Santa Barbara residents spoke their mind all year by writing to the Independent about issues from national politics to the placement of police headquarters downtown, but standouts among the writings submitted were those that sang to a different choir.
Amid the concern for climate change and fossil-fueled cars and trucks, a controversy about two-wheeled scooters, of all things, took center stage. In The Other Side of the E-Scooter Story, an economic consequence of banning them was outlined by Justin Russak from the street level.
None of us can forget how the year began with horrific days of smoke-filled streets, death, and a mud-filled highway. A couple months down the road, Mark Alvarado took a hard look at the national hyperbole from the other end of the telescope in Quit Calling Santa Barbara Paradise.
Adding to the voices speaking from a certain time on Santa Barbara’s streets, D.J. Palladino, a resident of the foggy heights who owns a used bookstore on the Mesa, refuted status quo thinking when it came to State Street — suffering a plague of vacant storefronts, the endangered species known as shoppers, and a byzantine labyrinth of city permit procedures — in Revitalize This.
Environmentalists wrote in, as would be expected here in the birthplace of the movement, about issues of the day, including a sober look at offshore drilling in Not as Stormy as Stormy Daniels by Sophie Fox. And even before the City Council banned them, plastic straws were the centerpiece of Heal the Ocean’s Hillary Hauser and Alison Thompson’s piece on the plastic polymers and how to avoid using them in Use Your Noodle.
Erupting almost every time the wind blew hard, wildfire repeated itself. In The (Un)natural Disaster of California Fires, Jordan Thomas, a Midwest transplant to Santa Barbara by way of Cambridge, wondered at the smoke rising from the Whittier Fire as the president found a way to grab hold of a tragedy from the wrong end. And the fire came hard on the heels of a mass murder in Thousand Oaks. Loren Moreno touched the despair brought by weapons and madness in Post-Elegy at the Borderline.
We received some personal notes about other national news, as when Melinda Burns and Dawn Hobbs updated the “calamity known as the News-Press mess” when they and other employees declared a $2.2 million victory in It’s About Time. The elements of getting from survival to pride turned into a timely call to action in Colleen Logan’s Embracing Our Chosen Families.
And, more of a treat than it sounds, a give-and-take over coffee, cocktails, and tiny umbrellas resulted in a piece called About That Festering Corpse … that becomes a happy two-fer by clicking on the link within.