Green Your Back-To-School Shopping

Published online on Sierra magazine’s Green Life blog, September 10, 2013

Green Your Back-To-School Shopping

Back-to-school shopping can be a serious undertaking, as anyone who’s dragged a middle schooler through a department store knows. If everyone else in the class is going to be wearing [insert trend here], you don’t want your poor little fashionista ostracized for being sartorially lacking. But in addition to being a serious battle of wills between you and your child, back-to-school shopping can be expensive: Americans spent $8.5 billion at family clothing stores last August, according to the U.S. Census. Avoid the cost and make back-to-school shopping (slightly) more fun with these tips for greening your child’s new wardrobe.

Go thrifting. Hand-me-downs are only a bad thing if they come from an older sibling with questionable taste. “Vintage” is still a magic word for hipster teens, and younger kids with character might enjoy the treasure hunt presented by your local Goodwill. Come prepared with your child’s sizes memorized and the energy to hunt through the racks for hidden gems, and the ultimate find: clean, popular label, and with the tags still on!

Shop secondhand online. If sorting through the racks isn’t your thing, you can let someone else do the hunting for you. Websites like Schoola Stitch sell clean and well-preserved used children’s clothes for a fraction of their retail price.

“There is certainly a negative ecological impact bringing new merchandise to the marketplace to consider [when back-to-school shopping],” says Schoola Stitch CEO Stacey Boyd. “Chemicals used to grow or make cotton and synthetic materials as well as other resources that are depleted in the process leave a pollution footprint we can’t ignore.” 

The best part? Buying used online doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up on shopping to benefit a cause; Schoola Stitch donates a percentage of what they make on each item to the school of its original owner’s choice.

Sew it yourself. Call up your old home ec skills and alter old or pre-worn clothes to better fit those little troublemakers who insist on growing like weeds. Turn it into bonding time (or prepare to outsource this chore) by taking a parent-and-child sewing class, offered by a number of craft stores and specialty sewing shops throughout the U.S. 

Shop new, sustainably. Look for clothing made from sustainable materials like bamboo, organic cotton, or hemp. Many online retailers sell children’s clothing made from organic materials, though they can be pricey. Some larger retailers like Hanna Andersson sell organic options and have stores throughout the U.S., which cuts out the cost and environmental impact of shipping. Carefully choosing timeless pieces that won’t soon go out of style can also help you get your money’s worth. 

While a trip to the mall may sound easier, shopping green for children’s clothes is worth the effort: according to the Organic Trade Association, it can take almost 1/3 of a pound of synthetic fertilizers to grow the cotton needed to produce one T-shirt. 

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4 Unique Picks for National Honey Month

Published online on Sierra magazine’s Green Life blog, September 9, 2013

4 Unique Picks for National Honey Month

For as long as we’ve been preparing food, humans have been using honey. It has become a dietary staple all over the world, eaten on its own for a quick energy boost, and used as an ingredient in everything from sweet teas to insect kabob marinades. But not all honey is created equal. If your go-to honey comes in a generic bear-shaped bottle, it’s time to branch out and try one the 300 different varieties available in the U.S. From the dark and robust to the light and mild, we’ve rounded up four unique and eco-friendly brands to try this September to celebrate National Honey Month.

Rare Hawaiian Great White Honey isn’t actually made from sharks, but it is probably the most badass thing you will ever put in your tea. Who doesn’t want the opportunity to say they just added some shark honey to their sleepytime brew? Dr. Michael Domeier, Rare Hawaiian Honey Company owner and white shark researcher, is celebrating Hawaii’s few great white sharks with a special release of the island’s equally rare Kiawe honey. Added bonus: the company has pledged to donate 10% of the proceeds from the sale of their Great White Honey to shark research. If you aren’t feeling brave enough to tackle the Great White, try one of their other unusual options, like the Organic Sunset Kiawe Honey, named for the unique color and citrus-y taste of the honey produced at the end of the Kiawe tree blooming season. $15 – $21, 

Madhava Organic Very Raw Honey is entirely unfiltered, raw honey that hails all the way from the wildflower fields of Brazil, where the company works with local farmers to harvest the goods. If you need an incentive to try this sweet treat, throughout 2013 for every jar of their organic honey to sold, Madhava will donate ten cents to non-profit organizations working to save bees. Check their website to find Madhava products in a store near you. MSRP: $10.99 – $11.49,

