About the Portrait of Sonoma

Data to Inform Action: A Message from the Portrait of Sonoma Leadership Team

In 2014, A Portrait of Sonoma County successfully shifted the community's understanding of what determines well-being and how conditions of well-being vary across Sonoma County neighborhoods. A Portrait of Sonoma County: 2021 Update builds from this work, helping further illuminate issues of inequity across Sonoma County. 

The disparities that Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and immigrant and undocumented community members have and continue to experience should not continue unchecked or unremedied. Inequity harms everyone. From an economic perspective, inequity harms overall growth by decreasing per capita income and disposable income. On a human level, inequity damages health and well-being, resulting in greater levels of unhappiness across our entire community. A deeper understanding of the inequitable outcomes presented in this report will help communities work toward ensuring that Sonoma County is a place where race or ethnicity do not determine an individual’s health, well-being, and wealth.

Focusing on “improvements” risks hiding the very real past harms to Black, Native American, Latino, and Asian people and obscures ongoing marginalization. People living with disabilities, people who are undocumented, LGBTQ community members, and others are at risk of being left out of the picture due to inadequate data. There is more work to do locally to move beyond these pitfalls to unravel harmful narratives, to ensure that a shared understanding of Sonoma County's well-being includes non-white perspectives, and to redouble collective efforts to improve data collection. 

Learning from the Data

The Portrait is based on the Human Development Index (HDI), which looks at data on health, education and income as indicators of well-being for people in Sonoma County and compares across race, ethnicity, gender and geographic location. This index is designed to show that traditional measures of success, such as gross domestic product or economic prosperity, do not reflect the full picture of community well-being. Factors such as variations in life expectancy by neighborhoods and access to education are also critical to consider.

The Portrait provides insight into the well-being of Sonoma County residents. Local community-based organizations and government agencies can use this targeted data to inform policy and funding decisions, directing services to communities most in need. 

The 2021 Portrait’s findings are based on data from 2015-2019. Because 2020 HDI data was not yet available, local data were added to the new report to show impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A New Agenda for Action

This updated Portrait of Sonoma County report marks the beginning of a renewed community conversation, not the conclusion. The voices and input of community members must guide collective response to the report’s findings. Beginning in early 2022, community members and local leaders will come together to create a new Agenda for Action.

The Agenda for Action is a set of strategies and solutions prioritized around issues causing the greatest harm in communities. Identifying these shared priorities is intended to lead  to greater shared investment in and support for creative solutions. Only together can the community shift resources and power to people who have solutions that will work for them. Only together can the community create an Agenda for Action that drives meaningful policy and systems change toward dismantling structural racism.

Working together to refocus on lagging areas and set new priorities rooted in post-pandemic realities is the work that lies ahead. This time, instead of government leaders prescribing an Agenda for Action, local leaders and community members—especially those who belong to communities most impacted by issues and challenges in Sonoma County—will work together to create the new Agenda for Action. 

Produced By

Measure of America with the Sonoma County Office of Equity, Upstream Investments, Sonoma County Departments of Health Services and Human Services, and community partners.

Portrait Sponsors

This update of A Portrait of Sonoma County was made possible thanks to funding from Community Foundation Sonoma County and the Peter E. Haas Jr. Family Fund as lead funders, with additional support from Career Technical Education Foundation, First 5 Sonoma County, Healthcare Foundation Northern Sonoma County, John Jordan Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, Petaluma Health Care District, Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation, Sonoma County Office of Education, Providence St. Joseph, Sutter Health, and United Way of the Wine Country. Thank you for making this investment in Sonoma County.

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