Bonnie Lipscomb, Ruby Vasquez, Ryan Coonerty, Bella Bonner
Wednesday’s “21 for ’21" panelists: Top row, from left: Bonnie Lipscomb, Ruby Vasquez. Bottom row, from left: Ryan Coonerty, Bella Bonner
(Images by Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz. Image of Coonerty from public Facebook profile)
Recovery & Reopening

WATCH: 21 for ’21 event delves into where we’re headed as new year approaches

“We’ve got more crises to come, and we need to build our communities in ways that absorb the shocks — and maybe even benefit from those disruptions,” said County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty, one of the panelists.

Four key community leaders reflected on the lessons of 2020, and looked ahead to the promise and peril of the year to come, in a free Lookout virtual event Wednesday evening.

The “What Now? What Next?” forum, co-presented with Event Santa Cruz, was an extension of Lookout’s 21 for ’21 series, which is profiling 21 people who’ve made a difference throughout Santa Cruz County this year and will continue to do so in the next. Activist Esabella Bonner, Santa Cruz County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty, city economic director Bonnie Lipscomb, and Ruby Vasquez of the Campesino Appreciation caravan spent the hour chatting with Lookout City Life Correspondent and columnist Wallace Baine.

Bonner’s work in 2020 led Santa Cruzans to come out in droves to protest police brutality nationwide in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Asked if whether the momentum for social justice and racial equity will continue, she told Baine she’s “cautiously optimistic” about 2021.

“I really want to see change,” Bonner said. Referencing Black men like Floyd who have been killed by police, she said, “I don’t want to see names keep being hashtags.”

Speaking to what he sees ahead, Coonerty said: “We’ve got more crises to come, and we need to build our communities in ways that absorb the shocks — and maybe even benefit from those disruptions.”

Choose Santa Cruz, Cruzio and the Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce sponsored the event.

Read our stories about the panelists

Bella Bonner: She broke into limelight as one of the loudest and most recognizable voices in Santa Cruz County during the police brutality protests following George Floyd’s death. But her voice was developing much earlier than that. Read about Bonner here.

Ruby Vasquez: When the pandemic began, the Pajaro Valley educator saw that the standard for “essential workers” meant low-income farmworkers in South County were also on the frontlines. But they got little recognition and she couldn’t stand by without helping them. Read about Vasquez here.

Bonnie Lipscomb: This year, she and her team at the City of Santa Cruz’s Economic Development office had to set aside business-as-usual and create new models to help businesses survive 2020. With no model to turn to, the emergency led to innovative solutions to help local business owners stay afloat.

Ryan Coonerty: As a county supervisor, Coonerty was among those in the driver’s seat making policies that impacted the lives of Santa Cruzans during the pandemic. His profile will wrap up our ’21 for ’21 series on Jan. 1.

An ongoing series about the 21 community-builders who will inspire and shape Santa Cruz County in 2021.