Hutcheson will work on championing local nature in the South Bay

By Robert Airoldi

Robert Airoldi

Julie Hutcheson

Morgan Hill resident and a longtime South Bay environmental advocate, Julie Hutcheson has been named the executive director of Green Foothills, a local environmental organization whose work has resulted in the creation of almost 200,000 acres of parks and nature preserves across San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties since 1962.

Green Foothills was founded in 1962 by Palo Alto and Los Altos residents to stop the Stanford foothills from being paved over to build factories. The organization has been instrumental in preserving the most iconic landscapes in the South Bay and on the Peninsula including organizing and leading campaigns that preserved Coyote Valley just north of Morgan Hill. Hutcheson took an active role in that campaign and has also been instrumental in securing support for the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency.

“I’m honored to lead Green Foothills, which has been a local, vocal, and extremely effective champion for local nature in the South Bay and on the Peninsula for more than 60 years,” Hutcheson said. “In the face of the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis, our work is more vital than ever.”

Allow me to toot our horn. The South Valley Civic Theatre held its annual awards show Oct. 21, an evening at the Morgan Hill Community Playhouse rivaling the Tony’s. Surprising us, we learned Life Media Group received the Outstanding Community Service Award.

SVCT members Marilyn Pifer and Mary Beth Anderson presented the award to publisher Marty Cheek, acknowledging how our two newspapers help get the word out about plays and musicals through our stories, reviews by Camille Bounds, and announcements of auditions.

“As we and other theaters and our entire community recover from COVID shutdown and interruptions, it’s become even more important to draw audiences back to let them know about shows we have and to have a voice in the community,” Pifer said.

Cheek told the audience:  “My team and I are really honored for this terrific award you gave us tonight. We love supporting local theater because all the shows enhance our community’s quality of life.”

Thank you, SVCT, for bringing so much in wonderful theater arts to the South Valley.

And, readers who love great drama, get your tickets for their fascinating play “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” which opens Nov. 17 at the Playhouse.

Claremont Drive block party. Photo courtesy Cricket Rubino

We got some good news from residents of the Claremont Drive neighborhood who held their third annual block party Oct. 14. As long time resident Cricket Rubino put it to the group this was once known as “the Claremont Heights” as it is nestled on the slopes of El Toro mountain.

The residents sealed off the cul-de-sac and set up tables for a potluck and brought in a portable fire pit. After everyone had helped themselves to some delicious food and beverages they formed a circle and introduced themselves to each other. This was not only a “feel good ” moment for the adults but also a reassuring one for parents with small children and even pets who now know they have friendly neighbors to turn to for help in the event of any emergency or crisis. We can only hope that more Morgan Hill neighborhoods will make the same effort to get to know each other in years to come.


South Bay Singers, a 50-voice Morgan Hill-based choral group under the leadership of Conductor Kathy Esteves-Bates will present ‘Holiday Songfest 2023,’ a concert of beloved holiday music featuring timeless traditional carols to contemporary seasonal songs in joyous celebration of the holiday season.

Bates highlights the camaraderie that has developed among the choir members. “This group is very special. We have people from all walks of life who set their cares aside for one evening a week to rehearse, with the uplifting goals of reaching performance level and making great friends along the way.”

In addition to serving as conductor of SBS, Bates recently expanded her creative activities with “Rose, A Mother’s Story,” where she portrays matriarch Rose Kennedy recalling the triumphs and tragedies of her life. Upcoming presentations include the Gilroy Library (2 p.m. Nov. 19) and the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center/South County Lifelong Learning Program (2:30 p.m. Jan. 17.

Bates said she can hardly contain her enthusiasm about the local arts community. “We have such wonderful entertainment. Speaking for South Bay Singers, I can humbly say — we’re one of the best!”

The ‘Holiday Songfest 2023 schedule is:

3 p.m. Dec. 2, at Advent Lutheran Church, 16870 Murphy Ave., Morgan Hill; and 3 p.m. Dec. 3, at Gilroy Presbyterian Church, 6000 Miller Ave. Tickets are $25 and available at or at the door. Children younger than 10 are free.