Plastic Free July

Thank you from all of us at AQUS CAFE

Aqus Café has been selected as the “Best Café/Coffee Shop in Petaluma”

A huge thank you to all our patrons for supporting us, especially over the past difficult years.

When we opened Aqus our vision for the café was to serve a community center or meeting place similar to the Irish/English Pubs (Public Houses) that Lesley, Michael an I grew up in.  Our mission is to transform strangers into friends; 

It’s been a great journey for us and our staff; Thank you all so much for understanding what it was that we wanted to achieve and thank you for helping us all get there; the journey continues and in fact we see our place in the community growing; these are difficult time and we need to lean on each other and strengthen our community.

With love from all
The Aqus Team

Freezer Truck Needed for Petaluma Music Festival

If you have access to a freezer truck that you can loan to the Petaluma Music Festival for the weekend of August 6th please email me at

Petaluma Music Festival need of Recycling Monitors

The Petaluma Music Festival is in its 15th year of putting on a show at the Petaluma Fairgrounds in “Keeping Music in the Schools”  and is in need of Recycling Monitors in continuing to put on a green and Zero Waste event.
Volunteers (including kids!) work in pairs at the Recycling Stations and direct folks to dispose of recyclables, compostables and trash appropriately. Shifts are 2 1/2 hours and Volunteers get free admission to the show.
Festival date: Saturday, August 6th: Noon – 9:30 PM
Proceeds from the Festival are distributed to Petaluma public school music programs. To date, over $400,000 has been donated!
Sign up to volunteer at
Go to and select Recycling Monitor to sign up for a shift.

Call for Art & Poetry

Agri-CULTURED explores cross-cultural intersections of food and farming in our region. The project brings together food producers, purveyors, and artists who work locally and align with global concerns of sustainable practice and cultural memory. It not only bridges art, science, and agriculture but also engages the spheres of hospitality, tourism, and the economy of Sonoma County.

Volunteers Needed for the Village Network

Village Network of Petaluma members and volunteers enjoy a better experience of aging as we grow with, laugh with, and rely on each other. Together we navigate the opportunities and transitions of growing older.

Our Greatest Needs At This Time Are:

DRIVERS – to transport members to med appointments, grocery shopping, village events, and errands.

NEWSLETTER TEAM LEADER – to direct the production of our fabulous monthly newsletter!

CALL RESPONDER – handle member requests, answer emails, and work with our database.

Volunteer Introductory Training Sessions over Zoom are:

Wednesday, July 6, 10:30 – 12:00, and Tuesday, July 19, 1:00 – 2:30

If you or someone you know are interested in these trainings and being a volunteer, please call us at 707-776-6055 or email

Cool Petaluma: Waste not, want not: 4 simple actions

Time, money and bandwidth seem to be in short supply these days for many of us. The world keeps getting faster, more expensive, and more overwhelming. Given all of the demands on our attention, what are four super simple things we can all do right now to show respect for our beautiful, life-giving, finite planet? These may seem small, but when multiplied by the 330 million people in the US, let alone the 7.7 billion people in the world, they add up to significant waste and destruction. And precisely because they are small, they should be relatively easy for us all to accomplish.

Number One: Stop buying water in single-use plastic bottles. Some brilliant marketing teams have convinced us that water comes from a bottle, not from a tap. Now Hollywood consistently depicts people reaching for a plastic water bottle when they need a drink, further strengthening this new behavior pattern. But why? We are blessed to live in a place with highly monitored, safe, and practically free drinking water conveniently available 24/7, on demand at our kitchen sink.

Two things to think about the next time you reach for water: bottled water can be 2,000 times more expensive than tap water and is less regulated than tap water. Where’s the benefit there? For more fun facts, check out the PSA videos created by Sonoma County high school students in 2017 at

Number Two: Bring your mug to the coffee shop. Another small action, but seriously, why not? It’ll make your beverage taste better, stay hotter, and leak less. Despite what the label may say, paper coffee cups are not recyclable nor are they compostable in Sonoma County. They all go to the landfill, day after day, year after year, piling up in 222.5 acres of “waste disposal” at Redwood Landfill next to the Petaluma River wetlands (another 197.5 acres are dedicated to recycling and composting).

It is estimated that we throw away more than 50 billion coffee cups every year in the US. Imagine what that mountain would look like.