Y.S. Eco Bee Farms offer a number of different unpasteurized and unfiltered options for the honey-curious. Branch out a little with their cinnamon or pomegranate-infused Gourmet Specialty Raw honeys, or go basic with Certified Organic Raw Honey. Y.S. Eco Bee Farms products are sold by a number of retailers online, and in most health food stores. $5 – $13,

Royal Hawaiian Honey products are single-source, organic, and varietal. Royal Hawaiian also advertises their products as the first America’s first certified Carbonfree™ food product, meaning “all carbon emissions generated in the production and shipping of our honeys are calculated and off-set by investing in reforestation, renewable energy, and energy efficiency projects.” They pay close attention to the eco-impact of their packaging, purchasing most materials in the U.S. to cut down on overseas shipping and selling their honeys in entirely recyclable jars labeled with soy-based ink. Try the Organic Lehua Honey for its sweet, butterscotch taste, or the Organic Christmas Berry for a slightly spicy kick. $11.50 for a 12-ounce jar, $17 for a 44-ounce tub,

To find these or other organic honeys for sale near you, check out

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5 Steps to a Bee-Friendly Garden

Published online on Sierra magazine’s Green Life blog, September 3, 2013

5 Steps to a Bee-Friendly Garden

Bugged by aphids in your garden? Spray them with garlic oil. Overrun by slugs? Eggshells will do the trick. Most experienced gardeners know the ins and outs of pest control, and avoid using conventional insecticides that can be toxic to the wildlife in their gardens. But even the environmentally aware may have been caught off guard by the recent news that supposedly bee-friendly plants purchased at big-name hardware stores can come pre-treated with chemicals believed to be fatal to bees. As more and more research linking colony collapse disorder to pesticides use comes out, it’s more important than ever to look out for the bees in our own backyards. Here are some tips for keeping your garden bee-safe:Know your plants. Choose what to grow based on your local environment and begin to prevent infestation even before you plant. Research which plants fare best in your area and in soil conditions, and carefully monitor plant health so you’ll recognize signs of infestation later on.Buy organicBegin with untreated seeds or organic plant starts, and plant them in organic soil. Ask around for a trusted neighborhood nursery or seek out suppliers who have demonstrated a commitment to growing organic. Keep an eye out for providers who’ve signed the Safe Seed Pledge.Know your pest. Learning to recognize your pests is an essential first step in eco-friendly gardening, as you can target your attention on the uninvited guests and keep your essential predators safe. To get a closer look at what you’re dealing with, post sticky cards in your garden to trap a few of your pests.

Be pesticide-free. “In a backyard situation, pest insect problems hardly ever become so overwhelming that a pesticide is required,” says Dr. Eric Mussen, UC Davis apiculturist and honey bee expert. “There normally is some physical way to detach the insects from the plants — picking, dousing with a hose, etc. We have simply become too used to squirting our problems away with toxic chemicals.” The internet is full of safe and chemical-free solutions, from using organic items that naturally repel certain insects to planting trap crops to lure pests away from the threatened plant.

Know your natural predators. It pays to know who’s on your side. Most people know ladybugs can be counted on to take out aphids, but plenty of bugs have a whole host of enemies out to get them. Parasitic natural predators contribute a lot to pest management, says Dr. Andrew Sutherland, Urban Integrated Pest Management advisor to the San Francisco Bay Area. In the right numbers and conditions, insects like lacewings and parasitic wasps can provide great pest control, but only if you provide them the resources they need to survive. Make sure your garden has enough flowers to keep your pollinators happy and healthy, recommends Dr. Sutherland, and you’ll have a tiny pest-control army.

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Love the Ones You’re With

Originally published in print and online at City on a Hill Press February 10, 2011

Polyamory, or relationships with multiple consenting partners, attracts a high profile 

Love the Ones You’re With

Republished with permission

Dawn Davidson doesn’t live her life by Disney standards.

When you have more than one Prince Charming, fairy-tale clichés go out the window.

“In our culture, the only acceptable, long-term relationship style is monogamy,” said Davidson, a relationship coach and veteran in the polyamory community. “We’re taught that literally from childhood. What happens when the prince rescues the princess? They ride off into the sunset, and they live happily ever after. Just the two of them. Except she leaves behind her seven vertically-challenged, very hard-working housemates.”

Davidson laughs at this allusion and continues, “That seems like it might be kind of a light example, but it’s just the beginning.”

