Santa Cruz County is made up of number of small beach towns along the central California coast. My hometown is La Selva Beach, a little south of the city of Santa Cruz. Each of these small towns has its own special character that adds to the Santa Cruz environment that you can't find anywhere else, built on environmentalism, artistic spirit, freedom, and innovation. Each place is physically different but still contributes to this strong sense of community. What makes people proud to call themselves Santa Cruz locals is how their small beach towns have shaped them into the people they are today.
Catamaran is built on and inspired by these four themes: environmentalism, artistic spirit, freedom, and innovation. These themes make locals so proud to call this beautiful place home.
Growing up every summer I would participate in Junior Lifeguards. Summer was that special time of year when I was able to see all the children from my community that I never saw during the school year. I complained about how much physical activity I had to do every day in junior guards, but every morning I looked forward to my toes touching the cold sand wet from the fog of early morning. I looked forward to ripping off my tight wetsuit after a long swim in the water before lunch. The beach has a way of showing you to yourself and how to put things into perspective. Junior Lifeguards was the beginning of the appreciation I had for the environment, the beach and the ocean influencing and shaping my artistic spirit. My artistic spirit is a direct reflection of my thoughts. Santa Cruz has given me the little things in life that I truly could never have found anywhere else. My appreciation for these little things in the environment has influenced my artistic spirit not only in Santa Cruz but wherever I am.
I first set sail from Orange County and docked in Santa Cruz three years ago. This past spring I became involved in Catamaran, partly due to my love of words and partly because Catamaran so succinctly says what Santa Cruz feels like to me and makes me feel. The founding editor Catherine Segurson tries to make each page be a part of a narrative, like a still from a film, and each piece of art in the magazine, be it prose, poetry, or pictographic, is another syllable in the song that is the West Coast. The four building blocks of the magazine—the harmony, if we're staying with a song metaphor, or the frame, if we're reverting back to the nautical—freedom, innovation, artistic spirit, and environmentalism, make up everything that I have ever lived. They're just expressed more and best lived here in Santa Cruz, birthplace of Catamaran.
It was a mix of these four ideals that first drew me to Santa Cruz. The UC campus here is the only one of the ten in the UC system to offer a degree in creative writing. Those ideals pulled, I followed. The standard university tour here showed me that this was the place for me. The very air was clean—suddenly the air I breathed had no flavor! The way the people walked, dressed, and felt was friendlier than the proper Republican values I was used to moving through, there were things like all-vegetarian diners, and, of course, the writing community the university fostered with the promise of more in town. People were more in touch with their emotional, artistic selves. It was like heaven in sixteen square miles. Catamaran is the left brain of this already very artsy but down-to-earth sort of place. In every piece I am surprised to see something I feel or felt about living here, coming here, leaving here, returning here.
I imagine other writers have their own spots, up and down the West Coast, that make them feel the same. The pieces in the magazine always feel fresh, clean, like the first salad of springtime made with real tomatoes grown in a field no more than a morning’s drive away. It's like lemonade bought on a hot summer day from a stand run by a bunch of kids, except those lemonades, more often than not, are stirred up from pre-made mixes, and there's nothing pre-made about the poetry, fiction, essays, and visual art in Catamaran. Everything flows together, linking in to the pieces before and after in a chain we can wear like jewelry. freedom-innovation-environmentalism-artisticspirit-freedom-innovation-environmentalism-artisticspirit, on and on, ideas and ways of life that are in no way unique to the West Coast, just best lived there.
Julianne Kimm Park Bellin
Julianne Kimm Park Bellin is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz with a degree in Creative Writing. While writing under a pseudonym, her play The Romance of the Roses was selected to be put on in the 2013 UCSC Chautauqua festival. She is currently working on a novella titled Emmenagogue, and is affiliated with Catamaran Literary Reader.
Francesca Cannino (right) is a graduate of the University of Arizona with a degree in History and a minor in Art. With a passion in studio art, she hopes to continue her work as a contemporary artist inspired by West Coast themes. She is currently working on a series incorporating Catamaran's four themes: environmentalism, artistic spirit, freedom, and innovation.