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SRQ DAILY Jul 4, 2020

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"Never in my lifetime has there been a more sober period in our national experience to honor and celebrate Independence Day."

- Kelly Kirschner, former Sarasota Mayor
 

[Education]  Freedom. Responsibility. Vote!
Jennifer Vigne, jvigne@edfoundationsrq.org

In the spirit of celebrating Independence Day, it is opportune to reflect on our nation’s great attributes and the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans.

On this July 4, 2020, it is 269 years since Benjamin Franklin began working on his greatest experiment, that of uniting then-British colonies into one nation, and 244 years since the Declaration of Independence was adopted.

For two-and-a-half centuries, our republic has endured and adapted in response to the values of its people, increased participation of diverse segments of our society and met citizens’ needs that shifted along with changing times. 

That’s a long time for any institution to exist, especially one initially regarded as a great experiment. But an even older institution is credited with the longevity of our nation’s form of government and that is public education.

The first public school opened in the American colonies in Boston, Mass., in 1635. Soon after, the first free taxpayer-supported public school opened in 1639 in Dorchester, Mass. These openings preceded the Declaration of Independence by 141 and 137 years, respectively.

Public education was viewed as important by our country’s founders, and the responsibility was bestowed at the state level as described in Article IX of the Florida Constitution: “The education of children is a fundamental value… and a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.”

In Florida, that responsibility was handed to each county to operate a school district where a “local school board shall operate, control and supervise all free public schools within the school district and determine the rate of school district taxes within the limits prescribed herein.”

As parents, grandparents and community members, we all want what is in the best interests of our children. While COVID-19 may have disrupted our lives for now, we have demonstrated our value for education by approving a tax referendum to provide additional revenue in support of our local schools; and we have been actively involved in our children’s classrooms, supporting teachers and volunteering in our schools. It is clear that we care about public education, and we care a lot. 

That is why it is vitally important that we pay attention to our local school board and the local election that goes with it. Both primary and general elections are important as it is possible the school board election will be determined in the Aug. 18 primary.

This November, the ballot will be long. It will include everything from the President of the United States to municipal races. There is a lot for which to prepare— to learn, understand and make decisions. 

While much attention is rightfully garnered at the presidential level, it is equally (if not perhaps more) important to pay attention to, prepare for and vote for the local positions. They may not get as much air time as a presidential candidate or even a state legislator may get, but these local positions, including

the two open Sarasota School Board seats, will be guiding our district.

I hope you will take the requisite time to learn, understand and vote for the two open seats on the School Board. I believe both seats deserve every citizen’s careful thought and research.

I encourage you to register if you aren’t already registered to vote, and make sure you exercise your right and responsibility to vote. For yourself, your neighbors, your children, the future. It’s Independence Day. Let freedom ring!

Jennifer Vigne is president and CEO of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. 

[Community]  Guiding Lights of Our Community
Roxie Jerde, roxie@cfsarasota.org

By now, we understand that changes to our lives as a result of the pandemic are hard and true facts. What could be changed to virtual life has — doctors' appointments, fundraising events and screen-led school lessons are no longer rare. Even the annual RAGBRAI, Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, that my husband and I complete each year with more than 20,000 other bicyclists, has transformed into a virtual trek, allowing riders across the world to connect and participate on a previously unimaginable scale.

We all are discovering innovative ways to adapt, innovate and heal as we chart our path to recovery. It is different for everyone, though, and some of us are better equipped than others to adjust, an inequality that should be acknowledged and one we at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County are focused on addressing.

Many of our local nonprofit partners are facing the same challenging realities. Decreased capacity and future uncertainty have led to a concerning fear for the vulnerable populations nonprofits serve who have been disproportionately impacted by this crisis, especially in the field of mental health. All of this compounded by a sense of urgency felt across all sectors to sustain, survive, and ultimately thrive once again.
Along with six other local foundations — Charlotte Community Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation, Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, The Patterson Foundation and The William G. and Marie Selby Foundation — we have moved quickly to gather insight from area cause leaders to better understand the severity of COVID-19’s impact and provide actions to support our partners. In response to an in-depth questionnaire, nearly 300 respondents shared their stories and experiences with us, and here are two key highlights that stood out to me:

  • Successfully caring for our community will come with access to technology. While a vibrant collection of virtual events has emerged to sustain engagement and fundraising, the means to successfully pivot and thrive are restricted for many. With many nonprofits tapping into reserves for the next six months to tackle pressing financial realities, having the right tools and funding today has never been more crucial in creating the community we all want to live in now, and for generations to come.
  • On the other hand, what is needed most is not new: innovation, connection, and collaboration remain as imperative as ever to sustaining the capacity necessary to deliver programs and services at pre-pandemic levels. As business models continue to shift, so too will strategic and innovative partnerships working across sectors to create a web of resources to support and empower our community.

