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Letters to the Editor

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The natural landscape of Santa Cruz County is a big part of why so many people want to live here. Not everybody loves the beach, it’s true, and I guess there might be someone somewhere who doesn’t like the redwoods. But if you don’t like the beach or the redwoods, you might want to consider Bentonville, Arkansas, where someone I know recently bought what is quite literally a mansion, for a price that I estimate would get you a cozy tool shed in Scotts Valley.  

It’s been a Good Times tradition to profile a local photographer in our Wedding Issue every January, and, this year, Anne-Marie Harrison introduces us to one who emphasizes our link to the natural world in her wedding work: Carlie Statsky. Statsky and her husband Gabe Statsky live in Happy Valley (where I was lucky enough to get married, incidentally, under the redwoods), and have forged quite a life and photography career for themselves, with philosophical underpinnings that fit this area perfectly.

They’re not the only interesting wedding types to meet in this issue. In our guide to this year’s Bridal Expo (the pullout can be found in the center of this issue), Aric Sleeper explains why what would seem to be a contradictory notion—a DIY wedding planner—is actually not, how a local florist is bringing the foodie’s battle cry of “local, organic and sustainable” to wedding arrangements, and more. Best of luck to all of this year’s lucky couples!





A Selma Postscript

I recently saw the movie Selma (GT, 1/14), which I highly recommend. During this time of celebrating MLK Jr., I would like to remind people of something that the film failed to mention: the repentance of Gov. Wallace and his reconciliation with the Black community.

The primary settings of the film are the three historic marches in Alabama from Selma to the state’s capital in Montgomery. The purpose of the marches was to secure freedom for Alabama’s Black residents to exercise their right to vote as American citizens, which was systemically denied. It was a watershed moment in the civil rights movement. The first march, known as “Bloody Sunday,” broadcasted the harsh police brutality against nonviolent innocent marchers on television around the world. The vivid violence and King’s call for others to join their march struck the nation’s conscience to the core. Many heeded the call to the second march. It was the court-sanctioned third march in 1965, with thousands of diverse people participating and the U.S. army protecting, that created enough public pressure for President Johnson to sign the Voting Rights Act.

Central to the struggle was the defiance of Gov. George Wallace, who was no stranger to civil rights battles or to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As a young pastor 10 years earlier, MLK Jr. led the successful Montgomery bus boycott in the state’s capital, which desegregated public transportation. Governor Wallace was one of the most outspoken opponents to racial integration in the nation with his infamous “I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever.” However, after the Selma march he had a major conversion and did a complete about face, which was not mentioned in the updates at the end of the movie on the lives of some of the historic figures portrayed.

It felt like a true disservice to MLK Jr., Gov. Wallace, and all of those involved in the civil rights struggle at that time to not acknowledge that 15 years after the last march, Wallace publicly admitted he was wrong, continuously asked for forgiveness, and spent the rest of his life working for integration. In the late 1970s, he announced that he was “born again,” and realized the error of his ways. In venues large and small, from MLK Jr.’s first congregation at Dexter Baptist Church in Montgomery to global Larry King Live, he apologized for the suffering that he had caused. His own paralysis after an assassination attempt during a presidential bid in the early 1970s sensitized him to suffering.

I bring all of this up to say that legal victories are great, but they are a mere stepping stone to the real goal of changing how we relate to each other in society. The real victory is when we embrace each other as equal and create the beloved community. The right to vote was a major accomplishment, indeed. However, I think part of the lasting legacy of the marches from Selma is the repentance of Gov. Wallace and the reconciliation with the Black community. King’s real message was about love and forgiveness. Yes, we can all fight for our rights, but can we love our oppressors back to wholeness?

Rev. Deborah L. Johnson, Inner Light Ministries, Santa Cruz

Selma and Santa Cruz

Selma. A current movie. Early in 1965, there was a demonstration and walk in Santa Cruz to support the civil rights movement in Selma. The activist organizers were from NAACP, Unitarian Fellowship, Quakers, some churches, WILPF, and ACLU. A demonstration was held at the city hall, and the mayor spoke in support of the civil rights movement and the walk here in Santa Cruz. The walk proceeded on the sidewalks with police assistance. There were enough people to reach from one end of a block to the other. This demonstration and walk was one of many being done in towns and cities across the United States to support the civil right to vote.    

In June 1965, the Unitarian Church in Palo Alto organized a visit to California for 37 high school students and chaperones from Selma. It was an effort to give these young people some relief from the horrors they had experienced in Selma.  The young girls and boys came for an overnight to Santa Cruz. At one home where there were old growth redwoods, a potluck lunch was held in their honor, and many activists hosted them overnight. They were given a trip to the coast. Most had never seen the ocean near Alabama. These young high school students would now be in their sixties and seventies. I hope that life has been good for them.  Their parents and families who risked their lives to get the right to vote in Selma got that right.   

Patricia Rayne, Santa Cruz

Jazzercise Now!

As the owner of a successful Jazzercise program, I was surprised to see your reporter (GT, 1/14) refer to Jazzercise as if it’s something from the past (the second time in the last year or so). It’s still very popular, and why not? We give a great workout and play current music that’s great fun to exercise to. There’s nothing passé about it. In fact, I invite all GT reporters to take a free class. You’ll get what lots of locals get: Jazzercise will never go out of style. We’re the original dance party workout. And today we continue to rock it.

Abbi Hartsell, Owner, Jazzercise in Santa Cruz

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photo contest

photo-contestHAVE GUNNAR, WILL TRAVEL The photographer’s dog Gunnar at Pleasure Point at sunrise. Photograph by Rick Ward.


good work


Michigan just became the 21st state to pass a law requiring that doctors notify women with high breast density about the risks of cancer. Sixty-five percent of American women now live in states with such laws. California was the fifth to pass one, thanks largely to Soquel woman Amy Colton, who submitted the idea to then-Sen. Joe Simitian’s “Ought to Be a Law” contest in 2010.


good idea



UCSC will be fostering some interdisciplinary talks through a new “Questions that Matter” series. The first event, “Making the Cosmos Local,” will be Tuesday, Jan. 27, at Kuumbwa, with history associate professor Minghui Hu and physics assistant professor Anthony Aguirre. If successful, the event could break down all kinds of barriers—between departments, between town and university, and even ones in our minds.



“Never get married in the morning. You never know who you might meet that night.” — Paul Hornung


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