I consider myself a bit of a history geek and think we can learn a lot from our past. I was strolling around Colombi’s Market when I got the idea for this issue’s theme. The feel of that store, the shelving, the black and white photo of the Colombi family hanging over the deli counter—it all filled me with nostalgia. Wouldn’t it be interesting to focus our attention, not on the new and shiny (which is so easy to do), but on the old, the established, the tried and true, the lasting institutions within our communities.
Mendocino history is firmly planted in native culture, and we look to the elders to remind us of past solutions for food security, like the humble acorn. Our county was and continues to be shaped by the resource economy— logging, fishing, and agriculture (legal and not). Throughout our area’s history, families like the Gowans have made their living sustaining us, first by selling apples and now with their award-winning cider, made from an orchard with some trees that recently celebrated their 100th year. Not many companies can boast of such longevity, but Dick’s Place probably comes close, and maybe the Skunk Train. These long term operations can teach us about what it takes to survive through the highs and lows of changing times. I imagine it takes tenacity, creativity, and flexibility in equal measure.
Mendocino County has deep roots that are worth exploring. If one of the stories in this issue piques your interest, consider learning more at one of our local historical societies or museums. The Mendocino County Museum in Willits has wonderful exhibits, including a frozen-in-time Willits Creamery restaurant counter. The old red schoolhouse in Anderson Valley has Boontling demonstrations on the weekends, and the Ford House in Mendocino displays historical photos as well as a carefully rendered model of the town circa 1890. Or stop at one of the businesses like Schat’s or Gowan’s that have sustained our county through the decades and help them keep going for another 100 years.
Yours in gratitude,