I was very blessed, as a nomad, to have a home for a week, in the radiant city of Santa Cruz, California, population 63,000, on the tumultuous Pacific Ocean, between San Francisco and Monterey.
Following the Mexican–American War of 1846–48, California became the 31st state in 1850. Important early industries in Santa Cruz included lumber, gunpowder, lime and agriculture. Late in the 19th century, Santa Cruz established itself as a beach resort community.
I stayed with the best hosts ever, in all my world travels, the daughter of a dear friend, who passed away in the spring, and her Mexican partner. It was lovely to explore the area with them and to be made at home in such a generous and kind manner. I enjoyed hearing them speak Spanish, as they are bilingual translators, getting me ready for my 5 months in Mexico and Costa Rica, which start next week. I delighted in exploring the beauties to be seen and to be reminded of glorious Mediterranean cities, which I had visited in Europe.
I breathed in the bracing salty air, which seems so healing after the time spent in larger California cities. It felt good after the symptoms of cedar and other allergies of Austin, Texas, which seem to appear in many people, including myself, after, I was told, usually 3 years of living in Austin. My male host had lived in Austin, graduating from UT Austin. He had debilitating allergies there, which were completely alleviated by moving to Santa Cruz.
I had planned to write on the dance community of Santa Cruz. I went to their ecstatic dance group one morning and had planned to dance at Moe’s Blues club and to take a Brazilian-African dance class at the 418 dance hall, but there was too much to see outdoors. I used my energy observing the surfing community, of which my hosts were members, and traveling down the coast to Big Sur and to see the Redwoods and going out onto the Pacific on a huge sailboat, which was a huge challenge to this landlubber.
Santa Cruz is situated on the northern edge of Monterey Bay, about 75 miles south of San Francisco, and is known for its moderate climate, the natural beauty of its coastline, redwood forests, alternative community lifestyles, and socially liberal leanings. In 1998, the Santa Cruz community declared itself a Nuclear-free zone, and in 2003 the Santa Cruz City Council became the first City Council in the U.S. to denounce the Iraq War. The City Council of Santa Cruz also issued a proclamation opposing the USA Patriot Act.
Santa Cruz is home to the University of California, Santa Cruz, a premier research institution and educational hub, as well as the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, an oceanfront amusement park operating continuously since 1907.
As a center of liberal and progressive activism, Santa Cruz became one of the first cities to approve marijuana for medicinal uses. In 1992, residents overwhelmingly approved Measure A, which allowed for the medicinal uses of marijuana. Santa Cruz was home to the second above-ground medical marijuana club in the world when the Santa Cruz Cannabis Buyers Club opened its doors in April 1995. Santa Cruz also became one of the first cities in California to test the state’s medical marijuana laws in court after the arrest of the founders of the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana, by the DEA. The case was ruled in favor of the growers. In 2005, the Santa Cruz City Council established a city government office to assist residents with obtaining medical marijuana.On November 7, 2006, the voters of Santa Cruz passed Measure K by a vote of 64–36 percent. Measure K made adult non-medical cannabis offenses the lowest priority for law enforcement; this does not apply to cultivation, distribution, sale in public, sale to minors, or driving under the influence. The measure requests the Santa Cruz city clerk send letters annually to state and federal representatives advocating reform of cannabis laws.
There is a huge, consistent Feminist movement focusing on the issue of violence against women and also protesting beauty contests, “the objectification of women and the glorification of the beauty myth.” It is not a good city for a certain presidential candidate, who will remain unnamed.
The present principal industries of Santa Cruz are agriculture, tourism, education and high technology. Santa Cruz is a center of the organic agriculture movement, and many specialty products as well as housing the headquarters of California Certified Organic Farmers. I missed going to the Farmers Market, one of my favorite excursions, which was on a Wednesday, because I was traveling to Santa Cruz on Wednesday and traveling back from Santa Cruz to San Francisco on the following Wednesday.
Santa Cruz was hard hit by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. It was also hit by ocean surges caused by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, wherein the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor sustained an estimated $10 million of damage, with another $4 million of damage to docked boats there.
There are many landmarks on the National Register of Historic Places, which I plan to visit when I return someday to Santa Cruz, but my house sitting job in San Francisco beckoned, and I returned yesterday to this welcome responsibility, which includes daily distribution of donated food to the homeless on the streets. Please join me at the Golden Gate Bridge and at other sites that I missed on my first and recent visit to San Francisco…..