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SRQ DAILY Feb 8, 2020

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"A visit to Marietta's Museum of Art & Whimsy leaves me with the same feeling I have after watching a good sunset, it helps put everything else into a better perspective. "

- Tom Barwin, Sarasota City Manager

[Under The Hood]  Bring On The Primary
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Democrats need a primary in Florida House District 72. They need it to raise the profile of the race. They need it to spread awareness. They need it to keep the district blue in a presidential election year.

I want to be clear, I’m not saying this because Drake Buckman, now the only Democrat serving, is unfit as a candidate. He may well emerge as Democrats’ choice to run.

But at the moment, the party risks all but forfeiting its greatest local win in 2018 — really in more than a decade — and the progress made in turning the greater Sarasota area blue even if the county as a whole remains elusively red.

I spoke with Buckman on Friday, two days after Republican Fiona McFarland announced she had raised $25,000 in January and made the direct comparison to just under $25,000 that Buckman raised from July through the end of 2019.

It’s not a fair comparison in many ways (or at least one). McFarland remains locked in a competitive primary and will have to use much of her money before August. And Republican voters may yet elect Donna Barcomb or Jason Miller. Barcomb, in particular, was campaigning for this seat before McFarland moved to town and has won office before.

Buckman, meanwhile, remains unopposed.

And should McFarland be the nominee, Buckman seems motivated and practiced with cutting lines to attack her after a bruising primary. “Do you know what it’s like to smell red tide?” he asked. “Were you here a year or two ago to do that?” Spoiler alert, she wasn’t.

But then, Buckman lacks a platform right now to deliver witticisms. And he lacks the financial resources to broadly share his words with voters. It shows a lack of competition brings problems of its own.

Whoever emerges from the Republican primary will have enjoyed months of press. Just Friday, a debate was held at Michael’s On East putting the three GOP contenders on stage in front of party voters. There will be no such get-to-know-the-candidates events worth attending when Democrats don’t have a competitive primary.

Rumors have died down that former Sarasota Democratic Party chair Rita Ferrandino or Florida Young Democrats President Wesley Beggs will run for the open House seat. But either would draw intense attention on a race where Democrats sorely need voters attention.

Some pressure came out of Tallahassee last month for Margaret Good, who won the seat in a special election and held it through another campaign in 2018, to run for reelection instead of challenging U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan. But Good and the people around her have all emphatically told me she’s in the Congressional contest, period.

But at the moment, McFarland has around $200,000 raised, Barcomb has upward of $78,000, and Buckman has in the neighborhood of $25,000. Many factors can explain the differences in those numbers. But one is that Buckman remains unknown for lack of publicity.

He has a plan to meet with 25,000 voters individually. That connection should and will matter more than heavy spending, he said. That sounds great. But there’s no reason Democrats can’t both run an excellent ground game and buy some TV time, as they were able to do with Good.

If Buckman emerges out of a competitive primary field, good. He’ll be all the stronger for it and more money will flow his way. The same goes if another candidate wins such a contest.

And if a strong Democrat does appear on the ballot, it will help Good and any other candidate sharing the ballot, including whoever Democrats nominate for president.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor of SRQ MEDIA. 

[Higher Education]  Educating Students for a Global Future
Donal O'Shea and Maneesha Lal

Over half of the world’s population lives in Asia. In the U.S., we watch films and hear music that increasingly reflect the global influence of popular Asian cultures.

Today’s university graduates need a knowledge of Asia’s historic civilizations, myriad religions, diverse cultures, and dynamic economies. Indeed, two of those economies are forecast to overtake America’s in their lifetimes. Challenges such as climate change and global pandemics will require knowledge of critical languages and cooperation across national borders and boundaries.

Happily, a number of local educational and cultural institutions help students, and local residents, deepen their knowledge of Asia. Never was this more evident, than on January 16 to 19, when a remarkable collaboration brought together a rich panoply of matters Asian. 

More than 100 scholars of Asia from the US and around the world gathered at New College to share their research. Talks ranged over topics as diverse as British representations of Tibet in the nineteenth century; American, European, and Japanese policy toward Shanghai’s Jewish refugees during World War II; and public health and geopolitics in 1950s and 60s Cambodia. It was the first time in two decades that the Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies had met in Florida. Professors Xia Shi, Fang-yu Li, and Jing Zhang of New College put in enormous effort over many months to organize the multi-day program.

