Impact100 Sonoma Members See Another Side of Jack


Tjiska Van Wyck , Executive Director, and JLPP docents share information with Impact100 members

Most people probably think of John Griffith “Jack” London as an American writer whose world-famous fiction made him a wealthy man and gained him worldwide celebrity.  But there is more to the story.  In 1905, London purchased a 1,000 acre ranch in Glen Ellen and became part of the Valley of the Moon community.  His writing actually became a means to an end ― to expand and operate Beauty Ranch and provide commentary about many of the social issues we grapple with today.

This month, two groups of lucky Impact100 Sonoma members took a stroll through Jack’s ranch, as guests of Jack London Park Partners (JLPP). This energetic and resourceful nonprofit organization was a 2014 and 2015 recipient of an Impact100 Sonoma Community Grant. The stroll was the brainchild of Pam Gilberd, our newly elected Member Engagement chair.

IMG_6169JLPP docents treated us to another side of Jack London’s life, including his agricultural ideas and experiments, his avid research and activist views related to social issues and animal rights, his navigation techniques, and his cutting-edge ideas about ranching that today would be praised for their ecological wisdom. Not all of his ideas were successful ― like many Californian entrepreneurs of his time, he planted the wrong species of eucalyptus trees for timber ― and despite his collaboration with Luther Burbank, his spineless cactus variety (for cattle feed) eventually produced spines. But many of the sustainable agricultural practices he pioneered are still in use today.

IMG_6191IMG_6180Plan your own stroll through Jack London State Park. You will be treated to great hikes, beautiful scenery, and a peek into the life of this amazing man, and his equally amazing “mate-woman,” Charmian London, who was a fascinating figure in her own right. It’s a great way to spend a day and/or show your guests another side of Sonoma Valley.

For more photos from our visit to the park, click HERE.


Text by Carole Eubanks
Photos courtesy of Sydnie Kohara and Dana Simpson-Stokes