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Now that we’ve celebrated the five-year “Tanniversary,” with the building of its 182-seat Colligan Theater well under way, it’s easy to forget that the idea of the Tannery Arts Center wasn’t always embraced in Santa Cruz the way it is now. It may have had the political support it needed, but there was another battle it had to win in Santa Cruz—locals’ hearts and minds.

That’s what I think is most interesting about Jacob Pierce’s cover story this week. It’s not just a profile of Santa Cruz artist Kirby Scudder—who, don’t get me wrong, certainly deserves the attention, considering his contributions to the art scene here. But it’s also an offbeat slice of Santa Cruz history, one shaped by a bovine campaign of art awareness. “In some ways, the story of the cow is the story of the Tannery,” writes Pierce, who goes on to explain why.

If there’s a lesson to be learned from this story, it’s surely this: don’t ever express an interest in cows, because people will buy you all the cow-themed crap they can find for the rest of your life. If there’s a second lesson to be learned, it’s that the smallest, strangest idea can turn into art that catches a community’s attention, opens minds and defines a movement. As Scudder will attest, you never know which idea that will be.





The Act, Not  The Activist

Re: “Chill Factor” (GT, 1/14): It is common to scapegoat the activist who pushes for change that is controversial, and easy to dismiss solutions proposed by a provocative personality.  I suggest such a focus is destructive to sound decision making.

It is time to stop concentrating on the shortcomings of Brent Adams and get down to business solving the urgent problems of homelessness.

Obviously, we should address our 3,700 homeless residents’ need for shelter on freezing nights. Only a few hundred of them can be sheltered on any given night in Santa Cruz, yet none of our city’s current plans offer a solution. That reality is far more important than who Brent Adams is and whether or not people like his style of activism.

The Warming Center and other projects that I work on with Mr. Adams are thoroughly researched, evidence-based, safety-oriented models that deserve the unbiased attention of our city’s decision makers. As documented elsewhere, they are low-cost, easily implemented, and address immediate needs of our unsheltered residents. Attacking the main advocate of these projects and focusing on the “Brent factor” distracts us from earnestly investigating other ways to alleviate suffering.

My plea to the media and to politicians and fellow citizens is to focus on solving the actual problems in our town, and not on the personalities of those working toward the same goal. I can tell you it is hugely undermining to work as hard as you can to make something good happen for other people and then hear the response: “but we don’t like you.” How irrelevant is that? You don’t need to like “Adams and his volunteers” to honestly engage in what we’re offering as partial, but immediate solutions to some of the dangers of homelessness.

My praise goes to Mr. Adams for spearheading the drive for Warming Centers in Santa Cruz. He is unpaid, yet has devoted all his time to raising funds for sleeping pads, collecting blankets, finding a host location, and holding meetings to win more support, most recently with an overflow crowd of citizens wanting to participate.

Building alliances and gaining community participation is essential for improvement. More progress could be made by shifting our attention away from “the Brent factor” and putting it where it belongs; that is, finding compassionate solutions to the burning problems that affect all of us.  

Nancy Krusoe, Santa Cruz


Re: The Fight For Selma

Thanks to Ms. Gitlin for her courage. I finally saw the Selma movie, and was not disappointed. I was born in Alabama, and Montgomery was my second home, as both sets of my grandparents lived there. My father was a real southern political liberal, and he spoke out against George Wallace and Lester Maddox, but I don’t think he had the courage to march, and never took me to see Dr. King. I generally avoid reading about movies I’m going to see, but know that Selma was criticized for not being fair to LBJ. That seems like quibbling, because it is certainly is at least close to the political maneuvering. The weird thing I read—and I think it was in the GT—was a letter saying the movie wasn’t fair to Wallace (GT, 1/21). My father was involved in government in Georgia and knew the politics in Alabama, and, in the time the movie depicted, [Wallace] was a despicable force that really was behind the institutional racism there. Maybe he had a sincere change of heart before he died, but, at least during the time depicted in the movie, he was a mean character. (BTW, Tim Roth is brilliant in the movie.)

— J.Dismukes

Once again, we can learn and be challenged to do the right thing and not give up hope that one person can make change happen. The article does a beautiful job in interweaving one person’s story with the larger background event.  It shows that doing the right thing can resonate down through the decades! Well done.

— George Laird

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photo contest


BORN FREE A kitesurfer’s self-portrait from Waddell Creek. Photograph by Rob Born.


good work


Adults can be woefully under-informed about saving water and where the precious resource comes from. Maybe our kids will pick up the slack. A local water agency has won an award for teaching kids about how their water works. This 2014 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award went to the Pajaro Valley Water Management, in conjunction with Watsonville’s Public Works Conservation Academy, for offering public tours of the region’s recycled water facility.


good idea



A two-day event at the Inner Light Ministries church will draw attention to juvenile incarceration. Sponsored by the Santa Cruz Warriors, “What’s Just” will be hosted by the Resource Center for Nonviolence, Barrios Unidos and Inner Light on Feb. 13-14. Nell Bernstein, author of the book “Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison”, will speak. Visit for more information.



“Cows are my passion.” — Charles Dickens


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