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Aug 31st
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Environment

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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News - Environment

Eco-Friendly Firefighting

Eco-Friendly Firefighting

Local surfer creates environmentally friendly fire extinguisher startup

Jeff Denholm never stops moving. Originally from the coast of Southern Maine, the Capitola-based professional surfer is like the human equivalent of a perpetual motion machine. From his time in the Marines to professional surfing to his environmental endeavors with his new company Atira Systems, Denholm makes things happen.

And he does it all with one arm.

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News - Environment

An Unprecedented Measure

An Unprecedented Measure

Potential Twin Lakes closure leaves residents uneasy

It’s a foggy Monday morning as Laura Kasa surveys the scene at Twin Lakes State Beach. There is no trace left of the crowds that dotted the shoreline over the weekend—except, that is, for the piles of trash waiting to be hauled away.

The Save Our Shores executive director peers into a garbage can, muttering about the plastic containers that poke out from the pile and the small number of trash and recycling receptacles at the entrance.

“When I drove by Seabright Beach yesterday, it was packed,” Kasa says. “What’s it going to be like in July?”

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News - Environment

Otters Online

Otters Online

Santa Cruz-based website aims to educate and inspire the public about sea otters

If you live in California, you’ve probably heard about the plight of sea otters. You may have even donated a few income tax dollars to them, via Assembly Bill 971, approved almost unanimously last June by California legislators. But Drew Wharton, founder of seaotters.com, thinks that the fight to ensure the future of the southern (or California) sea otter can’t stop there.

Launched on the 23rd anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Santa Cruz-based website aims to make the research surrounding sea otter conservation efforts more accessible.

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News - Environment

The Closure Conundrum

The Closure Conundrum

How creative grassroots efforts may keep local state parks open

“How do you close a forest?”

A man in his mid-twenties, dressed in baggy jeans and sneakers, asks his friend this question as they pass a group of climbing students on a trail in Castle Rock State Park. The park—preserved since 1968—is slated for closure July 1, along with 69 others statewide.

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News - Environment

Homemade in California

Homemade in California

Proposed California law would allow for the sale of non-perishable homemade foods

When Kathryn Lukas started her artisan organic sauerkraut business, Farmhouse Culture, the local worked out of a friend’s cellar. She couldn’t afford rent on the commercial kitchen required under California's food safety regulatory laws, but because she had previously owned a restaurant she knew enough to craft her own commercial kitchen.

However, she soon realized that it would be at least a year before the permitting process for her kitchen was complete. As soon as she could, Lukas purchased an existing 2,500-square-foot commercial kitchen. She couldn’t quite afford the kitchen, so she rented it out hourly to other small-scale food producers in Santa Cruz.

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News - Environment

Banning the Bag

Banning the Bag

If and when local cities plan to follow in the county’s footsteps

Many local shoppers are accustomed to no longer hearing the once common question of “paper or plastic?” as they check out at the market. This is because of grocery stores like New Leaf Community Markets, which offer only paper bags and encourage shoppers to bring in reusable, multi-use bags. Across California, reusable shopping bags have become a staple of environmentalism and consumer responsibility in many counties.

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News - Environment

Step by Step

Step by Step

Styrofoam ban may expand its reach

The City of Santa Cruz’s “Environmentally Acceptable Food Packaging Ordinance” (EAFPO), passed in January 2008, boiled down to 15 “findings and intents,” 14 “definitions,” and one major enemy: polystyrene foam.

Polystyrene foam is found in many forms: the cup that breaks into a million pieces; food containers that get tossed aside; and the seemingly endless fluorescent sea of squeaky peanuts that fill delivery packages. The material has found its way into our everyday culture, usually as a means for convenience.

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News - Environment

The Faces of Fishing

The Faces of Fishing

Local fishing family hopes to bring the Fishermen’s Association into the 21st century

Exposure to the elements, manual labor, and sleepless shifts that can last for days on end make fishing a rare career aspiration in this digital day and age. In fact, Captain Joe Stoops, the newly appointed president of the Santa Cruz Commercial Fishermen’s Association (SCCFA), calls his much-loved career “a thing of the past” and says he went through 14 deck hands in 2011 alone.

“There’s not a lot of young kids getting into this,” he says. “People don’t have calluses anymore.”

Stoops, motioning with his visibly callused hands, adds that the amount of fishermen in Santa Cruz today is less than a third of the number present 20 years ago.

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News - Environment

A Salty Vote

A Salty VoteWith desal heading toward the ballot, the debate rages on

In Santa Cruz, which relies almost entirely on surface water, scarce rainfall and a warm winter have water department employees and residents, alike, worried about the year’s water supply. The recent dry spell tied in interestingly to the prevailing debate over the city’s proposed desalination plant, which they insist will be necessary to protect the city from inevitable droughts.

The proposed Westside desalination facility—a joint effort of the Santa Cruz Water Department and neighboring Soquel Creek Water District—would produce 2.5 million gallons of water per day by removing salt and other minerals from seawater and making it safe for human consumption. But many are worried about the project’s impacts on both the taxpayer’s wallet and the environment.

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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