Thairie Ritchie leads a Juneteenth march to Santa Cruz City hall
Thairie Ritchie leads a Juneteenth march to Santa Cruz City Hall on Monday.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: Juneteenth march, Santa Cruz’s champion laugher and in search of a housing leader

Greetings, Lookout friends. It is Tuesday, June 20, and after a brisk start, another sunny day is on tap for Santa Cruz County, with temperatures headed into the mid-70s and perhaps beyond.

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First up is a dispatch from Lookout’s Kevin Painchaud from Monday’s March Towards Love & Courage, a Juneteenth event organized by activist Thairie Ritchie that started at the London Nelson Community Center and moved to Santa Cruz City Hall:

Thairie Ritchie leads a Juneteenth march to Santa Cruz City hall
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The event brought together a diverse group of over 300 people, with Ritchie speaking to the crowd about the meaning of Juneteenth at London Nelson before the march to city hall, several blocks away, where the marchers heard from a number of speakers.

Thairie Ritchie kneels on the vandalized Black Lives Matter mural outside Santa Cruz City Hall
Thairie Ritchie kneels on the Black Lives Matter mural outside Santa Cruz City Hall.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

“The goal was to create empowerment and solidarity amongst the community in times of hate, fear and uncertainty from our social and political climate,” Ritchie said afterward. “The energy tonight felt electric and I felt empowered by all the speakers and organizers in the community who came in support of Black Lives Matter.

the crowd at Santa Cruz City Hall during a Juneteenth event
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

“I want to remind folks that it takes a lot more work to help elevate and uplift the Black movement beyond showing up to protests, marches or painting a mural or acknowledging BLM for a month — it’s a marathon in working and advocating for social and systemic changes,” he said. “Unlike any other holiday, Juneteenth is a holiday for the community to manifest the idea of social and systemic changes so that the next generation can feel true solidarity and empowerment.”

The push to put a measure to fund affordable housing on a 2024 ballot in the city of Santa Cruz is the topic for Christopher Neely, who delves into who might lead the political charge. “Plenty of people want to do something,” former mayor Don Lane tells him, “but they might disagree on what it is.”

I was a little surprised to learn that something called the World Laughing Championship exists, and more surprised still that this year’s winner walks among us. Wallace Baine has the story (with photos and video from Kevin Painchaud) of Carla H. Brown, a leading teacher of “laughter yoga.”

The Tuesday headlines also include the latest on local gas prices, what’s ahead as money from a big national opioid settlement finds its way to Santa Cruz County and Community Voices opinion on Juneteenth, so please, read along with me.

Santa Cruz’s affordable-housing ballot measure needs a political leader. Who will emerge?

Don Lane
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

A broad coalition appears to be crucial to persuading Santa Cruz voters to pass some kind of bond or parcel tax, but despite interest in the process and in the goal of building more affordable housing from players around the city’s political scene, “we are way past the point of someone needing to claim this as their own,” says one planning commissioner. Christopher Neely has the latest.

PREVIOUSLY: Keeley’s grassroots vision for Santa Cruz’s housing bond has been messy and complicated

LOL: Santa Cruzan is crowned world’s official greatest laugher

Carla Brown, Santa Cruz's world laughing champion
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Carla H. Brown, a self-professed “recovering serious person,” is the planet’s best at conjuring laughter when there’s nothing specific to laugh at. She leads an online Santa Cruz group of 1,000 aiming to tap into laughter’s documented health benefits, and says winning the global competition gives her “a way to bolster the importance of joy and levity and laughter as a tool for healing and well-being.” More here from Wallace Baine.

MORE FROM WALLACE: With strength in numbers, Made Fresh Crew gets original art out of the studios and into the streets


Santa Cruz County Job Board

That’s a full plate for a Tuesday morning, but you’ll want to save room: Among what’s coming later from Lookout is the latest in Santa Cruz County food and drink news. Sign up here to get that delivered right to you, along with all of our other newsletters plus breaking news alerts via text and email. You can also find us on social media, where you can keep up with local goings-on by following Lookout on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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A pleasant Tuesday to all, and let’s do this again Wednesday.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz