Santa Cruz is known for its moderate climate, the natural beauty of its coastline, redwood forests, alternative community lifestyles, and socially liberal leanings.
- Santa Cruz needs to ... change the way it thinks and acts.
- It must recognize that all development is not bad [and that]
- Authority is not evil
- And finally, [that] police are not the enemy.
I do think that Wikipedia is right, though, and that Santa Cruz actually does celebrate "alternative community lifestyles" and "socially liberal leanings."
We had an active community of midwives before almost any other local communities around the country understood their value. We had a "Women's Health Collective," of, by, and for women, and we have always been a pro-choice community. We had a local medical marijuana cooperative that stood up to the federal government, and our City Council stood right with them. The Mayor personally distributed medical marijuana on the steps of City Hall. We have a lot of acupuncture, and yoga, and art. AND music! We have actually had world famous jugglers and world famous bubble blowers doing their thing on our main street downtown. We have a whole big building, and lots of people using it, called the Resource Center For Nonviolence. Nonviolence! What a concept!! We have a wonderful statue, by the Town Clock, that commemorates the victims of war, instead of those who perpetrate it.
Why did the Santa Cruz Sentinel pick Claudia Rimai to speak to the future of Santa Cruz?
Claudia Rimai lives in Bend, Oregon.
Here is what I think. I think the precious gold of what it means to live in Santa Cruz is our community engagement in the very real problems confronted by all communities, including ours. Growth and development pressures are everywhere. We have chosen to address them through citizen enacted initiative measures that gave us a permanent Greenbelt, mandate that at least a minimum amount of affordable housing be built, as market rate housing goes forward, and that protect our commercially viable agricultural land. We have a creative and innovative network of social services, based on nonprofits of, by, and for our local community. We continue to provide a home for world class artists.
But, the overwhelming problems related to the economic disintegration being experienced generally in the United States, as lower-income and middle-income people are shut out, and the super-rich win, affect our community, too. Putting mentally ill and poor people out on the street affects us, and San Jose, and San Francisco, and Every City, Everywhere.
Crime happens, though the crime statistics published on the City's website seem to indicate a much lower crime rate today (in 2014) than in 2004-2005. Who knows, maybe that's when Ms. Rimai moved out!*
When we look into a mirror, if we're honest, we don't always get a clear, crisp image back. We have LOTS of problems: crime, homelessness, a lack of affordable housing, traffic, a limited water supply. This is just one more "partial list."
But we have a community that has, since I moved to the County in 1961, and to the City in 1971, always been engaged, and enterprising, and innovative.
When things need to be addressed, we do our best. We mobilize our resources. And when that's not enough, we keep working on it.
Let me say this to my friends who may be getting discouraged, or who got discouraged when they saw our local newspaper promoting the thoughts of a disaffected, out-of-community expatriate: the solution is not to move away.
The solution is not to "step back," and to succumb to fear of failure and disillusionment.
The solution (and I go with Sheryl Sandberg on this, and with her book of this title) is to:
*Just a snarky comment right back, in response to that snarky "What do you want to be when you grow up?" question.
(1) - http://stateofplayexhibit.blogspot.com/p/split-mirror-project.html
(2) - Personal Photo