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Apr 26th
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Getting Out and Staying Out

Getting Out and Staying Out

Santa Cruz County puts federal grant toward reducing recidivism
Every month, 1,100 adult offenders are released from local jails and back into the Santa Cruz County community. These individuals will return to jail an average of six times throughout their adult lives.

With this in mind, a collective of Santa Cruz County agencies, nonprofits and community groups jumped at the chance to fight for the highly competitive Federal Second Chance Act Mentoring Grant when it became available through the U.S. Department of Justice last year. Their enthusiastic effort paid off—in November, Santa Cruz County was awarded the $750,000 grant for its proposal for a project called Reduction Through Research-Based Rehabilitation and Reentry, or R5. On Tuesday, Feb. 8, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors officially approved the use of the grant funds for the R5 program.     

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Local News

Peer to Peer

Peer to Peer

Funding uncertainties force mental health services to change approach
For Mental Health Client Action Network’s Matt Davis, overcoming the way the world viewed his schizophrenia diagnosis was just the first step of recovery. Now, helping others face similar challenges is his cure and life’s work.

“The world tells you if you have a mental illness, you’re weird, damaged, or flawed,” says Davis during a brief break from assisting clients at MHCAN’s front desk. “I don’t feel like that [since] I started coming here.”

At MHCAN, the stigma of mental illness is nonexistent. The organization was founded in 1992 by a group of Santa Cruz residents who were involved in the mental health consumer rights movement, some as ex-patients and others as survivors of mental health abuse. MHCAN became a nonprofit in 1995.

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Local News

The Santa Cruz Love Project

The Santa Cruz Love Project

Second annual fundraiser celebrates love and benefits local LGBT youth support program
One night last spring around 8 p.m., Harbor High School teacher Ron Indra picked up his ringing home phone. The high school student on the other end of the line told Indra he had 15 minutes to convince him not to take the bottle of his mother’s Ambien and drink the bottle of Jack Daniels sitting in front of him.

“He told me he was gay [and that] he could not come out to his parents—they had just left for the movies,” says Indra, who has taught for 28 years, oversees the Harbor High School Gay Straight Alliance, and is coordinator for the Safe Schools Project of Santa Cruz County. The Safe Schools Project is a program initiated by the Queer Youth Task Force (QYTF) that teaches tolerance and handling of harassment to students and staff in Santa Cruz County middle and high schools.

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Town Hall

Congressmember Sam Farr

Congressmember Sam Farr

Republicans have dubbed the healthcare bill the “job-killing” or “job-destroying” healthcare act. What is your response to this? What are the bill’s actual impacts on jobs and the economy?

To the dismay of folks across the country, Republicans have opted for the status quo and have continued to operate with their same old games and political rhetoric.

Bottom line—the healthcare reform is not about killing jobs. It’s also about our dire need to address healthcare costs and our national deficit. It’s about creating jobs for millions of Americans, and strengthening the middle class for hard-working families.

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Local News

A Meaty Endeavor

A Meaty Endeavor

New local butcher shop provides an outlet for regional, family-farmed meat
For Chris LaVeque, it’s all in the details. Bronze-coated sausage link handles open the door to his new shop in the Swift Street Courtyard, where a 1960s cherry-red Butcher Boy meat saw sits prominently on display, welcoming customers to a new source for all things carnivorous.

“It adds to the experience of coming into a real-deal butcher shop,” says LaVeque of his refurbished saw, which was a gift from his father. “Every meat eater should experience from start to finish what they’re eating.”

After gracing Santa Cruz’s farmers’ markets for the past year, El Salchichero butchery formally opens shop  on Friday, Feb. 11. Santa Cruz has lacked a locally owned and sourced specialty butchery since the closure of Severino’s Community Butcher in 2007, which LaVeque worked for.