The Elling Eide Center kicked off the conference by hosting a public lecture on a stunning act of civil disobedience in the late years of the Ming Dynasty that led to an erotic opera with a hidden subversive agenda. The lecture was followed by a luncheon that included students, and, on the next two evenings, a splendid performance of the opera-inspired dance “Peony Dreams: On the Other Side of Sleep” by renowned dancer Yin Mei at The Ringling’s Historic Asolo Theater. The Ringling Museum hosted a welcome reception in the courtyard of the Center for Asian Art, and Dr. Rhiannon Paget and Dr. David Berry offered tours of its collection to conference participants. Conference attendees were also treated to a virtuosic New Music New College concert featuring soloist Jen Shyu performing her composition Nine Doors, inspired by Timorese and Korean folklore. 

New College students eagerly took the opportunity to describe their Asian-themed thesis projects through poster presentations for conference attendees. The association’s leadership was so impressed with the students’ work that they hope to incorporate student poster presentations as an ongoing feature of future conferences. 

New College’s offerings in Asian studies, culture, and languages have grown over the years. Now, six tenure stream faculty members regularly offer courses in Asian history, religion, economics, and politics as well as Chinese language and culture. These courses are available to other students in the Cross College Alliance. 

New College’s commitment to Asian studies is not just academic. 

One of this nation’s most illustrious Chinese American immigrants, I.M. Pei, designed the university’s iconic residence halls in the 1960s. The Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects designated the Pei residence halls as one of Florida’s Top 100 Buildings in 2012 and the University of Florida’s Historic Preservation Program included them in its list of 50 flagship structures in the state.

The multinational sensibility evoked by the Pei residences contributes to New College’s mission of preparing intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement. The residences and our course offerings embody the university’s commitment to educating students for a global future. We look forward to new partnerships to build on our Asia-related offerings in the years to come. And we also look forward to housing future generations of students in renovated residence halls designed by one of the iconic architects in Asian-American, indeed global, history. Those renovations will require volunteers, talent, and funds. The benefits will accrue to our entire community. Please contact either of us if you wish to help.  

Dr. Donal O'Shea is president of New College of Florida. Maneesha Lal is Associate Director of Faculty Development. 

[City]  Art from the Heart
Tom Barwin, Thomas.Barwin@sarasotagov.com

With our fair share of sunshine, year-round tropical flowers, and big-sky technicolor sunsets often appearing over our abundant waters, we surely live in a colorful place. This may be the primary reason Sarasota and the Gulf Coast has been such a magnet for artists and performers over the past 100 years, and perhaps why the region has attracted such a high percentage of residents and visitors who also enjoy the arts.  

One such inspired resident, who truly loves art, is Marietta Lee, founder of the Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy. The Museum of Art and Whimsy is located at 2121 North Tamiami Trail at 22nd Street, just a few blocks north of downtown Sarasota.  

A registered nurse and 1991 graduate of Ringling College of Art & Design, Marietta moved back to Sarasota from Connecticut in 2008.   Her creation is the most unique, offbeat, indoor-outdoor art museum on the Gulf Coast. Marietta's heavily landscaped art sanctuary rests behind a collection of tall, brightly colored Flamingos that passing motorists can't help but notice and wonder about. 

Marietta loves to display art that makes her smile.  Her campus is chock full of fanciful, fantastic objects, devices and artful creations that are a treat to the senses. Many of the whimsical displays can also be found in the museum's expansive back yard placed cleverly amongst the bamboo, palm and grand oak canopy trees in her mini tropical forest.     

A visit to Marietta's Museum of Art & Whimsy leaves me with the same feeling I have after watching a good sunset, it helps put everything else into a better perspective. The Marietta provides a lighthearted, and much needed antidote to the intense, instant news, drama and discord filled world we seem to be living in these days. It may be the love Marietta has put into this masterpiece, the beauty of the objects in the museum or the truth the artwork reveals, but whatever it is, it's truly a fun, refreshing way to spend an hour or two. Even better, it's free if you can't afford the suggested $5 minimum donation, which is used to keep the place going and the art collection growing.  But please note, the Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy is only open during the season, every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. If you can get there, I'm guessing you'll enjoy this not-so-hidden gem! And for those of you who enjoy fun art and whimsy, it's your lucky weekend because several of the artists who are featured at Marietta's Museum of Art and Whimsy will be participating in this weekend’s big art show on Main Street in downtown Sarasota this Saturday and Sunday.   

