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May 26th
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Cover Stories

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The Future Of Farming

The Future Of Farming

As American farmers age, the nationwide push to fill their shoes grows. Locally, the 33rd annual EcoFarm conference hopes to plant the seeds for the next crop of cultivators.

In the late ’70s, notwithstanding the passionate back-to-the-land movement, organic farming was a long way from being accepted in traditional agriculture communities or in the university sphere.            

“At that time, not only was the rest of the world not informed on the subject, but in many cases, for instance, at the UC system, there was even sort of an opposition to this idea,” says Ken Dickerson, executive director of the Ecological Farming Association (EFA), the Soquel-based nonprofit behind EcoFarm, an annual sustainable farming conference.

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Kundalini Rising

Kundalini Rising

A local devotional singer and her yogi parents are raising consciousness and making miracles happen. GT’s Damon Orion illuminates their spirited tale with exclusive interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Ram Dass and The Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir.

The spiritual teacher Ram Dass has a great line: “We’re all God in drag.” In other words, behind all the costumes—the individual body types, social roles, personalities, occupations, etc.—each of us is a manifestation of the same divine consciousness.

As Oprah Winfrey’s voice spills out of my phone, the truth of those words hits me not as a concept, but as a palpable sensation. There’s an unshakeable feeling that something vast, formless and unfathomable is expressing itself through the metaphor of this moment. In the grand earthly melodrama, I have been cast as a reporter charged with the noble and intimidating mission of interviewing a woman who has interviewed the Obamas, Bill Clinton, Paul McCartney and Bill Gates. And Oprah, the goodhearted, down-to-earth megastar, has phoned me to discuss her connection to a Santa Cruz-based singer named Snatam Kaur, whose spiritual chants she listens to each day before meditating. In particular, I’m interested in hearing Winfrey’s description of an unexpected encounter that she had with Kaur in 2012.  

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A New Year Of Happy

A New Year Of Happy

As the new year begins, we discover how happy Santa Cruz County is, what sources contribute to our happiness, and what we can do as individuals and a community to improve our happiness level in 2013.

Happy New Year. It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? But what does the phrase mean, exactly? That which makes a new year “happy” is different to everyone. To some, it could mean being surrounded by family and friends, to others, it could mean having a roof over their head, and still to others, it could mean overcoming cancer.

The Declaration of Independence states that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Assuming that’s true, how will you pursue happiness in 2013?

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Bright Ideas for 2013

Bright Ideas for 2013

Most of us have experienced times in our lives when we have had the thought: “You know, if I had my way, I would have circumstances look like this—or that—but not that, which is this.” Follow along. When I first envisioned this issue, I was having a mood swing about traffic. (Usually, it’s about calories or relationships so I considered this wonderful personal growth.) Why, I wondered, in a city as creative and forward-thinking as Santa Cruz, does it take 30 minutes to drive from one end of town to the other, down a major thoroughfare going approximately 10 miles per hour the entire time? I felt trapped inside one of those word problems that befuddled me in third grade math class: If a man is in a car and has to only go two miles down the road, how long would it take him if … 

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Here Comes the Sun King

Here Comes the Sun King

The final weeks of 2012 bring us the release of The Hobbit, the end of the Mayan calendar and the world’s first post-apocalyptic winter holiday. Coincidence? Take a look at the mythical symbolism behind all three events.

No question about it: 2012 is going out swinging. The gods of winter have seen fit to pack the last few weeks of December with three of the most anticipated events of the year: the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the much-hyped end of the Mayan Calendar and, of course, the world’s first post-apocalyptic winter holiday. At the very least, it’s a strong finish to an already eventful year. But these seemingly unrelated occasions also happen to be profoundly connected to one another. Shining through each of them is an ancient archetype known as the Sun God—a symbol linked to our very survival, lying at the core of our views of good and evil, representing the essence of the winter holiday.

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Ebb & Flow

Ebb & Flow

The Desal Debate Evolves: With another year of debate and developments behind us—including the fact that desalination will now, ultimately, be up to the voters—what’s really changed in the desal dialogue?

In November, 72 percent of City of Santa Cruz voters said yes to Measure P, effectively amending the City Charter to guarantee voters the right to approve of or reject desalination.

