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Sep 02nd
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Environment

News - Environment

Fruit Finders

Fruit Finders

The Santa Cruz Fruit Tree Project’s urban gleaning effort grows

It’s impossible to gauge the exact amount of fruit and vegetables that go to waste every year in California, but a 2010 University of Southern California study estimated it to be millions of tons. Most of our rotting fruit lies on the floors of orchards and fields, but plenty also goes unused in yards and public spaces in urban areas.

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News - Environment

Sonic Waves

Sonic Waves

PG&E's fault line research could blast marine mammals with sound

Marine mammals including whales, dolphins, seals and sea otters that live and migrate along the Central California coast could be in for some mind-rattling commotion come November if Pacific Gas & Electric Co. receives clearance next month for a controversial research project. California's largest electric company is seeking permits to conduct high-energy and possibly harmful seismic testing in the waters just offshore of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County.

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News - Environment

Growing The Genome Project

Growing The Genome Project

UCSC releases a more readable version of the human genome

“It’s funny, biology is such a mass discipline,” says Jim Kent. “What we focus on is often as much of a reflection on ourselves as it is on anything.” As director of the UC Santa Cruz Genome Browser Project and head of the ENCODE Data Coordination Center, Kent sets quite an example for channeling cultural fascination with science into real-world application.

“Back in the 1960s, when the focus was on energy and physics, people figured out the energy centers of the cell,” says Kent. But in 2012—a time of immense, international collaboration between biologists and computer engineers—the “culture of the age” culminated in September with a much more accessible and informative translation of the entire human genome than was previously available.

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News - Environment

Desalination And You

Desalination And You

How prepared are locals to vote on the city’s most contentious issue?

This Nov. 6, Santa Cruzans will not only cast their votes for a new president or an incumbent one, but also for local city council candidates and ballot measures. Citizens may dedicate much of their political consternation to the presidential election, but there are important decisions to be made at home, too.

The implications run deep and the controversy runs high when it comes to one issue being raised in the local election, in particular: desalination. Because of a potentially dire water shortage in times of drought, the city is looking in the coming years to move forward with—or nix—the building of a $115 million desalination plant, says Bill Kocher, the city’s water director. The plant would be built in the City of Santa Cruz, and would hopefully be finished by 2016, says Mike Rotkin, former city councilmember and co-founder of the Sustainable Water Coalition, which advocates for conservation, water storage and water augmentation measures in Santa Cruz.

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News - Environment

Pedaling A New Path

Pedaling A New Path

A change in leadership pumps new energy into People Power

Ten years later, Micah Posner has called it quits.

After more than a decade at the helm, and 20 years of being involved, the former People Power director has stepped down from the role to run for a seat on the Santa Cruz City Council.

Taking his place is 26-year-old Amelia Conlen, who has now been working as the fourth director of People Power for a little more than two weeks. Although Posner plans to remain on the steering committee of the organization, which pegs itself as “Santa Cruz County's advocate for human-powered transportation,” he says he is counting on Conlen to revitalize the group.

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News - Environment

A Forest Of Regeneration

A Forest Of Regeneration

A hike through Nisene Marks with the history dude

Sandy Lydon, known around Santa Cruz County as “the History Dude,” sits on the back of his white pickup truck in The Forest of Nisene Marks visitor parking lot, a map of the state park spread out beside him. He is explaining some of the earlier history of the land—a thing he knows quite a bit about, having studied, written and taught about the subject over the past 40 years.

“I’ve been kind of the history guy here, officially and not,” he says. Among other things, Lydon is also Emeritus Historian of Cabrillo College, a former KCBA television weather anchor, and a crusader against “hooey history”—a battle first taken up by a mid-20th century Santa Cruz Sentinel history columnist.  I rendezvous with Lydon for a preview of the history walk he will lead at the park’s Saturday, Aug. 4 50th anniversary celebration.

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News - Environment

Battleground State

Battleground State

California is ground zero for the GMO debate as the Prop. 37 campaign ramps up

Taking the temperature of an issue that has been bubbling since inception is difficult to do—but it’s safe to say this one is about to tip into a rapid boil.

As part of a statewide campaign to question genetically modified (GMO) food safety, the “Truth about GMOs” tour will present speakers Jeffrey Smith and Ocean Robbins at the Louden Nelson Community Center on Wednesday, Aug. 1. The speaking tour is timed to highlight the issue as voters prepare to decide on Prop. 37, a measure on the November ballot that, if passed, would put the words “Genetically Engineered” or “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering” on the packaging of food that contains GMOs come July 2014. 

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News - Environment

From Fukushima To California

From Fukushima To California

Film about the nuclear disaster in Japan to screen in Santa Cruz

Picture this: a white mushroom cloud rises into the sky as orange flames flicker beneath. Fukushima, Never Again, a documentary by filmmaker/activist Steve Zeltzer, begins with this harrowing image of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant explosion last year in Japan, which followed a massive earthquake and tsunami. The nuclear accident released radiation into the air, soil and the Pacific Ocean.

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News - Environment

Splitting Green Hairs

Splitting Green Hairs

Local Sierra Club chapter struggles to redefine goals after contentious election

What is the definition of “environmentalism?” This question is at the heart of the debate currently at play within the Sierra Club Santa Cruz County Group executive committee, which has been experiencing a growing division over the last two years.

For many years, the group has concentrated on preservation of greenbelts and forests in order to maintain the natural beauty and ecological heath of the county. This is still a top priority. However, four of the nine seats on the executive committee are now held by new members who see alternative transportation as key to the green movement. Former chairperson Kevin Collins believes this is simply an invitation for further development on greenbelts and a detour from what he sees as the mission of the group.

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News - Environment

Dry Spell

Dry Spell

Lack of volunteer firefighters, equipment and rainfall may mean a harsh fire year for Bonny Doon

A fire season in California is never good news, inevitable as it is. But the outlook is even worse if an all-volunteer fire department is understaffed and under-geared, and also if the state has been suffering from low rainfall.

This is the situation Bonny Doon currently finds itself in. Located just northwest of Santa Cruz, the isolated census-designated place of about 2,700 people isn’t served by any local fire departments (though it is served by CAL FIRE, a statewide agency that tackles wildfire issues), so it has managed on its own with a team of professional firefighters and EMTs. All of them are volunteers, and their ranks have been thinning lately.

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Mercury Enters Libra

It’s the week of Burning Man, the temporary, intentional, alternative, art-filled community on the playas of Nevada. Mercury, messenger of the Sun, enters Libra this week. Libra is the equalizer, a sign of balance and right human relations. Sometimes with Libra, we can be indecisive and confused while learning how to make balanced and right choices. Sometimes to keep the peace we communicate only what others want to hear. Eventually, we learn how to speak from the heart.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Banter and Spark

Engaging actors, wry script distinguish lightweight rom-com ‘What If’

 

Back to Silicon Beach

With a new wave of startups, the future of Santa Cruz tech looks more promising than ever
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Himalayan Kitchen

Chef Purna Regmi on the secrets of Nepalese cooking

 

What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone this week?

Germany  |  Beekeeper

 

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

 

A Cab To Be Coveted

I first tasted Villa del Monte’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at a Fourth of July party, where the hosts had bought a case of it because they love it and didn’t want to run out. It’s one of those wines that will grab you—in the best way—with its full body and rich fruit characteristics.