Davidson is one of the estimated half a million Americans who identify as polyamorous, meaning they carry on romantic relationships with two or more individuals simultaneously. As of 2005, there were an estimated 2,000 poly people residing in the San Francisco Bay Area. In Santa Cruz alone, 238 people participate in an online group that meets regularly to discuss polyamory.

In recent years these numbers have received significant media attention — notably, Newsweek described polyamory as “the next sexual revolution.” Poly books such as “The Ethical Slut,” by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy, have achieved mainstream success, bringing new faces to poly community groups in large cities throughout the country. As polls show younger generations growing more accepting of all lifestyles and non-hetero-normative relationships are in and out of federal courtrooms, polyamory is becoming more high-profile.

The poly community has received some negative attention. Conservative groups like Focus on the Family have publicly denounced polyamory as immoral, and a threat to the current federal marriage laws. A pamphlet released by the Family Research Council describes a polyamorous home as “a frat house with revolving doors.”

“This nebulous, free-for-all model of the family looms ahead for our society unless a bulwark is created in the form of a constitutional amendment protecting marriage,” according to the pamphlet.

Davidson said people in polyamorous relationships have similar motivations as those in monogamous ones, and they face similar challenges, just in greater numbers. As the number of members within a relationship increases, so does the potential for common dating and familial problems.

“Socially, it’s very similar,” she said. “We still have to negotiate around who gets to see whom, Thanksgiving and Christmas, ‘Are we driving to so-and-so’s this year? Are we getting together, and is there a big enough place to hold us all?’ It’s not an uncommon discussion. It’s just in a very different context.”

Many conservative groups wouldn’t agree with Davidson. Publications on the Family Research Council website warn that “the rising polyamorous culture is out to get your children.” Stigmas like this drive many poly people to keep their relationships relatively private.

Santa Cruz County resident Steve Jones* said he is openly polyamorous around his friends, but he chose to remain anonymous in this story to avoid becoming the subject of “malicious gossip.”

“If I’m close enough to people to talk about dating, then they probably know,” he said. “If we just have a business relationship and don’t talk about personal stuff, then I’m not going to talk about that any more than anything else that’s personal.”

The roots of polyamory, originally referred to as “responsible” or “ethical” non-monogamy, can be traced back to the 19th century. The term was not used with its contemporary meaning until 1990 and was not included in the Oxford English Dictionary until 2009. In the early ’90s, prominent figures in several poly communities used the Internet, which was still in its infancy, to organize networks of poly people and create resources for people interested in consensual non-monogamy.

Though Davidson has been in polyamorous relationships for more than 30 years, she “didn’t have a name to put on it” until the mid ’90s, she said. Since then, she has married, had children and become a prominent figure in the Bay Area polyamory community. Davidson also teaches classes for the local poly community at Pure Pleasure, an adult store located in downtown Santa Cruz.

Polyamorous relationships are not unlike monogamous ones, Davidson said.

“A lot of families are doing polyamory-style relating,” she said. “We just call it divorce and remarriage. There are a lot of people who have two moms and two dads.”

As the number of people in the relationship increases, so does the potential for common dating and familial problems, Davidson said.

“We tend to have more relationships, so the opportunity for all kinds of feelings comes up more in terms of sheer numbers,” Davidson said.

Jealousy is a common concern of people outside the community. But the issue is less common than many think, she said.

“I would actually say that the context of monogamy tends to generate some really strong jealousy behaviors,” Davidson said. “Again, it’s condoned and even supported by our culture — ‘A real man will protect his woman’ kind of thing, and it gets into that patriarchal property kind of stuff. Or conversely, you’ll hear about women using jealousy to get their man to pay more attention to them. It’s my take on it that at least the ideals of the polyamorous community, based on openness and honesty, everybody really has to be on board with what’s going on.”

Having multiple partners is common among people who identify as monogamous as well. “Open relationships” and “friends with benefits” arrangements remain common, as does infidelity. A recent study at Oregon State University of 434 young heterosexual couples found that, even among those with an explicit agreement to be monogamous, almost 30 percent had broken the agreement, with at least one partner having had sex outside the relationship.

While some might assume polyamory and cheating are the same, members of the poly community are quick to differentiate between the two.

Polyamorous relationships usually include primary and secondary partners. Primary partners often function in a spousal role, and there is less expectation for serious commitment and partnership in secondary relationships.

