Wildflower's Creations History

Wildflower's Creations was started in 1999 as a platform for my artwork. I first started off selling jewelry, then with the recession after 9/11/2001 the business got put on a back burner. Over time I tried to finish my AA in ceramics and transition the business into that but with a work injury affecting my entire right arm in 2004 I was forced to find a new art medium. Over time it became obvious that my new medium would be photography. Photography has a great ability to document history, life events, and the beauty of the natural world. I went back to school in 2011 to get an AA in photography. I finished my photography certificate at Foothill College in the fall of 2014 and I am currently on track to finish my AA this spring. My journey at Foothill College has been a life changing one, as well as an empowering one.

I started blogging for the Boulder Creek Insider( http://bouldercreekinsider.com/author/rachelwooster/ ), a local news blog, in July of 2013 and in December of that same year my first articles were published in the local paper. I am now a regular reporter for the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin. A position I never thought I would have, me, someone with dyslexia, learning disabilities, and now physical disabilities (my right arm). I would not be here if I hadn't started blogging, or if Wendy hadn't asked me to start writing for the paper. It still is shocking to me more than a year later.

Now that graduation is coming closer I am finally going to be able to focus on my photography. I am planning on writing tour guides and other educational materials. With my writing skills and photography skills intertwined I will be teaching others about the beauty that is all around us. Continuing to inform the local community with my reporting for the paper. As well as serving my clients with their photography needs (portraits, product, and weddings).

These next dozen posts are going to be the articles of mine that have been published since December 2013. Enjoy reading through my journey as a reporter, seeing some of our local happenings, and the wonders of the Santa Cruz Mountains. May the journey never end!

SCM Bulletin - SLV Book Review "A Split History"

Newspaper, Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin, “SLV Book Review”, Boulder Creek CA, Volume 3, Issue 8, page 12, author

Searchable PDF image of printed article

This was my first book review for the paper, and I hope to do many more in the future. Since writing this article I have finished the book, which has lead me to reading many others. I just can't absorb enough local history. I guess that is why I volunteer at our local museum.

In June Santa Cruz MAH released their seventh book in their History Journal series. Titled Redwood Logging and Conservation in the Santa Cruz Mountains – A Split History, it catalogs the history of the San Lorenzo Valley in 34 articles and 128 illustrations. It is the combined work of 21 authors from all over our valley and is a total of 267 pages long. The articles discuss things such as the name of our valley and how it was almost renamed, Native Americans, logging, conservation, redwood surfboards, albino redwoods, and some of the fascinating people who have lived here.  

The book cover is in color and the book itself is printed in black and white. Each article starts off with the title and author and then combines text with illustrations to further understanding. Under each illustration it says what it is and where it came from. At the end of each article are the footnotes which tells you the source materials used, many of them being first source documents, but some are other books which allows for additional research. The book itself is laid out like any good reference book should be with a table of contents, list of illustrations, the articles, followed by the appendix which includes insurance maps, measurements, short author bios, and an index for quick and easy reference. The illustrations, which include maps, graphs, drawings and photographs, are high resolution and have good print quality. The text of the book is a good size, and easy on the eyes.

One of the things that has connected our valley in the past was a flume and Lisa Robinson does a great job of explaining its purpose and history in the article titled The San Lorenzo Valley Flume Chronicle. Including the illustrations and footnotes it is 10 pages long and is a good condensed version of her 70 page book The San Lorenzo Valley Flume. It is a quick and easy read, and still explains the major points and highlights in her book. Although missing the illustrations diagramming the construction and functionality of the flume, this is still a wonderful article.

The book starts off with a poem titled Summen – Redwood. Summen means redwood in Native American and really gives you a glimpse into how they viewed these wonderful trees. It is then followed by two articles by Mark Hylkema regarding their culture which furthers this understanding and gives you an idea of what life was like for them in the San Lorenzo Valley.

My current favorite articles in the book are by Zane Moore and are about albino redwoods. These articles are towards the back of the book and give you some insight into the diversity we have in our forests.

I still have not finished this book yet, but I have enjoyed every article I have read so far. I am looking forward to finishing it over the summer and highly recommend it to anyone interested in our valley. You can purchase the book for $24.95 at the SLV Museum in Boulder Creek or Santa Cruz MAH in downtown Santa Cruz.

