Culture Crush: North Bay Groups Open December with Several Virtual Events

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to make in-person gatherings a tricky endeavor in the North Bay, several local events boasting music, art, literature and other delights are happening online this week. Here’s a round up of what’s worth looking forward to.

Virtual Celebration

On the southern edge of the Point Reyes National Seashore, a community of care givers and conservationists have come together to create Commonweal, an organization dedicated to health, art, education, the environment and justice. Each winter, the community comes together for a festive celebration, though this year’s annual gathering will be “Joining Hands Virtually” with an online event featuring a short video featuring images of the local land, keynote speakers, music and optional small group conversations. “Joining Hands Virtually: Our Commonweal Winter Celebration” takes place on Thursday, Dec. 3, at 5:30pm. Festive dress encouraged. Free, donations welcome.

Virtual Concert

Festival Napa Valley, the world-class summer-long food and wine festival, has been producing online content and at-home experiences since canceling its in-person events this year. Over 1 million households in more than 50 countries around the globe viewed Festival Napa Valley’s inaugural virtual concert, “One Night, Many Voices,” last month. Now, Festival Napa Valley presents “Songs of Gratitude,” a virtual concert featuring performances by the likes of award-winning mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor, the Friction String Quartet and a virtual vocal ensemble featuring Napa County high school students; all recorded at iconic Napa Valley venues. The virtual event streams on Saturday, Dec. 5, at 6pm. Free.

Virtual Recital

For 20 years, Marin’s volunteer Mill Valley Philharmonic has produced professional-quality orchestral programs to people of all ages and means in their own communities. This year, the orchestra decided to postpone live concerts until further notice due to Covid-19, though the group has taken to virtual performances, lectures and more. Next up for the Mill Valley Philharmonic is a live-streaming “Saturday Salon” virtual recital featuring a classical program that ranges from Johann Sebastian Bach to John Williams. The musicians perform as solos and duos live from their own homes when the recital happens Saturday, Dec. 5, at 8pm. Free, RSVP requested.

Virtual Auction

The Sebastopol Center for the Arts has supported local artists and the community through exhibitions and educational programs for three decades. With the world in lockdown, the center’s staff knows that people need access to the arts more than ever before, and center is asking for support in offering these programs with its inaugural virtual SebARTS Auction: “Give. Believe. Inspire.” The silent and live auctions will support the center’s ongoing arts offerings, as well as the center’s new distance learning program for local school children that began in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Bid online now in the silent auction and tune in to see local celebrity Ziggly Eschliman lead a live virtual auction on Sunday, Dec. 6, at 5pm. Register at

Virtual Class

There’s no better way to appreciate the Laguna de Santa Rosa than to embark on a kayak adventure through the watershed. However, due to the Laguna’s unpredictable nature, it can be difficult to plan a successful trip. Not only does the water level of the Laguna drastically change, its many routes can make it a maze for the uninitiated. That’s why Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation’s Community Education Manager Allison Titus is hosting a “Kayaking the Laguna” webinar, sharing resources, tips and tricks for exploring the Laguna by boat on Wednesday, Dec. 9, at 2pm. Free, registration required.

Virtual Reading

Native Californian Obi Kaufmann is an avid explorer and writer whose books examine the state’s most precious resources. His first two books, The California Field Atlas (2017) and The State of Water (2019) presented Kaufmann’s visions of ecological preservation and restoration. Now, Kaufmann offers another bold look into California’s natural wonder in his new book, The Forests of California. The book interlaces accessible writings with Kaufmann’s watercolor maps and trail paintings to bring the state’s forests to life in the readers’ imagination. Kaufmann reads from the new book and discusses his visions in a virtual event with the Marin Art & Garden Center on Wednesday, Dec. 9, at 5pm. Free, registration required.

Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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