“A lot of men cheat — and a lot of women do too — but they sneak around, and that’s not what polyamory is all about,” said Santa Cruz County resident and polyamorist Pat Smith*. “If you really want somebody in your life, you need to work it out with your primary partner. Quite honestly, if you look at the original tenants of polyamory, the primary partner gets a veto. If this doesn’t work for them or they’re threatened in any way, you shouldn’t go there. They have to accept what’s going on. If they don’t … it’s considered cheating, to me.”

The differences between what some poly people see as undefined polyamory in monogamous relationships and open polyamory in multi-person partnerships can come down to semantics.

“There are a lot of cases where two people, often close friends, have mutual attraction but don’t act on it because of their agreement of monogamy with their primary relationship,” Larry Colen, a Santa Cruz County resident and long-time polyamorist, said in an e-mail. “These people are often lovers in everything but the sexual consummation. Since polyamory is, in theory, more about the emotional attachment rather than the physical expression, one could argue that these are, in reality, polyamorous relationships.”

Davidson says mainstream reluctance to accept polyamory is because of societal pressure.

“A lot of people just don’t realize it could be called that,” she said. “We have a really strong monogamous cultural assumption.”

While many people interested in polyamory seek out local and online groups, Jones guesses there are many more people who are not active in the community. These unaccounted-for polyamorists may fly under the official radar simply because they do not consider their relationships polyamorous.

“I know a lot of people of a younger generation who just don’t identify it as polyamory,” Davidson said. “But if you ask them if they are monogamous, they’d say no. They might call it responsible non-monogamy. They might call it open relationships … One group I used to know used to say their relationships are ‘in the flow.’”


Republished with permission

People within the community say the term “polyamory” encompasses many different approaches to non-monogamy.

“In the poly community you’ll find everything from people having a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ arrangement, where it is OK to have other relationships as long as you don’t talk about it,” Jones said. “That’s on one extreme. The other extreme would be a group marriage, where you have people living together and pooling their resources and doing all of the things that a family does together.”

Jones and his wife are friendly with each other’s partners and discuss their relationships, he said, but their relationships are separate. They only have two people in their marriage, he said.

While every relationship is unique, the poly community has terminology to distinguish between the more common types of polyamorous relationships. Relationships can be primary, secondary and casual. A primary relationship is mostly comparable to a traditional monogamous relationship and may be prioritized over secondary relationships.

“Often, people will only have one primary relationship, and that person takes priority,” Colen said. “A secondary relationship is very important to the person but usually not the person you live with. A long-term mistress could be a classic example of a secondary relationship.”

Smith and her husband have been in polyamorous relationships since they moved to California more than 30 years ago. Both had been previously married, and monogamy had not worked, she said. After listening to a lecture by polyamorist author Deborah Anapol, Smith and her husband began to consider multiple partners.

“We kind of looked at each other and thought, ‘That might work,’” she said. “It wasn’t about sleeping around — it was about needing more in a relationship. Not everybody can give everybody everything. And we had tried to work within the paradigm we were raised to acknowledge, [and] it wasn’t working.”

Smith is open about her relationships to her friends and family, and while she has received much support, she acknowledges that her traditionally-minded relatives do not understand her lifestyle.

“My sister is still married to the first man she ever went to bed with, and she doesn’t want to castigate me, but I’m sure she thinks I’m awful,” she said with a laugh. “They sort of consider me the batty aunt.”

Though polyamory may not be mainstream, the community is not small.

Pure Pleasure co-owner Janis Baldwin said Davidson’s classes have met a need for many Santa Cruzans, who used to drive to San Francisco for poly classes and resources.

“No one was teaching classes like that,” Smith said of Davidson’s poly workshops. “The last class was standing-room only.”

Davidson teaches Polamory 101, which is intended to be an introduction to polyamory. Participants learn definitions and terminology, and discuss basic issues that do and do not work in polyamorous relationships, like the importance of time management and how to deal with jealousy.

Amy Baldwin, who owns the store with her mother, said there is “definitely” a large poly community in Santa Cruz that utilizes this resource.

“Some people come who have been in poly relationships for years, and others are just dabbling in [polyamory],” Amy said. “Everyone leaves with something different.”

One of the most important things to take away from investigating polyamory, Davidson said, is that love is the same, regardless of how many people are involved.

“Honestly, poly relationships are just relationships,” she said. “We just have more of them.”

