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[whitespace] What's This Bohemian Stuff?

With coverage now expanded to include Napa and Marin counties, readers will be able to stay abreast of a wider range of cultural and culinary options and issues transcending individual communities

THE POST-GOLD RUSH years unleashed a literary movement that figured prominently in Northern California's cultural development. The journalists, poets and novelists loosely identified as bohemians preferred art, literature, and political discourse to the aggressive material culture of their day and had a strong connection to the geography and natural beauty of the land north of the Golden Gate.

Successor movements with a bohemian flavor--environmentalism, the Beat generation, the hippie movement, the sexual revolution, California cuisine, hip cyberculture--were similarly catalyzed by their synergy with this area. Is it an accident that utopian communities, from Sea Ranch to Zen Center and The Well, took root here?

Now, at the millenium's rollover, modern Bohemia--independent thought and rejection of conformity through lifestyle choices--continues as a topic of contemporary debate. We hear about bourgeois bohemians ("bobos") and "fauxhemians" as affluence fuses with ostensible anti-materialism. (Then again, socialist bohemian North Bay habitué Jack London didn't exactly lead a pauper's life.)

Concurrently, the freedom enabled by cheap electronic communication and the explosive weath it produced poses a new set of challenges for a region whose remove from the epicenters of finance and industry once kept it safely off the worn urban path.

We think the time couldn't be better to introduce a new name, journalistic mission, and look. The publication you hold represents the convergence of two proud local traditions--a century-old literary and intellectual ethic of free thought and artistic expression and a newspaper founded in 1979 to champion community interests. For 10 years, it was published as The Paper or the West Sonoma County Paper. It was sold in 1989 to John Boland and Jim Carroll, who changed its name to the Sonoma County Independent and moved its offices from Bohemian Highway to Santa Rosa. In 1994, the Indy joined a Bay Area group of alternative weeklies, Metro Newspapers.

The reinvention of the Independent as the Northern California Bohemian continues an evolution begun 21 years ago when founding publisher Bob Lucas declared that his newspaper would be "dedicated to the truth and the right of individual expression," and a voice "not controlled by out-of-the-area big money interests."

The Bohemian will serve the North Bay's communities, with particular interest in their culture and quality of life. It will question the agendas of government and large corporations whose interests tend to be overrepresented in the mass media. With coverage now expanded to include Napa and Marin counties, readers will be able to stay abreast of a wider range of cultural and culinary options and issues transcending individual communities. At this unique period of history, with unprecedented prosperity and powerful forces that transcend borders, thinking journalism is needed to preserve the region's extraordinary natural beauty, gorgeous coastlines, redwood forests, and agricultural lifestyle.

Our commitment is to enrich our readers' lives by presenting a lively, opinionated, and informative package of writing and graphics each week. We hope you enjoy the new format and editorial direction. Please drop us a note if you have any ideas or comments.

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From the October 5-11, 2000 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.

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