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Apr 24th
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Cover Stories

Cover Stories

Love In A Snap

Love In A Snap

Click to open 2013 Bridal Expo Guide.
Local photographer Rebecca Stark transcends the norm and delivers a collection of wedding day photos to savor

So, here’s the thing about Rebecca Stark: The local wedding photographer is something more than just a woman behind the lens taking photos. Think of her as an artist of sorts, somebody who not only has the eye for capturing the most unique shots on the “Big Day,” but also somebody who can truly interpret the vibe of the scenes playing out before her eyes. That’s a good skill to have, especially if you’re going to be getting up close and personal with the wedding couple—and their clan—on the wedding day.

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Cover Stories

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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Cover Stories

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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Cover Stories

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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Cover Stories

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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Cover Stories

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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Cover Stories

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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Cover Stories

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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Special Publications

Holiday Gift Guide

Holiday Gift Guide

The Art of Gifting
This year, maybe it’s best to pay somebody to untangle your old holiday lights. Three words: “Don’t freak out!” That said, welcome to the Holiday Season. In between attending a plethora of events and making plans to be with friends and family this time of year, we all seem destined to also carve out some time to purchase gifts. That’s where GT’s annual Holiday Gift Guide may prove to be helpful. This year, our guide boasts more gifts, and more places to purchase them, than ever before. And plenty of variety, too—from the unique and bountiful offerings found at the Homeless Garden Project’s Holiday Store in Downtown Santa Cruz (homelessgardenproject.org) to the fine items found in stores like The Warmth Company in Aptos (warmthcompany.com). Be sure to also take note of our special features this year: Second Harvest Food Bank, The Holiday Lights Train, and the area’s top seasonal productions. It’s all here for the taking. Peruse the following pages and use this guide for inspiration. Thanks for reading. Happy Holidays.  | Greg Archer, Editor

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Cover Stories

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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Cover Stories

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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Best of Santa Cruz County 2014

The 2014 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll Come on in, and have a look around. There’s a lot to see—hundreds of winners selected by thousands of GT readers across Santa Cruz County. So if some of this looks familiar, it’s probably because you helped make it happen. But there are always new things to discover, too—you could go to a different winner or runner-up every day in the Food and Drink category alone, and you’d be booked just about until next year’s Best of Santa Cruz County issue comes out.

 

Something Essential Disappears

Lunar and solar eclipses follow one another. Lunar eclipses occur at full moons, and solar eclipses at new moons. Two weeks ago at the full moon we had the blood red moon—a total lunar eclipse (the next one is Oct. 8). On Monday night, April 28 (new moon), as the Sun, Moon and Earth align, a solar eclipse (Sun obscured) occurs. Eclipses signify something irrevocably is changed in our world. The Sun is our essential life force. Monday’s new moon, 9 degrees Taurus, is also an annular solar eclipse when the Moon moves centrally in front of the Sun, yet does not cover the Sun completely. The Sun's outer edges, still visible, form a “ring of fire” around the Moon.

 

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.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

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Palate-Stretching 101

A wine education with Soif’s experts As a veteran of many weekend wine “seminars” at Soif, I have to confess that I’ve never known less (going in) and learned more (coming out) than I did last week at the Spanish Wine Tasting with ace rep Brian Greenwood. These are classy, casual events and it’s hard to imagine having this much flavor fun anywhere for $20.

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Sauvignon Blanc 2011 One of my favorite wines is Sauvignon Blanc, and this one made by Martin Ranch is particularly lovely. Bright, crisp and refreshing, it’s perfect to pair with fish and shellfish—and good for picnics as it has an easy screw-cap bottle. There’s nothing worse than setting down your blanket, pulling out your sandwiches—and then realizing you don’t have a corkscrew.

 

Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

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