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SRQ DAILY May 28, 2020

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"You can't pass legislation against racism and anti-Semitism. You have to teach."

- Howard Tevlowitz, Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee

[Tolerance]  Holocaust Education Bill Awaits President's Signature
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Legislation aimed at increasing education about the Holocaust is headed to President Donald Trump’s desk this week. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, served as a co-sponsor on the bill, which is expected to become law.

“This funding and training would help educators teach young Americans of the Holocaust’s atrocities,” Buchanan said. “The increase of anti-Semitism that we have seen in Florida and across the country is unacceptable. We must deny the purveyors of anti-Semitism the opportunity to spread this hate among our students.”

Jewish leaders in the Sarasota region echoed similar sentiments.

“You can’t pass legislation against racism and anti-Semitism,” said Howard Tevlowitz, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee. “You have to teach.”

Buchanan’s office cited a 2018 study from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany with the startling finding that 22% of U.S. millennials have not heard of or are unsure they ever heard of the Holocaust, the attempted extermination of the Jewish people orchestrated by Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler.

The Never Again Education Act dedicated funding through the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for high school and middle school resources to ensure no one leaves school without learning about the historic genocide.

That in turn could reverse a trend in growing anti-Jewish sentiment, Tevlowitz hopes. “There are issues all over this country with people making anti-Semitics statement or slurs and really no outrage,” he said. “In Europe, it has metastasized into a cancer again.”

And an Anti-Defamation League survey shows that in the Middle East and North Africa, 74% of individuals polled openly express anti-Semitic attitudes.

The League found there was a 20% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in Florida in 2019, Buchanan’s office reports, with both harassment and physical assaults on the rise. Locally, the Jewish Federation recently hired a security director to deal with threats to all Jewish congregation areas in the region. And the Federation’s campus has had multiple incidents in the last couple months of threats there.

But he counts the local Federation lucky to be in a community widely accepting. “We are lucky also to live in a community where we enjoy great relationships within the faith community,” he said. “We haven’t seen it rearing its ugly head institutionally. It’s more individually.” 

Photo from Pixabay: Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Germany.

[New Homes]  London Bay Homes Announces New Davidson Model Underway in The Founders Club

London Bay Homes has announced their newest model home, the Davidson, at The Founders Club. The Davidson will offer 2,860 square-feet of air-conditioned living area, with an additional 888 square-feet of covered entry and outdoor living. The model also includes a 965-square-foot three-car garage. The three-bedroom Davidson will offer a private bathroom for each bedroom. The master suite will feature two walk-in closets, dual sinks, free-standing bathtub and a spacious, private shower. There will be plenty of space to entertain with an open-concept design so guests can move freely between the kitchen, dining room and great room. Both the attached kitchen pantry and laundry room include extra shelving for storage. Double doors swing open from the foyer to reveal a large study that can be customized to accommodate overnight guests or be utilized as a home office. Homeowners can let the Florida sunshine in by opening a four-panel sliding glass door that connects the great room and the covered lanai. Owners who wish to maximize Sarasota’s beautiful weather will have the option for an outdoor kitchen and pool. All homes in The Founders Club are located on the award-winning Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed golf course. Priced at $1,325,790, the Davidson is scheduled for completion this fall and will join the Cameron and Isabella Grande to become the third London Bay Homes model available at The Founders Club. 

Pictured: The Davidson is scheduled for completion this fall, priced at $1,325,790.

Click for more info.

[Scholarships]  Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe Expands Scholarship Program

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is proud to announce the expansion of its scholarship program for deserving students. Last year – the first for WBTT’s scholarship program – six up-and-coming artists were presented with $1,000 scholarships for studies in a college or conservatory program in the performing arts or arts management for the 2019-2020 academic year. This year, WBTT will have enough funding to provide six young artists with scholarships of $2,000 each.

Additional funds were raised this year through named scholarships from Marie McKee and Robert Cole, Jack and Priscilla Schlegel, and through memorial gifts made in honor of late board member Alan Kurland, who died in April.

Kurland joined the WBTT board in 2010 and served as its vice chairman for many years; he was deeply committed to the mission and people of WBTT.

"While WBTT is dedicated to producing the finest dramatic and musical theater, my true calling and purpose for founding this organization has always been to help young aspiring artists who may otherwise be overlooked to develop their talents and have the opportunity to achieve success," said WBTT Founder and Artistic Director Nate Jacobs. "We are thrilled to be able to contribute financially to the arts education of deserving students."

To be eligible for a scholarship, participants must have performed on the WBTT stage in at least two productions, worked at WBTT as an intern, and/or have been a participant in the WBTT Stage of Discovery summer musical theater intensive program. Funds are disbursed directly to the educational institution the awardees will be attending in the fall.

“Theatre was always Alan’s first love – he used to say that he would have stayed in the theatre if the Army hadn’t drafted him,” said WBTT Executive Director Julie Leach. “Alan was an extremely kind man who asked to join our board so he could help us grow. His contagious laughter lightened up our board meetings and all our gatherings. He is greatly missed." 

[Staff Announcement]  Turning Points Names New Executive Director

Kathleen Cramer was recently chosen as the executive director of Turning Points, a nonprofit with a mission to prevent and reduce homelessness in Manatee County.

After a 30-day overlap to ensure a smooth transition, Cramer will take the reins from current executive director, Adell Erozer, who is retiring after a 15-year tenure with Turning Points. Because of Erozer’s leadership and vision, Turning Points grew from a small, single-focus agency to the current multi-program, one-stop center that provides services to more than 10,000 clients each year. She has celebrated many accomplishments over the years, but the establishment of the medical and dental clinic program has made a profound impact on the community. The clinic provides more than 8,000 complimentary visits annually to the uninsured, underserved in the area, totaling more than $24 million of free dental services since its March 2009 inception.

Cramer brings 15 years of nonprofit leadership experience and a wealth of knowledge in team building, community engagement, fundraising and planned giving to the organization. Previously, she has held management-level positions with a variety of nationally recognized nonprofits, including the United Way, American Red Cross and American Heart Association.

Most recently, Cramer served as a licensed financial advisor with a Fortune 300 not-for-profit organization. The Michigan native also worked as the managing director of a children’s grief center, where she led strategic and day-to-day operations of the branch. Cramer provided oversight of all programs and compliance for onsite and school-based programming that served more than 700 children annually. In her tenure, program services were increased by 33 percent and $3 million raised toward the capital campaign.

“Adell will be greatly missed by all, and we are so appreciative of the strong foundation she has laid for Turning Points,” said Mark DeHaan, Turning Points’ president and board chair. “In our search for a new executive director, the board wanted a leader who shared our values and matched our commitment to this much-needed mission. The leader had to be an exceptional strategic thinker with the vision to build upon Turning Points’ successes over the last 25 years, and we found that in Kathleen. Her zeal for our cause will ensure a continuity of strong leadership for our clients, dedicated staff and compassionate volunteers. We are thrilled to have Kathleen guide us forward.”

Under the supervision and guidance of the board of directors, Cramer will be responsible for the planning, organizing, staffing, directing and management of Turning Points’ commitment to serving individuals and families struggling with issues related to homelessness.

Talent management company MBJ Group spearheaded the nonprofit’s search for the position.

“It was evident that Turning Points has passionate and committed staff, volunteers and board of directors, and I am personally connected to their meaningful work,” said Cramer. “I grew up in an ALICE family myself, and it’s an honor to provide a compassionate environment where families, very much like my own, can secure the resources they need and respect they deserve. It is my goal to build upon the accomplishments of the past 25 years with a focus on expanding the nonprofit’s impact and reach in the community.” 

Click for more info.

[Politics]  Candidate Qualifying Period for City Elections Opens June 8

The candidate qualifying period for the 2020 City Commission municipal election for the three City Commission district seats opens at noon Monday, June 8, and ends at noon, Friday, June 12. Qualifying packets are available for pickup by appointment only at the Office of the City Auditor and Clerk at City Hall, 1565 First St. Call 941-263-6222 or emailclerk@sarasotaFL.gov to arrange a pickup. Candidates, including those who pre-qualified, must qualify during the specified time frame to have their name placed on the ballot for the first election to be held on Tuesday, Aug. 18. The two candidates receiving the highest number of votes cast in the first election in each district will have their names placed on the ballot for the general election to be held on Tuesday, Nov. 3. 

To qualify, each person must have resided in and been a qualified elector of the respective district for which they are qualifying for a minimum of one year immediately preceding the commencement of the term of office (Nov. 6, 2020), and submit the following documents to the Office of the City Auditor and Clerk during the qualifying period:

  • A petition verified by the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections with a minimum of 25 signatures of registered voters within the candidate’s district
  • Form DS-DE-9 - Appointment of Campaign Treasurer and Designation of Campaign Depository for Candidates
  • Form DS-DE-84 - Statement of Candidate
  • Form DS-DE-25 - Oath of Candidate, executed and notarized
  • Form 1 2019 - Completed Statement of Financial Interests for calendar year 2019
  • A $281.49 election assessment fee; or
  • An Affidavit of Undue Burden, if applicable

Early voting for the first election will be held Aug. 8-16 from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm daily, locations to be determined.  

Click for more info.

[Recognition]  Midge McCarthy Earns GRI Designation

Midge McCarthy, a Broker-Associate with RE/MAX Platinum Realty, has earned the Graduate, Realtor Institute (GRI) designation from the National Association of Realtors.  The GRI symbol is the mark of a real estate professional who has made the commitment to provide a high level of professional services. GRI designees have developed a solid foundation of knowledge and skills to navigate the current real estate climate, are well-versed in local and national legal issues, and are committed to serving their customers with the highest ethical standards. McCarthy specializes in residential properties in Sarasota, the barrier islands, Osprey and Nokomis. She is a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) and e-Pro. With 19 years of real estate experience, her performance has earned her membership in the RE/MAX 100% Club for 2019 performance and the RE/MAX Hall of Fame. RE/MAX Platinum Realty’s downtown Sarasota office is located at 1500 State Street. McCarthy can be reached at (941) 809-3800 or mm@midgemccarthy.com. 

Click for more info.

[Medicine]  Florida Cancer Specialists Participation at ASCO® Demonstrates Progress Made Through Clinical Research

Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS) physicians are the co-authors of 20 research studies that will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO®) ASCO20 Virtual Scientific Program being held May 29 – 31, 2020. As the largest gathering of oncologists in the world, FCS health care providers will join thousands of participants to explore the findings of cutting-edge research and state-of-the-art treatment therapies.

“The tremendous advancements made in cancer treatment in recent years have been achieved through clinical trials,” said Dr. James A. Reeves Jr., director of FCS Research Operations. “We are extremely proud that research done through our Sarah Cannon Phase 1 Drug Development Units in Sarasota and Lake Mary and at FCS clinics throughout Florida is contributing so significantly to these advances.”

Dr. Manish R. Patel, Sarah Cannon at FCS director of drug development, is the lead author of a study on immunotherapy, and co-author of seven additional studies that will be featured in poster presentations and discussions. Dr. Judy Wang, Sarah Cannon at FCS associate director of drug development, is also co-authoring presentations. Dr. Patel and Dr. Wang also serve on ASCO’s Scientific Program Committee.

Dr. Ivor Percent, as first author, will give an oral presentation of a Phase 3 study on non-small cell metastatic lung cancer co-authored by Dr. Craig Reynolds. Dr. Maen Hussein is co-author of a published lung cancer study and co-author of a published study about health services research and quality improvement.

In addition to Drs. Hussein, Patel, Percent, Reynolds and Wang, the following FCS physician investigators will present their research results during poster discussions and/or presentations: Dr. Lucio N. Gordan, Dr. Lowell Hart, Dr. Scott Lunin, Dr. Anjan Patel, Dr. James R. Reeves Jr., Dr. Vance Wright-Browne and Dr. Gail Lynn Wright.

“To have the research studies involving 11 FCS physicians being published and shared at this prestigious global gathering confirms that FCS is at the forefront of exciting new discoveries,” said FCS CEO Brad Prechtl, MBA. “Our strategic partnership with Sarah Cannon Research Institute, enables us to offer our patients access to more national clinical trials than any other oncology practice in the state of Florida.”

“Through our robust research program, we are continuously gaining a better understanding of molecular changes and cancer cell activity,” said FCS President & Managing Physician Dr. Lucio N. Gordan. “We are able to then apply the science to develop personalized and targeted treatments to achieve the best outcomes for our patients.”

The program, titled “Unite and Conquer: Accelerating Progress Together,” will feature over 250 oral abstract presentations and 2,500 poster presentations in 24 diseased-based and specialty tracks. Sarah Cannon Chief Medical Officer and President of Clinical Operations Howard A. “Skip” Burris III, MD, FACP, FASCO is serving as the 2020 ASCO® president and will present the opening presidential address at the annual meeting on Saturday, May 30. 

Click for more info.

[Staff Announcement]  Blalock Walters Hires Attorney Jodi Ruberg, Expanding Estate Planning and Business Practice Groups

The law firm of Blalock Walters, P.A. is pleased to welcome attorney Jodi M. Ruberg to the firm’s estate planning and business and corporate practice groups. Ruberg routinely drafts wills, revocable living trusts and irrevocable trusts and other estate planning documents necessary to implement client goals and long-term personal and charitable objectives. Her areas of concentration allow her to counsel clients in matters of wealth preservation and succession planning for their benefit and for the benefit of their loved ones, and assist in the execution of the documentation necessary to achieve the clients’ intended results.  In her business & corporate practice, Ruberg counsels clients regarding entity formation, business governance issues and business transactions. She represents both companies and individuals in the areas of entity selection and formation, corporate governance matters, business succession planning and transitions. 

An active member in the community, Ruberg was elected by her peers as a Governor of the Florida Bar, Young Lawyers Division, representing Sarasota, Manatee and Desoto Counties. Ruberg also serves on the Legislative Committee as well as the Health & Wellness Committee for the Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division. She is also a Director of the Sarasota County Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division. “The Firm is thrilled with the addition of Jodi to our firm,” says Matthew Plummer, managing partner. “Jodi’s experience and expertise will enhance the level of service and depth provided to our clients. Jodi’s commitment to client service and our community align with the firm’s values, which make her a perfect addition to the Blalock Walters team.” Ruberg can be reached at 941.748.0100 or jruberg@blalockwalters.com. 

Click for more.

[Staff Announcement]  DeAngelis Diamond Hires Division Manager

DeAngelis Diamond is pleased to announce the addition of Scott Beck as Division Manager of the Sarasota market, concentrating on the Sarasota, St. Petersburg, and Tampa region. With 15 years of construction experience, Scott joins the Sarasota team after working with national contractor Turner Construction, where he most recently led their Preconstruction and Business Development departments in Miami, Florida. “Scott’s proven leadership, integrity, and diverse experience makes him the perfect person to take on this position,” COO Reggie Morgan said. “His values parallel that of our company, and we believe in his knowledge and ability to lead our teams and build strong relationships with our clients.”

Throughout his career, Scott has worked on projects all over the southeastern US in a variety of different market segments with a heavy focus on healthcare, commercial, federal, design-build, and IPD/Lean projects. He graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering prior to beginning his career in 2005. In his role as Division Manager of Sarasota, Scott is responsible for project oversight of all assigned projects from the project sale to completion. He provides leadership and direction to all who are involved in his projects, while maintaining great relationships with the Owner/Client(s).“It is an honor to lead the team of dedicated professionals in the Sarasota Division and to serve our clients,” says Scott Beck. “I heard what a great organization DeAngelis Diamond was and that they were poised for growth. When this opportunity came up, it was a natural fit for me. I am excited to see what our future holds.”

DeAngelis Diamond is an innovative, award-winning, national construction management firm, specializing in commercial, multifamily, and healthcare construction with more than 20 years of general contracting experience across the United States and in the Caribbean Islands. It’s one of America’s fastest growing companies, according to Inc. 5000, and is listed on ENR’s Top 400 Contractors list annually. DeAngelis Diamond’s mission is to develop authentic relationships and have a positive influence on everyone they meet. 

For more info.

[Homelessness]  Suncoast Partnership Point in Time Count Released

Each year the Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness, Inc. (Suncoast Partnership) on behalf of the Sarasota/Manatee Continuum of Care compiles the Annual Point-in-Time (PIT) count. This survey provides a snapshot of homelessness in Sarasota and Manatee County on a single night, January 27 to January 28 of 2020. While it is not possible to count every homeless person, the methodology used in our communities includes gathering information from those who are in emergency shelters and transitional housing, engaging in outreach efforts in known areas where unsheltered homeless persons may be gathered and a general canvassing in our communities to capture the best picture possible. The count allows us to look at trends over the years by using consistent methodology. The overall number of homeless persons surveyed in Sarasota and Manatee Counties is 1,044, a decrease of 8% from 2019. The count for Sarasota County decreased by 4.1% while the Manatee County count decreased by 12.4%. Chris Johnson, CEO of the Suncoast Partnership talked about the results of the count. “Our area continues to be one in which affordable and attainable housing are hard to come by. The lack of attainable housing continues to be a driving factor of homelessness as well as the prevalence of families who are one paycheck away from homelessness as identified by the United Way ALICE Report. One very promising data point coming out of the Point in Time this year is the 23.6% decrease in chronically homeless individuals in our community. This is a testament to the efficacy of our Coordinated Entry System and the commitment of our community to serving those of highest vulnerability. This focus coupled with Housing First best practices, the Permanent Supportive Housing and Rapid Rehousing interventions championed by our local Service Providers, and the commitment from the counties, cities, and our philanthropic partners has made this possible. The 9% drop in unsheltered homeless individuals and families is also to be commended as this shows the outcome of outreach efforts and connection with those unsheltered individuals by moving them through community’s Homeless Crisis Response System towards housing.” 

Click here for the interactive dashboard.

[Re-Openings]  Blasé Bistro & Martini Bar Re-opens June 4

Following its mid-March closure due to COVID dining restrictions, Blasé Bistro & Martini Bar will re-open for dinner, online ordering for takeout and curbside pickup, and delivery service through BiteSquad starting Thursday, June 4.  The re-opening includes updated Mediterranean dinner, drink and martini menus.  Options also include packaged liquor for takeout orders that include food.  Menu prices range from $8 to $27 with 15 plates under $20 as well as family-style three-course option for $30/person.

Open Tuesday through Saturday starting at 5 pm, Happy Hour will also resume for in-restaurant dining only Tuesday-Friday from 5 to 6:30 pm  Happy Hour specials include $2 off small plates and $6 select martinis, cocktails, champagne and wine.  Dinner service will be available until 9 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays and 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

Blasé Bistro & Martini Bar’s romantic, artsy, and upscale-casual environment is surrounded with color and original art. The ambiance and visual appeal is enhanced a marble curved original bar from the Don Cesar in St. Petersburg, Fla. The bar was moved from Blasé Café on Siesta Key, the first of the Blasé Sarasota restaurants, to complete the euro-visual allure of the Bistro.  Both Blasé Café and Pi 3.14 on Siesta Key, also operated by co-owners Cindy Breslin and Kevin Skiest, are also continuing with takeout and delivery service.  In-restaurant and outside dining resumed May 22 at both Siesta Key restaurants.

New menu highlights include the restaurant’s signature euro-style small and large plates, perfect for sharing or on their own, with several gluten free and vegetarian options. Many dishes can also be adapted to accommodate dietary requests. 

Signature small plates include housemade Agnolotti Pasta with corn puree, wild mushrooms and pine nuts, Spiced Eggplant or Lamb Hummus with housemade Laffa bread, Red Curry Mussels, and Greek Spiced Pork Ribs with charred red cabbage, orange, radish salad and coriander yogurt.  Six Handheld options range from the classic Blasé Angus Burger and Crispy Softshell Crab to The Vedge and Shrimp Salad Sandwich.

For large plates, highlights include Shrimp & Polenta, Orecchiette Pasta with summer vegetables, Steak Frites and a daily Catch of the Day.  A special Family Style three-course option has also been added, which includes Chopped Summer Vegetable Salad, Cioppino and Pineapple Cake with Rum Caramel for $30/person. 

For more info.

[Online Performance]  The Circus Arts Conservatory to Offer Free Live International Virtual Show

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Sarasota's Circus Arts Conservatory (CAC) has found a way to evolve and present an international show: virtually streaming live! During its first-ever virtual presentation, "One World Circus," a cast of international circus artists will be featured in a charitable performance benefiting the circus arts. Donations will be encouraged; proceeds will support CAC youth programs and the ability for future generations to build their own life skills through the circus arts.

CAC founders Dolly Jacobs and Pedro Reis and fifth-generation circus artist and Cirque du Soleil coach Miguel Vargas have collaborated to select a cast of renowned circus artists from around the world. The resulting global cast has perfected their art form through years of training and performances with some of the world's most prestigious circuses and festivals will perform LIVE from Brazil, Hungary, France, Netherlands, Sarasota, Fla., Las Vegas, Nev., and Salt Lake City, Utah. All of the circus artists are donating their performances.

Ringmaster is Joseph Bauer Jr., hosting from the Sailor Circus Arena here in Sarasota. Acts will include aerobatics (Duo Transcend), an amalgamation of juggling and tango (Juggling Tango), hand-to-hand acrobatics (The Kolev Sisters), an aerial act (Olga Coronas), plate-spinning comedy (David Burlet), knife throwing (Deadly Games) and the Circo Portugal Globe of Death Riders.

