.From The Editor

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When disaster strikes in another part of the world, it can seem very far away indeed—more than 7,500 miles, in the case of the earthquake that devastated Nepal in April.

But Santa Cruzans have a long history of thinking outside their borders, and assisting in disaster-relief efforts around the globe. Sometimes that means being part of a large organization’s mobilization, but in this week’s cover story, Jacob Pierce writes about Santa Cruz’s Alekz Londos, who’s become something of a one-man international relief effort. Raising the money to travel to Nepal, he made his way beyond the urban centers that were getting aid from humanitarian groups to small villages that were receiving no help at all. These are the kind of places that get lost in the overwhelming stats of a catastrophe that kills more than 9,000 people and injures more than 25,000. They’re the disaster victims who feel they’ve been forgotten by the rest of the world, yet their needs are every bit as dire—in one village where he provided supplies and basic medical care, 68 of the 69 buildings had been destroyed.

Londos’ work in Nepal reminds us what one person is capable of when they’re inspired to do good work in the world. The fact that he’s also a photojournalist who brought back pictures of what he saw there allows us to see the faces and places behind the news-reports’ numbers, and reminds us that whether it’s centered in Loma Prieta or Nepal’s Lamjung District, a natural disaster requires a humanitarian response from all of us.

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Doon Beat

Randall Grahm is a Francophile and a brilliant marketer (GT, Aug. 5). But why is he considered so Santa Cruz? Mr. Bonny Doon? Look at the fourth-generation Beauregard family who actually grow Pinot Noir in Bonny Doon and established the appellation. And Grahm made his money—and then some—not from fulfilling his quixotic quest to make a great Pinot Noir, but from devoting all his allegedly iconoclastic energies going to the “dark side” and selling out (when he truly didn’t need the money) by producing commodity wines like Big House Red. Nothing wrong with making money, but a rebel? Spare me! There are so many winemakers in the Santa Cruz Mountains whose wines have proven what Grahm says is impossible to achieve (for him and his money). How many times can Grahm tell the same story of creating something that’s not there? He’s like his wine—he hasn’t aged well. He’s a sales pitch. If you believe him, you’re not drinking wine, you’re drinking his Kool-Aid.

Fred Reiss, Mount Herman

Air Time

A few weeks back, Jake Pierce called to interview me about Airbnb. I am a host and have had great experiences with the guests who arrive. They ask for suggestions about where to eat, shop, see films, hear music.  They thank me for my recommendations and spend their money at various sites around Santa Cruz. We attract a culture that would ordinarily not stay at hotels or motels where more affluent people book. Airbnb offers accommodations in tree houses, hammocks and bedrooms in the home of hosts. We offer friendliness and simplicity. Jake’s article did not quote me, but focused on the problems the city might have with Airbnb. Good Times needs to give a fair and balanced report on what the organization brings to the city’s coffers and to visitors who vacation here.

Sheila Strausberg, Santa Cruz

Monument-ize It

As a hiker and 34-year Bonny Doon resident, I would love to see the Bureau of Land Management’s Coast Dairies unit added to the existing California Coastal National Monument. This will be accomplished by legislation just introduced by California’s Sens. Boxer and Feinstein. I believe this upgrade to Monument status will bring additional protections and resources. Since I live adjacent to these BLM lands, I want this higher level of protection as the unit is opened for public access.

As a State Parks volunteer docent, I appreciate that nearby Big Basin Redwoods and Wilder Ranch state parks have extensive trail systems. But continuing population growth means that additional high quality natural areas, like this National Monument expansion, need to be given maximum protection now.

The National Monument will provide much-needed educational and trail user opportunities with expansive ocean views from its coastal meadows, woodlands, creek canyons, and upland redwoods, while protecting Native American cultural sites.

Barry Grimm, Bonny Doon

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photo contest


KRILLING IT A humpback feeds under a massive flock of birds at sunset last week off West Cliff Drive. Photograph by Glenn White.


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The Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County has approved $640,000 in grants to local nonprofits working in community development, education, health, and human services. Recipients include FarmLink, for its work helping farmers grow their businesses; Opportunity Fund Northern California, for its support of micro loans; Girls Inc., for its mentorship program; and Digital NEST, for its efforts to develop South County students and techies.


good idea



Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) is inviting small-business owners of the 30th District to attend a marketing and social media workshop, from 10 a.m
.-12:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 14 at the Watsonville Community Center at 275 Main St. in Watsonville. The event will show business owners how to use social media to grow and promote their businesses. Yelp and Facebook will be the centerpoint of discussions about navigating today’s technology.




“We cannot stop natural disasters, but we can arm ourselves with knowledge.” — Petra Nemcova




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