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Environment

Bag Lag

Bag Lag

The Central Coast Sanctuary Alliance pressures local government to adopt a single-use plastic bag ban
Nature photographer Terry McCormac recently had a typical day photographing a mother and baby sea otter near Moss Landing take a turn for the worse when the playful otter pup found itself trapped inside a plastic shopping bag.

“The baby got all panicky and started screaming,” McCormac remembers. “Then the mom started screaming. The mom went over there and got [the baby] on its chest and was trying to pull it off. Neither of them knew what to do. It was very heart wrenching.”

Helpless, McCormac continued to snap photos. The distressed mother and baby disappeared behind a boat, and then reappeared without the plastic bag. McCormac was relieved the otter pup’s misadventure had a happy ending, but he was determined to use the photo to help fight against plastic bag pollution in the ocean.

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Town Hall

County Supervisor Greg Caput

County Supervisor Greg Caput

Santa Cruz County is currently suffering 13 percent unemployment, and the South County area hovers around 25 percent. What measures will be taken to improve these numbers?
The difficulty in combating high unemployment is something shared across the nation and most parts of the world. The contraction of the economy on account of reckless financial decisions being made in both the private and public sectors has made life much harder for local jurisdictions. Much of the unemployment in the Pajaro Valley can be attributed to the failing housing market, which has not only resulted in a reduction in home sales but also in jobs related to construction, carpentry, roofing, painting, landscaping—you name it. In addition, there have been cuts in the service sector, government sector, and so on. So the problem we have at hand is finding all these displaced workers new jobs.

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Environment

Green to the Grave

Green to the Grave

Will there be a greater demand for ‘green’ burial practices?
For those who spend their life dedicated to reducing their environmental footprint, it can seem contradictory for their final act of recycling to be having their bodies pumped full of toxic chemicals and buried in a metal casket that will take longer than an SUV to biodegrade.

According to Joe Sehee, executive director of the New Mexico-based Green Burial Council, this realization is leading an increasing number of people to re-think their final footprint and seek more sustainable alternatives to standard funeral industry burial practices.

This environmentally conscious demographic, says Sehee, considers the “industrial-preservative” standards of embalming and burial in vaulted metal caskets as misguided, resource intensive overkill in trying to delay the natural processes of decomposition. In addition, they disapprove of mining, processing, and then burying hundreds of tons of metal and concrete in traditional cemeteries each year.

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Environment

Berry Dangerous?

Berry Dangerous?

As applications of methyl iodide begin, potential health risks of the pesticide remain unknown
Litigation, restricted materials permits, toxicity reports. These represent just some of the red tape involved in the recent registration of methyl iodide, a new pesticide approved for strawberry production by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) in December.

Just before the new year, an alliance of advocacy groups, including the United Farm Workers’ Union, filed suit to block use of the chemical and urged Gov. Jerry Brown to reverse the decision.

Despite these efforts, the potential side effects for farm workers and nearby residents—the people who spend hours every day exposed to these chemicals—remain to be seen. In agricultural hubs such as Watsonville and Salinas, which together produced a volume of nearly 90 million trays of strawberries in 2010, according to the California Strawberry Commission, the new pesticide is sure to have a large presence.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

The California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) has released its report entitled, “Health Impacts of Radio Frequency from Smart Meters.”  What conclusions did CCST reach and what is your opinion about the report’s findings?

A number of constituents have contacted me with their concerns about the potential health and safety effects of Smart Meters. In response to these concerns, Assemblymember Jared Huffman and I asked CCST to study the existing scientific literature on radio frequency exposure standards this past November.

The CCST report concludes that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) standard based on thermal effects is appropriate and would appear to be fully protective of human health, and that even under “worst case” operational scenarios, Smart Meters produce radio frequency (RF) exposures much lower than the FCC standard.

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We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Mission Critical

How reading Lisa Jensen’s reviews taught me to love film
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Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

What would you like to see a TED talk about?

Hydrogen-gas cars that are coming this summer. Scott Oliver, Santa Cruz, Professor

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise