Santa Cruz Connected: A Monthly Look At Online Local Life

Santa Cruz Connected, July 2015

Photos in collage by Bill Lewis of Santa Cruz Sand, Joshua Vincent & Richard Masoner.

There’s simply no other way to paint the month of July in Santa Cruz other than what it was: tragic.

The senseless death of 8-year-old Madyson Jordan Middleton weighed heavily on the hearts and minds of the entire city as the month drew to a close. Our thoughts and condolences go out to the families and communities affected by this tragedy.

In local news stories that were picked up by major media outlets, Santa Cruz was lauded as a city that stands up to big banks, finds creative solutions to water rationing, and set up a new model for community television stations.

UC Santa Cruz was named one of the most beautiful coastal colleges in the U.S., a local review of disc golf courses was published, the Monterey Bay turned a vibrant blue color, and one news outlet explored the history of the “Cement Ship” (the SS Palo Alto).

In this month’s edition of Santa Cruz Connected, we explore these stories, plus new businesses in town, friends to follow on social media, and the best of the month from Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.

Santa Cruz Grapples With Tragic Death of Madyson Jordan Middleton

Photo and sand sculpture by Bill Lewis, who runs the Santa Cruz Sand Facebook page and often makes sand sculptures you can see near the Santa Cruz wharf.

The Santa Cruz community is still reeling from the tragic and heartbreaking murder of 8-year-old Madyson Jordan Middleton. After Madyson was reported missing from the Tannery Arts Center where she lived, local authorities and community volunteers frantically began search efforts and put up fliers all over town in hopes of bringing her home safely.

The FBI were called in to assist and search dogs were used to canvas the area around the Tannery as local residents took to social media to spread the word about Maddy’s disappearance. Some locally organized search parties took to the streets, calling her name in their neighborhoods and housing complexes in hopes of finding her.

Maddy’s body was was discovered by police at the Tannery just 26 hours after she was reported missing.

In the hours and days that followed, there was a palpable sense of grief that enveloped Santa Cruz as we struggled to understand and make sense of such a horrible tragedy.

A candlelight vigil was held at the clock tower in downtown Santa Cruz, where 30-40 people gathered to quietly honor Maddy’s life. The following night, another candlelight vigil was held on West Cliff Dr. which drew hundreds of supporters.

A “Howl For Maddy” event was organized at the request of Maddy’s mother in which people were encouraged to howl at the moon–Maddy had loved wolves–to honor her life during the Blue Moon. Using the hashtag #HowlforMaddy, pictures and video were shared on social media, in Santa Cruz, and from all over the U.S.


Full coverage of the story can be found in this article by Stephen Baxter of the Santa Cruz Sentinel. A memorial service will be held on August 23rd at the Kaiser Permanente Arena.

“Maddy’s Song,” written by local musician, Nick Gallant. The chorus captures a sentiment that we all feel as we collectively grieve the loss of Maddy: “This town won’t forget you.”

Santa Cruz Leads the Way In Stand Against Big Banks

Santa Cruz County is taking a stand against big banks that were found guilty of manipulating the foreign currency market for their own financial benefit–activities that had a direct negative impact on their own customers. The County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in June to no longer do business with five banks: JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, and UBS.

While the move is mainly symbolic in the grand scheme of things–Santa Cruz is not involved with these institutions on a day-to-day basis as it stands–it does set an example that other communities can follow by severing ties with big banks that have been found guilty of fraud and collusion. Santa Cruz will not do business with any of the banks mentioned for a period of five years. The story was picked up by national media outlets, which you can read about here and here.

Community Television of Santa Cruz County Gets New Home

Community Television of Santa Cruz County, in partnership with Satellite Workspace Centers, are designing a new media center to be located on Soquel Ave. CTV hopes to move into the new headquarters, located at 325 Soquel Ave., by the end of the year.

The move to a new building will coincide with a renewed effort to open up the use of equipment and workspace to the non-members who wish to work on private or business-related video production projects. You can learn more about the new media complex in this article from Santa Cruz Tech Beat, or check rates and class schedules by visiting the CTV web page.

UC Santa Cruz Named One of Most Beautiful Coastal Colleges

ucsc bench viewUC Santa Cruz was recognized in an article by as one of the most beautiful coastal college campuses, checking in at number five. Not surprisingly, many of the colleges mentioned are in California, including two other University of California campuses, UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara.