Number Three: Buy only 100% recycled content toilet paper, paper towels and tissue. Why on earth would we mow down the last remaining large intact forest landscape on the planet just to blow our nose on it? Coming out in September of 2022 is a new documentary called “The Issue with Tissue: A Boreal Story” that will highlight this existential moment for the boreal forest of Canada and the more than 600 Indigenous First Nations communities who have lived their sustainably for thousands of years.

For now, look up the National Resources Defense Council 2021 tissue scorecard of major brands so you can chose wisely. If your favorite store does not carry what you need, feel free to contact them requesting they change their offerings. After all, you are the customer – they want to provide what you want to buy.

Number Four: Compost everything you can. When you throw yard and food waste into your trash bin, it doesn’t break down like you might expect. Because of the lack of oxygen in the landfill, it will form methane, a greenhouse gas 86 times better at trapping heat in our atmosphere than carbon dioxide. But if you throw that organic matter into that handy dandy green bin, it will be made into compost — that life-renewing black gold that returns carbon back to the ground and provides nutrients to plants while increasing biodiversity, aeration and water holding capacity in the soil so that the next generation of grass and trees and vegetables can grow up healthier. Sounds like a win-win-win.

And, quick tip for all of those summer parties: If you really need disposable plates, choose uncoated paper which can be composted right along with the food scraps left on them. Just please – no “compostable plastic” in the green bin! While fantastic in theory, this material needs extreme heat to break down and cannot be composted in our current facility. Sadly, it also can’t be recycled so it must all go to landfill.

While I was growing up, one of my mother’s favorite adages was “waste not, want not.” July 24-30 is Zero Waste Week with fun and family-friendly activities planned around the county, so this is the perfect time to start paying attention to our wasteful habits and challenge ourselves to make a change.

We don’t want to be a society that is so obsessed with the illusion of “convenience” that it becomes the downfall of our planet, do we? Check out and for all kinds of helpful ways to waste not.

Natasha Juliana is the campaign director for Cool Petaluma. She can be reached at For information on how to get involved, visit

You bought the land. Now let’s build a park.


In 2020, you rallied around the vision of a new signature park for Petaluma. Thanks to your support, we purchased 24 precious acres of riverfront land and created Petaluma River Park. Today the raw yet magical River Park is open daily for you to explore and enjoy.

Creating a world-class, community-designed park will take time. And the reality is, people need easy access to parks and open space nowWe need the mental and physical health benefits of regular engagement with nature now. We need places to gather in community now.

This is why installing an all-access trail at the River Park is our top priority. We want you to be able to get out and start using your new park now.

The new, one-mile loop trail will be easily traveled by bike, wheelchair, stroller, or foot.

Donate to the trail project today!
Will you help us raise the funds to make this new trail a reality?

Your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar by a group of friends who are committed to making this trail accessible as soon as possible. Through their generosity, your gift will be doubled, up to $30,000!

Your past support helped launch the Park. Now you can participate in making it accessible for all to use. AND you can double the size of your gift! Please make a gift today.

In gratitude,

Seair Lorentz
Co-Founder & Executive Director

All gifts made by June 30 will be doubled!

Yes, I want to double my gift!

Do you prefer to give in-kind?

We are looking for equipment, supplies, and furniture to help offset our operating costs. See our wish list below! If you have something to donate, please email us with a picture of the item(s). Gently used items okay!

  • Wall mountable flat screen smart tv or monitor (1080p, min. 55 inches)
  • 4 5- or 6-foot folding tables
  • 14 matching folding chairs
  • Reams of printer paper, 100% recycled preferred
  • Hanging folders – 25
  • File folders – 100
  • Paper shredder (desktop)
  • Color printer
  • 2 doormats
  • 2-5 heavy duty picnic table umbrellas – no logos please
  • Apple Mini computer for zoom room
  • Video conference camera
  • Speakers and mics for hybrid meetings
  • 8×10 rug
  • Wall mounted coat rack

What’s in a trail?

Imagine knowing that your support made all this possible.

Click here to donate to the trail today!


June 18th Poor People’s Moral March on Washington and to the Polls – Marty Bennet


Building Momentum for November

On June 18th, tens of thousands will assemble at the National Mall for a march organized by the Poor People’s Campaign (PPC).

