Isabel Contreras with a pair of her paintings.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: ‘Dissonance’ in unhoused count, a powerhouse young artist & Weekender

Greetings, morning warriors. It is Friday, Aug. 11, and after some sprinkles in the wee hours, Santa Cruz County should see a mostly sunny day with high temperatures in the 70s and 80s.

Trust me when I tell you there’s lots new on Lookout; if you’d prefer to find it at your own pace, head this way.
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With results of this year’s point-in-time count showing a drop in Santa Cruz County’s homeless population, Max Chun talked to local advocates about how they’re interpreting those numbers. “I find ourselves in this weird juxtaposition where we should be celebrating the drop,” says one nonprofit leader, “but the dissonance is that every day we are turning people away from shelter and supportive services.”

Wallace Baine, meanwhile, profiles Isabel Contreras, “that most prized of commodities on the county’s arts/culture scene — a young person with vision and energy, and with a distinct artistic point of view, willing to do what’s necessary to create cultural touchstones, to bring hidden or overlooked communities out into the open.”

You’ll find more from Wallace among the Friday headlines in the form of Weekender, delivering recommendations for this weekend and beyond for things to do around Santa Cruz County. That and more are on the other side of this slice of life from Lookout photojournalist Kevin Painchaud:


fog rolls in over Main Beach and the Boardwalk
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

It’s a set of Santa Cruz summer staples as fog rolls in over Main Beach and the Beach Boardwalk on Thursday. Rides at the Boardwalk are open through the weekend before a limited schedule kicks in next week as many districts head back to school.

Homelessness fell in Santa Cruz County, but advocates say too many still struggle with low wages, food insecurity

A tent in Santa Cruz's Pogonip open space
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Local housing leaders say they are pleased to see Santa Cruz County’s homelessness levels falling, but highlighted the deep-rooted issues that pervade the county. Those include food security, not enough shelters, low wages and no effective way to identify and track the entire unhoused population. Max Chun reports.

PREVIOUSLY: Santa Cruz County 2023 point-in-time count shows lowest homelessness level in over a decade — but ‘still a lot of gaps’

‘She’s a connector’: How Isabel Contreras is building an emerging arts culture for local people of color

Santa Cruz artist Isabel Contreras.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

“A lot of young folks, they’re just trying to find their way in the world,” one Santa Cruz County arts leader says of 25-year-old Isabel Contreras, who has made a splash with both her art and her community organizing, “but they don’t usually take the kind of leadership that Isabel has taken on. It’s very unusual.” Wallace Baine makes introductions.

MORE FROM WALLACE: As old guard passes baton on Santa Cruz arts scene, how will new leaders weather generational shift?


Upcoming events in Santa Cruz County

“Ten” exhibition @Radius Gallery
Poetry Series @Boulder Creek Branch Library
Dylan Rose: Father & Son @Bargetto Winery
The Latin Dead @Felton Music Hall
Sofia Talvik @Ugly Mug Coffeehouse

Midtown Fridays @1111 Soquel Ave.
Food Truck Friday @Skypark
Mountain Film on Tour Santa Cruz @Rio Theatre
Roosevelt @The Catalyst

Out of The Darkness Santa Cruz County Walk @Skypark
Community Crafters-Basic Earring Making Workshop @Boulder Creek Branch Library
Farm Dinner @1481 San Miguel Canyon Rd.
Big Mountain @Moe’s Alley
MaMuse, WildChoir & The Feelings Parade @Rio Theatre

Halloween Pop-up Event @Little Trends
Rail & Trail Festival @Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
David Luning @Kuumbwa Jazz Center
Marc E. Bassy @The Catalyst

There’s Friday morning for ya, all teed up. Circle back later for more from Lookout, including another amuse-bouche from Lily Belli, who will have her latest local must-eat in the form of Eaters Digest. You can get that served right to your inbox by signing up here for Eaters and all of Lookout’s other newsletters (the weekend’s Sunday Reads, for example, or In the Public Interest, Christopher Neely’s Monday look at Santa Cruz County politics and policy). We also offer breaking news alerts via text and email if you’re looking to keep up with local news and views, and you can always connect with Lookout on social media — find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Threads.

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

Cheers to a pleasant Friday and a safe, relaxing weekend beyond!

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz