Wake up, Voters! It is not too late! Corporate and wealthy interests need not eclipse the environment and the needs of the community. Educate yourself! Use the ballot!

This is James Conaway’s message in the latest book of his trilogy, Napa At Last Light:America’s Eden in an Age of Calamity. At his reading at the Napa Main Library on Saturday, March 10, the room was packed and large groups were turned away. And at the League of Women Voters and Sierra Club sponsored panel discussion, in which Mr. Conaway participated, on Measure C (Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection) Monday evening, March 12, the room was again filled to capacity as the overflow huddled under umbrellas, two and three deep, at the open outside doors.

Of course, wine industry representatives were there, hoping to persuade citizens that Measure C will endanger their profits and the community. But the fervor of citizens to listen and learn, to feel they have a voice, which is the very meat of Conaway’s message, was palpable in the room.

Conaway’s books are an education in the history of the current political situation around land use issues in the Napa Valley. Napa At Last Light: America’s Eden in an Age of Calamity has a particularly dark, urgent tone. He explained how over the course of writing his books things have changed in the valley. New wealth and multinational corporations aren’t like original growers and winemakers with their land. In the transition from owner/farmers to multinational corporations and rich developers, the driving business of Napa has gone from farming and environmental sustainability to sustainability of profit growth. The driving business model is becoming real estate speculation that does not have concern for the environment, water, or the population of the county.

We can’t wait! Measures C and Measure D (private heliports) are two of the most immediate opportunities that citizens have to weigh in on the future of our Valley.

On Tuesday evening, March 13, Conaway read from his book to a very different audience in Berkeley, most of whom were not as aware of the consequences of decisions being made in Napa County. For this reading, Conaway expanded to a larger overview: Napa is a microcosm of what is happening in our country, in our world, and this is why it is so important for citizens, vintners, and growers alike to awaken to this reality and act. Increasing corporate interests in agricultural and undeveloped lands are about profit, not the environment or the integrity of the community. Only citizens can stem this tide with their vote!

Napa Vision 2050 was the proud co-sponsor of this Berkeley reading with Books, Inc. and we endorse Measure C and Measure D.

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