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SRQ Daily Dec 15, 2018

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Kudos to Senate President Galvano for his clear understanding of government prioritization. "

- Christine Robinson, The Argus Foundation

[Gulf Coast]  REACHing Out to Homeless Youth
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

I hope you’ve heard the good news that the Sarasota YMCA recently received a federal grant for a program it calls Street REACH. A project of the Y’s Schoolhouse Link program, Street REACH provides case management, mental-health counseling, and help with basic needs like clothes and transportation so unaccompanied homeless youth in our community can stay safe, find stable housing and become self-sufficient. REACH stands for “Reconnecting Employment, Academics, and Community Housing.” It represents another vital strand in the safety net for teens and young adults with no place to call home.

I’ve written about Schoolhouse Link in this column before, but there’s never enough space to do justice to the life-changing work led by program director Ellen McLaughlin and her staff. Through Street REACH alone, Schoolhouse Link aims to serve 130 homeless teens and young adults next year. With as many as 400 homeless 16- to 24-year-olds in Sarasota County on any given night, the program promises to meet critical needs.

The $132,000 grant secured by the Y is the latest achievement in a collective effort to create a true system of care for Sarasota’s homeless young people. The funding will sustain and expand start-up work that had been funded in part through Gulf Coast Community Foundation by a generous donor over the past two years. That’s a realized goal of the kind of seed investment philanthropy can uniquely provide: to get an innovative program up and running, show real results, and attract more funding from beyond our region to meet local needs.

Street REACH also complements great work by other community partners, like Harvest House, which opened its Youth Center in October to provide a front door to services and support for unaccompanied teens and young adults. It is energizing for everyone involved to see such progress.

A key enhancement coming to Schoolhouse Link’s REACH program is the counseling component. A Sarasota Y survey of homeless youth found that, in addition to most respondents lacking health insurance, a stable income, transportation, and a sustainable source of food, nearly all had mental-health issues too. In another Y survey, the majority of those who replied had a high incidence of childhood trauma, which the Centers for Disease Control identifies as a strong predictor of negative outcomes such as adult alcoholism, intravenous drug use, chronic depression, and more. Yet, less than a quarter said they were seeing a counselor or therapist.

Those 16 to 24 years old who are homeless and on their own are an especially vulnerable group. They often are running from conflict, abuse, neglect or poverty in their homes. Many leave their education because of their homelessness but have little work experience or life skills to fall back on. They’re also subject to high levels of criminal victimization, including sexual exploitation and human trafficking. All of this is especially heartbreaking when you consider that many are in these circumstances because of decisions made by adults in their lives.

But Ellen at Schoolhouse Link never lets us forget that despite such oppressive challenges, the youth that she and her team work with are resilient. They are strong. Words that resonate with them are “smart,” “proud,” and “brave.” Homeless teens and young adults should not be defined by the decisions of others. Their future potential should not be circumscribed by their present circumstances. They are members of our community, so it is up to all of us to hold them close, lift them up, and encourage their individual hopes and dreams.

Mark S. Pritchett is president/CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. 

[Argus]  Galvano’s vision puts infrastructure at forefront
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

We are very lucky to once again have a Florida Senate President from our region. Senator Bill Galvano was officially elected Senate President last month. Senator Galvano has been an excellent friend to Sarasota and has served in Senate leadership in differing capacities over the years. He was sworn in as Senator in 2010. Prior to that, he served in the state house for eight years.

The Argus Foundation hosted Senator Galvano, then Senate Majority Leader, at our Annual Meeting in 2015. Four years later, we are hosting now Senate President Galvano at our Annual Meeting on January 15th to get a preview of his Senate Presidency and what we can look forward to in the 2019 legislative session.

In listening to his speech at the November 2018 Senate organizational session, The Argus Foundation is optimistic about what is to come. He gave a hint of his broad priorities, but more importantly, he gave an outline, which we think local governments should also be following in their budgeting. 

This is a hint to local governments seeking statewide monies, if you want access to statewide money, you should follow the Senate playbook and show them you are doing so.

Senate President Galvano first expressed the importance of safety and welfare and essential government services. Then he turned to infrastructure: 

“And as we prioritize, I still believe that the future of our economy and its ability to diversify and grow, is tied to our infrastructure and our investment therein. I am talking about it at all levels, from transportation to water to communications to power. We need together to think innovatively when it comes to infrastructure, so we are not just meeting the needs of today, mitigating the needs of yesterday, but anticipating the needs of tomorrow.”

Kudos to Senate President Galvano for his clear understanding of government prioritization. He clearly gets that our economic development and growth is tied to infrastructure. Infrastructure should be a priority after essential government services. We are excited by his vision and hope that the whole legislature will follow his leadership.

This sort of investment on the statewide level is difficult and hard to do. It doesn’t make a splash, it doesn’t make for sexy headlines, and it is hard to get people to rally around asphalt, sewer pipes, power lines, and water conveyances. But it is important to our future and our economics.

