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Aug 20th
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School Lunch Bunch

School Lunch Bunch

A look at school food reform with author Janet Poppendieck

School food in America is no picnic. Instead, it’s a messy web of federally subsidized programs with fair intentions but far from perfect outcomes.

Every five years, the Child Nutrition Act (CNA), which was instated in the ’60s to regulate the National School Lunch Program (NSLP)’s nutritional standards, comes up for reauthorization—originally due last September, the act’s rewrite continues to be pushed back. Meanwhile, a movement for school food reform has gained momentum across the country, including here in Santa Cruz. Last fall, Good Times explored the nutritional troubles with school meals in the cover story “What’s For Lunch?” Now, as the deadline for reauthorization nears, we take a look at the other side of the issue with New York-based author Janet Poppendieck, who discussed her new book, “Free For All: Fixing School Food in America” at a gathering of more than 70 Santa Cruz County educators, politicians and community members at a Feb. 5 event in Watsonville.

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News - Local News

Fully Charged

Fully Charged

Proposed solar financing program hopes to give Santa Cruz a boost

Solar technology is nothing new, but a new loan and incentive program is attempting to make it more worthwhile than ever.

Santa Cruz City and County leaders are supporting the CaliforniaFIRST plan, which would allow home and business owners to install solar panels and have the loan payments added to their property taxes. The program appeals to home and business owners who might have difficulty qualifying for a traditional loan. Owners would pay back the loans over a period of up to 20 years. The loan remains with the building and is paid through property taxes, even if the owner decides to move.

In addition to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs, supporters also say the plan would provide a much-needed boost to Santa Cruz's construction companies.

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News - Local News

The Center of Zen

The Center of Zen

Santa Cruz Zen Center welcomes new head teacher
Everything is impermanent. This is one of the central teachings of Buddhism, apparent in the constant changing nature of thoughts, people, and organizations. Nothing escapes, not even the Santa Cruz Zen Center (SCZC). The zendo (meditation room) was recently remodeled and there’s a new head teacher to welcome: Kokyo Henkel arrived in October 2009, previously having practiced Zen meditation and studied Buddhism at the San Francisco, Tassajara and Green Gulch Farm Zen Centers in the Bay Area and Bukokoji in Japan.  He replaces Katherine Thanas, who was head teacher since 1989 and remains as abbot. 

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News - Local News

Out of Reach

Out of Reach

Workshop series targets the need for more affordable housing in Santa Cruz
I used to dream of winning the lottery so that I could one day buy a house in Santa Cruz—one of the nation’s most desirable and expensive coastal markets. But my last search for a local rental was a wake-up call.

First, my prospective roommate called about the marijuana operation he wanted to start in the back shed. Yes, the landlord was cool with it, and permits would be obtained. No, I wasn’t interested, but I appreciated the info—it would have been a sad discovery to make after moving in. Better to stay away and save my $1,600 deposit and $850 in rent—an amount that would make a monthly house payment on a decent property in my hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah. 

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News - Local News

Future Uncertain for Vets Hall

Future Uncertain for Vets Hall

Community hopes for a speedy reopening

Much to the shock of local community members, county officials announced on Thursday, Jan. 21, that as of 5 p.m., the Santa Cruz Veterans Memorial Building would be closed indefinitely.

The announcement came after an architect and a structural engineer toured the building and recommended its immediate closure, stating in a report that it “presents a significant risk of injury or death to the occupants of the auditorium should a seismic event occur.” A week earlier, the building’s manager, Tim Brattan, had noticed loose falling stucco and requested a site assessment. The County Facilities Superintendent conducted a safety inspection, and the potential issues they identified prompted them to issue a purchase order for the structural assessment.

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News - Local News

Taking Prejudice Offline

Taking Prejudice Offline

Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Abraham Cooper confronts Internet hate groups

“It’s there below the surface,” says Rabbi Richard Litvak, senior rabbi at Temple Beth El in Aptos, “as a constant that pops up from time to time.” He’d like to believe that anti-Semitism is a dead issue in Santa Cruz, but recent events remind him otherwise. There were, for example, the Nazi flags a resident at the St. George Apartments in Downtown Santa Cruz hung in his window in late November.

“The father of one of the people in our community came to visit and was shopping downtown with his daughter,” Rabbi Litvak recalls. “He is a Holocaust survivor. He saw those flags, and it was just so offensive and so hurtful to him, and to other people in the community.”

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News - Local News

Homecare Workers Fight for Funding

Homecare Workers Fight for Funding

Wage reductions may threaten vulnerable clients

One of Julee Costanza’s clients says she would rather be back on the streets than in an assisted living facility.

“She lives in a small one-room apartment now, but she was homeless for a period of time,” explains Costanza, a Santa Cruz-based homecare worker.  “Even though she might not make it on the streets, she keeps saying she would rather go that route than move into a nursing home.”

It’s possible that if state budget changes are approved, 2,000 disabled Santa Cruz residents will loose their homecare workers—domestic aids that clean, give baths, and make sure pills are taken at the right time within the comforts of the client’s home. In the 2010 budget, Gov. Schwarzenegger altered enrollment criteria for In Home Support Services (IHSS), a program that allows low-income elders and disabled patients to remain in their own homes with assistance.

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News - Local News

A Salty Situation

A Salty Situation

Desalination plant raises questions about water conservation potential

The rain gutter in Rick Longinotti’s backyard descends underground, carrying roof water to an underground storage cistern.

“It didn’t cost anything but sweat and muscle,” says Longinotti, a local environmentalist, founder of Transition Santa Cruz and member of bicycle advocacy group People Power. He believes conservation efforts could make the Santa Cruz Water District’s desalination plant obsolete—perhaps even before it’s built.

The planned plant will pull five million gallons of seawater from the Monterey Bay each day, using reverse osmosis to produce 2.5 million gallons of drinkable water. The remaining brine will be trucked to a water plant, diluted with treated wastewater, and released into the Bay. 

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News - Local News

Pink is Passé

Pink is Passé

Robert Steffen starts a brand new walk—directly toward a city council seat

Robert Steffen is looking to prove he can talk the talk, not just walk the (very slow) walk. Two years after Steffen, the prominent downtown Santa Cruz character formerly known as “The Pink Umbrella Man,” put away his parasol and pink clothing and ceased walking ever so slowly from one end of Pacific Avenue to the other, he’s announcing a run for Santa Cruz City Council in November.

“There are a lot of local ordinances that I think are completely wrong,” Steffen says. In fact, he hopes to repeal an array of local ordinances, such as those that prohibit panhandlers from being within 14 feet of building entrances, open-air cafés or crosswalks, and 50 feet from any bank or ATM. Steffen calls his political position a “progressive platform very strongly based in humanitarian ideals.”

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News - Local News

Changes in Language

Changes in Language

UCSC’s linguistics department answers old questions with new methods

What is a question? How do you ask one? How do you answer?

These are some of the many queries UC Santa Cruz’s linguistics department is trying to solve and they are using some innovative techniques to get at the answers.

“This is an exciting time in the field [of linguistics],” says Jim McCloskey, chair of the department. “The field is changing fast. The basic questions remain the same … but the methods are changing.”

Until recently, the focus in linguistics research was on informal methods, generally one-on-one talks with a native speaker, asking them questions about the language. Now the focus is shifting toward more large-scale, quantitative, and laboratory-based studies—methodologies more akin to those of the “hard” sciences. UCSC is unique in that it integrates both techniques.

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Trending Now

Whether you live by the Vogue bible or choose to go into your day wearing what you slept in, odds are you wear clothes.

 

The Thought Form of Solution

It’s our last week of Leo before the sun enters Virgo (next Friday/Saturday). The planets this week make complex patterns and relationships (vibrational cadences and rhythms) with the outer planets, mainly Neptune—the planet that veils, obscures, protects and finally refines us. Neptune offers us entrance into a deeply spiritual sense of comfort and solace. Neptune is the personality ruler of Pisces (saviors of the world) and soul ruler of Cancer (world mother). “The fish goddesses who leapt from earth (Virgo) to water (Pisces) unitedly give birth to the Fish God (Christ, the Soul) who introduces the waters of life  (Neptune & Aquarius) into the ocean of substance (matter, mother bringing light to the world. Thus does Neptune work.” (Esoteric Astrology).

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Cultures Collide

No surprises, but lots to savor in foodie film ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’
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Foodie File: Kauboi

Japanese-Western themed unites sushi with whiskey and beefgrill

 

How should Santa Cruz develop downtown around the San Lorenzo River?

Santa Cruz | Artist/Show Promoter

 

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

 

Have Mercy!

Looking for a frisky summer wine at a reasonable price? Look no further than Mercy Vineyards’ 2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($20). Richly textured “with an exotic flavor profile,” the wine reveals aromas of honeydew melon and honeysuckle, with anise appearing as a star attraction. Smidgeons of pineapple and honeycomb add a touch of sexiness to this well-balanced, easy-drinking wine, which pairs well with a variety of cuisine —especially ceviche, calamari and other not-too-heavy foods.