Thanks, Marietta Lee for bringing your fantastic museum to Sarasota and to all the volunteers who make it such a delight to visit!

Tom Barwin is Sarasota City Manager. Email him at Thomas.Barwin@sarasotafl.gov.   

[SCOOP]  DISCOVER SARASOTA TOURS — Boutiques & Bubbles Fashion, Accessories & Gifts Shopping Tour

Enjoy some me time aboard Discover Sarasota Tours’ air-conditioned trolley for our Fashion/Accessories & Gifts Boutiques & Bubbles shopping tour on Sunday, February 23 from 1-3:00 pm. Sip complimentary champagne in the Tiki Bar at the Trolley Cottage, while you shop in Vintage Sarasota gift shop, then enjoy a mini neighborhood tour with DST owner Tammy Hauser, before you visit Sara Campbell, Just Because, and Italian Idea.  

Discover Sarasota Tours

[SCOOP]  Adopt a Long-Term Shelter Pet Today for Just $14

All the animals in the Humane Society of Sarasota County’s “Lonely Hearts Club” have been patiently waiting for their furever families. We hope to place them in loving homes this month and see them moved to the “Happy Hearts Club.” From February 1-15 all long-term pets (those who have been at the shelter 30 days or more) are just $14 to adopt. Even non-long-term animals will be feeling the love this month—their adoption fee is discounted by $14. Regardless of their fee, all HSSC animals are spayed/neutered, microchipped, dewormed, vaccinated, and given a comprehensive medical exam prior to adoption. To see all the available animals and learn more about them, please visit our website at www.hssc.org. 

Humane Society of Sarasota County

[KUDOS]  SMH Makes Honor Roll in Nation’s First Tipping Point Challenge

Sarasota Memorial Hospital was among 95 organizations to receive national recognition for developing innovative programs and completing specialized training that is improving care for people living with a serious illness.The Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) announced on Wednesday the inaugural honor roll of the first John A. Hartford Foundation Tipping Point Challenge. A national innovation and quality improvement challenge sponsored by CAPC and the Hartford foundation, the challenge is the cornerstone of a five-year campaign aimed at creating a tipping point in the improvement of care delivered to millions of Americans living with a serious illness.   

Sarasota Memorial Hospital

[SCOOP]  2019 Big Brother & Big Sister of the Year

Ms. Victoria Phillips and Mr. David Rengifo have been selected as the 2019 Big Brother & Big Sister of the Year. Victoria and David’s application will be submitted to Big Brothers Big Sisters Association of Florida along with other Bigs of the Year applications submitted from the agencies in Florida. The State Association’s panel of judges selects one Big Brother and one Big Sister who will represent the State of Florida. For over 50 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast has been matching youth in meaningful, enduring, professionally supported mentoring relationships with adult volunteers who defend their potential and help them achieve their biggest possible futures. This past year, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast has served over 1,800 youth across a 10 county footprint. 

Big Brother & Big Sister of America

[KUDOS]  Sarasota Charter School Invited to Reimagine Education Awards in London

The Operation Outbreak educational platform, developed at Sarasota Military Academy (SMA), a local, public charter school, was recently named one of the world’s most innovative hybrid learning programs by a global educational awards program jointly organized by The Wharton School and QS Quacquarelli Symonds. SMA has been invited to attend the Reimagine Education Awards in London, England (8th-10th December, Queen Elizabeth II Centre). SMA Outreach Director Dr. Todd Brown will represent the Academy and present the Operation Outbreak (O2) program to 500 educational experts from across the world.  

Sarasota Military Academy

[SCOOP]  Ag at Night Returns to Palmetto

On Wednesday, February 26 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm, come to the Manatee County Agricultural Museum for “Ag at Night’s Creepy Crawly: Friend or Foe?” You'll get to visit with folks and learn about butterflies and butterfly gardening, common garden pests, vermicomposting, integrated pest management, citrus greening and canker, and have some tasty snacks as well. Ag at Night is a unique experience for adults only (18+). This 4-part programming series features fun topics related to agriculture, historically and today. Guests will experience hands-on activities, food and drink tastings, demonstrations, and more.  

Ag at Night’s Creepy Crawly: Friend or Foe?

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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