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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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Direct your browser to https://santacruz.californialocal.com/ to catch up on the latest news in California and Santa Cruz County. Bookmark the link and visit often, there's a lot happening in your community!


Get to Know a Group

Santa Cruz Baroque Festival logo Santa Cruz Baroque Festival

The Santa Cruz Baroque Festival has been active since 1974, presenting early music as it sounded in its own era. Members strive for artistic excellence while transmitting the joy of Baroque music to future generations.

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From Our Media Allies

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San Lorenzo Valley Post logo KBCZ 89.3FM Connecting the Mountains

KBCZ’s broadcast reach at the moment on 89.3 FM is to all of the San Lorenzo Valley including Lompico, Scotts Valley, Paradise Park, and parts of Santa Cruz.

KSQD logo Santa Cruz Rail and Trail: Questions and Conundrums

It is said that there are more opinions than people in Santa Cruz County, and the Rail and Trail project has not only spanned decades, it swarms with opinions, ideas, and contradictions.

The Pajaronian logo Aptos Library Begins New Chapter

For more than two years, Aptos residents have had to travel to check out library materials. Not residents will once again have a community hub, or as Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend put it, a “new living room.”

Press Banner logo Santa Cruz Bread Boy, Humble Sea Collab Takes Valley by Storm

Says Lee DeGraw, Humble Sea’s head of marketing, “We’ve been working together on a series of regular weekend pop-up events, combining our craft beer expertise with the amazing culinary wizardry of Santa Cruz Bread Boy and his team.”

Santa Cruz Local logo West Cliff Survey Favors Fewer Cars, More Recreation

More than 60% of respondents said West Cliff Drive should be one-way and ranked driving as a lower priority than walking, cycling, beachgoing, accessing the surf and enjoying the view.

Good Times logo Housing for Whom?

A controversial new measure is on the March ballot that could affect the future of housing development in the City of Santa Cruz.

Good Times logo No Way Home

Every day kids are being left at school and parents have had to take off work to pick them up because of a shortage of bus drivers.

Good Times logo The Future of Theater and Music

The sheer magic of the moment vs. the time and money to make it happen—live performance is a delicate balance, and never more so than after the down-time of Covid, rising cost of productions, and erosion of reliable, passionate audiences.

Good Times logo Heritage Redwood Tree To Be Removed

The 120-foot colossal coastal redwood tree next to Santa Cruz High is slated to be cut down after the Santa Cruz City Council on Jan. 23 rejected an appeal by local resident Keelan Franzen.

San Lorenzo Valley Post logo Big Basin Water Secures $850,000 Grant

Serviam by Wright LLP, the court-appointed receiver to Big Basin Water Company, has secured an $850,000 state grant from the California Department of Water Resources’ Small Community Drought Relief Program.

Santa Cruz Local logo Explainer: Measure M, the Housing for People Initiative

Measure M will appear on Santa Cruz city voters’ ballots in the March 5 election. Supporters gathered signatures to qualify it for the ballot, and they called the measure Housing for People not Unaffordable Towers.

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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

• Santa Cruz Native’s Memoir Grapples With the Devastating Fires of 2020

Local author Manjula Martin’s new book, “The Last Fire Season,” reflects on the 2020 fires with natural history and personal experience, with insights on language, Indigenous land practices and the enduring power of gardening.

(02/04/2024) → Read the full Lookout Local report

• City of Capitola Marks a Big Anniversary

Capitola Mayor Kristen Brown muses about the 75th anniversary of the city’s incorporation as a time to reflect on history while considering the opportunities that lie ahead.

(02/03/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• UCSC Students Raise Campus Transit Concerns in Three-Hour Town Hall

In the wake of a fatal bus crash and a damaging California Highway Patrol report that called UC Santa Cruz transit operations “an imminent threat to public safety,” students shared their frustrations.

(02/03/2024) → Read the full Lookout Local report

• 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

• Santa Cruz Metro Pacific Station Set to Close for Redevelopment

Big changes are coming to Santa Cruz Metro's downtown transit hub as officials push forward into the next phase of a major, multi-agency redevelopment project.

(02/01/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• 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

• Pajaro River Levee Close to Beginning Construction

Mark Strudley, executive director of the Pajaro Regional Flood Management Agency, estimates that work will begin in late summer or early fall, starting at the Corralitos Creek Bridge.

(01/31/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Santa Cruz County RTC to Assess Purpose, Needs of Passenger Rail Project

The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission will kick off its first meeting of 2024 by delving into one of its most high-profile projects.

(01/30/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Water Department’s Dave Tannaci Contends for Santa Cruz’s 1st District

Dave Tannaci of the Santa Cruz Water Department is running for the Santa Cruz City Council’s District 1 seat against Big Brothers Big Sisters of Santa Cruz County Executive Director Gabriela Trigueiro.

(01/30/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Western Monarch Butterflies Overwintering in California Dropped by 30%, Researchers Say

The number of western monarch butterflies overwintering in California dropped by 30% last year, likely due to how wet it was.

(01/30/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• 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

• Watsonville City Plaza Remodel Designs to Go Before Parks and Rec Commission

One of Watsonville’s most recognizable and historic community hubs could be getting a new look as the city plans a comprehensive revitalization of its downtown City Plaza.

(01/29/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• California Earns an A in Surfrider’s Annual State of the Beach Report

When it comes to managing its coast, California is far ahead of other states in preparing for climate change, at least one environmental advocacy group says.

(01/29/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel
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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 County of Santa Cruz seal. County of Santa Cruz   (02/05/2024)

2/5/2024 - Helicopter-Assisted HVAC Lift Marks Milestone in the County's 500 Westridge Drive Tenant Improvement Project

Image of City of Watsonville seal. City of Watsonville   (02/03/2024)

Preparing for the upcoming storm

Image of City of Watsonville seal. City of Watsonville   (02/03/2024)

Emergency Shelter for unhoused population to open February 3

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 Santa Cruz County Office of Education seal. Santa Cruz County Office of Education   (02/02/2024)

Recognizing Black History Month

Dear community member, As we enter February, the Santa Cruz COE and schools across Santa Cruz County are proud to recognize Black History Month a time to reflect on the contributions, history, and experiences of African Americans. This month serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle against racial injustice and inequality, and the vital [...] The post Recognizing Black …
Image of Santa Cruz County Office of Education seal. Santa Cruz County Office of Education   (02/02/2024)

Empowering Futures: Celebrating Success in Medical, Dental, and Building Trades Programs

Our Medical, Dental, and Building Trades Pre-Apprenticeship programs are progressing with an amazing group of motivated students ready to take on the challenge of their new career endeavors. At the end of December, 21 students took their written state board exam for Radiation Safety. Instructor Debbie Martinez is proud to share that not only did [...] The post Empowering Futures: …
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 County of Santa Cruz seal. County of Santa Cruz   (02/02/2024)

Severe Weather Emergency Shelter to Open

Image of County of Santa Cruz seal. County of Santa Cruz   (02/02/2024)

Abrirá Refugio de Emergencia por Clima Severo