It is an exciting time in Florida right now. We are at a turning point in terms of investing in the future. We invite you to come hear more from Senate President Galvano at our Annual Meeting luncheon on Tuesday, January 15th. Go to http://argusfoundation.org/events/ for details and registration information, seating is limited.

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation. 

[City]  Personal Mobility Sharing: E-Scooters
Tom Barwin, Thomas.Barwin@sarasotagov.com

Although driverless cars are likely a decade or more away, a new development in the field of transportation is emerging about as fast as your morning coffee cools. 

It is called personal mobility sharing and is geared for the first or last mile of a trip.  The latest innovation in personal mobility sharing is the electric scooter.   

The e-scooter movement joins the renewed interest in bicycles as a way for people to move about over relatively short distances, a bit faster than walking.

 Sarasota has been approached by a Santa Monica California, electric scooter company, called Bird, who desire to deploy electric scooters in Sarasota.  

The company’s business plan is to locate the scooters in densely populated areas.

Once deployed, those who sign up to pay to use them can simply hop on a nearby scooter to run an errand, grab a meal, or whatever. Bird must have heard we have 25,000 jobs in downtown Sarasota, with many good restaurants and stores to check out.   

The e-scooters have been rolled out by companies in several cities around the country including in nearby Coral Gables. 

Hopefully the pilot programs are helping to work the bugs out as people learn how to use the scooters and motorists become aware they are being used.   

Although Florida law currently prohibits electric scooters from being ridden on sidewalks or roadways, they can be permitted by a city in the public right of ways under certain conditions. 

Our city staff is in the process of meeting with the electric scooter company to explore if and how they might work in areas of Sarasota, perhaps downtown, or on our college campuses if the colleges are interested. 

I can’t wait to try one.  In my case, I hope they come with bubble wrap and a helmet?

Is Sarasota ready for E-scooters?   If you have an opinion please feel free to email me, at thomas.barwin@sarasotafl.gov.

Tom Barwin is Sarasota City Manager. 

[On City Politics]  What It Could Be
Ryan Thompson

Part 2 or 3

The seeds of Bobby Jones' future are abundant in an oak hammock I can picture between the eighth and ninth holes of the Colonel John Gillespie Executive Course and the ravine that cuts its fourth hole horizontally. Taxpayers don't need to subsidize a golf course, spending an estimated $21.5 million to perform renovations on top of expenses like the $576,000 bailout the complex will need this fiscal year to crawl out of the red. To save this critical public space—its 300-plus acres make up about half the city's green space—we ought to make it wild again.

Growth that externalizes costs in the form of sprawl and environmental degradation has made many cynical. To imagine a new future for this land in central Sarasota, which the course's website claims "sits on 325 contiguous acres of virgin meadowland," is to momentarily cast away the malaise many of us feel when we realize how far the distance between us and the rest of nature has grown, even as many move here with the good intention to feel closer to the elements. Salt life? That's an ideal to be fought for, not merely consumed.

Two years ago, the county commission amended the comprehensive plan so that a forested wetland three miles northeast of the 17th Street boundary of Bobby Jones could be destroyed and replaced with a grocery store and gas station. Ironically, $158,750 was recently withdrawn from public accounts to address drainage issues at the flood-prone golf complex, a sum that would be zeroed out over time if we restored some of its area to wetlands, which store and slowly release floodwater. Wetlands—or a stormwater management system, lest we allow our passion for nature to rage uncontrollably—are one of the best protections we have against natural disasters like hurricanes and algal blooms, and are marvels of the ebb and flow of life. Although the 4.5 acres of wetlands that were at University Parkway and Honore Avenue are gone forever, we now have a precious opportunity to recover a semblance of what was lost there and elsewhere.

To atone for an excess of shortsighted schemes to transform what is left of local ecology into stucco and pavement, including the erstwhile greenery of other golf courses that have sprouted tract homes, I propose that we preserve nine of the Donald Ross-designed holes in accordance with the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf—honoring the club's historical legacy and the wishes of those who want to maintain a public course, which I am glad I had access to—and preserve the remainder of the area as a refuge of reflection and education for people and a key habitat of nonhuman life in central Sarasota between the Gulf and bay and the Myakka ecosystem. 

Ryan Thompson studied environmental history at UF and lives in north Florida. He can be contacted at rylthom@gmail.com. 

Read Part 1 in the Dec. 11 edition of SRQ Daily

[SOON]  A New Moon Rises at South Florida Museum

December 21 will mark the 50th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 8; the mission that took man to the moon's orbit for the first time in human history. On that historic day in 1968, U.S. astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders became the first humans to see the far side of the moon with their very own eyes. To celebrate this momentous occasion, South Florida Museum has  brought in the special exhibition A New Moon Rises, which features the dramatic landscapes captured by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) between 2009 and 2015.

