Ann Lopez at Crystal Bay Farm in Watsonville.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: A fierce fighter for farmworker justice; Big Basin’s tonic for our times

Good morning, Lookout friends, and welcome to not just a new week, but a new month! It’s Monday, Aug. 1, and there’s some chance of showers and thunderstorms through mid-morning, with a sunny afternoon and highs from the 70s to the 90s forecast.

We’re leading off this morning with Mark Conley’s powerful Q&A with Ann Lopez, a fierce advocate for farmworkers rights in Santa Cruz County and beyond. “This is modern-day slavery,” she says of the conditions facing those who help feed us and power the local economy. “I don’t know what else to call how we treat these humans.”

In the Santa Cruz Mountains, meanwhile, Big Basin Redwoods State Park is back open, in limited fashion, for the first time since it was ravaged by 2020’s CZU fire, and Wallace Baine finds a hopeful message about resilience in the green sprouting amid the char.

In case you missed it, we also have the story of UCSC’s ill-fated corpse flower and a Community Voices opinion piece making the case for microdosing “magic” mushrooms, so come along as we hit the Monday headlines.

Schooner PROMOTED CONTENT ROADBLOCK (A locals touch)
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‘What would we do without these people?’ A Q&A with ‘furious’ farmworker advocate Ann Lopez

Ann Lopez made farmworkers her calling 25 years ago.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

When she turned from biologist to sociologist and human rights advocate 25 years ago, Ann Lopez realized how dire the situation was for humans born into a caste system that put them on a path toward what she considers to be agrarian slavery. COVID, climate change and affordability have worked against change, but that hasn’t slowed her fight for justice. Read her full Q&A with Mark Conley here.

MORE WITH LOCAL NEWSMAKERS: Find all our Lookout Q&As in one spot

Big Basin is back, and redwoods deliver a tonic for our times

Green shoots sprout from a charred, fallen tree at Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
(Wallace Baine / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The beloved state park in the Santa Cruz Mountains was radically reshaped by the 2020 CZU Complex fire, beginning its gradual reopening only in recent weeks. In the shoots of green amid the charred trees, Wallace Baine sees a hopeful message about how nature and humanity alike can sprout anew after trauma. Here’s his column from Big Basin.

MORE FROM WALLACE: The home as artistic masterpiece: A visit to the uniquely enchanting residence of Santa Cruz artist Michael Leeds


Santa Cruz County Job Board

And just like that, August is off and running. A new week will bring plenty of new stuff from Lookout, so you’ll want to keep tabs by bookmarking our website and following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

And members get unlimited access to everything we offer, so if you’re not already, please consider becoming a Lookout member. Our content isn’t possible without community support.

Get out there and power through Monday — catch you back here tomorrow!

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz