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By Eric Johnson
Published Feb 05, 2024

The celebrated sci-fi author and futurist Octavia E. Butler said we are changed when we work for positive change. The celebrated sci-fi author and futurist Octavia E. Butler said we are changed when we work for positive change. Image credit: Nikolas Coukouma   CC BY-SA 2.5 DEED

Black History and Black Futurism

In The Newsletter this week we celebrate the start of Black History Month with a guide to California organizions working to help the state deliver on the promises of equal rights and social justice to its African American residents. 

Also: ICYMI, a list of 30 great Black California heroes who helped create the best of California, from the abolitionist millionaire Mary Ellen Pleasant (c. 1814-1904) to the Boyz n the Hood filmmaker John Singleton (1968-2019). And as always: A curated collection of local news you can use, and the Recipe of the Week.


Black Californians Working for Justice

Last week I happened to hear Baratunde Thurston, host of the “How to Citizen” podcast and “America Outdoors” on PBS, pose this question to Ava DuVernay, the director of Origin, as well as the MLK biopic Selma and the documentary 13th

“I want to ask you about your belief and your faith in the human capacity to change,” Thurston said to DuVernay. “Because so many of the stories you're telling … are about revealing some deep intransigence in the human condition—commitments to discrimination, [and] to systems of hierarchy and unfairness.

“As you wrestle with these ideas, where do you stand on our capacity to not just recognize these systems, but to alter them for the better?”

DuVernay took the question in a direction likely informed by its source—whether he’s talking about political activism or tree-climbing, Bararunde generally begins and ends in a deeply personal place.

DuVernay: “Let me say, yeah, I believe, I believe in change. I believe Octavia Butler, the great writer and futurist, talked about ‘all that you touch changes you.’ And, and so that is a daily process, that is an ongoing engagement—holding hands with the world. And to think that that change is not possible, to think that you are not changed by what you encounter, what you say, what you do, what is said and done to you, is I think a pedestrian way to think about life.

So for me, absolutely. Not only is change possible—it’s inevitable, and it’s happening in every moment.”

Here are some individuals and organizations working for positive change in California.


Bending the Arc of History


Here’s a short list of just some of the organizations working to build better futures for African Americans in California.

California Pioneers

Clockwise from upper right: Architect Paul R. Williams, Assemblyman Frederick Madison Roberts, abolitionist Mary Ellen Pleasant, and Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley (with President Gerald Ford).
Black History Month provides an opportunity to remember the achievements of African Americans who fought for equality in the Golden State.

Recipe of the Week

Our friends at Sacramento Digs Gardening publish a recipe from their gardens every Sunday, which we feature here so you can start your week with some yum.

As an extra bonus, we're also including a link to their new cookbook of seasonal recipes! 


Slab apple tart a no-sugar treat

Thinly sliced apples top this slab tart, which makes a lovely dessert for a dinner or potluck.
Recipe: Make bourbon apple butter for extra flavorful filling

‘Taste Winter!’ cookbook shows how to make the most of your cool-season harvest

Fresh-off-the-tree oranges mean winter to those of us lucky enough to live in California. Find several citrus-based recipes in the "Taste Winter! cookbook.
Enjoy winter fruit and vegetables with these home-grown recipes


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Get to Know a Group

San Benito County Community Action Board logo San Benito County Community Action Board

“Ending Poverty by Empowering People” is the goal of the San Benito County Community Action Board.

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From Our Media Allies

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SanBenitocom logo Snow Survey Shows Modest Increase, Warmer Year

Sean de Guzman, manager of the state snow surveys and water supply forecasting unit in the Sierra Nevada, performed the season’s second snow survey Jan. 31, hours ahead of an atmospheric river and cold front expected to boost snow levels.

Gilroy Dispatch logo Michelin Star-Awarded Restaurant Group Coming to Gilroy

The building at 7574 Monterey St. has been leased for a Petiscos restaurant by Adega LLC restaurant group, the recipient of multiple Michelin Star awards since 2017.

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Recent Local News

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• Cavalletta Opens This Week in Aptos

The custom wood-fired oven will be blasting out pizzas with the char, bubbles and caramelization only 800 degrees can bring.  The Emiliomiti pasta extruder will be squeezing out strozzapreti, rigatoni and bucatini.

(02/05/2024) → Edible Monterey Bay

• 2024 Primary Election Voter Guide

California’s primary is March 5, and candidates running for county seats can win if they get more than 50% of the votes. If no candidate wins outright, the top two move on to the Nov. 5 general election.

(02/05/2024) → Benito Link

• JJ’s Homemade Burgers Celebrates 20th Year

Anchoring San Juan Bautista’s Third Street, JJ’s Homemade Burgers is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Home of the “JJ’s Challenge,” it is a prime gathering spot in town.