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John Muir Trail Hike Raises Funds for Student Aid

Published online on Sierra magazine’s Explore blog, September 25, 2013

John Muir Trail Hike Raises Funds for Student Aid

As the weary hikers rested under the trees after a long day on the John Muir Trail, Pitzer College philosophy professor Brian Keeley read from Jack Kerouac’s account of climbing Matterhorn Peak: “In no time at all it was two o’clock in the afternoon and the sun was getting that later more golden look and a wind was rising and I began to think ‘By gosh how we ever gonna climb that mountain, tonight?'”

Like Kerouac, the hikers in Pitzer College’s John Muir Trail hiking group faced a daunting challenge: to traverse 230 miles on the John Muir Trail in just 27 days. In July, college President Laura Skandera Trombley was joined by several current students, Professor Keeley, a parent of a Pitzer undergrad, and two alumnae in celebrating the school’s 50th anniversary with a hike to raise funds for student aid. The hikers, who were chosen by lottery, raised nearly $55,000 for first generation scholars awarded the John Skandera Memorial Endowed Scholarship, established by Trombley last year in memory of her father.

“My father had a great love of nature, and I thought, ‘Well, I’ll hike to pay homage to him and raise funds for financial aid,'” said Trombley. “It seemed to make a great deal of sense.”

The scholarship honors the life of Trombley’s father John Skandera, an elementary school teacher who passed away in 2010. This year two students were selected to receive the scholarship, funded in part by the sponsored hike. Donors made both one-time contributions and per-mile sponsorshipsTrombley, who’d hiked portions of the trail herself in college, proposed the trip to two students who organized the hike.”They loved it and asked if I’d be willing to join them,” Trombley said. “With little hesitation or thought I said ‘sure.’”

The group suffered their share of setbacks, including the theft in the night of a hiker’s boot by wild animals (some thick socks and another hiker’s tennis shoes made for a quick fix until the next supply checkpoint), and an ankle injury that resulted in a 16-mile pack mule ride to medical care. But despite the occasional hardship, the trip left a lasting impression on the hikers.

“It’s spectacularly beautiful,” said Pitzer alum Lisa Gellar, ’76. “My log, every day, just said ‘unbelievably beautiful.’”

In the evenings after dinner the hikers took turns reading aloud from their “library,” several accounts of similar hikes by literary greats, including Kerouac’s Dharma Bums and some of Muir’s own writing.

“To be reading about [John Muir’s] descriptions of the same mountains we were in while we were there, I was struck by how similar they were, the plants and animals and the views,” Keeley said. “The physical environment hasn’t changed much.”

Undergraduate student Lisa Hirata, ’16, remembers the moment Muir’s words began to ring true to her own experience.

“At first I didn’t relate at all, but your priorities in that first week really change, from ‘I’m so dirty, I need a shower, I wonder what’s going on in the outside world’ to really feeling comfortable in the outdoors,” she said. “[After reading Muir’s work] you think ‘yeah, my feet really hurt,’ but it helps to hear how in love with the land he is, how at home he is in nature.”

The trip was such a success, both for the participants and for the scholarship fund, that Trombley says they’re considering a second hike next year.

Professor Keeley remembers people were eager to support the hikers when they learned of the trip’s good cause.

“[The scholarship] opened a lot of doors for us,” Keeley said. “If we were talking to people and trying to get information or help with something, when they heard that we were doing this for first-gen college students there were people we ran into who said ‘I was a first-gen college student’ or ‘My parents were.’ They really liked that the president of a college was out doing this kind of thing for students and future students.”

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Have a ball at Black & White party

Published in print and online at The Auburn Journal August 27, 2009

The Auburn Chamber of Commerce is prepared to send summer off in style this weekend with a Black & White Ball that won’t disappoint. Things were busy at the Chamber on Thursday, where volunteer coordinator Britney Milbury said tickets sales were going strong.

“There’s a constant line of people buying tickets,” she said. “It hasn’t died down. There are a lot of people wanting to come.”

For those who have yet to purchase a ticket there’s still time left. Milbury said tickets will be available at the Chamber offices and at the Gold Country Fairgrounds until the gates open at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday. However, she says that there will be long lines at the gates, and advises those who are interested in attending to come by the Chamber.

If you already have your ticket, don’t forget to reserve a campsite, if you want to spend the entire night. Fairground camping CALSTAR is renting the baseball field above the fairgrounds to allow for free tent camping. Registration begins at 4:30 p.m. Saturday and closes at 8:30 p.m.