The PPC is a nationwide interracial and interfaith coalition of 200 organizations in 45 states. The “Moral March on Washington and to the Polls” will focus on the needs of 140 million poor and low-income Americans, who comprise 43 percent of the population. President Biden’s ‘Build Back Better Act,’ the most ambitious legislation proposed since the 1960s to address poverty, raise living standards, and lay the foundations for shared prosperity, is stalled in the Senate. The march will demand Congressional action now and support for candidates who will not ignore low-income Americans.

According to PPC co-chairs Bishop William Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, the march will address “the interlocking injustices of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the denial of health care, militarism, and the war economy.” The PPC demands a “Third Reconstruction” to shift national priorities and rebuild the economy from the bottom up.

The march explicitly draws upon the legacy and unfinished agenda of the first Poor Peoples campaign led by Dr. Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), launched in November 1967. By then, the civil rights movement had dismantled segregation in the south and won the right to vote for African Americans. Still, King claimed that full citizenship for black and all people of color required organizing “the poor in a crucible to reform society in order to realize economic and social justice.”

First Poor Peoples Campaign 1968

A month after King’s assassination in April 1968, SCLC mobilized a ‘rainbow’ coalition of more than 50 civil rights and poor people’s organizations to come to Washington and construct a tent ‘Resurrection City’ on the National Mall. According to historian Sylvie Laurent, by fusing the economic and racial justice movements and engaging in ongoing nonviolent direct action, the campaign intended to pressure the federal government to approve sweeping economic reforms and an “Economic Bill of Rights,” resulting in what King called “a radical redistribution of political and economic power.”

King and SCLC believed such radical change could only occur if poor people united across racial lines to demand structural transformation to address inequality and poverty. King claimed that “we can all get more together than we can apart, and this is the way we gain power.”

The motto of that first PPC was “Jobs and Income Now.” The campaign demanded full employment and guaranteed living-wage public jobs for the unemployed; raising the federal minimum wage to become an actual living wage; a guaranteed minimum income for those excluded from the workforce due to age, automation, disability, or caretaking responsibilities; construction of half-million affordable homes a year; access to credit and land for the rural poor; $30 billion annually to fight poverty,  invested especially in quality public education and early childhood education; and withdrawal of all troops from Vietnam, redirecting military spending to domestic reconstruction.

The New Poor Peoples Campaign 2018 

The contemporary PPC recognizes that structural inequality, racism, and militarism are worse than they were a half-century ago. Climate change makes the urgency of the moment even greater. The campaign underscores that poor and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, widespread ecological devastation, mass incarceration, and police violence. Like the 1968 Poor Peoples Campaign, the new campaign claims that only a multiracial coalition of poor and low-income people can “shift the political landscape” and bring about a fundamental economic restructuring “that lifts from the bottom so everyone can rise.”

The anchor for the new PPC is labor, faith, environmental, feminist, LGBTQ, civil and immigrant rights organizations struggling for transformational change at the state and local levels. The ‘Living Wage’ and ‘Fight for $15’ campaigns exemplify grassroots organizing that fuse race and class. Since 1994 one hundred and twenty cities and counties have passed Living Wage laws boosting wages for workers employed by city and county contractors higher than their state’s minimum wage. Moreover, since 2014, 54 cities and counties have established minimum wage laws above their state’s minimum wage.

Thus, the Fight for $15 has helped shift public opinion about what it costs to make ends meet in a given region and build support for a higher minimum wage. In 2016, only California had approved a $15 an hour minimum wage. By 2022 eleven states had done so.

If the Raise the Wage Act were approved by Congress, lifting the federal minimum to $15 an hour by 2025, 60 percent of essential and frontline workers would receive a pay increase, including one in three black workers and one in four Latino workers compared to one in five white workers. 

The Poor People’s Moral Budget and Policy Agenda

The “Poor Peoples Moral Budget” calls for deep cuts in military spending and steep tax increases on the wealthy, corporations, and Wall Street, realizing substantial savings that could then be applied toward addressing climate change, ending mass incarceration, and implementing a single-payer health care system. The budget prioritizes massive and equitable investment in secondary and higher education, universal pre-K, public and affordable housing, and rental assistance. The budget allocates an unprecedented $200 billion a year toward investment in clean energy while creating nearly three million new living wage jobs.

The campaign’s “Moral Policy Agenda to Heal and Transform America” includes: raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and then annually increasing it until the minimum reaches a livable wage based on the rising cost of living; a guaranteed basic annual income for all (monthly $2000 per adult and $1000 per child); expansion of Medicaid in all states, protection of Medicare, and establishing a universal single-payer health care system; concrete steps towards ending mass incarceration such as abolishing ‘three strikes’ laws and the death penalty; and a federal jobs program to create millions of quality jobs prioritizing poor and low-income communities in the care economy, sustainable food systems, housing renovation and construction, environmental restoration, renewable energy, and climate resilience.

