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SRQ DAILY Dec 1, 2018

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Effectively harnessing the influence of technology and balancing its use with hands-on, real-world and personal interactions are keys to turning a potential negative into a proven positive."

- Jennifer Vigne, Education Foundation of Sarasota County
 

[County Government]  The Price of Living Somewhere Nice
Paul Caragiulo

I found myself last week watching the public hearing at the Sarasota County Planning Commission for Siesta Promenade a project proposed for the northwest corner of US 41 and Stickney Point Road). This project has been under the microscope for nearly three years, largely because of the “who,” not the “where” or the “what”. In case you are wondering, the “who” in this case is Benderson Development. For the record, any development company which includes the word “development” in their name is asking for trouble. If you believe the small but vocal minority, development is the cause of all the anxiety and grief to those of us who were here first. Developers, in their opinion, create traffic simply because people and therefore vehicles tend to populate the places they create—or recreate, as is the case with an urban infill project such as Siesta Promenade.

The project in question involves a vacant parcel designated for future commercial use on one of the most prominent intersections in the community. I wasn't terribly interested in hearing a presentation on the merits of infill development, but I listened. Both the applicant and county staff have a proposal which is consistent with the county's comprehensive plan. What I wanted to hear was the public testimony and that was dominated by concerns of increased traffic.

Traffic where two nine-lane highways meet in a completely urbanized area, not a two-lane road east of town. Relatively few voiced concerns of compatibility to the adjacent single-family neighborhood, a far more important and relevant issue and the one I hope the County Commission will spend some time on.

Why can't my neighborhood Publix have more checkout lanes open? Why can't my favorite restaurant have more tables so I don't have to wait? Why is there so much more traffic than there was when I first came here? More people showed up and ended up staying. Can you blame them? I think not. This place is not just nice, it's really nice. The only thing that people like better than a nice place is a really nice place. Don't believe me? Invite someone here. They will show up and likely return. Take a nice place and add excellent services and amenities, it becomes a really nice place.

Nice things can come with a cost, which may include more time getting to and from our places of employment, schools and—more specifically related to Siesta Promenade—the beach. Show me a place with little traffic and I will show you a place few people want or need to be. It is the nature of supply and demand.

Government can and should take steps to manage the impact of additional people in our community and on roads. They do a competent job with traffic safety and what they can with capacity. Whenever possible, adjustments to sequencing and signalization are made. These improvements can be small on an individual basis but transportation systems are more about the sum than the parts and frequently there are multiple jurisdictions and bureaucracies involved. They get it right far more times than wrong. It is not government’s role nor responsibility to guarantee the 10-, 15- or 30-minute trip you currently enjoy or endure from point A to point B remain below any specific time ceiling in perpetuity. That is simply not going to happen.

We live in a nation in which a tremendous portion of the population enjoys total freedom of movement whenever we wish. It's a uniquely American phenomenon. Yes, we love the freedom our automobiles provide and although driving can be painful it seems it's just not painful enough to demand alternatives, not yet anyway. Throughout my conversations with constituents on traffic I found people rarely adjust their discretionary travel patterns. Some complain but most recognize the wonderful community we live in is no secret and there may be others around us causing “congestion” and encroaching upon our “quality of life.” Things change and hopefully evolve.

This is certainly not the same community I first experienced 30 years ago. It's better. Much better. It's really, really nice.

Paul Caragiulo is a former Sarasota County Commissioner and Sarasota City Commissioner. His new SRQ Daily column will appear the first Saturday of each month. 

[Education]  Boost Tech Gift Fun with Safe Practices
Jennifer Vigne, jvigne@edfoundationsrq.org

At this time of year, it’s a safe bet holiday wish lists will include technology, electronic or digital devices for most everyone from toddlers to grandparents.

After all, look at everything today’s smart gadgets do for us: They guard our homes, exercise our bodies and minds, provide entertainment, pay our bills, order our groceries, get us to our destination--and the list continues.

No question about it: These devices are fun, informative, integrated and engaging.

But some experts caution those compelling games, apps, videos and programs that play on tablets, TVs, laptops and cell phones also have the potential to become addictive. New evidence is emerging about screen time’s effect on a young person’s developing brain. Studies from respected sources, such as Psychological Science and Pew Research, show that heavy tech users have a higher risk for depression and anxiety, and frequent social media use can rewire children’s brains to seek immediate gratification.

Physicians, behavioral experts, educators, child advocates and even tech developers are voicing concerns about too much screen time. Some Silicon Valley tech executives have gone so far as to ban technology use by their own children.

We all understand technology is here to stay and those neat gadgets and tools enhance our lives in numerous ways. I know I would be lost, literally, without my GPS and appointment reminder.

Effectively harnessing the influence of technology and balancing its use with hands-on, real-world and personal interactions are keys to turning a potential negative into a proven positive.

For example, technology in the classroom is an effective tool when combined with interactive exercises developed by creative, innovative teachers. And playing a video game at home can be relaxing and fun as long as it’s balanced with personal interactions, such as playing softball with friends and board games with the family.

We believe it’s important for families to understand about the dangers of unbridled technology use so they can promote healthy and safe habits for their children.

We want our students to know about the latest scientific evidence and the potential negative impact of poor tech habits so they are equipped to make good choices in using devices.

Making wise choices and developing healthy habits are parts of an array of social-emotional behaviors that are proven to help students succeed in school and later in college, on the job and in life. Young people who apply healthy and mature social-emotional behaviors to tech management are more likely to use good judgment and exercise self-discipline in the content they share, the sites they visit and the time they spend on devices scrolling, texting, gaming, posting and learning.

Most children function better within a structured environment and can understand a parent’s responsibility to monitor screen time usage and social media to ensure the child’s well-being. Parents who want to take the opportunity to open a discussion about healthy screen habits when giving a tech gift can find tools and tips at www.screenagersmovie.com. The website is related to an award-winning film, “Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age,” created by physician and filmmaker Dr. Delaney Ruston.

Practical ideas from Dr. Ruston include having weekly short, calm conversations with your family about technology and establishing times when tech is out of sight to help children focus and develop self-control. A weekly blog, Tech Talk Tuesday, available on the website, offers good discussion starters.

Don’t be surprised to find that following a structure that minimizes multi-tasking and devotes focused time to homework and personal interactions will free up time for unhindered enjoyment of favorite tech gadgets.

The Education Foundation of Sarasota County team wishes you and yours a joyful holiday season.

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

[Community]  Another Season of Sharing
Roxie Jerde, roxie@cfsarasota.org

Earlier this year our region faced a challenge that was an alarming experience for many who live in our community. In August, red algae bloom spread across our coastal waters, causing catastrophic damage to marine life, polluting our beaches and creating distress and health complications for anyone close enough to breathe in the affected air. While the effects of red tide could be seen and felt, there was one symptom that wasn’t as evident.

Thousands of people living in our community, our neighbors, were and still are struggling with financial emergencies as their jobs were greatly impacted during the algae bloom. Dozens of stores, restaurants and hotels on the coastline had to be closed due to lack of business and even health issues.  Employees did not receive paychecks for days or even weeks at a time. Unable to earn their typical wages and tips, many found it incredibly difficult to juggle putting food on the table, making car payments or paying their rent.

Fortunately, our community has a safety net in place for just these types of situations. For 19 years, Season of Sharing has allowed people living in our community who are just one unfortunate circumstance away from homelessness to keep a roof over their head. Circumstances beyond their control, like red tide, have turned what might be a minor inconvenience to some into a critical emergency that threatens their ability to stay in their home and pay their bills.

In 2000, Diane McFarlin, then-publisher of the Herald-Tribune Media Group, recognized the need for this type of fund in our community. Beneath the beauty of our region, too many of our residents were struggling to bridge the gap to an economically stable life. In partnership with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, the Season of Sharing Fund was formed to support a network of 60-plus community agencies who dedicate themselves to assisting those who fall in the grey area between financial constancy and homelessness.

Through Season of Sharing, case workers can request up to $1,000 in immediate, emergency funding that provides for things like rental or mortgage payments, utility bills, transportation and other expenses so they can get back on their feet.

Since its inception, thanks to the caring hearts in our community, Season of Sharing has raised $19 million to help keep the roof over the heads of more than 20,000 families and individuals from Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties. However, this funding does not come out of thin air. Each year thousands of people in our community donate gifts ranging from $5 to thousands of dollars to lend a helping hand to their neighbors. The generosity is incredible, and the campaign is truly one that the community owns.

Thanks to this safety net, a senior who has worked hard their entire life does not have to choose between medicine, food or rent. A single mother can repair her car so she can get to work, allowing her to continue providing food at the table. A young adult transitioning out of foster care can stabilize their life and get on their feet. A family can afford childcare so they can continue to go to work each day. The stories go on.

The impact of this campaign is as remarkable as the collaboration required to put it together. Season of Sharing is the collective work of many partners who dedicate time, energy and money. Staff of foundations, nonprofit organizations and media partners dedicate hundreds of hours of time for project management, administration and creative planning so that 100 percent of every dollar from the community goes directly to help those in need. Additionally, thanks to support from The Patterson Foundation, every $500,000 raised by the public is strengthened by an extra $100,000. Also, when the campaign reaches $1 million, Community Foundation of Sarasota County will contribute another $100,000, as well as another $100,000 as a capping gift to achieve our goal of $2 million to assist those most vulnerable in our community. These funds are used throughout the holiday season and the year to come.

Diane may never have predicted red tide’s disastrous effects on our community. However, her vision helped put in place the safety net so many needed, especially this year. As we embark on our 19th annual campaign, we ask you join the tens of thousands of long-time residents and visitors who care about our neighbors in need. Our community still has a way to go in ensuring that every single one of our residents enjoys a legacy of economic security, but until then Season of Sharing is here for our most vulnerable families. 

