Plus letter to the editor
Birthdays are good, especially when we can learn something about ourselves. These celebratory moments offer us a time to reflect on our lives. Which brings us to the Fourth of July, which is fast approaching. Brace yourselves: We, as a nation, will technically be (roughly) 7.4 billion seconds old.
That’s 236 years (an estimated—by Google—86,197 days old.) Yes, it’s hard to imagine that anything got done without Google. But if you’re a bit like me, you may occasionally long for the days when things felt a bit more earned, less texted and just a tad more organic. In other words, less frenetic. (Really, how much information do we really need thrust upon us at any given moment? And, let’s be honest, we can all benefit from not ever having to see another Kardashian on television ever again.) Do you recall the day (did I actually just sound like my parents right there?) when we had to call a friend to get information or, perhaps, actually going to the library and looking it up there? (I know this sounds frightening to you 12 to 22-year-olds, but it actually did happen.) But I digress, America hits another milestone. This is cause for celebration, indeed. But after watching HBO’s new drama Newsroom last week, I was taken by something its lead character, played by Jeff Daniels, said. To paraphrase, he didn’t feel America was at its best these days; that we, as a people—the government, the media, etc.—could do better. I doubt he was referring to being a more savvy texter, or tech titan. And although modern tech has proven itself to be useful, I still wonder about how, for a vast majority, we allow it to pull us farther apart, rather than closer together. It’s all that … and, of course, the wars America has been in during the last decade—Google that, you may be reminded—and so much more, that give us plenty to think about (hopefully not just during a commercial break).
Imagine then, if you can, the drive and determination that people had who were living back in 1776; 1876, or 1906. It’s the latter year that comes to mind this week as writer Geoffrey Dunn illuminates a much more different existence of that era in his spotlight on Fred Swanton (page 12), a man significant to Santa Cruz history. It’s the second of Dunn’s historic pieces—look for the third in the coming months—and, on some level, it offers us a chance to pause and appreciate the here and now; those moments where there isn’t a cell phone in our hands, and the only significant sight we have is that of each other’s eyes.
More next time …
Greg Archer | Editor-in-Chief
Letters to the Editor
I wonder why Santa Cruz listens to a “retail expert” from Harvard to consult on traffic routing downtown. “People shop from their cars”—since when can I drive my car into a shop to see what I want? I am in disbelief that the favored idea to boost business is to reactivate a nonsensical paradigm of funneling more traffic downtown. With the recent buzz on local economy and sustainability, why not ask people who actually live here on what to do? And if we seek advice from far away, why not look to Europe to learn how urban planners there boost life quality, safety and ambiance in many cities with pedestrian zones where people actually want to hang out and shop? European cities have a “heart” with a beautiful, safely walkable center. Where is the heart of Santa Cruz? Likewise, roundabouts replace the stop-and-go traffic light mentality on intersections all over Europe, maintaining traffic flow, saving gas, and keeping people in a better mood. The economic problems we collectively face today are largely self-created and rooted in stuck human psychology and outdated, linear solutions. Shift away from backward thinking and a new abundant future will follow.
On ‘Santa Cruz Warriors’ …
The respect for the league continues to grow and hopefully it continues to expand to 30 teams. I can’t wait to go to Santa Cruz Warriors games and watch the progression of the players. It will be exciting to see some of them go on to the next level as well. And it’s great that the Santa Cruz community finally has a professional sports team that they can call their own. Young kids are increasingly deciding to go play overseas rather than go to college. While I don’t agree with skipping a chance to play in college, the D-league could potentially be an alternative to these players going overseas which would at least keep the talent over here.
The D-league is great for the sport of basketball. With only 15 roster spots per NBA team, it is very hard for players to make it into the league without playing at a major school. The D-league finally gives those not-so-recognized players or late bloomers a chance to be noticed and eventually make it to an NBA team.
On ‘Right of Way’ …
The problem is not cars on Pacific but is our short “downtown” best shared with cars. Or can we get more out of it? Cars are meant to transport people and then get out of the way (park). So make it easier to drive to downtown and find a parking space. Then make downtown welcoming to people. Malls do not have cars—and most seem to be bigger than Pacific Avenue. Many succsessful, interesting and vibrant areas I can think of are pedestrian. Success = Cars are not a given.
Once you know the street it isn’t a problem. For visitors why not put up signs directing people to “Downtown Parking”? and have them walk the block to a reinvigorated walk-only Pacific Avenue? We need an inviting Commons with established zones for performers. This would make it that much more inviting; sitting on Pacific now is noisy, and crossing it is often uninviting due to impatient drivers. It’s odd how little outdoor seating we have considering our amazing weather.