SCM Bulletin - China through local eyes

Newspaper, Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin, “China through local eyes”, Boulder Creek CA, Volume 3, Issue 7, Art & Music page 15, author & photographer

Searchable PDF image of printed article

At first I was hesitant to write this article. I am not one to toot my own horn, I would much rather be in the background. I was quickly convinced to do so since at the same time I had a gallery show going of my China work. The best way to get the word out there to new viewers is through the news.

Also on my return home from China I was quickly reminded of how beautiful and amazing the place I live in is as well. As you will read in the article I am planning on writing travel guides for Zhangjiajie, China as well as our local state park of Big Basin. Since this article was published I have made some good strides towards my travel guide for Big Basin and I am hoping to have something to show the public by the end of this year.

Show Page - Huangshan & Zhangjiajie, China, Photographs of Land & Culture

Zhangjiaie, China Portfolio

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Rachel Wooster. I am a photographer, writer, college student, Godmother, proud Boulder Creek resident, and now a traveler. Earlier this year I took my first trip outside of North America, and traveled to central China. This trip was a lifetime in the making, growing up our family had foreign exchange students from China and I have always been interested in eastern cultures and religions.

I traveled with my photography professor Kate Jordahl, Oliver Klink, the owner of Incredible Travel Photography, and nine other experienced world travelers. We spent eight wonderful days exploring the Zhangjiajie area of Hunan, China, including Tianmen Mountain and Zhangjiajie National Park. Zhangjiajie is China’s first national park established in 1982 and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. A photograph and small article about our trip was featured in the local paper.

The landscape of this region is absolutely breathtaking and these mountains were the backdrop for the movie Avatar. The area is filled with sandstone pillars which go straight up for thousands of feet. On Tianmen Mountain the path you walk on is made of concrete and rebar and was constructed onto the side of the mountain. You don’t actually walk on the mountain itself, but around the mountain, with nothing below you for thousands of feet. All of this was made by hand and all of the materials were also carried by hand. It is not a hike for the faint of heart! I tried to keep my mind focused on what I was photographing not on what wasn’t beneath me. The highlight of Tianmen Mountain is the gateway, which is a natural opening in the mountain.

Zhangjiajie National Park is almost twelve thousand acres and has over 30 million visitors yearly. We were there during their off season and the park was still filled with thousands of people everyday. Each day consisted of waking up around 6am or earlier, walking five to seven miles a day of stairs, taking around one thousand photographs a day, and hopefully going to bed around 10pm. It was an exhausting trip, and completely filled with inspiring cultural and visual experiences. Even on my last day on top of the mountain I still could not believe sitting there, that it was thousands of feet straight down. There just aren’t any mountains like this in North America.

Initially when I returned to the States I wanted to write a travel guide, with maps, photographs, and basic information about the area. The travel guides I purchased for China before I went there only had four pages on Hunan China and they didn’t even mention anything about the Zhangjiajie area. The internet isn’t much better, there are some pictures and maybe a paragraph or two. Most people who travel to this area either have to have a private guide as we did or do group tours because there is no good guide for Chinese, Japanese, or Korean speakers, which are the three main groups of tourists.

I have found that this same problem exists for Big Basin and many other state parks in the Santa Cruz mountains. I haven’t been able to find a good travel guide in print or e-text. The closest I have come is BigBasin.org and it has excellent reference information, but almost no pictures. So I am now embarking on writing travel guides for local locations as well as foreign. The trip has really taught me how little public knowledge there is out there about many parks and I am hoping in the coming years to change that. I currently have my Tianmen Mountain portfolio done, and am hoping to have a Big Basin portfolio done by the end of the year. Then the process of writing will begin.

Two of my images are currently on display in the Krause Center for Innovation gallery in Los Altos. It is a group show which ends September 26th with a closing reception. This experience has been amazing, but most of all it reminds me of how lucky I am to be living in a redwood forest in such a progressive and inclusive community.

SCM Bulletin - SLV Museum exhibit Crystals, Caves, & Kilns

Newspaper, Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin, “SLV Museum – Crystals, Caves, & Kilns”, Boulder Creek CA, Volume 3, Issue 5, page 12, author

Searchable PDF image of printed article

So do to school and my trip to China, I wasn't able to write for the paper for several months. This time my article made it, but my photo did not. Since May of 2014 I have had at least one article in the paper almost every month.