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

Learn more about Season of Sharing and how you can help here.

[City]  Autonomous Vehicles on the Horizon
Tom Barwin, Thomas.Barwin@sarasotagov.com

One of the most interesting conversations which has begun in forward-thinking cities is how to plan for driverless cars, otherwise known as autonomous vehicles, or AVs.

Today, 90 percent of American Households own one or more cars, most of which are parked 90 percent of the time.

Experts have estimated there are now 1 billion parking spaces in America, which equates to four parking spaces per vehicle. Parking spaces consume a tremendous amount of valuable land.

The Rocky Mountain Institute has predicted that the era of private car ownership will peak within the next decade as networks of shared, electric and driverless vehicles become available and cheaper.

Within a generation it is very likely that instead of buying a car you will buy rides.

Uber and Lyft could be considered a forerunner to AVs and are serving as a training ground for “buying a ride not a car.” I use Uber and Lyft frequently and have had a very good experience with them, but of course they still have humans driving.

It will be surreal to get in a car without a driver and trusting it, but it is beginning to look like it will likely happen in our cities. In fact, the technology support companies that will provide the high-tech communications equipment that will be installed to allow AVs to function have been visiting America’s city halls over the past year, including ours.

When AVs become the norm, driverless cars will not be making any money if they are parked. And private individuals will likely need to own far fewer cars.

The implications for cities are on the horizon. Should we begin to reduce our parking requirements? Will vacant home garages be allowed to be converted to rental units? Should empty parking lots be used for affordable housing, urban parks, community gardens, office space? Where will the AVs recharge and be maintained?

Maybe not this Christmas, but at some point relatively soon, don’t be surprised if you find yourself buying a loved one a years’ worth of driverless car rides. I can already imagine the commercials.

Tom Barwin is Sarasota City Manager. 



[SCOOP]  Psychic Sunday Tours with Discover Sarasota Tours

Learn why Sarasota is called Sedona by the Sea! Join tour guide and medium Michael Newton-Brown on Discover Sarasota Tours' new Psychic Sunday Trolley Tour. Experience a gallery spirit reading & collective Tarot reading onboard their trolley and then stop by Pixie Dust Metaphysical Boutique to shop and sample Tarot Reading, Chair Massage, Sound Immersion, Angel Card Reading, or get your Astrology Birth Chart (each for a small add-on fee). Want a personal 15-minute Tarot card reading? Just book with Michael back at the Trolley Depot following the tour. Reservations are required and space is limited - book now! 

[SCOOP]  Goodwill Manasota Receives Grant to Support "Homebuyer's Club" Program

Goodwill Manasota recently received a grant of $5,000 from BankUnited for the Homebuyer's Club program. These funds will support Goodwill's efforts to assist employees who wish to purchase a home. Goodwill’s Homebuyer's Club prepares Goodwill employees for homeownership through a long-term program offering education, workshops, and credit counseling. It also provides budgeting counseling for families to ensure successful homeownership and helps employees who achieve mortgage pre-approval to purchase new or renovated homes offered through standard real estate channels. For more information about Goodwill, call (941) 355-2721 or go to experiencegoodwill.org. 

[SCOOP]  Second Voice and Visibility Salon Series Takes Place in Burns Court

The Voice & Visibility Salon Series, Investing in Women hosted its second event in Burns Court on 11/28/18.  The night included a multicultural Art Exhibit, a curated presentation and conversation by founder Shannon Rohrer-Phillips, and guest remarks by Tarnisha Cliatt, the CEO of the Manasota Black Chamber of Commerce. Says Shannon, “This salon event was a tribute to the magic that occurs when multicultural women gather, connect and listen to one another’s stories and initiatives. We look forward to expanding our Voice and Visibility Salon events into 2019.” SRP, LLC creates opportunities for diverse women through events, media projects and partnerships in the business sector.

Photo Credit Cliff McDonald, Photo includes Tianna Boswell & Sarah Beattie 

[SCOOP]  Sarasota Memorial Hospital's Grant Joins AAASWFL Board of Directors

Carol Grant of Sarasota is the newest member of the Board of Directors for the Area Agency on Aging of Southwest Florida (AAASWFL).  Grant is Director of Integrated Case Management at Sarasota Memorial Hospital and a three-year Sarasota resident.

Based in North Fort Myers, AAASWFL is a nonprofit organization committed to helping adults ages 60 and over and people with disabilities to live with independence and dignity in their own homes and communities.  AAASWFL administers federal and state funding for elder and disability services, provides information and referrals through the Elder Helpline (866-413-5337), and provides direct services for seniors, including SHINE Medicare counseling, health and wellness workshops, and elder abuse prevention education.

At Sarasota Memorial, Grant supervises a 90-person department that is responsible for acute care case management. In addition to her service with the AAASWFL Board of Directors, Grant has served on the South Carolina Department of Corrections’ domestic abuse board.  She is also a member of the American Case Management Association (ACMA) and has served as president of the ACMA South Carolina Chapter. 

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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