.The Editor’s Desk

Editorial Note

I’m not sure any article I’ve read this year has had the same effect on me as this week’s cover story about medicinal plants written by Jillian Steinberger-Foster, a plantaholic. I have the opposite of a green thumb. Give me a plant and it’s like an executioner’s song. Green fades to brown in the blink of an eye. Even my beloved Longan Berry tree is moaning a death knell as I look outside my window. Those berries, native to Asia, are my favorite new fruit. It’s either over or under watered, gets too much or too little sun and, like the Joker says in Batman, I weep inside. 

But Jillian’s piece gives me some hope. She’s got recommendations for death-defying herbs that not only look and smell good, but can make me healthier. I can do this. I swear, I can, if she says so. I’ve got some new hope. Not to mention that as the climate changes, I want all the healthy things I can grow right outside my door. 

So welcome to our health and fitness issue, where you can read about new forms of yoga, some great eats and all kinds of healthy services throughout the county.

Stay cool, stay healthy and enjoy the last trickles of summer. Oh yeah, and you can still get out into the garden. 

Good Idea

Fewer homeless in latest survey

secure document shredding

A census of Santa Cruz County’s homeless population taken in February shows a 21.5% decline since the last count in 2021.

Still, 1 in every 146 Santa Cruz County residents don’t have access to housing, according to the 2023 Homeless Count and Survey.

“While the numbers show the lowest levels of homelessness since the PIT Count was first conducted and reflects our efforts to prioritize housing, we still have a long way to go,” said housing authority Robert Ratner. For information, visit housingforhealthpartnership.org.

Good Work 

Bus stuffed with 2,500 backpacks

Stuff the Bus, held Saturday, filled a school bus with more than 2,500 backpacks to help homeless kids with school supplies.

“We have so many youth experiencing homelessness and other hardships, and they deserve to have something new to start the school year off right,” says United Way director Dawn Bruckel.

 “Having school supplies is basic, but it’s so fundamental, and if we’re able to provide that, why not,”said volunteer Juan Castillo. “It’s amazing working with different people. It feels like the community is getting together.”

To contribute: unitedwaysc.org

Photo Contest

HELPING HANDS Emily Maddox and Emily Scioscia of UC Santa Cruz’s Cal Teach program drop off backpacks they filled. Photo: Todd Guild/The Pajaronian

Quote of the Week

“Plants give you grace, and people who like plants tend to be awesome. Ethical, kind and connected to nature.” Jillian Steinberger-Foster


I am seeing too many people running their dogs on the asphalt while they are held by leash as the owner is biking (sometimes with no leash). I saw a dog on the road by New Leaf in Aptos where there is in and out traffic trying to navigate the cars with two bikers heading to the bike shop outside of Nisene Marks.

The temperature was in the seventies. The dog’s tongue was hanging out and bright red as the rider held the dog on a rope leash and was talking to the other biker as the dog tried to keep pace with the bikes in the humid weather. 

The bikers are in all of their regalia but the dog does not have a helmet, likely no sunscreen for pink skin and white fur and no shoes. 

Maybe the biker could run barefoot on the hot pavement while being pulled by a leash as the dog pedals instead.

At the beach early in the morning, people ride e-bikes with surfboard racks and scare off all the seabirds and startle dogs on leash that do not hear them coming. It is tough on birds to deal with this or when dogs are allowed to run and chase birds up and down the beach like toys, especially when the birds are resting during migration.

As a concerned resident who has dogs, a bike and for many years done bird counts for Cornell Lab, I would like to see this change. 

La Selva Beach


I appreciate how you posted this letter within your editorial, to kind of post it without posting it. I appreciate your sensibilities. We have to start somewhere and we have to be willing to field eruptions to arrive at nuance and wisdom. The Citizens Wisdom Council in Mauthausen, Austria, was convened to address what to do with the empty building that was a Nazi concentration camp, standing empty in the middle of their community since World War II. Finally they were having a conversation, finally they had a way to move forward. Finally the elders were given a way to open up the pain body so that the youth could begin to see why everybody had remained stuck for a generation. We have that capacity and we owe it to ourselves to use it.

Corrina McFarlane
Santa Cruz


Responding to your invitation to comment on respecting the right to publicly express opinions of people who don’t agree with you or have ideas that you don’t like, I think that the ACLU is an excellent example of why this value in the United States shines a bright light in times of darkness.

In 1978, the ACLU took a controversial stand for free speech by defending a Neo-Nazi group that wanted to march through the Chicago suburb of Skokie, where many Holocaust survivors lived. The notoriety of the case caused some ACLU members to resign, but to many others the case has come to represent the ACLU’s unwavering commitment to principle. In fact, many of the laws the ACLU cited to defend the group’s right to free speech and assembly were the same laws it had invoked during the Civil Rights era, when Southern cities tried to shut down civil rights marches with similar claims about the violence and disruption the protests would cause. Although the ACLU prevailed in its free speech arguments, the neo-Nazi group never marched through Skokie, instead agreeing to stage a rally at Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago.

When I was a teenager in middle school I learned that to find the truth and therefore understanding we have to look at and listen to both sides of an issue.

Cancel Culture, censorship and labeling opinions we don’t like as “Hate Speech” will never serve us to that goal of knowing the truth.

Drew Lewis
Founder of the Sustainable Living Center, Workshop and Farm


  1. Wouldn’t it be novel to have a news publication with an editor that was willing to entertain the idea that his views do not necessarily represent those of the readership. In fact the absence of discussion and debate is the true threat to democracy. That is the real purpose of the fourth estate that is being lost in activist, subjective, narrative ‘journalism’.

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