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Aug 23rd
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Environment

No Big Surprises

No Big Surprises

The highly anticipated draft Environmental Impact Report for desal is finally out. Will it change anything?

When scwd2, the group pursuing the proposed joint desalination plant for the Santa Cruz Water Department and Soquel Creek Water District, set up a booth at the Santa Cruz Earth Day festival in 2012, its reception was less than warm.

Signature gathering for Measure P, the “right to vote” on desal ballot measure, was in full swing, as were tensions over the controversial project, which would produce up to 2.5 million gallons per day of desalinated water and cost an estimated $100 million. What were representatives of an energy-intensive desal plant doing among the recycling and conservation booths? That was the attitude Melanie Mow Schumacher, public outreach coordinator for scwd2 (pronounced “squid squared”), remembers sensing.

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Environment

Growing Berries Without Bromide

Growing Berries Without Bromide

Researchers test a new alternative to a controversial chemical

The scarecrows perched in Santa Cruz strawberry fields do little to scare away the birds, much less the insects and fungi harbored in the soil. Everything likes to eat strawberries, which makes growing them a risky business.

This predicament led UC Santa Cruz professor Carol Shennan to take an unconventional approach to pest management. Nine years ago, the fatal plant disease Verticillium wilt was wiping out strawberry plants at the university farm. Chemicals hardly phase the pathogen, and Shennan saw little improvement with crop rotation, which is typically used to treat infested fields. A visiting plant pathologist from the Netherlands recommended a little-known organic technique called anaerobic soil disinfestation, and, with so few other options, Shennan decided to give it a try. 

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Assemblymember Mark Stone

Town Hall with Assemblymember Mark Stone

What are some of the persisting safety issues with drinking water in the state, and what would the Freshwater Protection Fund change?

More than 16 million Californians get at least some of their drinking water from groundwater, which comes from both public water supplies and private wells. The state regulates and tests our communities’ public water systems, but private domestic wells are unregulated and untested. As a result, many neighborhoods throughout California, especially those in agricultural areas, currently lack safe drinking water due to nitrate-contaminated groundwater. This contamination comes primarily from nitrogen in fertilizer used to grow crops. If consumed at a dangerous concentration, nitrate contaminated water can put individuals, especially pregnant women and infants, at a particularly high risk for serious health problems and even death. Newborns can suffer from “blue baby syndrome,” where there is not enough oxygen in their blood, and adults can experience gastric problems. 

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Business

The Maya-Ixil Move Forward

The Maya-Ixil Move Forward

Local nonprofit works to educate and create opportunity for indigenous communities in Guatemala

In an isolated region of the Guatemala mountains called Ixil, the indigenous Maya population was devastated by a civil war between the government and leftist guerrilla factions that spanned 1960 to 1996.

During that 36-year war, the Guatemalan military eradicated entire Mayan communities. In what amounted to genocide, soldiers burned Mayan farmlands and homes, raped and tortured the people, and scattered families. By the end of the war, 200,000 Mayans had been killed, 7,000 of whom were Maya-Ixil.

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Local News

Public Thinking

Public Thinking

Watsonville teens host TEDx event

Santa Cruz County is no stranger to the TED brand. TED—which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design—talks have come to the area through independently organized events 10 times since 2011. This month, the gathering returns to the county with a new twist, thanks to the Watsonville Youth City Council.

TEDxYouth@Watsonville, which will take place Sunday, May 19 at the Henry J. Mello Center for the Performing Arts in Watsonville, will feature only speakers younger than 19 years old and will traverse topics from racial stereotypes and renewable energy to traditional Mexican dance.

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Local News

Bringing the Message Home

Bringing the Message Home

Former mayor and UCSC student recap their experiences at the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women

While traveling to New York for the 57th United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), seasoned local activist Jane Weed-Pomerantz had a notion of what to expect. But, with the vast scope of worldwide women’s rights violations presented at the commission, she knew she would still be taken aback at times.