Sonja Vargas, a CALSTAR representative, said interest is high for the ball’s first year of offering a camping option.

“I’m getting a lot of calls and e-mails (about the campgrounds) and I do expect a good turnout,” Vargas said. “Everyone is very excited that this is an option this year.

Camping is one way partiers can avoid a driving under the influence arrest Saturday night. The seven law enforcement agencies that are part of the Placer County “AVOID the 7” program, funded by the Office of Traffic Safety, will saturate the Auburn area Saturday. Two officers from each agency will patrol Auburn between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m., according to Richard Blanco, DUI officer with the Auburn Police Department and Placer “AVOID the 7” coordinator.

“We’re not out there to ruin anybody’s fun, we’re out there to educate and enforce,” Blanco said. “For those people who are drinking and driving, this gets them off the road.”

Public transportation If camping is not an option, there are other ways to stay off the road after drinking alcohol. Ball organizers have contracted with the city of Auburn transportation department to provide two shuttle buses that will make a continuous loop from the fairgrounds to Auburn area hotels. There are also local taxicab services.

Additionally, ball attendees who tell volunteers that they are a designated driver will receive a special wristband that entitles them to free bottled water and two free soft drinks for the night. Blanco advised designated drivers to remain alcohol-free for the evening.

“If you’re going to have a designated driver, it doesn’t mean the designated driver can have just one,” Blanco said. “It means the designated driver should have none.”

The ball, now in it’s 18th year, will feature a handful of different bands and food from a plethora of local restaurants. Come dressed in black and white or in costume in line with this year’s theme, “Summer Nights.”

“A majority of people wear black and white,” said Bruce Cosgrove, Auburn Chamber CEO. “But we get a percentage that come in costume, which is great because it adds to the show, making it all that much more fun.”

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This Year in Santa Cruz News

Originally published in print and online at City on a Hill Press June 3, 2010

Smoking Ban

On Sept. 8, the Santa Cruz City Council voted unanimously to pass a public smoking ban, which prohibited smoking on Pacific Avenue, Beach Street, and West Cliff Drive, as well as within 25 feet of any door or window of city buildings open to the public. The ban went into effect on Oct. 20, and after a one-month grace period, anyone caught smoking in restricted areas was presented with a $25 citation. Two months later, the city of Santa Cruz got a “D” for the year of 2009 from the American Lung Association for overall efforts to control tobacco…

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This Week In News: UCSC Faces $31 Million Cut

Originally published in print and online at City on a Hill Press Feb. 10, 2011

The university will need to cut $19 million from the current 2011–2012 budget, executive vice chancellor Alison Galloway announced in an e-mail to the campus community on Feb. 7.

The University of California will face a $500 million budget cut under Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget. Galloway estimates UC Santa Cruz’s share will be about 6 percent, or
$31 million.

UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC Davis will all contend with larger cuts. UCLA faces the largest shortfall, at $99 million, with UC Berkeley and UC Davis close behind at roughly $80 and $70 million, respectively.

Last year, the university made permanent cuts rather than relying on temporary funds, which decreased the actual shortfall UCSC will face to $19 million.

“The [$31 million] cut is roughly equivalent to cutting the entire division of physical sciences,” Galloway said.

Though no specific program cuts have been made, preliminary cuts have been assigned by division. The academic divisions face 6 percent cuts, and all other units have been asked to make 16 percent reductions.

These numbers may change, pending the outcome of Brown’s proposal to extend current personal income and sales taxes for five years. If the measure does not make it on the ballot or is not passed by voters, Galloway said, the UC will face larger cuts…

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Student Government Ready to Put Goals into Action

Originally published in print and online at City on a Hill Press Oct. 14, 2010

Guide to this year’s officers of Student Union Assembly

While most students were moving in and attending day keggers during welcome week, Natan Tietz was recruiting students for the SUA. His mission: filling all of the SUA committee positions on campus.

“There are all these committees that students can serve on to create change,” Tietz said. “But they have never all been filled. Often they are vacant because no one knows about them. I am going to work hard on this all year so that crucial decisions that are made on this campus have input from student voice…”

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Chancellor Addresses UC’s Future with Student Media

Originally published in print and online at City on a Hill Press Oct. 14, 2010

Republished with permission

City on a Hill Press: What went into the decision to appoint Allison Galloway as our new EVC?