Photo by Joshua Vincent

Guide to Santa Cruz Disc Golf Courses

Santa Cruz disc golf courses

Santa Cruz Life published a guide to local disc golf courses in June that included the top local courses in the area, as well as information about local touring pros and Santa Cruz’s unique place in the disc golf world. The article, which also includes a 20-minute podcast, reviews the following local disc golf courses:

  • DeLaveaga
  • Black Mouse
  • Pinto Lake
  • Aptos High School
  • UC Santa Cruz
  • Bridge To Bridge

Origins of the SS Palo Alto (AKA the Cement Ship, Which Is Actually Concrete)

The San Jose Mercury News published an article in June that explored the history of the SS Palo Alto, the cement ship at Seacliff State Beach. The ship, which is 96 years old, was originally designed as a World War I tanker. By the time it was completed, the war had ended and it sat in a naval shipyard in Oakland for several years.

The ship had been moved to Seacliff State Beach by 1930 and it initially operated as an entertainment venue and tourist attraction. That project, however, was short-lived and it was eventually stripped and used primarily as a fishing spot.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife led a $1.7 million campaign to remove oil from the ship in 2006 after it was determined that a leak was negatively impacting local wildlife. The department has since ruled the SS Palo Alto safe in regard to the surrounding ecosystem.

The Monterey Bay Turned Turquoise

You may have noticed the water at Santa Cruz beaches was a little more blue than usual last month. The cause behind the turquoise reflection was a an algal bloom: a sudden increase in the growth and accumulation of algae. In some instances, these algal blooms can alter the color of the water, which is what we saw last month with the blue-green effect caused by reflections from a type of phytoplankton called coccolithophores. You can read more about the phenomenon in this article from Mobile Ranger.

Santa Cruz Water School Makes News

The LA Times picked up a story about our local “Water School” program in Santa Cruz. The program allows those who use too much water a one-time forgiveness of the penalty if they attend a free two-hour class about water rationing. According to the LA Times article, the program provides a two-fold benefit: educating businesses and residents while enforcing water rationing, and creating less paperwork for the city.

New In Town

Sesame Korean Grill – A new restaurant, the Sesame Korean Grill, opened on Front St. in June. As of this writing, the Sesame Grill is open from 5-9 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday, as well as 5-10 p.m. on Friday. They plan to expand their hours to include lunch in the near future. You can read more about the Sesame Korean Grill in this article from the Sentinel.

Rip Curl – Rip Curl opened a store in downtown Santa Cruz’s Rittenhouse Building in June. Rip Curl, along with other local stores such as Pacific Wave and O’Neill, give downtown Santa Cruz several stores that carry popular clothing brands and surf wear.

Friends To Follow

Jason Hoppin – He may not be breaking local news on Twitter anymore, but Jason Hoppin (formerly of the Santa Cruz Sentinel and Monterey Herald) is tuned in to what’s going on around Santa Cruz like few others. You can read his most recent work by clicking here.

V. Vaughn Visnius Photography – V. Vaughn Visnius is a local photographer that takes incredible photos and has a masterful eye when it comes to capturing natural beauty. You can view his work on his website by clicking here.

Best of the Month From Santa Cruz Social Media

Have something you think we should feature next month? Use hashtag #santacruzlife when posting on your favorite social media platform to make sure we see your post. You can also follow our adventures on Instagram.

Aerial view of the Walton Lighthouse

Roller skate surfing is really a thing, at least in Santa Cruz.

Local surfers try out the replica surfboards similar to the ones originally used by Hawaiian princes in Santa Cruz 130 years ago.

Some golden, glassy goodness from Sammy Garcia.

View this post on Instagram

"Meteorite Explosion" Longer Video Link in my BIO. While shooting some Milky Way timelapses, we saw a huge bright flash in the sky. It even lit up the entire ground. We looked up and saw a huge streak across the sky of burning dust. I did the calculations and the dust fell from the sky for at least 50 frames of my timelapse. Each exposure was 15 seconds long, so that means the burning dust fell for 12.5 minutes. CRAZY!!! This was shot at Shark Fin Cove just north of Santa Cruz on July 21st, 2015 with @estlinhaiss 🎶 Kaskade – Disarm You ft. Ilsey 🎶 I also uploaded a longer version on Vimeo which is getting a lot of attention. Link is in my bio. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #resourcetravel #rei1440project #getoutstayout #greettheoutdoors #wildernessculture #thegreatoutdoors #getoutdoors #outdoorlife #getoutside #wilderness #hikinglife #gooutside #getoutthere #mountainlife #mountainsarecalling #theoutbound #theoutdoorfolk #Adventureculture #outside_project #goexplore #welivetoexplore #natureaddict #neverstopexploring #iheartnature #naturelover #ourcamplife #mothernature #in2nature #exploretocreate

A post shared by Marc Donahue (@permagrinfilms) on

A meteorite explosion can be seen in this time-lapse photo of the Milky Way from Shark Fin Cove.

About Joshua Vincent

Joshua Vincent is a freelance writer who has lived in Santa Cruz for 12 years. Follow his tweets at @VincentChirps.