Unsung Santa Cruz
Civic Life

In time for the holidays, we offer up stories on little-known folks who make this a better place to live

We asked for nominations and there was no shortage. In fact, we got twice as many deserving candidates as we could use for our inaugural Unsung Santa Cruz series, which we hope will become a regular, all-year-long staple.

Often, we pay so much attention to the most controversial issues in our community, to the loudest voices in their constant fight for control of the microphone of public opinion.

But as we reach the end of another trying year, Lookout wants to take a look at the quiet heroics of those who simply make Santa Cruz a better place to live.

Dan Evans, Lookout Santa Cruz editor

The “Unsung Santa Cruz” series, which starts later Tuesday, itself launches a larger set of year-end features we’re calling “Looking Back/Looking Forward.” From now until Dec. 25 — our version of the 12 days of Christmas — we will be highlighting the people who have helped to better our community and heal us in our physical, mental or spiritually broken places.

Some are funny, some are truly heroic, but all are truly deserving. Launching the series is Marti Mariette — portrayed beautifully by Wallace Baine — who uses her incredible voice to sing to those who are dying, providing solace when they and their families need it the most. See if you can keep your eyes dry after reading it; I couldn’t.

Marti Mariette is the director of the local chapter of the Threshold Choir
Marti Mariette is the director of the local chapter of the Threshold Choir, an international organization devoted to one simple mission: to sing to the dying, often at the very threshold of death.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

This was a true team effort, with everyone on staff taking part. I hope you enjoy reading about these folks as much as we enjoyed writing about them. Frankly, we were surprised about how many nominations we received — more than twice as many as we could use. We’ll be asking for more suggestions from you in 2022.

Other “Looking Back/Looking Forward” features include:

  • Checking in on our “21 for 21” recipients. The wildly popular series, launched last year, profiled 21 individuals and organizations that made a difference in wildfire- and pandemic-ravaged Santa Cruz County.
  • A review of the biggest stories of 2021, broken down by month.
  • A column by Wallace, detailing what the county won and lost in yet another tumultuous year.
  • And a look at what our staff believes the most important and interesting stories of 2022 will be.

And as we celebrate the new year and say goodbye to the difficult year departing, we’ll continue to drill down on the story that won’t go away: COVID-19.

Last week, we launched two new COVID-19-related features. One keeps you up to date on vaccine rates, how to get a shot and testing information. The second details current infection rates, hospitalization rates, deaths and demographic comparisons. We’ll provide the freshest information, as it becomes available through the week.

Though we’d all like to not have to think about COVID-19, we at Lookout still believe providing you with the best information to keep yourself safe is vitally important — and that knowledge needs to go beyond the oft-repeated, though valid, advice to wear a mask and get a vaccine or booster ASAP.

Into yet another uncertain new year — but one ever-filled with hope for the future and a celebration of the best among us — let me wish you a happy and healthy holidays.