April 2021

Book Review

Local Photographers Create Living History

By Brad Kava

When two of the top local news photographers looked back on last year, with its traumas, disasters and a community that fought to come together, they realized they were seeing a huge piece of history, something people would be interested in seeing for years to come.

So, Kevin Painchaud, of Lookout Santa Cruz and Growing Up in Santa Cruz, and Shmuel Thaler, of the Santa Cruz Sentinel, decided to pack 2020 into a special edition glossy book. The resulting work—“2020 Hindsight: Looking Back on a Tumultuous Year in Santa Cruz County”—is the kind of keepsake most everyone in this county would want to have in their bookcase and look back on through the ages. Sometimes you don’t realize just how important the times you are living in are until you see it bound in a publication that puts it all in context.

This duo didn’t create the book to make a profit. All proceeds from its sales go to the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County’s Fire Relief Fund. Through a partnership with the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, a free copy of the book also will be made available to every high school junior in Santa Cruz County, as well as free curriculum for all teachers of U.S. history.

Along with breathtaking photos, the book features essays by locals who look at five forces that drove 2020 in Santa Cruz: pandemic, justice, fire, democracy and community. The writers include columnist Wallace Baine; former county clerk Gail Pellerin; former Mayor Justin Cummings; emergency room doctor Misty Navarro; Digital Nest founder, Jacob Martinez; journalist Rachel Anne Goodman; and developer and philanthropist George Ow, Jr.

The essays give a real insider’s view to the year from the people who were driving forces, or victims.

“No one we asked for help said no,” Thaler recounted. Community Printers donated much of the printing cost; Rowland and Pat Rebele, the Ow Family Properties and the Community Foundation gave funding. Writers donated their time. Teachers created a curriculum you can see by searching Hindsight Santa Cruz curriculum. And in the interest of full disclosure, I proofread the book and was blown away by the writing and honored to be a small part of it.

Part of the beauty of the project is that it will be featured as an educational tool in all of our high schools. What could make history come alive more for students than studying something they were a part of, but may not have realized its context and perspective? This is something they lived through, a living history book, and one they will someday share with their children and grandchildren.

You can buy the book at Bookshop Santa Cruz and on the web at HindSightSantaCruz.com

While it’s great that the money is going to fire victims, this is a book that will be a treasure for everyone who got through one of the toughest years in our history.

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