I’m happy to have been able to contribute to the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust’s recent newsletter on the important, yet all-too-often overlooked, contributions women have made throughout the history of Monterey Bay’s commercial fisheries. I also dive into why the term “fisherman” is still used when so many women fish and gendered terms are being taken out of common language.
The hidden history of women in Monterey Bay fisheries Women have always played pivotal roles in the success of the commercial fishing industry, whether as cannery workers, fish cutters, biologists or business managers. Yet, their work has often been overlooked. To remedy this, we’ve taken a deep dive into the work of women in Monterey Bay fisheries, going back more than a century. And while there’s presently still work to be done before achieving gender equality on the water, supporting women within commercial fishing is easier than you might think. Read more…
Why do we still use the word “fisherman?” There was a time in this country when women were largely excluded from working on boats and catching fish as their occupation. For generations, only men worked as fishermen. But times have changed and there are now more women on the water than ever, so why do we still use the term “fisherman” to describe the men and women who harvest fish? We asked women who fish and write for a living what their preferred terms are. The answers may — or may not —surprise you. Read more…
Monterey’s history as a Spanish, Mexican and United States capital of California is well documented and has become a cottage industry in the small city that hugs the Pacific Ocean. But there are a few stories clouded in mystery, or simply misunderstood for more than a century. Two of which I recently dug into for the San Francisco Chronicle, shedding light on two historical topics beloved by many—pirates and cheese.
The competing legends of Monterey Jack cheese The origin story of Monterey Jack cheese is complicated, no matter whom you ask or what version they tell you. It may encompass some or all of the following: a prosperous Mexican land-grant family fallen from grace, a shrewd Gold Rush land baron, the colonization of California’s Central Coast, and possibly a bullfight gone awry. Some historians believe its tendrils even extend to ancient Rome. This semisoft white cheese, homogenized and ubiquitous in dairy aisles across the U.S., carries with it the near entirety of California history dating to Spanish colonization. Read more…
For some respite from a few years of writing about cops, crime, mayhem and disasters, I’ve started writing stories about the intersection of adventure sports, politics and history in the state of California.
Here are a few highlights of recent interviews: Chris Burkard, surf photographer who looked to the Arctic for inspiration; Jeremy Jones, a big mountain snowboarder-turned climate activist; and Frosty Hesson, an avuncular big-wave surfer who’d pioneered Mavericks and always ready to impart life-wisdom. Many more stories to come.
Surf photographer and SLO native Chris Burkard shares his favorite local spots
Chris Burkard has become synonymous with images of the icy landscapes and deadly cold waters of Alaska, Norway, Iceland and Russia, and his work is recognized beyond the surf world. In the 33-year-old’s short career, he has published eight books, directed four films, garnered more than a dozen awards, given a TED Talk, and gained 3.3 million followers on Instagram. Forbes named him a top social influencer in 2017. Read more…
Surfing legend Frosty Hesson’s guide to California’s most iconic breaks
Large statured and emblazoned with platinum-white hair, surfing icon Richard “Frosty” Hesson is often found standing near his home at the end of 36th Avenue in Santa Cruz, watching the swell come in, as he has for decades. He’s quick to strike up conversations with people passing by. His face might not be familiar, but his nickname is. Read more…
The future of California’s iconic Dungeness crab fishery seemed uncertain after a three-year spike in the number of whales entangled in fishing gear from 2015 to 2017. A warm-water blob, domoic acid and a coinciding of whale migrations and fishing caused by the delayed start of the Dungeness crab season spurred a record number of whales and other marine animals to become twisted in crab gear.
Few fisheries were spared entanglement issues on the Pacific Coast, but California Dungeness crab fishermen came under fire for their lines snaring the largest number of whales. Negative publicity, threats of a federal shutdown and a lawsuit in federal court made California crabbers fear the worst. But with ocean conditions returning in the direction of normal and state legislative effort looking to head off litigation, crab fishermen can breathe easier. Still, there’s no returning to the way things were.
Sonoma County is a drinking destination. Roads swell with traffic on summer weekends when out-of-county visitors go tasting at more than 425 wineries and two dozen breweries that call the county home.
People line up for hours in downtown Santa Rosa every February to get their three 10-ounce glasses of Pliny the Younger triple IPA — a ration designed to prevent people from drinking too much of the high-octane 10.25 percent alcohol beer.
More than 7 million people come to Sonoma County annually, 4.6 million of whom cite beer and wine as their reason for visiting, according to the Sonoma County Economic Development Board.
While some locals blame beer-drinking and wine-tasting tourists for making Sonoma County roadways less safe, the fact is most drunken drivers in Sonoma County are residents whose last drink came at home, a bar or a restaurant.
Fires jumped from wildlands into the city of Santa Rosa, one of the largest cities in the San Francisco Bay Area, on Oct. 8. In the end, 24 people lost their lives and more than 5,000 homes were destroyed displacing thousands in Sonoma County alone.
This is where I lived and worked. My job at The Press Democrat took me to the frontline of the blazes and to the response mounted by municipal, county, state and federal agencies.
For our efforts The Press Democrat was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. Here are some clips from documenting the devastation in what is now the most destructive wildfire in California’s history.
In the following months the politically liberal, yet agricultural, Sonoma County in Northern California passed resolutions to protect undocumented immigrants.
The sheriff promised to restrict cooperation with ICE agents at the county jail but never did. My reporting on that fact forced the Sheriff’s Office to moved quick, getting ahead of the “Sanctuary state” bill in Sacramento. The Trump Administration took notice and repeatedly attacked the county in both rhetoric and action for months.
That was my immediate thought when news broke that Amazon was planning to purchase the organic grocery chain for 13.7 billion dollars. If I still worked the fish counter at Whole Foods, I’d have to work harder and more efficiently — while eating fewer samples — to justify my job over Amazon’s robots.
In 2012, I had a three-month stint as a fishmonger at a Whole Foods Market in San Francisco. I worked at the store in the SoMa neighborhood. My job included organizing the seafood case and cleaning fish to customer preferences. I earned $13 an hour for my services.
But at Whole Foods, being broke didn’t mean we had to go hungry. There were perks — a relaxed atmosphere, 25-cent leftovers at the end of the day, and access to samples from the meat, seafood, and other departments. Amazon knows robots don’t need this kind of margin-eating sustenance.
Santa Rosa Police Officers Jason Brandt and Brian Sinigiani sat in a police van by the Fifth Street underpass during a weekly Wednesday morning homeless encampment cleanup. Those living on the street knew the officers by name, and the officers knew theirs, their addictions and their stories.
Brandt and Sinigiani estimated there are more than 200 chronically homeless in downtown Santa Rosa with whom they are on a first name basis. Nearly all have been offered services, they said.
“We’re trying to take away all of the excuses and break down the barriers to get them off the street,” Sinigiani said. “We’re really social workers with a law enforcement aspect.”
Sinigiani and his partner are among the top sources of referrals to Catholic Charities’ Homeless Outreach Services Team. But they take the law seriously and aren’t afraid to make arrests and write citations. Brandt said he makes more arrests now than he did while working patrol.