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Sonoma County Gazette
Where the World Begins
Where the World Begins - COVER

New Book Tells the Stories of Sonoma Mountain

Feb 25, 2019
by Teri Shore, Greenbelt Alliance


Most of the spectacular panoramas in Arthur Dawson’s new book, Where the World Begins: Sonoma Mountain Stories and Images, are taken from the top. That’s because, as described by the author, Sonoma Mountain itself is more of a mighty ridge than a sharp peak. That means it’s harder to photograph than its siblings Mount Tamalpais, Diablo, and Saint Helena.

The images of the mountain and the stunning views from on high are fully captured in this compelling and approachable coffee table book. This high-quality, heartfelt tribute to Sonoma Mountain was just published by its namesake non-profit,  Sonoma Mountain Preservation.

A historical ecologist who has lived in Glen Ellen at the foot of Sonoma Mountain for decades, Dawson is almost describing himself when he talks about the mountain. Quiet and reserved, and also brilliant and visionary, he delves deep into the indigenous, natural, and modern ways and wonders of Sonoma Mountain.

He explains that “the mountain likes to play tricks on us. It sits right in the middle of hundreds of thousands of people and most of them pay it no mind, in fact, couldn’t point to it. Sonoma Mountain is not your classic sharp peak. Maybe that’s the point. It’s a mountain without ego.”

Dawson and his co-authors Meg Beeler, Rebecca Lawton and Tracy Salcedo all have deep roots in Sonoma County. Photographer Ed Cooper lives on Sonoma Mountain. The stories fromWendy EliotRichard Dale, and other local conservation leaders make it ever more personal, almost like a mountain diary.

In the book, they invite you to learn about Sonoma Mountain’s flora and fauna, read the stories of the Coast Miwok andJack London, and explore the trails on foot. And they ask for more: They want you to feel the mountain.

I definitely felt the mountain as soon as I opened Where the World Begins. I have known the mountain for 30 years. I’ve looked up at blue sky above a horizon of oak green and golden grass and watched waves of fog breaking over the mountain’s swell. I’ve hiked the trails and read the maps. Now, finally, there is a book that brings all of this home to all.

“The sweeping, sloping mountain forming the backdrop to the Sonoma and Petaluma valleys has a rich history that Arthur Dawson presents here eloquently,” said Dave Koehler, Executive Director, Sonoma Land Trust. “Following the footsteps of the grizzly and the cougar, the Miwok and the settlers, to Jack and Charmian London and present-day ranchers and recreationists, this stunning book will inspire people for generations, just as Sonoma Mountain has always done.”


Whether you live in Sonoma County or just adore it, you’ll become more intimate with its heart and soul while reading Where the World Begins: Sonoma Mountain Stories and Images.

You can order the book directly from Sonoma Mountain Preservation

Want to get more up close and personal with Sonoma Mountain? Join Sonoma Mountain Preservation Land Paths for an overnight adventure on April 13 and 14.

I’ll see you on the mountain.

Book Launch Events:


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