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article imageOp-Ed: Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce enjoys a slice of paradise Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Aug 18, 2012 in Lifestyle
Sonoma - The Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce was enthralled by the splendor of the Quarry Hill Botanical Garden in nearby Glen Ellen as the garden played host to an "After Hours mixer" on August 16.
Over three dozen members and their guests attended the social gathering. These and other gatherings are held each month in various locations in and around Sonoma to help businesses get better acquainted and to build a sense of community. The staff and volunteers at Quarry Hill Botanical Garden were pleased to welcome the chamber of commerce and provided tours of the 25-acre garden which is home to Asian-native plants and flowers.
The summer weather that Thursday evening starting at 5:30 was warm but not too hot. A selection of wines were served along with various cheeses and a tasty combination of Prosciutto and melon, which along with fresh salami complemented the wines. Much of the time spent was encouraging people to introduce themselves and learn more about the businesses and services throughout the Sonoma County region.
Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Jennifer Yankovich was eager to let as many people make announcements about their businesses and services. She believes a connected community is a strong and economically healthy one.
Sia Patel announced that the former Glenelly Inn is now the Olea Hotel. Fully renovated, refurbished and updated, Patel said that it will have a grand opening on August 29.
Marsha Zolkower of Job Link for Sonoma County wanted people to know that the county offers free job postings and outreach through its Job Link program. "We are welcoming all businesses to make use of our outreach, Job Link is not just for county jobs but for employment opportunities from all sectors of the business community," she said.
"And best of all, said Zolkower, "It's free!"
That is good news to small businesses which are often the most impacted by changes in the economy. Despite the current economic recession, small business and the self-employed endure, even though according to some statistics forecasts are pessimistic.
Realtors and banks were present at the social mixer, few people realize how much of a role these two play in the economic life of any community. Truly good realtors and banking service providers want to help the community. Business, home and families build community. A family must have a home and to own a home, there must be thriving business and work to support that goal.
The one aspect that was mentioned several times, which unites all the chamber members is the Sonoma area itself. Sonoma Valley, the county and surrounding region is prized by many. And for some, like Jane Davenport Jansen the region is greatly loved. Jansen was the founder of Quarry Hill Botanical Garden who in 1987 transformed her home and surrounding acres into one of the most unique gardens for all people to enjoy. Quarry Hill Botanical Garden is home to the largest Asian plant and flower preserve in the world.
It was noted by garden volunteers and staff like Development Director, Christine Walker who provided the tours to chamber members that much of the natural-organic life is fading. Thousands of plant and flower species in China and parts of Asia is disappearing due to massive industrial expansion. Asia, especially in the past 15 years has been growing as a major economic competitor in the global market.
Quarry Hill Botanical Garden sees its mission as a vocation to help save the plant and flower species of China and Asia for the next generation. Jansen recognized that California's natural diverse ecological system with its "micro-climates" would be an ideal spot to protect Asia's plant and flower treasures. For the chamber members the one that stood out the most that evening at the mixer in an impressive presentation was the garden itself. The "ooh" and "ah" amazement from the members was frequent as volunteer docents pointed out various plants, trees and flowers. The tranquility and lush green foliage had everyone in a relaxed mood. Many, like Zolkower said they want to return to the idyllic experience again for that bit of paradise. "We are very lucky to have this treasure in our backyard," she said.
Walker noted that none of this would be possible if it not were for the generosity of Jansen and her vision. Non-profit foundations were also present and it was mentioned that charitable giving and fund raising is important to help a community maintain a high quality of life. Quarry Hill Botanical Garden is dependent upon grants, donations and support from the community.
"We hope you will think of us when you are planning an event or gathering as we like to make the garden available for special occasions and events," she said. Walker hopes more people, especially in the business community will become members of the garden. Quarry Hill Botanical Garden will be celebrating its 25th Anniversary on Sept. 14
Yankovich hopes more young people join the chamber of commerce or at least consider attending a meeting or event sponsored by the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce, because the future is always present. And, young people need to know that the life of business for tomorrow begins today with opportunities. And what better way to learn of opportunities than to network with other young professionals. The chamber offers outreach to young professionals and is always offering opportunities for businesses new and long-standing to meet and connect. For more information about events and gatherings visit the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce events page at its website.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Sonoma Chamber of Commerce, Sonoma County, Glen Ellen, Quarry Hill Botanical Gardens
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