.Graton Town Square: Meet Matt Jorgenson

Perhaps the new and needed trend of downtown squares opened at Windsor, Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park can be linked with that of new regional parks at Mark West Springs, Monte Rio and the coast. Could these trends be a reaction against exclusionary pricing in ticketed and commercial spaces?

They certainly express a need for free space to meet in common. With such thoughts on my mind, I met with Matt Jorgenson, project coordinator working to give Graton its own town square. A prime half-acre parcel is being financed, but the effort is currently seeking donations for the initial activation of its open space.

CH: Matt, could you wax poetic about the importance of public space? What is your motivating philosophy?

music in the park san jose
music in the park san jose

MJ: I’m energized by “revillaging”—which, to me, begins with remembering our interdependence. Public spaces like the town square offer practical ground for coming back into relationship with each other and the place(s) we call home. 

CH: At present, the square is a cleared and graded lot with a few fine trees. What features and potentials do you envision?

MJ: Our co-design process has made priorities quite clear. We’ll create a terraced lawn amphitheater for music and performances. We’ll have beautiful plantings, shade structures, market space, a kid’s play and ecology learning area, and West County trail amenities, including a bathroom. 

CH: How have you brought the town of Graton into this visionary project?

MJ: The entire space is a co-creation for/by Graton and the wider West County community. About 10% of Graton has participated in our town hall meetings, survey or advisory groups. We have a design committee of architects, landscape designers, permaculturists and other professionals from town. And now that we’re activating, tons of people have shown up to volunteer and suggest programming. 

CH: Why should the wider region invest time and money in a town square for Graton?

MJ: The little villages of West County are really one big community, so common spaces are an investment in the whole region. We’ll begin community days with music and food this summer, reboot the Graton Day festival on Oct. 12 and be fully open in 2025. We hope you’ll join us! 

Click to learn more. See the plans for the square, email Jorgenson directly, join a work party or donate. There is also a link to listen to an interview I conducted with him about his efforts to create collective business models and make work spiritual.

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