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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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Lauren’s Home is a 501(c)(3) public charity that provides a safe environment for families and children. Regardless of an individual's background, Lauren’s Home welcomes all with open arms.

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From Our Media Allies

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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.

Los Gatan logo Los Gatos Pursues Ex-Staffer in Court Over Computer Stolen in Maui

The Town of Los Gatos’ former top engineer WooJae Kim is appealing an order to repay money for a town-issued laptop he reported stolen while in Hawaii.

Morgan Hill Times logo Treatment, Funding, Legislation and More Discussed at Opioid Forum

U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta gathered leaders from Santa Clara County, San Jose and health organizations together for a discussion on the growing opioid epidemic.

Metro Silicon Valley logo The Future of Fashion

It’s a burning question with no clear answer. What does the future of fashion look like?

Metro Silicon Valley logo New Poet Laureate: Yosimar Reyes

His poetry will now reach wider, perhaps more mainstream local audiences, as he begins serving two years as the new Santa Clara County Poet Laureate.

Metro Silicon Valley logo The Unraveling of MedMed

The truth is that cannabis emporium MedMen fell victim mainly to its own hubris, which was instilled in the company from the start by its hubristic founder and former CEO, Adam Bierman.

Hilltromper Silicon Valley logo Fifteen Miles of Peninsula Pretty

The Crystal Springs Regional Trail is the place to see and be seen on weekends in San Mateo County.

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Recent Local News

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• Once a Booming Industry, San Jose Cannabis Shops Face Closure

Two San Jose cannabis dispensaries, MedMen and Herbs, have temporarily closed—and the city stands to lose millions in revenue if they go out of business.

(02/05/2024) → San Jose Spotlight

• 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

• Money Flows Into District 5 Board of Supervisors Race

Campaign financial statements show where the five candidates are receiving support, as well as their strategies for raising money and getting their message out to voters.

(02/02/2024) → Mountain View Voice

• Vietnamese American Candidates Lead District 2 Supervisor Race, Poll Shows

A new poll funded by a pro-business political action committee shows two Vietnamese American candidates as the frontrunners for the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors District 2 seat.

(02/02/2024) → San Jose Spotlight

• 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

• How Milpitas Charity Bingo Has Disbursed Over $2 Million to Local Nonprofits

From all over the Bay Area, bingo players flock to Milpitas Charity Bingo, citing its ultra-friendly staff and volunteers, cleanliness, and fun atmosphere.

(02/01/2024) → Milpitas Beat

• CSU Student Assistants Prepare to Unionize

About 20,000 student assistants at all 23 California State University campuses are coming together for a vote that would create the largest undergraduate student worker union in U.S. history.

(01/31/2024) → The Lutrinae

• 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

• Formerly Homeless Veterans in San Jose Live in Squalor

For years, homeless veterans housed at an emergency facility in San Jose have lived with bed bugs, black mildew, fire hazards and a lack of warm water.

(01/30/2024) → San Jose Spotlight

• 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

• Mountain View Plans to Restart Gatekeeper Hearings Later This Year

In a 6-1 vote, the Mountain View City Council approved a motion to keep the gatekeeper process, which allows for developers to offer up projects that deviate from zoning rules in exchange for public benefits.

(01/29/2024) → Mountain View Voice

• Milpitas to Survey Residents About Extending Sales Tax

Milpitas is hoping to hold on to a revenue stream dedicated toward city services and keep its budget from falling into the red.

(01/29/2024) → San Jose Spotlight
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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 City of Los Altos seal. City of Los Altos   (02/03/2024)

4600 El Camino Real Incident Update #5

Los Altos, Calif. February 2, 2024 On Monday, December 25, 2023, at approximately 4:50 AM, Santa Clara County Fire Department (County Fire) responded to reports of smoke coming from a commercial structure located at 4600 El Camino Real in Los Altos. Following a 3-alarm fire response, consisting of approximately 60 first responders, the fire was declared under control at 1:53 …
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 City of Campbell seal. City of Campbell   (02/02/2024)

Lunar New Year Celebration - 50+

Image of City of Campbell seal. City of Campbell   (02/02/2024)

Police Operations Building Update

City Hall Lower Lot parking will not be available beginning the week of February 5.
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (02/02/2024)

Esmeralda Soria California Assembly 27:
Assemblywoman Soria Introduces Assembly Bill 2060 To Boost Groundwater Recharge

Assemblywoman Soria Introduces Assembly Bill 2060 To Boost Groundwater Recharge gomezhe Fri, 02/02/2024 - 10:28 (916) 319-2039 (916) 319-2027 Thursday, February 1, 2024 SACRAMENTO, CA Today, Assemblywoman Esmeralda Soria introduced AB 2060 to help divert local floodwater into regional groundwater basins. AB 2060 - Flood-MAR (Managed Aquifer Recharge) AB 2060 seeks to streamline the permitting process to the …
Image of City of Campbell seal. City of Campbell   (02/02/2024)

Winter/Spring 2024 Activity Guide

Image of City of Monte Sereno seal. City of Monte Sereno   (02/02/2024)

Office Hours for Mayor Evert Wolsheimer

Mayor Evert Wolsheimer would like to announce his office hours when residents can meet with him in person.
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 Town of Los Gatos seal. Town of Los Gatos   (02/01/2024)

Town Council Meeting February 6, 2024 to Discuss the Draft Revised Housing Element

The community is invited to attend the February 6, 2024, Town Council meeting at 7:00 p.m. to review and provide feedback on the latest revisions to the Draft Revised Housing Element. Attend In Person (110 E. Main Street) and via teleconference.