In this decisive phase of accessing community needs, our recovery is only as strong as the tools, resources, and voices that come together to create it. Just this week, we shared that nearly 40 local nonprofits had received more than $867,400 in grants to support animal welfare, health care, school readiness and summer education. Now more than ever, these specialty grants — in addition to other grant opportunities awarded — will act as a vital lifeline to cause-driven organizations addressing the fault lines exposed by COVID-19.

While nothing can replace the fireworks that would normally grace our nighttime sky tonight, I believe the same is true for the light our nonprofit partners give to our community identity, one that glows brighter with each person, cause and community served. Just as Francis Scott Key was inspired by the “broad stripes and bright stars” of our resolute flag to compose our national anthem, the work of our nonprofits is a guiding light that illuminates the very nature of our community, reminding us that even in the darkest of times you can still see the stars. As we work to build a brighter future together for all of us, I say to you with an abundance of hope and optimism: Shine on!

Roxie Jerde is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. 

[On Freedom]  Obligated to Stand
Kelly Kirschner

“I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us… The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me.” — Frederick Douglass, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" 7/5/1852

2020 marks the 10th anniversary since the local immigrant-integration, non-profit UnidosNow was formed. I am proud to be one of the founding members, having done so amidst the backdrop of local, state and national issues negatively impacting immigrant communities. July 4, 2020 seems to be an appropriate date for deeper reflection on our non-profit’s existence and work.

Never in my lifetime has there been a more sober period in our national experience to honor and celebrate Independence Day. The celebrations in 2020 will be muted as public fireworks performances, festivals and parades are cancelled and we all wrestle with the pain of the ongoing pandemic, the global financial and unemployment crisis and a reckoning with our long-held myth of American exceptionalism, in particular as it relates to our neighbors of color being able to equally participate in such an exceptional land.

With the current Black Lives Matter protests and the tumbling of statues of historic figures of questionable morality around the country, it is a good moment to reflect on the history of the Statue of Liberty – our nation’s most iconic and recognized statue and its intersections with our current national challenges and the work of UnidosNow. As documented in this 2019 Washington Post article, the Statue of Liberty was originally conceived in 1865 to celebrate freed slaves, not immigrants. The plaque with Emma Lazarus’ poem — “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” — was not added to the base until 1903, not too far from the broken shackles of slavery that lie at Lady Liberty’s feet, which we rarely see included in images of her. The same French benefactors that beat the bushes to raise money to make the statue were also eagerly raising money to support recently freed slaves, who had been set forth into a land without a penny in their pocket, much less any benevolent aid organizations to help them adjust to such a radically different life.

African slaves were immigrants not of choice to this ‘land of liberty’ but by brutal force. For their captors, they weren’t even human – rather, they were chattel or property; 3/5ths of a human being according to our Constitution published 13 years after July 4, 1776. Yet in many ways, the Lazarus’ poem applies as much to the descendants of slaves as it does to today’s immigrant community – that particular line beneath the statue, yearning to breathe free, so horrifically and literally present in George Floyd’s final, repeated words “I can’t breathe.”

Amidst these uncertain and tumultuous times, there is a latent sadness many of us share with how our Nation’s ideals continue to be elusive, if not an outright scam for so many of our fellow citizens of color. Maybe this was best encapsulated on July 4, 1936, when President Franklin Roosevelt honestly reflected on our nation’s Founding Fathers during an Independence Day celebration at Monticello, the former slave plantation of Declaration of Independence author and President Thomas Jefferson. “Theirs were not the gods of things as they were, but the gods of things as they ought to be,” he said.

During the recent 2020 Giving Challenge, UnidosNow was able to raise an incredible $282,000 that now supports over 400 of the region’s most vulnerable immigrant families to bridge our current crisis. It is with utmost gratitude and appreciation that so many individuals, families and organizations supported us in this effort to build and make things as they ought to be in our community today.

Our shared work to continue to call into being the promise of our nation that was laid out on July 4, 1776, remains, however, and will go far beyond our passive philanthropic acts. To be successful will require bold, transformative acts at all levels of government that as citizens of this nation, we are obligated to stand and vocally support. This would be true patriotism worthy of celebration in 21st Century America.   

Kelly Kirschner is co-founder and Board Chair of UnidosNow.org. He works as Vice President and Dean of Executive & Continuing Education at Eckerd College.   

[COVID-19]  Check-Mating COVID-19
Tom Barwin, Thomas.Barwin@sarasotagov.com

On many occasions during this pandemic, at least at city hall, an hour has seemed like a day, and a day has seemed like a week.  In a similar time warp, the four-month long Covid-19 crisis is beginning to feel like it has been going on forever.   Yet, new facts, trends and breaking news pop up daily.  It has been like an intense chess game in this battle against a very cagey opponent, only with people’s lives and livelihoods at stake.   For example, this week the Governor had to reclose all bars. And on Monday evening, the City of Sarasota joined Holmes Beach and Anna Maria island in adopting a mandatory face mask ordinance.   Frankly, the City Commission decided that we were done fooling around and playing cat and mouse with this thing.  And the public seems to agree, as nearly 80% of the 670 residents who called or emailed city hall were in favor of requiring that all who are out in public wear protective face masks unless they can't for medical reasons, or are out exercising safely distanced from others.   

With all the federal and state mixed messages, starts and stops, and now with the new surge in cases and high percentage of tests coming back positive, it is clear the vast majority want to take control of this thing rather than let it control us.  To use a basketball term, it's time to put a full court press on Covid-19, take the ball back, and run out the clock on it. Or to stick with chess, it’s time to checkmate Covid.

With America's July 4th birthday upon us, the true American spirit has reemerged. Let's take control and do what we must do, which really isn’t that much.   In 1776 the British were coming, in 2020 it's the virus that has been coming.  Folks worked together then to win our country's independence, and that’s the only way we can regain our independence now from our current threat. Since Sarasota's mandatory mask ordinance has gone into place, mask usage has gone up dramatically. Many more people are wearing masks around town and in our stores, restaurants and even the post office. Thank you, and way to go everybody. If we can keep it up and a few others join in, we can begin to get control of it over the next month. If we do work together just maybe a year from now the Coronavirus will have become an increasingly distant memory. It will be nice to get back to attending sports games, the theaters, Sarasota Orchestra, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, McCurdy's Comedy Club, or just the movies.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Meanwhile, those mandatory mask rules will remain in place until we get the upper hand. Mandatory masks also apply to common areas of condominium complexes, apartment buildings, hotels and public restrooms. If you need a copy of our mandatory mask ordinance, or the most frequently asked questions, or to learn where you can get free masks as long as our supply lasts, just email mandatory.mask@sarasotafl.gov

For now, our free mask mobile will circulate around our increasingly safe city.  Violations can also be reported to the mandatory mask email through which they will be forwarded to code enforcement.  Please do not call 911 with mandatory mask questions or issues.    Best wishes for a good holiday weekend. Be safe. I look forward to seeing you and your mask around town. 

Tom Barwin is the City Manager for the City of Sarasota. 



[In This Issue]  Mom's World Mid-Pandemic

Five local mothers celebrate Mother's Day in a whole new way.  

Click here to read the full article from SRQ's Summer 2020 edition.

[July Fourth]  Three Veterans Find True Independence This Independence Day

For three new service dog graduates, July 4, 2020 has a very special meaning. 

These veterans, who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, marked the first service dog class to return to the Southeastern Guide Dogs campus since the beginning of the coronavirus shutdown in March. While many organizations have not yet resumed operations, Southeastern Guide Dogs is welcoming students back to campus following the implementation of rigorous protocols for the health and safety of staff, volunteers and dogs. 

These three heroes, representing 30 years of service in the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps, finished their 11 days of training at the end of June, and left for their Florida homes with their new, four-legged best friends. After years of struggling with the isolation, anxiety, hyper-vigilance and other challenges of PTSD, Independence Day arrives with renewed hope for living lives filled with freedom and new possibilities.

