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Photograph by Sarah Phelan

Bank Shot: Can this river be saved? Find out May 8.


Mama Tried

Attention mothers and anyone who has a mother (that means you). Back in the day, long before Mother's Day became one big Hallmark Card of Fame moment, visionary Julia Ward Howe (who wrote the anti-slavery "Battle Hymn of the Republic") began Mother's Day for Peace as an antiwar holiday.

Horrified by the carnage of two wars, Howe suggested that mothers, as the natural allies of peace, could put an end to all wars.

"Why do not the mothers of mankind interfere in these matters, to prevent the waste of that human life of which they alone bear and know the cost?" asked Howe in 1872, as part of her proclamation.

Fast forward 231 years to May 11, 2003, and Women Rise for Global Peace is responding to Howe's call with a peace pole dedication ceremony in San Lorenzo Park, where a six-sided peace pole was planted on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2002. On each side of the pole, the phrase "May Peace Prevail on Earth" is written in the languages of Santa Cruz's sister cities, plus an Arabic version, too.

Apparently, this isn't the only peace pole in town. Four have popped up in the last six months (not counting a phallic bush or two on the West Side). Worldwide, 200,000 peace poles have popped up in 180 countries, since a Japanese man started the tradition in 1955 by planting one in Hiroshima.

"It's kind of like having beacons of light," says peace pole organizer Corrina McFarlane. "It wakes something up in people." Call 423.3612 for more information.

Looping Iraq

"History never repeats itself, but it does have certain curious loops," says author Antony Beevor, whose New York Times bestseller, The Fall of Berlin 1945, got people asking him to draw parallels between Berlin and Baghdad.

Beevor thinks France is a better parallel--and not because of the fries.

"Nobody has ever loved their liberators, especially if they've been humiliated, as the French were in 1940," says Beevor, who speaks with a formidable British accent as he predicts formidable tensions in postwar Iraq.

"The Iraqis will feel shame at what happened to their society. They'll also blame the U.S. for forcing such a public display of their dirty laundry. Creating a new national mythology won't be easy. And waging war with smart weapons and drones is seen as profoundly cowardly by the Arab world. So, while the humiliation in Iraq may make the Arab world go underground, smart bombs will be answered by suicide bombs in the coming asymmetrical Cold War."

Beevor reads at the Capitola Book Cafe, 7:30pm, on Thursday, May 8.

River Renaissance

"Why, after all these years, am I giving a talk titled "Can the San Lorenzo River Be Saved?" Because a whole lot of people still don't know about the river, and besides, it's still an open question," says Bruce Van Allen, who's been grappling with the San Lorenzo River for the past 30 years.

"Unlike a waterway in the wilderness, which can recover once the logging and trashing stop, this river's flood plain has been urbanized and inhabited, so any solution must encompass the reality of having buildings, roads, a little bit of logging in place. It must also address the question of how do we develop a culture in which the river is cherished by everyone," he says.

Van Allen kicks off the river's rebirth Thursday, May 8, at 6:30pm at the Del Mar Theatre, with a panel discussion titled "Bugs, Trees, Fish and People: Drinking From the San Lorenzo." His talk "Can the San Lorenzo River Be Saved?" will given at 6:30pm at the Del Mar, June 5. And don't forget the Museum of Art and History's "Time and the San Lorenzo River" and "El Rio/The River." Call 429.1964 for details.

Mental Health Summit

Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month? That Santa Cruz County Mental Health is cutting its budget 20 percent? That times are getting tougher for the mentally ill, especially those without health coverage?

"People with mental illness and without insurance often forego treatment and end up rotating through expensive emergency rooms, jails, or become homeless and living on our streets," says Mental Health Summit director Paula Comunelli, who is planning to bring stakeholders together this October 13-14 to design and deliver tangible improvements to our mental health care system.

A presummit meeting with Neal Adams, former SCC Mental Health director, happens Thursday, May 8, 5:30-7:30pm,. Community Room, Santa Cruz Police Department. Call 335.3378 or email [email protected].

B Is for Bottomless Pit?

A special election June 3 to vote on a parcel tax to save small classes and neighborhood schools has some people asking, but hey, didn't we just pass a measure in support of the schools? Yes, but who knew the state budget would be such a mess, says Measure B campaign manager Glen Schaller.

"The last parcel tax was intended to supplement existing funds for textbook purchase, art, music, counseling and libraries. What no one could predict was that there would be no other money, because of the state budget crisis."

Schaller says enrollment has been declining due to high housing costs, lost jobs, and fewer people having fewer kids and having them later.

"For whatever the reason, the school crisis is likely going to be an ongoing issue. Measure B is not a panacea, but it will give us five years of breathing room, so we can keep neighborhood schools going, with small classes and full-time principals."

Measure B will levy $6.75/month on all land owners (home and commercial) for 5 years, beginning July 1, and calls for independent community oversight and a senior (65 and over) exemption. Call 429.1609, or check out www.votescount.com.

Picture This

Nobody knows what killed the 44 southern sea otters that washed up dead on California beaches in April, but keeping the water clean for the remaining 2,000 otters, not to mention all the other critters, is clearly a top priority. So, get yourself down to Snapshot Day, a statewide volunteer water quality monitoring event May 17 to examine the quality of all freshwater flows entering the Pacific Ocean from Ensenada, Mexico, to the Oregon border.

"With water quality monitoring you really have to do it consistently and have a good database, so one day's worth of data is a snapshot, but it does get folks out into the watershed to raise awareness and it does provide indication that you need to follow up with more advance monitoring," says CWC board member Kaitlin Gaffney. Volunteers attend May 10 training. Call 476.6797.

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From the May 7-14, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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