Blumenthal: I really feel very, very lucky, because at the same time last year that we were doing our EVC search, several other campuses were doing EVC searches as well. Some of them were unable to complete their EVC search and make an appointment. I had four outstanding finalist candidates, any of whom could’ve stepped into that position. But in choosing Allison, I was motivated by the fact that she is very committed to the campus. She understands the campus well, and she really has demonstrated her ability to administer programs … I think Allison brings the whole package, and because we worked together in a variety of different capacities over the years I thought that we would work well. And lastly Allison isn’t afraid to tell me when I’m wrong…

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Preparations Gear Up for School Year

Published in print and online at The Auburn Journal August 17, 2009

Mapping Out the Semester: Preparations Gear Up for School Year

Local students are in the final stretch of summer as teachers and parents get ready for the return to school.

Classes begin at most Auburn-area schools this week, which means the next few days will be full of preparation, at home and in the classroom.

E.V. Cain Middle School teacher Olivia Conn has her classroom just about ready for a new group of seventh-graders.

“I’m really looking forward to the school year,” she said. “I’ve been here all week preparing.”

In addition to getting her classroom ready, Conn has been busy setting up a class Web site. This will be a lifesaver for many parents who will find it easier to keep up on their children’s classroom activities…

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Are You Ready to Head Back to Class?

Originally published in print and online at The Auburn Journal August 9, 2009

Are you ready to head back to class? - Aug. 9 copy

Yep, it’s summer, and as twisted as it sounds, that should mean back-to-school prep for parents to avoid the inevitable nervous breakdown that comes with waiting until the last minute on absolutely everything.

Don’t spoil your family’s fun in the sun by stressing out on break, but give up the notion that you can tick off your long list of school lead-up chores the week before the start of a new academic year.

“Parents enjoy the summer, too, and they don’t want to think about school,” said Stephanie Vozza, founder of and a mother of two school-age boys in Rochester, Mich.

“Your head isn’t there yet, but so many little things over the summer can make a huge difference.”

Here’s a checklist for tending to back-to-school tasks without summer buzzkill…

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Rotary Barbecue is Grill’s Night Out to Benefit Local Organizations

Originally published in print and online at The Auburn Journal Sept. 14, 2009

Rotary barbecue is grill's night out to benefit local organizations - Sept. 14 copyIf you’re looking to help out the community, attending the Auburn Rotary Club annual barbecue might be the most fun you’ll ever have giving back.

Proceeds from the benefit dinner-auction will go to local charities including the PlacerArts Council, student scholarships, Project Auburn, Boy Scouts, Little League, and the Peace for Families holiday dinner.

For dinner, Auburn’s Rotary Club will be barbecuing salmon, chicken, baby back ribs, and tri-tip. Cocktails and dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m. Meals are included with the purchase of a ticket, which you can buy at the door or ahead of time from any Rotarian.

Attendees can also bid in a silent auction or test their luck in a raffle. Raffle prizes and auction items up for grabs include a weekend trip to the coast, a week in Squaw Valley, Southwest Airlines tickets, and oriental rugs…

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Auburn Churches Extend Helping Hand for Victims of 49 Fire

Originally published in print and online at The Auburn Journal Sept. 8, 2009

This past week, many Auburn residents lost everything in the 49 Fire. Fortunately, local churches are working to help them get it all back.

Several churches are collecting food and clothing, though many take these donations to the Salvation Army and Red Cross and advise those looking to help drop off contributions directly with either group.

However, many places of worship have specific plans for helping fire victims.

At Bayside Auburn Church, Cheryl Brown, associate minister of impact ministries, had a long list of ways to help on Thursday.

“We have been involved from the get-go,” she said. “Our pastor offered the church as a place for evacuees to stay, and then we organized our church community to have a meeting.”

At the meeting, the congregation came together to decide where they could do the most good. One of the church’s small groups organized a “donation tree,” keeping a master list of items donated to the church.

Brown says that the county’s assistance center will be giving the church’s name to those seeking donations, and the small group will match up the need with the “donation tree.”

Brown also said they will be sponsoring a benefit concert organized by the group Speak With Love on Sept. 26.

The group is still looking for a venue to accommodate the large crowd they anticipate, Brown said. All proceeds of the event will go to the Red Cross and Salvation Army.

That evening from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the church’s Nevada Street location, they will host Hopequest, a time of prayer for the community and fire victims.

“It’s kind of a holistic day,” Brown said. “You can hear music, donate money, your time as a volunteer, or clothes, and then you can come in the evening for prayer…”

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