“I was worried because I had a feeling I would be finding out what I did find out about women and girls in the world,” says Weed-Pomerantz. “I was trying to brace myself for the knowledge of the reality, because we are really very protected in this country.”

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Local News

Spinning our Wheels

Spinning our Wheels

Can the debate over homeless services come to terms with the need for drug and alcohol treatment? 

Over the last few months, sharp disagreement on what needs to done about crime and homelessness has polarized the city council, homeless service advocates and neighborhood safety groups, not to mention the larger community.

With total arrests for all types of crime up more than 50 percent between 2011 and 2012, and with 42 percent of offenders booked in county jail being homeless, transients, or having given the address of the Homeless Services Center (HSC) as their residence, Santa Cruz Deputy Chief of Police Rick Martinez says the city is at a critical “tipping point” in addressing drug addiction and homelessness.

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Environment

Bring Your Own Bag

Bring Your Own Bag

Single-use plastic bag bans are underway

Shoppers in Capitola, Watsonville, the City of Santa Cruz, and the unincorporated parts of the county are, by now, becoming accustomed to the absence of plastic bags.

On Sept. 20, 2011, Santa Cruz County became the first local jurisdiction to pass an ordinance that banned single-use plastic bags and implemented a fee for paper bags, which took effect last spring. Watsonville, Capitola, and Santa Cruz followed suit with similar actions: Watsonville’s ordinance went into effect last September, and, as of last month, the bans in Capitola and the City of Santa Cruz are now in place.

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Local News

Two Sides of the Same Coin

Two Sides of the Same Coin

Documentary explores the hunger/obesity paradox—a question at the heart of Second Harvest’s evolving mission

In 1968, with 10 million Americans suffering from hunger, CBS News aired Hunger in America, a documentary that exposed the severity of the problem and led to national mobilization. School food programs and food stamps resulted, and hunger took a significant plunge by the late 1970s.

“Hunger was virtually eliminated in America,” says Willy Elliott-McCrea, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank (SHFB). This proved that ending hunger was a matter of choice, he says.

But that positive trend didn’t last. Today, nearly 50 million Americans, including a fourth of all children, don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

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Local News

Setting up Camp

Setting up Camp

Is a self-regulated, communal camp the answer to Santa Cruz’s homeless problems?

In dozens of cities across the country, there are organized, self-managed homeless communities—a concept dubbed locally as “sanctuary camps”—that aim to help people pull their lives out of the gutter, get organized, find employment and secure housing.

Local videographer, Occupy activist, and now homeless advocate Brent Adams was inspired to initiate plans for a sanctuary camp in Santa Cruz when he traveled in December of last year to Portland, Ore., where there are two camps—one called “Right 2 Dream Too,” nicknamed “R2DToo,” and another called “Dignity Village.”

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Trending Now

Whether you live by the Vogue bible or choose to go into your day wearing what you slept in, odds are you wear clothes.

 

Entering Virgo

Sun entering Virgo brings a sign and element change, from Leo’s fire to Virgo’s practical earth. Food, health, grains, service and small animals are in the news and on our minds. It’s one month till autumn. Pumpkins and persimmons are ripening. Venus is in Leo. We radiate warmth; we’re generous, playful and affectionate. Everyone shows off in an ardent, passionate, warm-hearted, romantic and over-dramatic way, reflecting Leo’s fiery nature. Think of life as Shakespeare wrote: life is a play, we are its actors on the same stage together.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of August 22

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Locavores Only

Farm dinners at Route 1 Farms and the Homeless Garden Project expand the revolution

 

How should Santa Cruz develop downtown around the San Lorenzo River?

Santa Cruz | Artist/Show Promoter

 

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

 

Clowning Around With Armitage Chardonnay

Four of us headed to Brandon Armitage’s new tasting room in Aptos Village recently to try his well-made wines.