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Aug 30th
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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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Local News

Teenage Dream

Teenage Dream

Lightfoot Industries leads at-risk teens on the search for their ‘soul craft’
A soul craft, according to Carmen Kubas, is the thing that “lights your fire” and “gets you out of bed.” It’s the thing you love to do.

For Kubas, each day brings new challenges as she pursues her own soul craft as founder and CEO of Lightfoot Industries—an original blend of restaurant development, sustainable food and life skills education for at-risk teens.

Her work includes the guidance and mentorship of Lightfoot's 10 high school students as they search for their respective soul crafts. The teens, labeled “at-risk” by educators, have already slipped through the cracks of public education. Most come from Delta High, an independent study charter school linked to Cabrillo College.

But at Lightfoot, the only thing that's “at risk” is whether the chutney is burning or if someone's arms might give out during Camel Pose, a particularly difficult yoga position.

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Local News

UC: University of Cuts

UC: University of Cuts

UCSC faces a big blow from the governor’s new state budget
On what UC President Mark Yudof called a “sad day for California,” Gov. Jerry Brown announced his new state budget on Jan. 10 and a subsequent $1.4 billion budget cut to higher education—$500 million from the UCs and state schools, respectively, and $400,000 from community colleges.

“This is a historic marker of disinvestment in public education that should be disturbing to all Californians—whether they have family members attending a UC campus or not,” Yudof said in an open letter to the UC community.

As a result, Yudof will assign a reduction figure to each of the UC campuses. The schools have until March 1 to outline how they will achieve the amount in reductions. As of press time, UC Santa Cruz spokesman Jim Burns says the school has not received its reduction amount but that they expect it to be between $15 and $30 million. While they wait, he says the administration is “just now beginning the process for determining how the campus will make these reductions.”

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Local News

Sharing the Pain

Sharing the Pain

Where the state budget touches local government
Jerry Brown wasted no time making some big impressions as the new governor. His budget proposal for fiscal year 2011-2012 includes $12.5 in cuts and a shift in responsibility for some services to local governments. Here’s a quick run-through of ways the governor’s budget proposal would impact the city and county of Santa Cruz.

Redevelopment
Gov. Brown’s budget proposes eliminating funding for the state’s 400 or so redevelopment agencies—the thought of which has been a particularly hard pill to swallow for local officials. “Our Redevelopment Agency has allowed us to rebuild downtown, beautify the eastside, build workforce housing, attract companies and create jobs, and improve infrastructure,” says Santa Cruz Mayor Ryan Coonerty. “There is a tremendous return on investment for the city and the state. It is a short-term savings with a huge long-term cost.”

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Business

Still Stimulated?

Still Stimulated?

Two years later, a look at how the stimulus bill has impacted Santa Cruz
It’s been almost two years since President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) on Feb. 17, 2009, pumping $787 billion of federal funds into the economy. But where has that money gone and what was the impact?

In Santa Cruz County—where there were 198 grants and seven contracts awarded for a total of $120 million—the consensus seems to be that the stimulus was a double-edged sword. On one hand, jobs were saved, programs were created, and start-up businesses had better chances of securing loans. But, at the same time, new levels of bureaucracy, limited funds and a distorted public image of ARRA had a crippling effect on some local agencies.

“It was meant to stimulate growth, not to sustain it,” says Rep. Sam Farr (D-17th District). “But public financing is very difficult and with cuts coming down [from the government] people don’t necessarily know where the money is coming from.”

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Local News

Food For Thought

Food For Thought

Leader of the fair trade movement in Palestine to speak in Santa Cruz
Nasser Abufarha, a native-born Palestinian, encountered a fair trade product for the first time in 2002 at a coffee shop in Madison, Wis. Nine years later, he’s at the helm of a business and a nonprofit organization that bring fair trade, certified organic products to the United States and Europe, while also bringing the prospect of sustainable living to struggling farmers in Palestine.

Santa Cruz residents are invited to hear Abufarha’s story—one of fair trade, organic olives, and hope amidst the war-torn Israel/Palestine conflict—on Jan. 17 at the Live Oak Grange.

Abufarha is the founder and driving force behind the nonprofit organization Palestine Fair Trade Association (PFTA). In connection with his organic delicacies business, Canaan Fair Trade, PFTA works to provide sustainable living to struggling family farmers in the Palestinian West Bank region. Abufarha and the PFTA maintain a longstanding relationship with the Resource Center for Non-Violence (RCNV) in Santa Cruz, which organized the upcoming event.

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The Meaning of ‘LIFE’

With a new documentary film about his work, and huge exhibits on both coasts, acclaimed Santa Cruz nature photographer Frans Lanting is having a landmark year. But his crusade for conservation doesn’t leave much time for looking back

 

Seasons of Opportunity

Everything in our world has a specific time (a season) in which to accomplish a specific work—a “season” that begins (opportunity) and ends (time’s up). I can feel the season is changing. The leaves turning colors, the air cooler, sunbeams casting shadows in different places. It feels like a seasonal change has begun in the northern hemisphere. Christmas is in four months, and 2015 is swiftly speeding by. Soon it will be autumn and time for the many Festivals of Light. Each season offers new opportunities. Then the season ends and new seasons take its place. Humanity, too, is given “seasons” of opportunity. We are in one of those opportunities now, to bring something new (Uranus) into our world, especially in the United States. Times of opportunity can be seen in the astrology chart. In the U.S. chart, Uranus (change) joins Chiron (wound/healing). This symbolizes a need to heal the wounds of humanity. Uranus offers new archetypes, new ways of doing things. The Uranus/Chiron (Aries/Pisces) message is, “The people of the U.S. are suffering. New actions are needed to bring healing and well-being to humanity. So the U.S. can fulfill its spiritual task of standing within the light and leading humanity within and toward the light.” Thursday, Aquarius Moon, Mercury enters Libra. The message, “To bring forth the new order in the world, begin with acts of Goodwill.” Goodwill produces right relations with everyone and everything. The result is a world of progressive well-being and peacefulness (which is neither passive nor the opposite of war). Saturday is the full moon, the solar light of Virgo streaming into the Earth. Our waiting now begins, for the birth of new light at winter solstice. The mother (hiding the light of the soul, the holy child), identifying the feminine principle, says, “I am the mother and the child. I, God (Father), I Matter (Mother), We are One.”

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of August 28

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Land of Plenty

Farm to Fork benefit dinner for UCSC’s Agroecology Center, plus a zippy salsa from Teresa’s Salsa that loves every food it meets

 

If you knew you had one week to live, what would you do?

Make peace with myself, which would allow me to be at peace with others. Diane Fisher, Santa Cruz, Network Engineer

 

Comanche Cellars

Michael Simons, owner and winemaker of Comanche Cellars, once had a trusted steed called Comanche, which was part of his paper route and his rodeo circuit, from the tender age of 10. In memory of this beautiful horse, he named his winery Comanche, and Comanche’s shoes grace the label of each handcrafted bottle.

 

Cantine Winepub

Aptos wine and tapas spot keeps it casual