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Meeting Maya

Meeting Maya

Santa Cruz’s Maya Salsedo planted the seed for Food Justice and wound up harvesting an award-winning manifesto to boot. Now, her story is inspiring other youth nationwide to create changes within their own communities.

If there ever was a time to be reminded that there is youth out there occupying their time with more than just Wii, X-Box, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, iTunes, texting, consuming fast-food, texting more, gaming even more and texting even more beyond that, this is it.

But maybe it’s best to use today’s butchered vernacular and be all-inclusive here before moving on: R U READY 4 SOMETHING COOL?

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Dream Team

Dream Team

The Santa Cruz Warriors arrive. A look at Santa Cruz’s first professional basketball team and the ripple effects their presence could have locally.

Fifteen basketball players from all over the nation are taking turns aggressively driving on the hoop in the West Field House at UC Santa Cruz, practicing lay-up drills—their shoes screech across the hardwood floor, their sweat glistens under the bright gymnasium lighting. It's the second practice of the day for the Santa Cruz Warriors Development League training camp on this November evening, and just 16 days shy of the league’s first game against the Reno Bighorns in Nevada. Head Coach Nate Bjorkgren wants to have his final team of 10 operating like a well-oiled machine.

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Community Fund

Community Fund

Create a sea of change. Begin by learning more about five local nonprofits in our annual Community Fund issue.

Sometimes the best gifts come unwrapped. No curly ribbons or bows. No frills. Often, these gifts come in the form of generosity and kindness—from family and loved ones, or from people we  hardly know at all. All of this factors into the mix of our annual Community Fund issue, in which we shine the spotlight on the very important and vital issue of housing. Look around: Many of us either have close friends or family who have experienced a housing issue, or, we know of people who have been thrust into such challenges. Whether it’s the young adult aging out of foster care or others we know that have been forced onto the streets, housing remains a serious issue in this county. To that end, take note of the five organizations featured on the following pages: Transition Age Youth Program, Habitat for Humanity, Watsonville Law Center, Homeless Services Center, and Pajaro Valley Services Center. The dynamics of these local nonprofits may surprise you, but here’s where you come in: Learn how your own contributions to the Community Fund are more vital now than ever before. One-hundred percent of your contribution goes to the nonprofit of your choice. In addition, the David & Lucile Packard Foundation and Santa Cruz County Bank will match those funds. And be sure to read an additional feature this year, which spotlights the 30th anniversary of the Community Foundation at the bottom. In the meantime, consider giving the gift of making a difference.  | Greg Archer, Editor

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William’s Westside

William’s Westside

How William Ow transformed a colossal chewing gum factory into a promising center for local business

One day, about nine years ago, William Ow stood at the entrance to the former Wrigley’s chewing gum factory on Santa Cruz’s Westside, waiting for his father, George Ow, Jr.

The younger Ow had a big idea that he needed to sell his dad on. He wanted the family real estate business, Ow Family Properties, to buy into a majority of the 385,000-square-foot property and convert it into a bustling, multi-tenant beehive for business. This was a daunting prospect even for the Ows, a prominent local family that, under George’s leadership, has achieved notable success in real estate, but one Ow was hell bent on making happen. He arranged for his father to scope out the building for the first time, and waited for him near the lobby with a small group of other brokers and building owners.

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Gate Openers

Up-and-coming artists like Ryan Bingham are a great reason to show up early to the Santa Cruz American Music Festival

 

Gemini Sun, Pentecost, Shavuot—Enlightenment and Gladness

As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Off Her Meds

Kristin Wiig runs wild—and transcends her sketch comedy roots—as a truly strange character ‘Welcome to Me’
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Flats Bistro

Pizza with an artisan twist comes to Aptos Beach

 

What’s your take on Santa Cruz locals?

Santa Cruz locals are really friendly once you know them. I think a lot of them have a hard time leaving, and I would too. Ryan Carle, Santa Cruz, Biologist

 

Soquel Vineyards

If Soquel Vineyards partners Peter and Paul Bargetto and Jon Morgan were walking down the street wearing their winning wine competition medals, you’d hear them coming from a mile away. This year was particularly rewarding for the Bargettos and Morgan—they won two Double Gold Medals and five Gold Medals at January’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

 

Enlightened Flavors

Squash & Blossom’s artisanal alternative-flour delights, beet kvass from Cafe Ivéta, and the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival