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Apr 26th
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Environment

Shelter from the Storm

Shelter from the Storm

UC Santa Cruz’s Energy Service Corps is on a mission to keep homes a little warmer this winter
It’s been a cold and wet winter so far here in Santa Cruz. The outside chill generally prompts an expensive habit of cranking the heater, but, this year, two UC Santa Cruz students are leading the switch to a greener and cheaper option for staying toasty.

On Nov. 18, Adan Codina and Adrienne Borders held a press conference in front of the Boys & Girls Club on Center Street to announce the launch of the student-operated Energy Service Corps (ESC) program, which will offer home weatherizations to hundreds of local homes.

“The goal of Energy Service Corps is pretty simple,” says Borders, co-coordinator of the local ESC branch along with Codina. “It’s to reduce energy used by taking the mystery out of energy efficiency.”

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Local News

Cracking Shells

Cracking Shells

Walnut Avenue Women’s Center helps local youth open up
It’s a quiet Friday afternoon in December at the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center in Downtown Santa Cruz, where the energy is one of a focused nonprofit working with its nose to the grind. The last thing I expect to hear is that, hours later, the locale will look like a bustling social hub.

“It’s going to turn into Club 303,” says Rita Martinico, WAWC’s director of Youth Development Services, noting the organization’s spot at 303 Walnut Ave. “Tonight is a big party.”

Not your usual Friday night soiree, this particular event will turn out to be a chance for volunteer mentors to socialize with prospective youth “mentees,” as Martinico nicknames them, for WAWC’s successful One-on-One effort. It’s a program that provides personal relationships with positive role models for kids ages 12 through 18. Dinner, music, plenty of friendly warmth and streamers as sparkling as the smiles will take over the lounge, which earlier in the day feels stark. The evening will host the beginning of some life-changing experiences.

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Business

Living in a Rental Paradise?

Living in a Rental Paradise?

The debate over a county vacation rental ordinance continues
It’s 3 a.m., you’ve got a big meeting in the morning and the tourists staying in the vacation rental next door are rocking out to “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” You could call the Sheriff’s Office, but since the homeowner lives out of state, it’s unlikely that your simple reprimand will be the end to your sleepless nights.

Scenarios like these are becoming more and more common in Santa Cruz County, where there are a known 570 vacation rentals. With the advent of the Internet, it’s not hard to see why it’s a goldmine industry.

But along with the tourists and supplemental income have come neighborhood complaints of increased traffic, excessive garbage, late night partying and limited street parking. In response to the grievances of locals, Santa Cruz County First District Supervisor John Leopold proposed a Vacation Rental Ordinance to the Board on June 15, 2010.

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Local News

There’s an App For That

There’s an App For That

Downtown Santa Cruz parking goes hi-tech
Originally slated to take effect in time for the holidays, the trial run of a new parking program in Downtown Santa Cruz has been postponed until mid-January.

The program will allow people who park downtown to pay for parking and add more time to their parking lot spot or meter via cell phone. The City of Santa Cruz hopes the new program will encourage more people to shop downtown and reduce shoppers’ likelihoods of receiving parking tickets.

The program was designed by Parkmobile USA of Atlanta, Ga. The Parkmobile program keeps users from running out of time by sending a text message when 15 minutes is left on a parking space or meter. Users have the option of extending their parking time by using their cell phone to either call Parkmobile or by using the downloadable smart phone application to pay for an extension.

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Environment

California’s Green Facelift

California’s Green Facelift

Santa Cruz’s Ecology Action is at the center of new program designed to save money and the environment
Just in time for the New Year, the Energy Upgrade California Program (EUCP) is announcing its plans to keep the environment green and clean while putting a different kind of green back into the pockets of the state and consumers alike.

A collaborative effort between nonprofits, utility companies and the California Energy Commission (CEC), the program will use federal stimulus funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA). It will allow homeowners and commercial businesses a unique opportunity to make their buildings more energy efficient by providing rebates and monetary incentives for upgrades. What makes this program different from others, is that it is a statewide program that will allow all 58 counties to participate in reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions providing more benefits than just monetary. At the cornerstone of the project is Santa Cruz’s own Ecology Action.