Along with these stunning images of the dynamic lunar surface, South Florida Museum also has a new addition to the exhibition: a lunar meteorite on loan from Colorado expert Dustin Dickens, owner of Top Meteorite. This lunaite -- that is, lunar meteorite -- was blasted into space after an impact on the moon's surface. Eventually it fell to Earth and landed in the Sahara Desert.

Visit now to see this out-of-this-world exhibition! A New Moon Rises will be on display through January 13. Visiting the exhibition is included in the cost of general admission. 

[SCOOP]  Florida Studio Theatre Continues Murder, Mayhem, and Beautiful Melodies Into the Winter Season

Due to audience demand, Florida Studio Theatre (FST) announces that two hit productions—the FST original music revue Unchained Melodies and Mainstage production of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder—will have extended runs this season.

Unchained Melodies celebrates the male harmony groups of the ‘50s and ‘60s and features songs from legendary groups like The Drifters and The Four Tops. On the Mainstage, FST is proud to announce the second extension of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder due to popular demand. Critics are calling FST’s production of A Gentleman’s Guide a “Must see” and “Ingenious” (Broadway World). Audiences agree, calling it “Superb,” “Fabulous,” and “One of the best productions [they’ve] seen at FST!”

After an eighteen week run in FST’s Court Cabaret, Unchained Melodies will return to Sarasota with special encore performances in FST’s Keating Theatre beginning March 7. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder will now run in FST’s Gompertz Theatre through January 13. Single tickets for both productions may be purchased online at floridastudiotheatre.org, or at (941) 366-9000. 

[SCOOP]  Gulf Coast Community Foundation Awards JFCS $10,000 Community Grant

The Gulf Coast Community Foundation recently awarded JFCS of the Suncoast a $10,000 community grant to support the organization’s fundraising, cultural and volunteer recognition programs. The funds will be specifically directed toward five JFCS events and volunteer support programs, including the annual JFCS Celebration, BeyondMe networking events, Celebrity Chefs, JFCS Volunteer Celebration Luncheon and the Key Chorale Performance of Elijah.

“JFCS is most appreciative of this grant from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation that allows us to host events that grow awareness among residents, government officials, business leaders and other non-profit partners about the work and mission of JFCS,” said Laura McManus-Mesia, JFCS chief development officer.  “The grant is particularly timely given the recent economic and employment challenges as a result of Red Tide, which has placed greater burdens on those in need and the services to help them thrive.” 

[SCOOP]  The Voice & Visibility Salon Series, Investing in Women Hosts Third Event

The Voice & Visibility Salon Series, Investing in Women  hosted its third event in Burns Court on 12/12/18.  The night included a presentation by founder Shannon Rohrer-Phillips, and guest remarks by Claudia Baeza, Owner of Pineapple Yoga Studio. Says Shannon, “Our network of multicultural women interested in connecting and inspiring one another continues to grow. Claudia shared the health benefits of yoga, and announced her new initiative providing free yoga classes to teachers and nonprofit employees, and taught us about Goat Yoga!  SRP, LLC creates opportunities for diverse women through customized events, media projects and partnerships in the business sector. 

[SOON]  Sailor Circus Offers High-Flying Fun with Big Top Holidays

This holiday season, the renowned Sailor Circus celebrates the “high-flying” fun of the holidays, “leaping into the New Year” with acts that will thrill, amuse and amaze. Families from near and far are invited to enjoy the gift of the circus arts as the Sailor Circus presents Big Top Holidays, a seasonal celebration for all ages.Adventurous students ages 8-18 will dazzle and astound audiences as they perform a wide variety of acts, making this the must-see family event of the season. Featured performances include aerial silks, Spanish web, unicycle, juggling, high wire, flying trapeze, clowning, acrobatics and much more. The acts will riff off of traditional holiday themes and characters as the show moves from the day after Christmas through a heart-stopping final act that will literally launch a daring performer into the New Year.

Big Top Holidays runs from Thursday, December 27th through Sunday, December 30th. Showtimes are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 5 p.m. on Sunday. All performances are rain or shine. Tickets for Big Top Holidays are $15-$30. 

[SCOOP]  25 Years of Forty Carrots!

Forty Carrots Family Centers is celebrating 25 years of operation in Sarasota and Manatee Counties! Let’s take a look back at what they accomplished in 2018 alone:

  • Served over 4,607 clients through Parenting Education, Mental Health and Early Childhood Education

  • 93% of services provided to families at no cost

  • 17 non-profit partners at 29 partner locations

  • 2,177 Parenting Education and Mental Health families served annually

  • 787 Partners in Play groups at all Sarasota and Manatee County library locations

  • NAEYC Accredited Preschool served 110 Preschool and VPK families


SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine and edited by Senior Editor Phil LedererNote: 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. 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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