One World Circus will be streamed live on Sunday, May 31 at 2:00 pm EST. 

Pictured: The Kolev Sisters will showcase the finest in hand-to-hand acrobatics during One World Circus.

Click to register for the show.

[Summer Camp]  Manatee County Announces Summer Camp Registration, Curbside Library Checkout

Registration for the County's popular Summer Blast Camp opened today at 5 p.m. and curbside library materials will be available on Monday as part of Manatee County's safe, phased reopening to the public.

Summer Blast Camp will be held at the G.T. Bray Park Recreation Center and the John H. Marble Recreation Center starting Monday, June 1. Parks and Natural Resources' popular outdoor specialty camps will be offered at some County preserves starting June 8. Registration is expected to fill quickly once online registration begins today at 5 p.m. Parents may register children for summer camps at www.mymanatee.org/summercamps

"Our goal this summer is to offer a variety of summer camp activities that meet the needs of the community in a safe and fun environment," said Parks and Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker. "Our programs will look slightly different than previous years starting with limited weekly and program registrations, 10 or fewer group sizes, modified hours and increased hand washing and equipment sanitization."

Tennis and pickleball are now open at Manatee County Parks. (Reservations are required at G.T. Bray by calling (941) 742-5923). Bray will also open to lap swimming appointments on June 1 by calling (941) 720-1775. Other parks-related openings are being rolled out online.

Curbside Library Pickup Service begins Monday

Manatee County Libraries lovers, who have checked out thousands of digital resources over the past three months, will have another option to access library materials next week. On Monday, Manatee Libraries will begin offering curbside materials pickup as the public library system begins a phased reopening plan.

This pickup service will be available by appointment at all six library branches during regular location hours. Each library branch will remain closed for now but the County plans to reopen Manatee Libraries to the public with limited hours and reduced occupancy later in June. Manatee Libraries' LITle Discovery Center will remain closed for now.

Library team members have begun making appointments for material holds that were made in during the public closure. (Patrons can hold materials online or via phone). Once the materials have pulled and patrons have received notification via email, text or phone, pickup appointments can be made.

Patrons can place items on hold for the library location where they'd like to pick them up. You'll then receive a notification when your items are ready for pickup. After that, the patron may call his/her library branch to schedule a pickup appointment. Head to the branch at the appointment time and follow the directions on posted signs. Staff will check out the library materials and place them outside on a table for "grab and go." 

For more info.

[Brain Health Initiative]  Enjoying Nature Makes a Difference

Research suggests that spending time in nature can promote our brain health and fight brain illness as we reduce our stress and anxiety and lighten our mood. We are lucky — living in Florida we have a wide variety of opportunities for getting outdoors. Unfortunately, the safer-at home restrictions closed many of our favorite places.

With the phased reopening of the state, many of our favorite outdoor activities can once again be enjoyed. The beaches are open, Selby Gardens opened to the public on May 26, and Florida’s State Parks are open for day use. But why do we feel better when we can get outside and enjoy nature?

Researchers studying ecotherapy, nature-based programs that address brain and physical health, have been able to link experiencing and enjoying nature with boosting brain health and performance. For example, data demonstrates that ecotherapy increases creativity, energy, immunity, and productivity and it also reduces experience of brain health risk factors like stress, and decreases symptoms of brain illnesses, such as anxiety and depression.

In a recent article from Harvard Health Publishing, Jason Strauss, MD, director of geriatric psychiatry at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance, said that when we are depressed or stressed, we can get into a cycle of negativity. Nature can have a calming effect on those negative thoughts. Being in nature can actually lower your blood pressure and reduce your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that erodes brain health and makes us vulnerable to brain illness.


It’s easy to add nature into your lifestyle. Look for something that you enjoy and immerse yourself in nature for 20 or 30 minutes.

Take a walk. The Suncoast has dozens of nature trails. Find one close by and take a walk while listening and breathing in what is around you.

Go to the beach. Florida’s beaches were made for walking. Splash in the waves, look for shells, and breathe in the salt air.

Go bird watching. The Sarasota Audubon Society Celery Fields are an ideal place for watching birds and wildlife.

Stop and smell the roses. The Suncoast’s public gardens are re-opening to the public and they provide a beautiful place and to enjoy nature.  

It’s not the setting that matters. The key is finding a place that you enjoy and letting the natural environment surround you, lightening mood, and bringing you a sense of calm. 

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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