Watsonville High School senior Danna Perez and her mother, Rosa Marquez
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Latest News

Morning Lookout: Student’s journey of ‘grief into hope’; rail trail polarization

Good morning, Lookout friends! It’s Monday, May 16, and the forecast calls for a mostly sunny day around Santa Cruz County, with highs in the 70s (though your mileage may vary, as always).

I hope you’re all relaxed and refreshed after the weekend. I got my grilling on, but that’s nothing when it comes to Lookout’s culinary chops:

Lookout food & drink correspondent Lily Belli during Mentone's pesto-making competition
(Lookout Santa Cruz)

Lookout almost lost food writer Lily Belli to a week in Genoa, Italy, to compete in the World Pesto Championships. That’s the prize won by Paso Robles chef Jacob Burrell on Sunday afternoon at Aptos’ Mentone, as the David Kinch bistro offered a Santa Cruz welcome to the international competition and its host, “Pesto King” Roberto Panizza. Burrell won first place at the regional qualifying match yesterday and will be off to compete at the championship in Genoa in June. Lily will give you a full report on the event in her Tuesday Lily Belli on Food newsletter; sign up for it here if you don’t get it or know a foodie who should. Sneak preview: Only two of the 10 contestants made better pesto than Lily in the decision of three pesto-making, pesto-tasting veterans. (And she might offer you a tip on the one thing she might have done differently.)

I’ve got a full slate of good reads for you this morning, too. Hillary Ojeda brings us the story of Watsonville High senior Danna Perez, who has turned the grief of a tragic 2019 accident into a hopeful future.

Meanwhile, with Measure D looming ever larger ahead of the June 7 vote, Lookout’s Wallace Baine examines how the rail-trail debate has divided Santa Cruz County, and 3rd District Supervisor Ryan Coonerty calls the ballot measure “a lose-lose proposition” in a Community Voices op-ed.

To the headlines!

Watsonville High senior Danna Perez turns ‘grief into hope’

Watsonville High School senior Danna Perez
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Watsonville High graduating senior Danna Perez co-founded the Hope Club as a sophomore after a tragic accident in 2019. Now, she plans to go to Cabrillo College to become a bilingual and bicultural nurse for patients like her. Hillary Ojeda has her story.

HELPING HAND: Watsonville High counselor Daisy Nuñez on building resilience in the face of grief (Lookout)


A train runs through us

A section of rail line near La Selva Beach
(Wallace Baine / Lookout Santa Cruz)

What’s wrong with the rail trail debate is what’s wrong with American democracy in 2022, Wallace Baine writes. Why isn’t “Maybe,” or “It’s Complicated,” or “This Is Not My Field,” or “Whatever, Dude” one of the answers to a profound question of how we live our lives, recreate and commute in Santa Cruz County? Check out Wallace’s Sunday column.

MORE FROM WALLACE: Find all of his columns in one place

Life, death and Measure D: A lose-lose proposition for us all

A meteor heads toward Earth in a photo illustration
(Via Pixabay)

Ryan Coonerty dreams of getting hit by a meteor rather than face another discussion about Measure D. The 3rd District Supervisor says the intensity of debate around Measure D is pointless given one stark political reality: no matter how the vote goes, without compromises, Santa Cruz County won’t build anything for decades. Read his Community Voices op-ed here.

SANTA CRUZ’S OPINION FORUM: Explore our new Community Voices section

‘Bans Off Our Bodies’ march draws hundreds to downtown Santa Cruz

A sign reading "My Body, My Choice" at a May 14 rally
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

With the U.S. Supreme Court seemingly set to overturn the decision that legalized abortion nationwide, Santa Cruz joined cities large and small across the country Saturday in making its opposition heard. Get the sights and sounds here.

MORE: ‘It’s really unknown territory’: Longtime Planned Parenthood leaders look back — and forward (Lookout)


California’s longest-serving death row prisoner on isolation, survival and his Native identity

An illustration of a man looking out a window, with animals running around
(Paige Pettibon for the Marshall Project)

As the Monache and Cherokee 63-year-old awaits a new hearing for a 1978 murder he denies committing, Douglas Ray Stankewitz shares the cultural tools and memories he depends on to stay alive. Read Stankewitz’s story, as told to our partners at the Marshall Project.

ON CAMPUS: UCSC prison abolition initiative sees ‘powerful statement’ in $1.97M grant (Lookout)

A new generation of white supremacist killer

Law enforcement officials continue to investigate the shooting scene Sunday in Buffalo.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

The young white man who killed 10 people in Buffalo represents a new generation of white supremacists: isolated and online, radicalized on internet memes and misinformation, inspired by livestreams to find fame through bloodshed. Our partners at the Los Angeles Times report.

MORE FROM BUFFALO: ‘Another Dylann Roof ... another Emmett Till’: Buffalo reels from racist attack at market (Los Angeles Times)

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Around the county ...

High-end bicycle thief arrested in Felton on stolen bike (KION-TV)
Two-county police chase ends in Watsonville (The Pajaronian)
Chubby’s Diner a casualty of Scotts Valley’s Target complex upgrade (The Press Banner)

That’s it for the moment, but since you never know what we at Lookout might have up our sleeves, I recommend you bookmark our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep tabs throughout the day. You should also head over to our Lookout Newsletter & Text Center for more on all the newsletters and alerts we offer.

Our content isn’t possible without community support — so if you’re not already, please consider becoming a Lookout member.

Now get out there and conquer Monday — I’ve got your back!

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz