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Dec 18th
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Pool Party

Pool Party

Local swim instructor and community members push to reopen Harvey West pool in time for summer
Swim instructor Jim Booth first started coaching at Harvey West Pool in 1974. Now, nearly 40 years later, Booth is working with other community members to reopen Harvey West Park’s lap pool, which was shut down more than two years ago as part of a series of budget cuts that aimed to fix the city’s deficit.

Booth still gives lessons at the children’s pool, which remains open, but would like to see the main lap pool opened again (it was closed because it requires more energy use, and thus produces a bigger PG&E bill). “It’s tradition,” Booth says. “[When] all of us grew up, our moms and dads dropped us off at the pool in the summer. Thousands of kids have grown up with that pool.”

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Local News

Breaking Out

Breaking Out

The ‘Smart on Crime’ effort seeks to spark changes in the local criminal justice system
The Santa Cruz County Jail earns an average of two stars (out of five) on the popular review website Yelp. Comments range from the serious—“This jail lies in stark contrast [with] the supposed basic rights we are all afforded”—to the facetious. “The jail cooks better than my ex-wife ever did,” one user writes. Yes, it’s absurd to review a jail like you would a coffee shop. It’s a jail, and you don’t get to choose to take your business elsewhere. But if a business garnered similar reviews as the county jail has, the owners of the business would, one hopes, work hard to make changes.

In a way, that is what is happening in the county right now. Arguing that the current incarceration system is inhumane, ineffective and expensive, local politicians, scholars, and leaders are working to find different approaches.

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Environment

From Military Service to Nature Conservationist

From Military Service to Nature Conservationist

State Conservation Corp initiates first veterans’ backcountry trail crew
Assimilating back into society after serving in the military is anything but an easy process. But thanks to a new partnership between a California agency and the Veterans Green Corp (VGC), there’s a new, nature-filled way for veterans to spend this transition period—and give our state parks some much-needed TLC while they’re at it.

This year, the California Conservation Corps' (CCC) Backcountry Trails Program, which is aimed at preserving California's wilderness areas by making them safer and more accessible to the public, partnered with VGC to establish the first ever veterans’ Backcountry Trail Crew. The crew is comprised of 15 men and women, including nine military veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Local News

Pride in Our Diversity

Pride in Our Diversity

Santa Cruz Pride marks the anniversary of the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) equality. Forty-two years ago this June, the Stonewall riots in New York were a turning point as queer people declared they would no longer stand for the status quo of harassment and persecution. California’s Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird’s article from Good Times (May 26) paints a compelling picture of the LGBTQ movement’s progress over the last 40 years. We owe trailblazers like Laird a debt of gratitude for their tireless commitment to equality and fairness.

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Business

Plantronics Hits the Big 5-0

Plantronics Hits the Big 5-0

Tech giant honors past, looks forward to future
When we recount the milestones in our county’s history, one event in particular truly stands out. It was July 21, 1969 and Neil Armstrong’s famous words, “That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind,” were transmitted from the moon—via a Pacific Plantronics SPENCOM headset.

Today, the largest private employer in Santa Cruz County is celebrating its 50th anniversary—a half century of communication innovation, beginning with headsets and expanding into Bluetooth. Since taking several trips to the moon, Plantronics products have become internationally recognized—they were named the official headset of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, and they continue to lead the pack in mobile communication technology.

To show Plantronics’ appreciation of Santa Cruz for its decades of loyalty and support, the company hosted an anniversary event on May 26.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

The death of Osama bin Laden has initiated a conversation about our role in Afghanistan and the money that has been spent. Are you in favor of reducing defense spending? If so, by how much?

The death of Osama bin Laden not only landed a major blow against threats posed by al-Qaeda, but it gave comfort and some sense of closure to thousands of families that were affected by the devastating 9/11 attacks. And for the hundreds of thousands of soldiers that have unflinchingly marched into countless battles in Afghanistan, it gave them a renewed sense of pride and purpose for their service and sacrifice.

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Environment

A Green Blueprint

A Green Blueprint

New 25-year conservation plan looks at the county’s ecological future
A long history of environmental protection in Santa Cruz County has helped spare much of its land from development. More than a century ago, Big Basin—the first state park in California—was founded in the Santa Cruz Mountains, saving a large number of old-growth redwoods from logging. Today, 27 percent of the county’s land is in parks, public land, or is otherwise protected through conservation easements.

Nevertheless, many in Santa Cruz see the natural environment as under threat. The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, a local environmental nonprofit established in 1978, estimates that by 2035, the population in the Monterey Bay region will increase by 146,000, 35,000 of which will be in Santa Cruz County. More people means increased urban and rural development—more houses, more roads, and greater stress on already taxed natural resources. Add to this the unknowns of climate change, and Santa Cruz County could be facing a challenging future.

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Environment

Shuttering State Parks

Shuttering State Parks

Come September, Castle Rock, Twin Lakes, Portola Redwoods and Mission Park will be closed
The bad news Californians were expecting was finally released by California State Parks on Friday May 13, when they announced the list of 70 state parks scheduled for closure next fiscal year. The closures result from the $11 million cut to the Park Department’s operating budget, which was adopted by the legislature and signed by the governor in March. Regional state parks scheduled for closure in September include Castle Rock State Park, a favorite of rock climbers and hikers up on Skyline Drive, Twin Lakes State Beach, which means the state will no longer be providing lifeguards, Portola Redwoods, and Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

What were some of the positive and negative items contained in the governor’s May Revise of the 2011-12 State Budget?

One positive in the governor’s May Revise is that state revenues received this year exceed prior projections.

In January, California’s estimated budget deficit was $27 billion. In March we made $14 billion in extremely difficult cuts, leaving a $13 billion deficit to be resolved by June 15.  The increased revenues have reduced the anticipated debt during the 2011-12 Fiscal Year from $13 billion to $9.6 billion. While these revenue increases are an indicator of California’s slow economic recovery, we should not look at them as being sufficient to address the state’s ongoing debt and funding needs. 

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Business

Worker Worries

Worker Worries

AFSCME workers wonder how UC budget cuts will further impact their jobs
Budget cuts have meant cutbacks for nearly every area of the UC Santa Cruz campus, impacting students, faculty and staff alike. For some workers the reality of just how deep the past several years of cuts have been has never been more obvious or unnerving than now. Along with furloughs and increased costs for everything from healthcare to retirement, some UCSC workers are also facing the dual pressure of an increased workload and the fear of losing their job in the next round of layoffs.

One UCSC employee of more than 20 years, who wishes to remain nameless, says she has watched her work as a custodian become increasingly more difficult over the past few years. She is now required to clean twice the number of areas she would have cleaned two years ago in the same amount of time.

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Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
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Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire