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Apr 16th
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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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Aries Solar Festival

Sunday is Palm Sunday. Symbolizing victory and triumph, paradise, sacrifice and martyrdom, the Pisces World Teacher entered Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (signifying humility).

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Animal Magnetism

Bear, mouse dare to be friends in charming ‘Ernest and Celestine’ It’s not exactly Romeo and Juliet. It’s not even a romance, although it is a love story about two individuals separated by prejudice who find the courage to form an unshakable bond despite the rules and traditions that keep them apart.

 

Printer's Devil

Iconic editor Buz Bezore, who died last month at the age of 68, left a huge mark on Santa Cruz journalism   Eventually, it’s all a blur. You live long enough, and maybe a little too hard at times, so that when you hit the rewind button of faded memory, it moves so fast that you can hardly sort and gather the details. One scene skips to the next, and to the next, without proper editing or sequencing. Chronologies get distorted. Which came first: stealing the chickens or coloring the eggs?
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Foodie File: Yan Flower

Yan Belleville has owned Yan Flower, an affordable Chinese restaurant in Downtown Santa Cruz, with her husband Raymond for eight years, and it’s a family affair. Her brother, sister, sister-in-law, and cousins work there too. Locals know the joint for its massive lunch specials starting at $4.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Comanche Cellars

Pinot Noir 2010 I first tasted Comanche Cellars Pinot when a friend brought a bottle to share over lunch at Center Street Grill in Santa Cruz. Upon trying it, I knew I had to find out more about it.