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Local News

A Tale of Three PENS

A Tale of Three PENS

Local preschool teachers receive community hero award and fight to keep their schools open
The go-to source for Santa Cruz statistics was released last month. Along with providing a plethora of data, the Santa Cruz County Community Assessment Project Report (CAP) honors dedicated citizens who contribute to the community’s social health. This year, a group of teachers from a network of parent-interactive preschools have received recognition for their betterment of early education. But, honors aside, the preschools are facing economic woes  that threaten their survival.

The CAP Report is an annual almanac that reports the x, y and z’s of Santa Cruz County. Since 1994, the report has supplied citizens with raw data concerning a variety of community interests, such as public safety, health and education.

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Town Hall

Congressman Sam Farr

Congressman Sam Farr

Congress recently passed an extension for Medicare reimbursement rates for physicians. How long will the extension last, is there talk of extending it further, and how will it impact the Central Coast specifically?
This is a great question, and it is an issue I have been working deep in the weeds for more than a decade. To answer the immediate question, congress has passed a series of extensions for Medicare reimbursement—the current extension expires on Dec.31, 2010. But Democrats worked out a way to guarantee a longer extension, one that will last through 2011. That bill is on its way to President Obama for signature, thus assuring that doctors will not face a 23 percent cut on Jan. 1.

But the Central Coast also faces another important issue looming over Medicare reimbursement in our region.

As many of you may be aware, doctors in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito Counties receive a lower payment from Medicare than do doctors in neighboring Santa Clara County.

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Environment

Taking Action

Taking Action

Local nonprofit heads to Haiti to offer aid and support
Having only five members hasn’t stopped fledgling humanitarian nonprofit Action Santa Cruz from delivering aid and supplies to a whole arsenal of worthy causes. The small group formed shortly after the 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti in January 2010. On Dec. 9, the group will take flight to Haiti, where its members will embark on a search for the project that will define them.

And if their resolve is tested, Action Santa Cruz has the inspiration they need to fall back on, a Haitian saying which has already carried member Mary Anne Kramer-Urner through one challenging trip to Haiti:

“Piti, piti, zwazo fe nich.”

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Local News

History Buff

History Buff

GT sits down with 2010 Historian of the Year Marion Pokriots
When I meet 2010 Santa Cruz Historian of the Year Marion Pokriots at her Scotts Valley home, where she’s lived since moving to the area in the 1950s, I find the dining room table stacked with volumes chronicling her own rich history. The books she’s authored, including “Some Early Santa Cruz Families: 1797-1847,” “The Joseph Majors Story,” “The Hitchcock-Patterson Saga” and the most recent, titled “Remembering Scotts Valley,” are piled alongside research projects or booklets she “just puts together” like one about Mount Carmel Cemetery and a scrapbook of press clippings by and about her from over the years.

We sift through the materials, journeying through her extensive adventures deciphering Santa Cruz County history, arriving at a thick packet of research on David Morrill Locke—a New Hampshire man who made his fortunes selling water to California gold miners and used it to settle on 1,100 acres in Scotts Valley. The project was for a Santa Cruz County history class she took in 1984 at Cabrillo College taught by esteemed local “history dude” Sandy Lydon. Her foray into the legacy of Locke launched her into an endless exploration of other notable Santa Cruzans from years past.

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Town Hall

Supervisor Neal Coonerty

Supervisor Neal Coonerty

You are co-sponsoring a Dec. 11 reception honoring Celia and Peter Scott. Which of their accomplishments will be highlighted?
Many of us think the environmental amenities we enjoy have been protected from development forever. Wilder Ranch, Lighthouse Field, Pogonip, Grey Whale Ranch, Coast Dairies Ranch and the Santa Cruz Greenbelt provide spectacular scenic, environmental, recreational and even economic benefits to all of us and, in many ways, define the kind of community we are.

But the permanent protection of these resources for the public has only come about over the last 30-plus years. It resulted from the hard work, tenacity and perseverance of a relatively small group of community activists and elected officials who at times engaged in bitter political fights as they mobilized the broad based public support for the preservation of these incredible community assets. And, at the forefront of many of these and other environmentally related battles were Celia and Peter Scott.

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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