The PPC also advocates for ending deportations and comprehensive immigration reform, canceling student debt, enacting a rent freeze and halting all foreclosures and evictions, and an overhaul of the broken National Labor Relations Act to protect the right of all workers to organize a union, including temporary, contract, and undocumented workers.

Inside-Outside Strategy for Transformative Change

Accomplishing this audacious agenda requires enlarging the Democratic majority in the Senate and holding the Democratic majority in the House. Then the real work of bringing these policies to fruition can begin. The movement must pursue an ‘inside-outside’ strategy or what Reverend Barber characterized as “a transformative movement that will not only go to the polls but will organize in the streets.”

Such a strategy is a direct descendent of the civil rights, anti-war, and feminist movements of the 1960s. In King’s 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” he stated that “the purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.”

This strategy requires increasing participation by low-income voters in the electoral process. A recent PPC report, “Waking the Sleeping Giant: Poor and Low-Income Voters in the 2020 Elections,” finds that low-income families earning less than $50,000 a year voted in record numbers in 2020, constituting 35 percent of the electorate. The study notes that low-income voters strongly support policies addressing poverty and inequality, such as a $15 minimum wage and a government-run health care plan. Robust turnout by low-income voters was decisive in the battleground states of Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin, where the Biden-Harris margin of victory was less than 3 percent.

Protecting Voter Rights 

The June march hopes to promote a broad electoral mobilization to register and turn out low-income, minority, immigrants, and other progressive voters for November 2022 mid-terms in greater numbers than in 2020. The challenge will be to secure voting rights. Since 2010, 27 states have approved voter suppression laws, using all available tactics to target and exclude low-income and voters of color.

Electoral organizing to overcome voter suppression must be rooted in direct contact with voters at the door, on the phone, at the workplace, and in places of worship. It’s crucial that Congress restore and expand the Voting Rights Act to deter voter suppression and gerrymandering by Republican-dominated states. In addition, nonpartisan fusion coalitions at the state level must guarantee the integrity of the electoral process and protect local officials who oversee and certify elections.

The Past Before Us

The lessons of history are clear: to build power, sustained grassroots organizing and nonviolent direct action must drive legislative change and increased electoral participation by low-income and voters of color. The landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act and then the 1965 Voting Rights Act were achieved after more than a decade of peaceful demonstrations, mass civil disobedience, and labor and community organizing by the civil rights movement.

We find ourselves poised at a critical moment, with an upsurge of the racial, gender, and economic justice movements. The ongoing Black Lives Matter opposition to racist police violence, escalating worker organizing at Amazon and Starbucks, and the massive protests against the overturning of Roe v. Wade could eventually merge into a swelling tide of people power that the national Poor Peoples Campaign represents.

Empowered and inspired by the June 18th march, participants will return to their communities to register, educate, and turn out voters for progressive Democratic candidates in November. They will simultaneously build enduring local coalitions to pressure Washington and state capitals to implement the PPC Moral Budget and Policy Agenda. Please join the march! More info at

Martin J. Bennett is Instructor Emeritus of History at Santa Rosa Junior College and a research and policy associate for UNITE HERE Local 2850.

Our broken voting system – John Crowley

Our system of voting (plurality or “first past the post”) mathematically leads to a two party system. Having a two party system, where no other voices can effectively be heard, leads to a binary way of thinking and binary way of looking at the world. You are either a Democrat or a Republican, for or against gun control; everything is black or white and there is no room for grey;
The answer has always been there; it’s called Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). It is a much more egalitarian and fair system of voting that better catches the will of the people.
For example in Ireland, which  is a parliamentary, representative democratic republic that uses RCV, the government is being run by a coalition of 3 parties and in order to govern effectively they must listen to and compromise with each other, which they do.
Until we, here in the US, start introducing Ranked Choice Voting we will be doomed to a 2 party system where a huge number of people regularly vote for the “least bad” option and not for candidates that share and represent their values and priorities.
For the most part there are two kinds of people who will argue against it, one simply doesn’t understand it, the other kind doesn’t want it because they know it is more fair and that they would have to share or indeed lose power.
Happy to have a conversation with anyone on this matter.