Daphne Martinez Rojas, offers a plant leaf to a Second Harvest Food Bank volunteer during a food distribution.
Daphne Martinez Rojas, offers a plant leaf to a Second Harvest Food Bank volunteer during a food distribution event. For details on how to help the hungry this Giving Tuesday, check out our Feeding Santa Cruz Guide.
(LiPo Ching)
Civic Life

A gifted community on Giving Tuesday

Your mailboxes, email and snail mail, are probably as full as mine.

As December opens, we’re used to receiving end-of-year pitches from organizations, near and far, and today, perhaps more than ever, designated as Giving Tuesday. Remember the old expression, “Give till it hurts”? It’s an ouchy year, with bottomless needs out there in a world consumed by so much sadness in 2020.

And, yet, we go on and do what we can, a half-smile accompanying the words, “Well, 2021 has got to be better.”

Within all of that sadness and unrivaled generosity, we launched Lookout Santa Cruz just 10 days ago.

I’m overwhelmed by the reception you all have given us since then. We see that in the thousands of people who have visited us, and in how long they are staying on our site. More than 15,000 of you have visited us already, an incredible number for a news company just breaking its eggshell. Then there are the personal notes of encouragement we are getting. We prize them and share them.

Dozens of you have taken the big step of buying a membership in Lookout Santa Cruz already. Most touchingly, two-thirds of those are annual memberships, indicative of both your good sense of value and your immediate support of our growth. More than 1,000 of you have signed up for our Morning Lookout newsletter, bringing our content into your email inbox every single day.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. Santa Cruz County should win an award for its community-betterment spirit. It’s something that we feel, but is hard to measure.

I’m proud of the fact that we’ve built an initial foundation of community betterment, and giving, into Lookout’s mission and platform.

For us, it’s not just a holiday giving program; it’s part of how we intend to uniquely link increasing local reporting and community betterment. Like Lookout itself, it’s a model that is built to last, and fund worthwhile projects ongoingly.

If you haven’t yet, go deep into our Civic Group pages, now numbering in the forties and still growing. We’ve built these at no cost to the groups, and they’ll be updating them regularly. Then, there are valued Civic Partners: Coastal Watershed Council, Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, Digital NEST, Jacob’s Heart and Second Harvest Food Bank. They took a leap of faith, with us and on us, as we debuted Lookout’s unique membership model, which contributes 10% of proceeds from every membership to one of these partners. It’s not just a holiday giving program for us; it’s part of how we intend to uniquely link increasing local reporting and community betterment. Like Lookout itself, it’s a model that is built to last, and fund worthwhile projects for years to come.

We’ve also published two timely guides on helping with community needs: One on how and where to generously donate time and money and another on how to get much needed aid?

So, as we look to the promise of 2021, let me ask you to consider both becoming a member, if you yet haven’t, and of giving a gift membership to those you know will like Lookout. Yes, we are free for a short time — supported by our Marketing Partners who share our belief in community betterment. Each membership, and membership gift, enables us to put our foot on the gas pedal of local reporting growth — and funnels more dollars to those Civic Partners, all of whom are trying to satisfy unprecedented needs.

Further, if you have the means and confidence, please consider joining our first Founder’s Circle sustaining members. Donna Murphy and Mark Mesiti-Miller became our first sustaining members, at $1,000 a year. They did it, with a wonderful, wake-up Sunday morning email on Lookout’s third day! Most or all of Founder’s Circle support is tax-deductible.

“Good morning, Ken,” Donna wrote. “Congratulations on the launch of Lookout! We are so excited for you and for our community.”

Here’s just a sampling of the emails that have flowed in:

  • Susan True, Lookout member and Executive Director, Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County, who wrote on her first day: “I’M READING IT RIGHT NOW! ITS SOOOOOOOOO GOOOOOOOD! Seriously – The 21 for 21 on Maria Elena – terrific. Best interview EVER with Dr. Newel and The Purple Tier/Haze school work by Nick is very comprehensive. #nailedit! CONGRATS!”
  • Rachel Kippen, Executive Director, O’Neill Sea Odyssey: “Thank you so much for putting this together. I dug around the site a bit and it’s wonderful!”
  • Liz Burkhart with Encompass Community Services: “This is an incredible resource for the community, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you so much for including Encompass. We look forward to sharing this site with our staff and through our social channels to help spread the news.”

Let me offer you a snapshot of what you all have most read, our top 10 stories in our first 10 days, reflecting, of course, the times we in which we live:
1. Santa Cruz still ‘in it for the long haul’ with COVID, county health officer says

2. In extremely rare move, tenured UC Santa Cruz professor fired

3. Woman, 19, in custody after man stabbed in downtown Santa Cruz Friday

4. Dozens infected as new COVID-19 outbreaks reported at multiple nursing homes countywide

5. UCSC publishes collection of 10K photos documenting Santa Cruz history

6. $15,000 reward for missing Felton turkey? A weeks-long saga explained

7. An evacuee’s tale: ‘The truth is, being home is hard’

8. As ‘mudslides on steroids’ threaten, Santa Cruz Mountain dwellers ponder new normal

9. Raitt, Scaggs, Hagar headline ‘Love You Madly’ show for fire relief

10. Garima P. Desai becomes UCSC’s first Rhodes Scholar: ‘I felt like I had the whole university on my back’

Lastly, a reminder to let us know if you’d like to participate in an upcoming Lookout Listens! session. We’ve now hosted two of these sessions, one among arts leaders and another hosted by Cabrillo College President Matt Wetstein, and have two more scheduled already. These small-group listening sessions, hosted virtually or in-person distanced, connect community members with our staff to talk coverage, story ideas and the challenges of the next year. Drop me a note if you are interested.

Ken Doctor