There’s a story in our news section this week about the latest study of activity along the San Lorenzo River. As you’ll see, estimating how many people are using the riverwalk, and whether that number is trending upward, is complicated, but take a look at the data on how people are using it. There’s no doubt in my mind that the positive changes around that are because of the effort that the people behind Ebb and Flow have put into changing Santa Cruz residents’ minds about the river, and in some cases really opening their eyes to it for the first time. Ebb and Flow is a fun festival and a great art celebration, but underneath that, it’s also a source of healing for a part of our ecosystem that has been neglected and downright exploited for too long. There’s a quote in Brendan Bane’s cover story this week that really jumped out at me: “The river has a long history of insults and abuse.” It’s such a visceral way to think about how the San Lorenzo has been treated for the last century and a half. It also makes it easier to understand that part of the healing that needs to be done is psychological, which is why not only the festival itself but also the incredible educational effort that Ebb and Flow organizers have made around the river is so important.
The other part, of course, is physical, and as more and more attention has been given to the river over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed that people are more interested in the science of the San Lorenzo. This story is the best dig into the details of its recovery and the challenges it still faces that I’ve read. Here’s hoping this year’s Ebb and Flow sees even more locals discovering this fascinating other world right in their backyard.
STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Letters to the Editor
Re: “Point of Return” (GT, 5/24): The proposed development of San Lorenzo Point has some worthwhile elements, but is overdone. This corner of Seabright State Beach has a craggy bluff with stunning views of the beach, river, ocean, and Boardwalk. The article states that one of the proponents “would love to pave over the cliff and put some kind of retaining wall around it.” This is too much. I think, like some of the other neighbors, that this much construction, especially going all the way out to the point, is out of keeping with the rawness of the place. Any development should enhance safe access to the entry area and honor the unique history of surfing here, all the while being as unobtrusive as possible: improvements in the entryway to address the muddy, uneven walkway; sit places; a surfer plaque; possibly one stairway to the beach; and native plants to replace the non-native invasives.
Jeb Bishop | Santa Cruz
Poverty and Reality
Until a recent encounter with a homeless census taker at a Food Not Bombs feeding, my general formula for homeless abject poverty was: for one third of the homeless, it’s a lifestyle choice, one third are mentally ill and one third have no safety net. It was expressed to me that the reality as indicated by recent surveys in California is 60 to 70 percent of those experiencing homeless abject poverty are mentally ill.
It is rather ludicrous that these folks can be expected to show up for work on time, let alone function rationally. Homeless abject poverty cries out for immediate remediation, not chain gangs and other forms of applying “Biblical principles” like Proverbs 26:3 literally: “A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back.”
The inherited wealthy are, of course, excluded. Indeed, back to the Bible, 2 Thessalonians 3:10: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” Now, we all know this tenet of the true faith is preached religiously from every pulpit to the American inherited uber-rich in 2017, just like opposition to fugitive slave laws was preached fervently by Southern Baptist ministers in the antebellum American South.
But hey, like Sinclair Lewis says in his 1927 masterpiece Elmer Gantry about the Bible, we’ll just have to buckle down and “reconcile contradictions.”
Bob Lamonica | Santa Cruz
I had the pleasure of meeting Pete last summer at Wellstone. He was humble and gracious. After we participated in open mic, I was fortunate enough to exchange pleasantries with Pete, and—as so many others had—encourage him to share his works with the world. Listening and talking to Pete was akin to having an encounter with the most beautiful yet flawed of what humankind has to offer. Someone honest enough to share his fears and discomforts about the human condition is truly an anomaly in this narcissistic/detached world. With so few people like Pete around, I am truly happy to have been in the right place, at the right time to have met one of the least and best of us. Farewell Pete.
— Felton Foushee