When was the first time you heard about virtual reality? For a lot of us, it was some science fiction movie like Tron or TV show like Star Trek: The Next Generation. On the latter, the idea of being fully immersed in a computer-constructed “holodeck” seemed literally centuries away, and both had a wink-wink element of magical realism, as if their creators were saying, “OK, there’s no way this will really happen.”
And yet, just a couple of decades later, our writer Christina Waters took a VR spacewalk that she describes in this week’s cover story as a “gorgeous illusion.” And it happened right here at a little production studio in Santa Cruz. Maybe locals are familiar with filmmaker Eric Thiermann, who was part of UCSC’s first graduating class and has been making headlines here with his documentary work since the 1980s. But few know what he’s doing now with virtual reality at his company Impact Creative. It has, however, drawn the attention of huge companies like Google, which keep Thiermann and his team busy.
Waters’ story is an in-depth look at the state of the VR art, and what’s possible now would be incredible no matter who was doing it. But the fact that one of the major forces driving the creative application of this technology is a small studio right here in Silicon Beach kind of boggles the mind. Meet their team and take a step into the future. What’s next, jetpacks? Please let it be jetpacks.
STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Letters to the Editor
Eastside, Not Midtown
I have wondered how our cherished Eastside neighborhood was somehow renamed Midtown—by some merchants, not by the local residents, mind you!
I posted a conversation on the NextDoor site, and in six days, there have been more than 100 responses, 99 percent of them in support of the fact that we are in fact Eastside, and not Midtown!
Someone suggested writing to you, as you have apparently been referring to us as “Midtown,” even in the heading of your site santacruz.com. You list businesses, and that they are all in Midtown!
Are you able to provide me with some facts as to who changed our name, and how to get it back? I think this topic is involved in a very lively discussion, and not going away any time soon.
Nikki Shoemaker | Resident of Eastside Santa Cruz for more than 30 years
Nikki, this very topic is hotly debated even in our office. See Jacob Pierce’s “Best Argument We’re Dying to See Settled” in the Best of Santa Cruz County issue (GT, 3/15) for more context. — Editor
Range of Opinions
I disagree with Paul Cocking’s (GT, 4/5) disparaging remarks against our Park Rangers, who help protect residents, workers, and tourists on Pacific Avenue. The Rangers help deter crime and other antisocial behavior that adversely affects seniors, children, and everyone else who lives, works, and visits downtown Santa Cruz.
Robert deFreitas | Santa Cruz
It’s a Shame
I have noticed many demonstrations recently here in Santa Cruz protesting everything from Trump’s presidency to condemnations of racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia and prejudice against poor, homeless and disabled people, and although I agree that these are important issues to address, I sometimes wonder about the motivations behind the protests. Is it about promoting better policies than the current political administration, and ending racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia and prejudice against the poor, the homeless and disabled, or is it about shaming people who disagree with you, or even shaming people who are your allies if they happen to be more privileged than you in some way? Most people are privileged in some ways, and lacking privilege in other ways, and I have noticed that politics on both the Left and the Right often involve shaming people for their privilege and their lack of it (often both). Shaming others may help one feel better about oneself, but it is a poor motivator for changing others and changing society for the better. Many people are politically apathetic because they don’t want to be around a lot of angry self-righteous people who may potentially shame them from being who they are. Both the privileged and those who lack it have internalized the values of a hierarchical society based on comparison and shame, which leads to a hostile, competitive us-versus-them, self-versus-other mentality which is extremely divisive. We have all been poisoned by these destructive values, and we can move beyond it by both respecting differences and acknowledging our common humanity and our common struggles with compassion, and understanding instead of shame.
Erich J. Holden | Santa Cruz
Rising International is an inspired and inspiring organization! I just can’t believe that such an innovative solution to poverty both locally and globally has not been done before. If you’re wondering what you can do, contact Rising International and host a party. I’ve done two of them and they are so much fun. And they bring such a spirit of love and warmth into your home.
Thank you Anne-Marie for highlighting this amazing organization and their work.
— Jenny L. Wood