate:

behind us the familiar,

the comfortable and

perhaps even still, the preferred,

We have to pause

breathe deeply

and take a moment

to declare our blessings.

We declare ourselves to be blessed

by the mother of all hearts,

the earth, this land, beneath our feet.

This land participates in beatific visions

with dancing clouds and sun,

wind and rain, colored leaves

countless miraculous flowers in Spring

wild animals and ancient wisdom trees.

This land has been gentle shock absorber

for countless upset and restless steps,

healer, sustainer, home to incredible diversity of life,

open space, farm and camp.

We declare this land to be a sacred blessing.

We declare ourselves to be blessed

by the people of the heart who have lived here at SDC.

Men and women with oceanic compassion

incapable of judgement,

who like us feel shame, regret and pride,

who grieve, and love and laugh,

Men and women who inexplicably give back more than they ever receive from those who care for them.

These people of the heart share the humanity

and dignity of all humankind.

The bond of trust we have with them is sacred.

We declare ourselves to be blessed

by those heroes of the heart

who are parents and family members

of the men and women

who have lived at SDC.

Families who faithfully included their

loved one in family life as best they could,

who have not wavered in dedication

advocacy and support

especially by membership in the

Parent Hospital Association.

The faithful bond between families

and their loved one residing at SDC

has been sacred and must not be diminished.

We declare ourselves to be blessed

by those heroes of the heart

who’s amazing capacity for commitment,

cooperation, creativity, fun, organization, professional expertise, and constant loving care

have enabled this institution

to be a home for all these years.

Adding music, parties, musical productions and parades,

Evacuating during a crises,

and more so reorganizing on their return,

these heroes of the heart have enabled persons

to live as much as 70 years past their

life expectancy.

Every task of caring effort

in every small moment is blessing

and is sacred in our hearts.

We declare to be blessing those heroes of the heart

in the larger community who we honor here today.

Individuals who have dedicated their precious life’s time

in service to the common good,

who work to preserve

to evolve

to protect

and to enable

all that is good, healthy, life-giving

and society-enhancing in this valley.

The bond of trust these heroes of the heart

have with all of us is sacred.

We have to admit we sometimes

hear whispering voices of ancient ghosts

who would speak of the suffering

imposed on them in ignorance or worse

by caretakers of another time.

We pause to tell you ghosts

our regret and our sorrow

for whatever has trapped you here,

We encourage you to trust the light

that calls you.

May you finally know freedom,

healing, and warm peace

So many blessings!

Our backpacks are full of blessings.

we look ahead at the path before us,

see mist hanging in the woods

and promise of sunlight

later in the day.

We have a sacred bond with all our blessings

and we must not trash what we treasure

Here at the garden gate

these blessings are not contained by time.

They are our story our legacy and our future

as much as they are meant

to warm our hands on future frosty nights.

We may not always take perfect steps

and we may not always know perfect solutions.

Still we chose to move forward with courage and faith

We ask for steady steps, wise caution and creative progress, deep wisdom and an ever increasing capacity for love,

In all our efforts,

may we know the true, deep, and overflowing joy

that comes from knowing our life’s work

contributes to a better world

for those who follow.


Chaplain Noelani Sheckler-Smith BCC