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When Spare Change Becomes Real Change

When Spare Change Becomes Real Change

Imagine Positive Change project will use donations to help local homeless
“Can you spare some change?” Santa Cruz residents are bound to get this question every so often. Those who live or work downtown may even hear it several times a day. It often remains rhetorical, bouncing like an unanswered echo up and down Pacific Avenue. It floats right past pedestrians, eliciting a sympathetic smile or “no, sorry” on the best of days. But if Santa Cruz wasn’t a lucrative location for panhandling, it wouldn’t be a hotspot for the act—and thus there are also those residents who are happy to help, those who can’t say no, and those who fork over a few coins when the mood strikes.

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Local News

It Runs in the Family

It Runs in the Family

Local seventh grader discovers all U.S. presidents but one are related
Twelve-year-old BridgeAnne D’Avignon of Monte Vista Christian School in Watsonville has created a family tree linking all U.S. presidents but one (Martin Van Buren) to a common ancestor: John Plantagenet, the fabled “King John” from the Robin Hood tales and signer of the Magna Carta.

While several reports of U.S. presidents sharing a common ancestry have been published before hers, D’Avignon’s work is the first to link them to a single and (genealogically speaking) recent relative. She began the project last summer as the result of personal curiosity.

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Local News

Counting On It

Counting On It

Project Homeless Connect encourages local homeless to fill out 2010 Census
Jared is 20 years old, and like most homeless people interviewed for this article, he declined to give his last name. He is pale and delicately built, with shy brown eyes, a mane of blonde dreadlocks festooned with tiny silver charms, and a cut on his forehead that’s almost healed.

On Tuesday, March 30, he was sitting quietly with some friends in the grass outside the Civic Auditorium in Downtown Santa Cruz, waiting for tickets for admission to Project Homeless Connect (PHC).  A daylong event co-sponsored by the United Way of Santa Cruz County and the U.S. Census Bureau, PHC brought together dozens of local charitable organizations to provide services for Santa Cruz’s homeless, while at the same time encouraging them to fill out the 2010 Census. Participants were given access to free services including medical, dental and eye care, employment advice, legal services, identification cards, haircuts, drug and alcohol counseling, needle exchange, meals, hygiene kits, housing help, and veterinary care.  

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Environment

Transcending Time With A Telescope

Transcending Time With A Telescope

Astronomy professor gazes 15 billion years into the past
Ever since she was a little girl, Sandra Faber has been pondering the heavens. She recalls spending many evenings lying on the grass, gazing skyward and meditating upon the origins of our cosmos. “I think most kids look up with wonder at the night sky,” she says. “It just struck a chord of awe in me.”

Faber has spent her entire adult life pursuing that sense of awe. Now, as professor and chair of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, she is working at the cutting edge of her field to answer the questions starry-eyed youths have been asking for centuries, including one enigma that puzzles scientists to this day.

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Town Hall

Assemblymember Bill Monning

Assemblymember Bill Monning

You were recently named chair of the Assembly Health Committee.  What does the role entail, and what bills will the committee be taking up in the near future?

The Assembly Health Committee is one of the busiest in the legislature and one that will play a pivotal role in guiding California’s healthcare policies in light of the new federal law. Many questions remain about how to pay for the expansion of healthcare coverage, as well as how insurance exchanges will be managed, and as Committee Chair I look forward to helping shape the state’s healthcare policy.

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Environment

Grid Fever

Grid Fever

Desalination plant gets green light. Will energy use spike water rates?
The Santa Cruz City Council has unanimously endorsed an agreement for a desalination plant, sparking community concerns about energy and environmental impacts.

Their March 23 decision gave the green light for project design and planning, but does not commit the city to construct the plant, says Mayor Mike Rotkin. The agreement also outlines a water-sharing plan with the Soquel Creek Water District, giving Santa Cruz primary rights to use the facility.

“The city council is on record at this point for moving forward with the desalination plant, although we won’t approve construction until we have seen the environmental review,” says Rotkin.  

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Local News

Hope on the Horizon

Hope on the Horizon

Crusaders fighting to save state parks propose a plan for funding
Across California, state parks have been faced with an onslaught of financial uncertainty. Much to the chagrin of residents and tourists, parks have been forced to cut hours and services and even close their gates due to a $14 million cut from the state last year, leaving local agencies to recoup the costs. Maintenance has been neglected and many state parks have bridges down, bathrooms closed and popular trails unapproachable because of downed trees and abundant overgrowth.

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Town Hall

Congressman Sam Farr

Congressman Sam Farr

Can you describe a few scenarios where the healthcare reform bill will affect regular people on the Central Coast?

It’s no secret that I’m very proud of my vote to reform the health insurance system to provide stable, affordable insurance for all Americans. This reform will help all Americans, even those who already have insurance.

Let’s start with the owner of a small business. She employs 15 people and currently can’t afford to offer coverage. This is all too common. Only about 45 percent of small businesses can afford to offer health benefits, with costs up 129 percent since 2000.

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Environment

Something Wilder

Something Wilder

Cherished state park offers a window into the past and sheds light on energy solutions

“It’s something that you’re never going to see anywhere else, and it’s totally unique,” says Wilder Ranch docent Mike Dalbey. He’s talking about the water-powered tools in the Wilder Ranch State Park, which is home to a 19th century saw mill, lathe, drill bit, coffee grinder, and grindstone—all powered by Pelton Water Wheels.

Wilder Ranch's water-powered machine shop dates back to the 1890s and is the last one operating in the State of California. Dalbey, who has helped to restore some of the tools himself, says his favorite part is the lichens growing on one of the wheels—something he calls “high technology as the substrate for organic life.”

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Environment

Hatch and Release

Hatch and Release

The Monterey Bay Trout and Salmon Project is back in the water after a few dry years

Following three years of no salmon and no salmon fishing, local fishermen can once again take up their poles on April 3. Among those excited for the opening of salmon season is the Monterey Bay Salmon & Trout Project (MBSTP), which plans to recommence its King Salmon release program after a three-year hiatus.

Founded in 1976, the MBSTP is a non-profit run almost entirely by volunteers (there is only one paid staff member) with the mission of restoring, conserving, and enhancing native Coho salmon and Steelhead populations and their habitats in the greater Monterey Bay area. MBSTP Treasurer Larry Wolf says that the voluntary aspect makes it “an uplifting program,” and he describes the MBSTP as “one of those programs that was instituted because people thought they could do a better job than government could to take care of our local environment.”

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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

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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