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Aug 27th
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Environment

News - Environment

The Desal Divide

The Desal Divide

The debate continues ...

What started as a public Water Study Session on Nov. 1 shifted into a continuation of the longstanding debate over building a desalination facility on the shores of Santa Cruz.

“It felt like for the first time in a long time there was actually a civil discussion that was focused on the issues,” says Bill Kocher, Santa Cruz Water Department director. “It was great.”

But not all participants came away as satisfied.

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News - Environment

The Plot Thickens

The Plot Thickens

Some unhappy SmartMeter recipients take matters into their own hands

If there is one indisputable fact about Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E)’s SmartMeters, it’s that the rollout of the new technology, which began in mid-2010, hasn’t gone smoothly—especially in Santa Cruz.

In response to mounting opposition to the wireless meters—alleged health effects are chief among the concerns—the utility provider implemented a delay list in April, soon after submitting a proposal for a SmartMeter opt-out plan to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

Assemblymember Bill Monning (27th District) advocated for the opt-out plan and interim delay list with PG&E and the CPUC based on complaints he was hearing from constituents. “Although I feel the verdict is still out on whether these meters pose a threat to human health, I believe if people feel strongly [that] they do not want to have one on their homes, they should be offered an alternative,” he says.

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News - Environment

The Plastic Influence

The Plastic Influence

New state textbooks contain pro-plastic bag phrasing

California schools officials edited the new Education & the Environment Initiative (EEI) curriculum to include positive messages about plastic shopping bags in textbooks and teachers’ guides. This followed pressure from the American Chemistry Council (ACC), an interest group representing U.S. chemical companies, including the plastics industry.

Santa Cruz City Schools is among the 19 districts that have implemented the new EEI curriculum, according to California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA). Cal/EPA, in tandem with the Department of Education, is tasked with overseeing the EEI curriculum.

“What ended up getting into textbooks was a section on the advantage of plastic shopping bags,” says David Gamburd, who works with the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) on the UC Santa Cruz campus to educate students about the harmful environmental impacts of plastics.

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News - Environment

Water in the Works

Water in the Works

Why the approval of the Urban Water Management Plan was postponed

On the evening of Oct. 3, as the first rain of the season trickled down from darkening skies, the Santa Cruz Water Commission met with community members to publicly review the Draft 2010 Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP).

As a public water supplier, the City of Santa Cruz is required under California law to adopt a UWMP, which must be updated every five years.

The UWMP’s 351 pages, prepared by the Santa Cruz Water Department, outline the existing intricate water supply situation, and point to the future installation of a seawater desalination plant as the most viable way to supply the City of Santa Cruz, and partnering Soquel Creek Water District, with a stable water supply.

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News - Environment

Meters on the Mind

Meters on the Mind

SmartMeter installations raise questions about enforcement in the county

Forty-three counties in California have voted to oppose PG&E’s SmartMeters, and more than 10 counties have officially banned the installation of the meters.

The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors passed a one-year ordinance, 5084, on Jan. 11, 2011 banning the installation of this new wireless technology. According to Section II of Ordinance 5084, it is a potential misdemeanor to install the meters within the unincorporated portions of the county:

It reads, “No SmartMeter may be installed in or on any home, apartment, condominium or business of any type within the unincorporated area of the County of Santa Cruz, and no equipment related to SmartMeters may be installed in, on, under, or above any public street or public right of way within the unincorporated area of the County of Santa Cruz.”

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News - Environment

Berry Battles

Berry BattlesThe long-running fight to ban methyl iodide takes a new turn

Cancer, late-term miscarriages, thyroid disruption, kidney damage and destruction of the developing brains of children are what’s in store if strawberry farmers begin fumigating their fields with the pesticide methyl iodide, said a panel of experts at a public forum in Salinas on Sept. 29.

The panel included Assemblymember Bill Monning, Dr. Kathy Collins, professor of microbiology at UC Berkeley, Dr. Robert Gould, president of the San Francisco Bay Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Jim Cochran, president of Swanton Berry Farm, a Santa Cruz-based organic strawberry grower. It was hosted by a coalition of organizations determined to raise awareness of the public health risks presented by the pesticide, as well as what they say is the state’s negligence in correctly analyzing scientific data they argue clearly illustrates its dangers.

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News - Environment

Looking at What’s Sacred

Looking at What’s Sacred

Ohlone descendent Ann Marie Sayers opens up about ‘The Knoll’

A winding road meanders through dust-covered vineyards just before it rises into Indian Canyon, an oak-covered ravine tucked quietly into the Gavilan Mountains south of Hollister. It was here that many Ohlone resisters once ran to hide from the Spanish colonizers of San Juan Bautista and Mission San Jose.

Today, the mile-long stretch of this majestic ravine, the center of which is a trickling creek, an ancient Ohlone village and numerous ceremonial sites, is the place Ann Marie Sayers calls home.

Sayers is an Ohlone descendant who has been designated as the cultural advisor of the current housing development being constructed on “The Knoll,” a sacred Ohlone ceremonial site near Branciforte Creek in Santa Cruz, where the remains of a young native women were recently discovered. I visit Sayers at her home to learn her perspective on the debate concerning the knoll and, more specifically, about the Ohlone concept of sacredness.

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News - Environment

Raw Food Sovereignty

Raw Food Sovereignty

Raw milk farms seek to prevent crackdowns

Due to a recent government crackdown on raw goat’s milk herdshares across the state and nation, many farmers are taking action to preserve their right to freely grow and consume food for personal use.

“When [the government is] stopping herd-share farms, they’re stopping private businesses where it’s private people making their own private decisions and getting all their produce from their own animals,” says Michael Hulme, owner of Evergreen Acres Farm in San Jose.

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News - Environment

Rethinking Receipts

Rethinking Receipts

The shift toward BPA-free receipt paper continues

Last year, Daniel Feldman was working the cash register at Gateways Books & Gifts when a customer alerted him to a surprising fact: “You know,” he told Feldman, “if you’re using thermal receipts you probably have BPA in the receipts.”

Feldman, a local tai chi and qi gong teacher and vice president of the Live Oak Grange, already knew of and avoided other products, like plastic water bottles, canned food, and other food packaging, that are known to carry bisophenol A (BPA), an estrogen-mimicking synthetic compound used to make plastic products. But receipts were a new discovery for him. He inquired with the store’s manager and learned that they were, in fact, using “regular thermal receipts,” which contain BPA.

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News - Environment

The Science of SmartMeters

The Science of SmartMeters

Exactly what is known about the safety of SmartMeters?
Penelope Joaquin has been a kindergarten teacher in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District for 15 years, and, this past year, she thought the stress was finally getting to her.

“I started to get this noise in my ears,” she says. “You know, that noise you get right before you go to sleep or like champagne bubbles? It’s hard to explain. It’s not even that loud, but it’s all the time.” The sensation Joaquin noticed turned out to be tinnitus, which is usually described as a ringing noise, high-pitched whining, electric buzzing, hissing, humming, tingling or a number of other continuous or intermittent noises in the ear.

“It was the end of the school year and I wasn’t getting a lot of sleep and so forth so I thought, ‘Oh it’s probably just because I’m overworked, tired and stressed,’” Joaquin recalls. “I figured as soon as the school year ends and I start getting some sleep I’ll be fine and it’ll go away.” The school year ended and Joaquin’s tinnitus persists. Having eliminated stress as the cause of her fairly mild symptom, she started looking elsewhere. 

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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

 

His Dinner With David

Author + reporter = brainy talk in ‘End of the Tour’
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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