(02/04/2024) → Benito Link

• Former Hollister Mayor Frank Valenzuela Dies at 91

Frank “Tito” Valenzuela, Hollister’s first Latino mayor, died Jan. 3 at age 91. He served on the Hollister City Council from 1964 to 1968 and was mayor in 1964 and 1965.

(02/03/2024) → Benito Link

• Parents’ Lawsuit Forces California to Spend $2 Billion on Learning Loss. Here’s What Will Change

Learning loss during the pandemic hit California’s low-income students hardest. An agreement requires the state to focus spending there.

(02/02/2024) → CalMatters

• California Recall Reform Moves Forward, But Other Bills Don’t

A sweeping change to California elections took a step forward. The proposed constitutional amendment aims to allow the lieutenant governor to be installed if a governor is recalled.

(02/01/2024) → CalMatters

• Homeless ‘Point-in-Time’ Count Canvasses Hollister

Before the sun came up, county staff, law enforcement and volunteers gathered to perform the 2024 Point-in-Time count, which counts homeless people in the county every two years.

(02/01/2024) → Benito Link

• Planning Commission Rejects Landfill Environmental Report

San Benito County planners voted 4-1 against the John Smith Landfill expansion project’s EIR, conditional use permit and General Plan amendment.

(02/01/2024) → Benito Link

• Danny Barrera Joins Jovenes de Antaño as Executive Director

Danny Barrera Jr. has some very big shoes to fill: those of Paulina Valdivia, who co-founded Hollister’s Jovenes de Antaño Senior Center in 1975 and ran it until her death in September 2022.

(01/31/2024) → Benito Link

• Imperiled Monarch Butterflies Cling to Survival in California

Monarch butterflies have a long way to go before reaching stable population numbers.

(01/30/2024) → SF Gate

• Sacramento Joins San Francisco as California’s Slowest Cities to Recover From the Pandemic

San Francisco is coping with a “doom loop” of declining employment and business activity in its downtown core, but a new study suggests Sacramento may be in worse shape.

(01/30/2024) → CalMatters

• Town Hall Gathers Input on New Campus Design

More than 80 county residents participated when the San Benito High School District held a community town hall as part of its planning to build a second high school.

(01/29/2024) → Benito Link
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Recent Statewide News

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• Mike McGuire Wants to ‘Lift Up Every Person’ as New California Senate Leader

Sen. Mike McGuire of Healdsburg takes over as Democratic leader in the state Senate from Sen. Toni Atkins. He terms out in 2026, so has limited time to push his agenda.

(02/05/2024) → CalMatters

• Is Housing Health Care? State Medicaid Programs Increasingly Say ‘Yes’

States are plowing billions of dollars into a high-stakes health care experiment that’s exploding around the country: using scarce public health insurance money to provide housing for the poorest and sickest Americans.

(02/05/2024) → California Healthline

• The Terrifying Forces That Created a California Monster Storm

The storm fed off of unusually warm waters as it grew. It also reached “bomb cyclone” status as it neared California.

(02/05/2024) → Los Angeles Times

• Darrell Steinberg: Return of State Workers Helps, But Sacramento’s Transformation is Well Underway

Downtown Sacramento faces many challenges, but the growing number of small businesses, hotels, homes and other major developments signal its transformation, says the city’s mayor.

(02/05/2024) → CalMatters

• Despite Disbanding in 1995, Grateful Dead Make Billboard History

The Grateful Dead have broken the record for the most Top 40 albums to chart on the Billboard 200.

(02/05/2024) → Daily Democrat

• Some Experts Are Proposing a Category 6 Storm Rating

A handful of super powerful tropical storms in the last decade and the prospect of more to come has a couple of experts proposing a new category of whopper hurricanes: Category 6.

(02/05/2024) → Daily Democrat

• California Universities Are Required to Offer Students Abortion Pills. A Lot Just Don’t Mention It

One year after California became the first state to require its public universities to provide the abortion pill to students, basic information on where or how students can obtain the medication is lacking.

(02/04/2024) → CapPublicRadio

• New ‘Toothless’ Walrus Discovered Along California Coast

An extinct species of walrus was unearthed in Santa Cruz County, evoking a time when California was teeming with odd creatures that feel closer to fantasy than reality, researchers said.

(02/01/2024) → SF Gate

• Back From COP28, California Climate Leaders Talk Health Impacts of Warming

As Californians increasingly feel the health effects of climate change, state leaders are adopting sweeping policies they hope will fend off the worst impacts.

(01/31/2024) → California Healthline

• ‘Just the Beginning’: California Reparations Backers Applaud Bills, Even Without Big Cash Payouts

Lawmakers introduced a package of bills designed to tackle some forms of reparations. The measures may face budget constraints and opposition.

