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Sep 19th
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GTW Cover Stories

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Learning to Love Autism

Learning to Love Autism

A local family’s experience with the disorder

River Robbins didn’t make eye contact for the first 10 years of his life. Not even his mother, father, grandmother and grandfather—all of whom help to raise him and his twin brother, Bodhi—knew the joy of looking into his beautiful blue eyes. Until recently.

“River had not made any eye contact with anybody, ever. His eyes might have, in passing, grazed over a person but there was no connection,” recalls River and Bodhi’s grandfather, John Robbins. “This particular time, about five months ago, something happened. Our faces were close to each other’s, and we found each other’s eyes and just stared. For about a minute. It hadn’t happened for even two seconds before.”

The boys’ grandmother, Deo, watched in amazement. “I remember watching it happening and I didn’t want to talk or even breathe because I didn’t want to break the spell,” she says. The “soul to soul” contact John remembers making with his grandson a few months ago was a breakthrough for the Santa Cruz County family.

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The Kids are Alright

The Kids are Alright

How a cool posse of enterprising teens managed to find greater meaning in life and give back to the community. Two words: Food Justice.

Not too long ago, Jacques Jackson, a Watsonville teenager, often came home after school and, by his own admission, would not do anything productive at all. “Me and my friends would just go and waste time.”

Then there’s Sal. He lives in Santa Cruz’s Beach Flats area. A year ago, the 19-year-old says he just “partied” with his friends—like … off and on from Friday night through Sunday.

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Fall Fashion

Fall Fashion


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Marin's Milestone

Marin's Milestone

Conductor Marin Alsop looks back over her 20-year legacy at The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. PLUS: Why this year’s fest is destined to stand out.

Through composer Michael Daugherty’s eyes, the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music is a lot like Las Vegas in the ’50s and ’60s. Strip away the neon lights, wedding chapels and slot machines, and the man has a point. For entertainers at that time, playing Vegas was considered a career milestone. The same prestige applies to the festival today. And it is at this renowned gathering, where some of the greatest musical minds from around the world share the stage, that Marin Alsop reigns queen.

Celebrating her 20th year as music director of the festival, which has had a significant presence locally since 1963, Alsop is hailed by Daugherty and all who have had the opportunity to collaborate with her, as “the hardest working woman in show business.”

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School’s Out...(forever)

School’s Out...(forever)

Homeschooling and unschooling. A look at the alternatives in Santa Cruz
School isn’t for everyone. Some critics even say that mass schooling makes kids dumber and less creative, less confident and less capable of thinking for themselves. Today in the United States, about 56 million children attend compulsory schools while the trend in learning outside of schools is growing as more families decide to avoid the socialization of control that’s a hallmark of “public education.” If “regular” schools are symbolized by a regimented system of bells and rules, the freedom and flexibility of homeschooling and unschooling might be characterized by this maxim: trust that children learn everywhere, all the time.

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What’s So Funny?

What’s So Funny?

Searching for laughs in Santa Cruz—seriously

To Get to the Other Side

Readers’ Digest said it best, or at least most famously: Laughter is the Best Medicine. The adage is thought to come from the Bible, Proverb 17:22,  “A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.” Similarly, the Koran supports the funny with, “He deserves Paradise who makes his companions laugh.” And who among us can argue with Siddhartha Gautama’s observation, “When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.” Of course historically we laugh with equal gusto at all that is imperfect (see What’s Up With Airline Food?).

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Kyer Wiltshire

Kyer Wiltshire

Views the world through a spiritual lens
This moment. Yes, this one right here. Are you enjoying it? Are you milking it for all it’s worth, savoring its nuances, pouncing on its opportunities?

The reason I ask is that this moment happens to be the only game in town. Not to be a downer, but the paper on which these words are printed will one day yellow and fade, then wither and crumble. Everything we see—as well as the eyes we see it with and the brains we’re using to process it with—will eventually return to the earth, and all of our efforts, dreams, struggles and schemes will be forgotten. The truth of Emerson’s assertion “Life is a journey, not a destination” couldn’t be more evident: The end of the line is oblivion (or at the very least, the oblivion of our present forms), so let’s not be in such a hurry to “get there.” Instead, let’s make damned sure we enjoy the ride, shall we?

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Harbor Life

Harbor Life

Vibrant and full of all the natural wonders the coast has to offer, the Santa Cruz Harbor is a thriving close-knit community. It’s also one filled with neighbors who pull together during challenging times.

Don Lind, 84, pinches off pure Virginia tobacco, stuffs it into his pipe and lights a match. Beyond the curls of smoke he watches kayakers and couples in dinghies glide by outside his port window.

“Everything is alive here,” he says.

It was never a long sought-after dream to live on a boat for Lind. He hadn’t even been out on a boat until he was in his sixties. But, when he finally did go out onto the ocean he knew something was right. He said he got the feeling that he’d been there before. Now when he plays music in the cabin of his 32-foot motorboat, he looks out the window and to the trees on the hillside.

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Thirty & Thriving

Thirty & Thriving

Cabrillo Stage’s Lile Cruse and Jon Nordgren open up the theater company’s milestone season.
Plus: a look back at how it all began.

Lile Cruse. Jon Nordgren. They are the two masterminds behind Cabrillo Stage. Cruse is the founding artistic director of the much-admired local theater company and Nordgren is the current artistic director. And they’re both in the spotlight as Cabrillo Stage celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

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The World On My Back

The World On My Back

Camping and backpacking - and back again. Our adventurous scribe unveils all—just in time for summer
I’m writing this from inside my tent. I managed to erect it just as the first sprinkles started, and now it’s steadily raining. It’s a new tent, and so far has no leaks. Fingers crossed there.

Bringing this laptop is fairly indulgent, weight-wise, on a backpacking trip. Same with my wilderness survival books. But I knew this weekend was going to be rainy, and my original hike would likely be too hazardous when wet, so I picked an easier destination and figured I could deal with a little extra weight.

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Catwalk on the Wild Side

Meet the artists and designers behind this year’s edition of FashionART, SantaCruz’s most outrageous fashion show

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Feeding Frenzy

Culinary journey ‘The Trip to Italy’ isn’t the foodie film you’d expect 

 

Watch List

From Google to the government to data brokers, why your privacy is now a thing of the past
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Sweet Treats

Local cannabis bakers win award for cookies

 

What fashion trends do you want to see, or not see?

Santa Cruz  |  High School Guidance Counselor

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Santa Clara Wine Trail

My memories of growing up in England include my mother pouring port after Sunday dinner—and sometimes a glass of sherry before dinner. My family didn’t drink much wine back then, but we certainly made up for it with the port and sherry.