When the fireworks explode in the sky on July 4, Teresa, Marc and Mike will have their service dogs by their sides to offer them comfort. 

Teresa is an Army veteran who did not know that she could be eligible for a service dog for her PTSD until she learned about Southeastern Guide Dogs from her VA counselor. Now, her dog Scott reassures her with his combination of alertness and calm, replacing her fears with hope.

Navy veteran Marc did six deployments around the world, retiring to civilian life in 2015. But anxiety and depression derailed his future. Enter easygoing, smart Scooter, who has relieved Marc's PTSD symptoms and given him new joy.

Even though he lived just 12 minutes from Southeastern Guide Dogs for years, Marine Mike knew nothing about service dogs. Now his 17-year struggle with PTSD has been tempered by an affectionate, energetic dog named Ryan, who makes all the difference in Mike's outlook.

If you are a veteran or know one who could benefit from the extraordinary gifts of a Southeastern Guide Dogs service dog, please apply today. Our services and dogs are provided at no cost and include extensive benefits such as premium dog food, yearly veterinary wellness care, vaccines and preventatives for the life of a guide or service dog team. Learn more. 

Pictured: Southeastern Guide Dogs Service dog class #289, Teresa and service dog Scott, trainer Anne Savo, Marc and service dog Scooter, trainer Laska Parrow, and Mike and service dog Ryan.

[COVID-19]  Citywide Public Health Emergency Extended Through July 10

The City of Sarasota has extended its declaration of a local citywide public health emergency through July 10 following a weekly review, as required by the City Charter, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The emergency order issued Thursday by City Manager Tom Barwin, in consultation with Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch and City Attorney Robert Fournier, also extends the deadline for amendments to the City’s Comprehensive Plan until Oct. 2. It is anticipated that the processing of Comprehensive Plan amendments will be extended by about two months. Face coverings are now required in all indoor and outdoor public spaces in City limits, whenever proper social distancing cannot be maintained in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. The temporary regulation, which took effect July 1, will be in place for 60 days. 

Click here for more information.

[SOON]  THEATER: Online: Asolo Repertory Theatre Online Classes for Kids, Ages 8-18 , July 6 – July 31, 10am, 11am and 3pm

Introducing Asolo Rep Young Artist: Online Classes, designed for ages 8-18. From demystifying Shakespeare to exploring innovative ways of creating theatre together, these classes will spark your young artist’s imagination and help to hone their theatrical technique. See below to find out more about the exciting content and amazing professional artists who will be leading these classes. Classes are $50 to $75 to register. Contact Asolo Rep Education & Engagement Department: education@asolo.org

Online Program.

[SOON]  SEMINAR: Virtual: State of the Talent Virtual Conference (SOTC) , July 16, 9am-3pm

The State of Talent Conference is presented by CareerSource Suncoast and is the premier one-day conference experience completely focused on the future of workforce and talent development. This leadership-focused conference provides a unique insight into the current state of talent and what leaders need to do to tackle one of business’ most complex challenges, their people assets. While the original live conference was cancelled this year in light of COVID-19, we are pleased to provide a completely immersive digital experience. Free. Fully Immersive Digital Experience. 4+ CEUs (SHRM/HRCI).

Virtual.

[SOON]  GALLERY: Virtual: Celebrate Selby Gardens: 40th Annual Juried Photographic Exhibition , August 27 – September 20, 10am-4:30pm

We are excited to announce that Selby Gardens will celebrate 40 years of the annual juried photographic exhibition and sale with a virtual edition hosted in partnership with The Observer Group! The virtual exhibition will be viewable August 27 to September 20 on Selby.org and YourObserver.com. As we pivoted to the virtual photographic exhibition format, we adjusted the photo submission deadlines and details as well as the dates of the exhibition. Please review and mark your calendar with the new dates below: Online Photo Submissions: Sunday, August 9 to Friday, August 14. Winners Announced: Thursday, August 27. Virtual Exhibition: Thursday, August 27 to Sunday, September 20. To minimize person-to-person contact, photos must be submitted digitally. Please stay tuned for more step-by-step details on how to submit your photos. Entry is open to all amateurs, but photos must have been taken at either Selby Gardens’ Downtown Sarasota or Historic Spanish Point campuses. Please refer to the entry details below for more information.

