Saturday, February 24, 2024

California Forever's planned city is practically in my backyard

Site of proposed 17,500-acre city in southeastern Solano County.
Photo by Aleta George.

As an environmental journalist who has covered open space and development issues for two decades, and a resident of Solano County who is active in my city’s effort to meet the challenges of the climate crisis and sea level rise, I have followed California Forever's plans to build a new city. The 17,500-acre planned city is twenty minutes from my house on land that I know and love.

After several months of attending town halls and events, talking to supporters and detractors, and studying the proposal, I wrote about it with the goal to cover both sides of the issue fairly. 

I also covered what it might mean for the Suisun Marsh, the only tidal brackish wetland of its kind and size that’s left on the West Coast, and a wetland that could play a vital role in mitigating sea level rise. Although the planned California Forever city is not sited within the Suisun Marsh, it has holdings that border it. 

Read "Wheat Fields or Walkable City for Solano Open Space" in KneeDeep Times, the Bay Area's climate resilience magazine.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Yoshimatsu Nakata's Hawaiian Home

In the deep shade of an 80-foot-tall monkeypod tree in the O'ahu Cemetery in Honolulu, Hawaii, I paid my respects to Yoshimatsu Nakata, Jack London's longtime valet and surrogate son.

Nakata was central to London's life, and is featured in my book in progress about London's formative and lifelong relationship with the San Francisco Bay.

Nakata started as a cabin boy on the Snark, the boat that London built to sail around the world. When the trip was cut short, Nakata returned to California as the author's valet. Nakata was also London's first mate and surrogate son.

After eight years, Nakata married his sweetheart, Momoyo, and left London to study dentistry. In Honolulu he opened a successful practice, raised his children, Gertrude and Edward, and was elected president of the Hawaii Dental Association. He died in 1967 at age seventy-eight.

I visited the Nakata family gravesite with Yoshimatsu's grandson James Nakata, Edward's son, and his lovely wife, Lisa.

In the Japanese tradition, Jim washed the marble stone with water and a sponge in homage to his ancestors.

Nakata purchased the stone and site for his family, and I couldn't help but feel proud of him, an Issei who had migrated to Hawaii as a teenager.

Jim's office includes photos of his "grandpa." The cabinet at right was in the dental office that Yoshimatsu shared with his son, Edward, who became a dentist and a partner in the practice. 

The historic photos are courtesy of The Huntington Libary. All others by Aleta George.