There were 13 sweet, simple, wood-heated homes at Monan’s Rill, the intentional community on 414 gorgeous acres off St. Helena Road.
The Glass fire left just one. That surviving house was hand-built in the early 1970s by two co-founders of the residential collective, the extraordinary Mary and Russ Jorgensen.
In addition to helping to create Monan’s Rill, the Jorgensens, both former Freedom Riders, were stalwarts of the Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County and undaunted champions of a better world.
They were for almost 30 years cherished by fellow residents of Monan’s Rill who’ve from the start worked together for the good of the land they inhabit and the community that they’ve run by consensus.
The Jorgensens were among four Quaker families that founded Monan’s Rill after having lived in the Berkeley hills with no fences between their yards so they could rear their kids communally. When they bought the land off St. Helena Road, the creek that ran through it was called Monan’s Rill, that name having been borrowed from a poem by Sir Walter Scott.
Russ and Mary savored their lives there until about 20 years ago, when they moved to Nevada City to be closer to their children. Russ was 92 when he died in 2009. Mary died in 2014 at 98.
Were they still alive and still at Monan’s Rill, they might feel about the same today as their heartbroken but resolute former neighbor, Penny Sirota.
“We’re doing about as well as we possibly can,” said Sirota, who’s lived for 28 years at Monan’s Rill. “It’s hard for us all to be scattered.”
“We’re just trying to figure out our next step,” she said.
As the Glass fire roared in from Napa County, it consumed all of the homes except the one the Jorgensens built,