(01/31/2024) → CalMatters

• Saving Salmon: Newsom Unveils Blueprint for Ending Decades-Long Decline

Chinook and other salmon runs are collapsing. Conservation groups call it too little, too late. Plan includes dam removals and restoring river flows.

(01/30/2024) → CalMatters

• Advice From Former Superintendents on Retaining Those Still on the Job

Five former California superintendents shared potential solutions for reducing the increasing turnover rate in their profession.

(01/30/2024) → EdSource

• Will More Outdoor Drinking Give CA Economy a Buzz?

State Sen. Scott Wiener wants to allow California cities and counties to designate “entertainment zones” where bars and restaurants could serve alcoholic drinks that people can consume on public streets and sidewalks.

(01/29/2024) → CalMatters

• New Pickleball Equipment Takes a Swing at the Sport’s Noise Problem

The “pop, pop, pop” that’s become synonymous with Pickleball may soon be a racket of the past. That’s the goal promised by a new generation of equipment developed to lessen the overall acoustic burden of the sport.

(01/29/2024) → Daily Democrat
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Government Announcements

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Image of United States seal. United States   (02/03/2024)

Hormel Foods Recalls Ready-To-Eat Spiced Deli Ham Products Due to Misbranding and Undeclared Allergen

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2024 - Hormel Foods, an Austin, Minn. establishment, is recalling approximately 945 pounds of ready-to-eat spiced deli ham products due to misbranding and undeclared allergen, the U.S...
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/02/2024)

Summer Fresh Salads Inc. Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Sesame in Wegmans Harissa Hummus Topped with Harissa

Summer Fresh Salads Inc. of Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada is recalling its Wegmans Harissa Hummus Topped With Harissa because they may contain undeclared sesame. People who have allergies to sesame run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products. The recal
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/02/2024)

Macgregors Meat and Seafood Ltd Recalls Frozen Ready-To-Eat Pork Products Imported Without Benefit of Import Reinspection

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2024 - Macgregors Meat and Seafood Ltd, a Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada establishment, is recalling approximately 2,745 pounds of frozen, ready-to-eat pork products that were not presented for...
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/01/2024)

Hearty Acquisitions Llc Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Soy in Tomato Basil with Rice Exp 3/22/2024

Hearty Acquisitions Inc. of Brooklyn, NY, is recalling its pints of "Tomato Basil with Rice EXP 3/22/2024" 16 Oz containers because they contain Butternut Squash Bisque resulting in soy being undeclared on the label. People who have allergies to soy run the risk of serious or life-threatening allerg
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/01/2024)

Nam & Son of MD Recalls Soybean Sprouts Because of Possible Health Risk

Nam & Son of MD, Jessup, MD is recalling one-pound bags of soybean sprouts, with the sell-by date of December 21, 2023, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (01/31/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Addis Introduces the Student Privacy Protection Act

Addis Introduces the Student Privacy Protection Act sanchema Wed, 01/31/2024 - 15:11 Wednesday, January 31, 2024 SACRAMENTO Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) introduced Assembly Bill 1971, the Student Privacy Protection Act. "There is a clear and concerning lack of protections for California's students when it comes to their data privacy" said Addis. "Advances like those in artificial intelligence have surpassed …
Image of United States seal. United States   (01/30/2024)

Byrne Dairy Recalls Mighty Fine Chocolate Ice Cream in Half Gallons Dated 10/4/2024 Due to Undeclared Peanuts

Byrne Dairy, Inc. of Syracuse, New York is voluntarily recalling its Byrne Dairy Mighty Fine Chocolate Ice Cream in half gallon cartons with a Last Date of Sale of 10/4/2024 because it may contain undeclared peanuts. People who have allergies to peanuts run the risk of serious or life-threatening al
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (01/29/2024)

John Laird CA Senate 17:
Senator Laird Introduces Legislation Creating Independent Redistricting Commission for SLO County

SACRAMENTO Today, State Senator John Laird (D - Santa Cruz) introduced Senate Bill 977, a proposal to establish an independent redistricting commission for the County of San Luis Obispo.
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (01/29/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Addis Introduces Bill to Increase Grant Opportunities for Students with Disabilities

Addis Introduces Bill to Increase Grant Opportunities for Students with Disabilities sanchema Mon, 01/29/2024 - 14:39 Monday, January 29, 2024 SACRAMENTO Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) introduced Assembly Bill 1885, the College Access for Students with Disabilities Act, a bill that will allow students with disabilities to receive grant money for college. "I'm authoring the College Access for Students with …
Image of United States seal. United States   (01/28/2024)

Truong Giang Distributor Corp Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Sulfites in Dried Mango

TRUONG GIANG DISTRIBUTOR CORP of Philadelphia, PA is recalling Golden Owl Dried Mango, because it may contain undeclared sulfites. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to sulfites run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products. Product was d