Selby's Museum of Botany & the Arts, 900 S Palm Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  THEATER: Virtual: Florida Studio Theatre Presents Sarasota Improv Festival , July 10 – July 12

Florida Studio Theatre is pleased to announce that it will present an online improv festival the same weekend its annual Sarasota Improv Festival was slated to take place: Friday, July 10 through Sunday, July 12. Held completely online, this Festival features workshops, shows, and interviews with established improvisers from around the world, including Joe Bill (a founding member of Chicago’s Annoyance Theater), Craig Cackowski (Quartet, Orange Tuxedo), and Gael Perry (French improv troupe, La Carpe Haute). Shows and interviews can be accessed for free on the Sarasota Improv Festival’s Facebook page. Workshops will be conducted over Zoom and cost $30 each. To register for workshops, visit floridastudiotheatre.org or call FST’s Box Office at 941-366-9000.

[SOON]  BUSINESS: Sarasota YPG After Hours at Art Ovation , July 9, 5:30-7:30pm

Join us on Thursday, July 9th for this month's YPG After Hours! Whether you're looking to make new friends, build your network, or learn more about what Sarasota has to offer, this is a great opportunity to connect with other young professionals in the region. Along with drink specials, enjoy appetizing lite bites for the duration of the event. 

Art Ovation Hotel, 1255 N. Palm Avenue, Sarasota

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Virtual: Art Center Summer Art Camps , June 15 – August 7, Varied.

Summer Camp will be virtual this year from June 15 to August 7, 2020! We have decided for the health and safety of our teachers and campers that we will host camp virtually. Camp hours: 10am – 3pm. Cost: $75 for members | $100 for non-members (youth membership is $25) for one week. Space is limited please register for the weeks that your child is interested in.

The Creative Kids Summer Camp is for ages 6-9 years old. The Emerging Artists Summer Camp is for ages 10-13 years old. Contemporary Studies Summer Camp is for ages 14-18.

A Supply List will be sent to parents a few weeks before the camp week starts. The supply lists contain basic materials that your camper will be able to use more than once and where to find them. The camp project packet will be downloadable, for printing at home, on the Friday before the camp week starts and contains the projects for the next week. A printed version of the Camp project packet will be available upon request for pickup at the Art Center the Friday before camp from 10-2pm.

Art Center Sarasota, 707 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

[SOON]  THEATER: Virtual: Jeffery’s Virtual Roast and Toast , July 5, 7:30pm-9:30pm

A one night only virtual event roasting and toasting our friend and Managing Artistic Director Jeffery Kin. You know him, you love him, but now it's time to roast him. Jeffery Kin is celebrating his birthday with roasts and toasts from some of your favorite local performers virtually. Household Tickets $20.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Selby Gardens Presents Advanced/Intermediate Watercolor Classes , July 14 – July 28, 10am-2pm

Each three-class session focuses on demonstrations and a variety of watercolor techniques. Students with some previous experience will enjoy the freedom to experiment, create their own compositions, or paint along with the instructor. Instructor: Carolyn Merenda. Class Fee per Session: $140, members $125.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Downtown Sarasota, 900 S Palm Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  GALLERY: Selby Gardens Presents In Dialogue With Nature: Glass in The Gardens , August 8 – September 20, 10am-4:30pm

Glass Artists from the Duncan McClellan Gallery in the Conservatory and the Gardens. Selby Gardens and the Duncan McClellan Gallery (DMG) in St. Petersburg presents the third annual summer glass show. This year we are featuring the nature-inspired glasswork created exclusively by Duncan McClellan and his studio artists which will be displayed in the Conservatory and in the Gardens against a backdrop of lush flowers and plants. The beautiful botanically-themed glassworks will be for sale with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Selby Gardens’ mission. 

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Downtown Sarasota, 900 S Palm Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  SEMINAR: Try Your Hand at Poetry With Well-Published Poets in Online Class , July 28 – August 18

A Zoom Workshop will be offered Tuesdays at 6:00 pm on July 28, August 4, August 11, August 18. Led by store owner, Georgia Court, this is a chance to give poetry writing a try. They will be using Ted Kooser’s The Poetry Home Repair Manual as a guide. As a bonus, two experienced and well-published poets, Phil Terman and Rick Hilles, will be making guest appearances. A fee of $30 is required for participation. This includes a copy of The Poetry Home Repair Manual and all four sessions.

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