“Thousands at Santa Barbara Courthouse Protest the Killing of George Floyd” by Delaney Smith — I wrote several pieces connected to the Black Lives Matter movement this year, but this first initial protest that took place at the end of May takes the cake as one of Santa Barbara’s most memorable moments of 2020. The included photos by Daniel Dreifuss are breathtaking, too.
“Lompoc Prison Inmates and Families Describe ‘Cruel’ COVID-19 Conditions” by Tyler Hayden — The work Tyler Hayden has done around Santa Barbara County law enforcement and the conditions of the Lompoc Federal Prison is groundbreaking. This piece stood out to me because of the immense light it shines on the tragedies within the prison. The letters from inmates to their families are chilling, and if it weren’t for Tyler’s work on it, they would still be in the dark.
“Six Scramble for two Seats on Goleta Union School Board” by Delaney Smith — The election coverage of both the Santa Barbara and the Goleta Union school boards was uniquely paramount this year, as the pandemic took away the traditional campaign trail. The Indy had individual candidate profiles, endorsements, and virtual Zoom forums to inform the community despite the circumstances. Because of the tough questions, my forum with the Goleta Union candidates is ranked as my favorite piece of political coverage of this year.
“Poodle Bicycles Around an Almost Deserted Santa Barbara” by Nick Welsh — I felt that this piece, although very recent and not much of a “look back,” combines two of my favorite things Nick does: the Poodle and homelessness. This year was the first year Nick’s Angry Poodle column won Santa Barbara’s best columnist award in our annual Best Of issue, and it’s no surprise why. Homelessness is a topic Nick covers inside and out, and I felt this first-hand account of riding by Santa Barbara’s homeless was the stark reality I needed to read on a Thursday morning.
“Teaching Pods Land Among Some Santa Barbara Schoolchildren” by Delaney Smith — This story immediately grabbed my attention as soon as the pandemic took hold. Overnight, all of Santa Barbara County’s children were placed into online-only learning. The haves and the have-nots immediately came into play. Those who could afford to break into a pod did. Those who could not would have to learn to thrive in distance learning.
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