SLV Museums’ new exhibit Crystals Caves & Kilns is now open and will be on display through November 30th 2014. It explores the natural and cultural history of limestone, lime, and marble in our area. By visiting you will learn about the geologic history of our area and how marble caves form. The exhibit includes mineral and crystal specimens, 19th century artifacts, local historic photographs, and activities for the kids.

The exhibit was previously on display at Santa Cruz Natural History Museum, and is sponsored by that museum as well as SLV Water District and the Friends of the Cowell Lime Works Historic District.

At the entrance of the exhibit is a reading cave for the kids with books about cave life. Kids can also add their cave story or drawings with materials that are provided. There is a rock and minerals lab table in the back of the museum, allowing kids to examine and make their own discoveries.

The exhibit also includes information about our local marble quarry, making cement, production of lime, getting lime to market, and the legacy lime has left behind. There is a video playing that talks about a recently discovered cave that is one of the largest in California, as well as the kind of life you find in caves. There are calcite crystals, limestone, marble, travertine, and tufa samples for you to look at up-close and personal. As well as how lime is part of our everyday lives, maps, and how caves need our help to preserve them.

This exhibit has a little bit for everyone and is packed with information. So come visit San Lorenzo Valley Museum and learn about our local crystals, caves, and kilns. The museum is open every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 12:00noon till 4:00pm.

Where:    San Lorenzo Valley Museum
    12547 Highway 9
    Boulder Creek, CA 95006

When:    April 26th – November 30th 2014
Wednesdays 12:00noon – 4:00pm
    Fridays 12:00noon – 4:00pm
    Saturdays 12:00noon – 4:00pm
    Sundays 12:00noon – 4:00pm

SCM Bulletin - Verizon, Can You Hear Us NOW?

Newspaper, Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin, “Verizon, Can You Hear Us NOW?”, Boulder Creek CA, Volume 2, Issue 12, page 3, author & photographer

Searchable PDF image of printed article

Last Sunday eight Boulder Creek residents took time out of their busy lives to protest in front of Verizon’s store in downtown Santa Cruz. Why did they do this, you ask? Haven’t they already won? Well no actually they have not, the application has been shelved but Verizon can come back at any time and have another hearing and get it approved.

So why are these citizens so concerned about this application? Well it all boils down to location. That’s right these citizens aren’t anti cell tower, just anti location. They have even given Verizon an extensive list of alternative locations such as the water tank complex off of Madrone and Big Basin Highway. This location, unlike the proposed one, would be out of sight and on higher ground giving it greater coverage area. Another location is at the existing cell tower site on Rebecca Drive, which for some reason Verizon didn’t even know existed. Just shows how hard they really were looking for a good location that would serve the citizens of Boulder Creek.

There are other concerns including the county codes that are being waived for this location. They include a 300’ setback for residential zoned parcels (this includes 5 parcels), scenic corridor protections, and requirements for co-location. Then there is the parts of our town plan that are being ignored. Our town plan says service equipment including satellite dishes shall be located away from streets and screened from view. That no commercial impacts “spill over” to the residential areas. That maximum height from commercial is 25 feet, and last but not least that noise levels from commercial activity may not exceed 45 decibels at the property perimeter. The proposed cell tower with its generator would be 64 decibels at the property perimeter which is right next to our dentist office.

So why hasn’t the county just denied this application? Why has it been dragged out for four hearings and then shelved? That would be because two of those hearings were continued because Verizon requested so per their lawyers, yes Verizon has already gotten their lawyers involved. So who do you think has more money, Verizon or Santa Cruz county? If you even have to think about that you have not been paying attention, corporations have been flaunting their power like crazy lately and even declared themselves people per our Supreme Court. So instead of denying the application our county along with many others are waiting for Verizon to withdraw the application or move on.

But what is the big deal if Verizon has a few denied applications? Why do they care if it is denied anyway? Well that is where the lawyers come in. See in court, cases are decided on precedence, that means previous decisions. If this application was denied its denial could be used in other court cases that are currently pending all over the country by other citizens, school boards, and counties. Verizon’s goal in bullying Santa Cruz and many other counties all over our wonderful country is to control both sides of the argument in court so they have the winning hand.

With this protest these citizens were delivering a message to Verizon that they are not going away. They are not going to be ignored, and if Verizon continues pushing the matter they are going to make noise. Protests done in the right way can get national attention and that is something Verizon does not want this application to get. This application has not gotten national attention yet, but if it goes on long enough it will. Especially since the proposed location is at the gateway to “Big Basin Redwood State Park”, California’s first official state park.