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SRQ DAILY Jun 12, 2021

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"I find it comforting and inspiring to know that, years hence, students and faculty will be able to embark on bold new adventures—the results of which may, in fact, go on to change the world."

- Donal O'Shea, New College of Florida
 

-Building A Legacy, as seen in SRQ's May/June 2021 edition. Click photo for the full article.
[Under The Hood]  Republicans Endorsed School Board Candidates. Good.
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

The Republican Party of Sarasota for the first time this election cycle issued endorsements in the nonpartisan School Board races. For the curious, incumbent School Board member Bridget Ziegler picked up the party’s official support as she seeks reelection to a seat in District 1, which is anything but a shock. Meanwhile, the party threw its backing to District 4 candidate Robyn Marinelli and District 5 candidate Chris Kruysman.

A statement from RPOS acting chair Jack Brill tries to signal the move in conjunction with compelling discourse surrounding education politics in Florida today. “This is historic,” Brill said. “We’re taking a very firm stand to stop Critical Race Theory and return the schools to the will of the people. A high quality, public education that is not politicized with hatred is essential for our future. We’re excited that these strong candidates will ensure that students are educated and not indoctrinated, and that parents will be heard regarding their children’s learning.”

I could write a whole column on the irony of using the buzzwords “Critical Race Theory” while decrying politicization of schools. For now, I’ll just point out censoring school curricula based on the manufactured outrage of the minute in fact strives for a different goal.

But I don’t want to criticize the party for taking a stance, as I’m sure many a “good government” voice will do. That happens any time political leaders make their voices heard in these supposedly nonpartisan races, as if being a part of an already organized political coalition should mean the mandatory erasure of one’s own influence on elections.

Political parties have no compelling reason to sit out elections. Indeed, I’d argue a failure to vet candidates would be a dereliction of responsibility.

Political parties serve many purposes, including engaging voters and keeping turnout high to help win elections. But they also serve as a gatekeeper; that’s a dirty word these days but an important role. We elect officials to do important jobs, and we need competent people to do them. Even before ideology comes into play, it serves value to have educated organizations judge if candidates are capable.

Ideology, of course, does play a role. Ideally, voters end up faced with a choice of qualified individuals and choose the one whose worldview and vision rides closest to their own. The view with the greatest support wins. That’s the democratic (with a small ‘d’) model that sets U.S. politics apart from the world.

Political parties, more than any other special interest engaged in an election, brings with it a combination of expertise and a specific agenda.

Personally, I’m glad Florida in the late 1990s turned School Board’s into nonpartisan bodies. I’m old enough to remember when qualified people in minority parties simply couldn’t win this office, and both voters in the minority party and those with no party at all ended up frozen out of the process completely. Frankly, you can see that process in play with county commissions to this day. Partisan elections limit participation and give a ridiculous edge to people who get a boost based on the letter by their name.

But that does not mean parties have no role to play. Typically, the ones who feel that way are those beholden to interests that wield sizable influence (neighborhoods, chambers, unions) but fear being at odds with a group that’s better organized and practiced at politics. Well, tough. Whether it’s Democrats thumbing the scales in city races or Republicans lobbying for seats on the one county board where they lack a majority, parties have a constituency and reason to engage.

Because whatever anyone says, public education inherently has been politicized. It happened the minute public funding was put behind schools and a board was designed to be accountable to the people through the power of elections.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ MEDIA. 

[Higher Education]  As I disembark, an exciting new dock takes shape
Donal O'Shea, doshea@ncf.edu

One of the things I’ve loved about leading New College for the past nine years has been watching our students, staff and faculty contribute to the greater Sarasota-Manatee community. Some of their most influential research initiatives have occurred right on our campus, which is located along Sarasota Bay.

As I say goodbye to my time here, it brings me great joy to announce the beginning of a new project—one that will allow New College to more fully realize the teaching and research potential of our bayfront site.

This month, New College starts construction on a marine science research and sailing dock—an undertaking that will enhance environmental research, education and recreation programs on the bay. This marine environment—teeming with life—is the bellwether for the future of our oceans, and our students and faculty have monitored features of it for more than a half-century.

We already have a first-rate marine laboratory on campus (Pritzker Marine Biology Research Center), but without a dock, students and faculty could not properly launch their vessels into the bay. I am so glad to see them finally get the resource they need to conduct their research.  

The data they have collected and analyzed over the years (regarding everything from sharks, dolphins and manatees to mangroves, bioluminescence and red tide) has positively impacted our local community, our waters and—by extension—the world. As with all science, understanding of—and data pertaining to—our local environment, ripples out and contributes to our knowledge of our planet.

The new dock will only enhance New College’s traditionally strong and popular programs in marine biology and environmental studies (not to mention the summer marine biology education programs for underprivileged students from Sarasota and Manatee counties).

Our marine biology program currently has a 32-foot pontoon research boat (Limbatus), a smaller research skiff and a rigid inflatable rescue vessel that will soon have their own launching pad. The dock will also provide boat slips for the College’s sailing team and waterfront recreation program, and two boat lifts will offer additional access for individuals with mobility issues.

What will the construction look like, exactly? The six-foot-wide, L-shaped dock will extend 294 feet west from the shore of the Caples campus, and then 144 feet to the southwest. The dock site on the College’s Caples campus, about 50 feet south of The Ringling museum sea wall, was selected for its environmental compatibility and proximity to deep water.

New College has worked closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Southwest Florida Water Management District to ensure full compliance with the stringent permitting requirements governing Sarasota Bay.

“The bay is one of Sarasota’s greatest natural assets,” says Jayne Gardiner, Ph.D., director of Pritzker and an associate professor of biology at New College. “With a dock that expands access to the bay, we can conduct more environmental and marine science research into this natural ecosystem, which benefits both our students and the bay itself.”

To do this in a sustainable way, New College has ensured that the dock is constructed with environmentally-friendly materials: Surestep PVC open deck grating, designed for maximum sunlight penetration to underwater aquatic life; and high-density polyethylene piling wraps, which protect the water from any chemicals in the treated wood pilings.

During a time of rising sea levels, this dock will accelerate our understanding of the effects of climate change and our warming waters. More immediately, it will provide environmentally safe access to the bay.

Conducting research on the bay (and in Costa Rico, the Caribbean, Hawaii and other marine sites abroad) has always been integral to the culture at New College. Our faculty and staff want to heal the planet we have handed them, and our students’ futures depend on those efforts. The construction of this dock will make that admirable journey a little easier.

With an estimated completion date of early September, the dock will greet the incoming fall class at New College.

I find it comforting and inspiring to know that, years hence, students and faculty will be able to embark on bold new adventures—the results of which may, in fact, go on to change the world.

Donal O’Shea is retiring as president of New College of Florida. 

Image courtesy New College of Florida.

[On Politics]  Marie Selby's Legacy Will Live On
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

“Nature Displayed: Discourses on Natural History as Were Thought Most Proper to Excite the Curiosity and Form the Minds of Youth” was the (abridged) title of a 250-year-old book shared with the audience in a PowerPoint presentation during last week’s groundbreaking event at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. One of the primary objectives of the Gardens’ $72-million master plan is to fortify the 15-acre downtown campus in order to protect the Gardens’ rare plant collections, historic buildings and irreplaceable works such as “Nature Displayed” from catastrophic storm events and sea level rise. Additionally, acres of green space will be made available for the enjoyment of visitors and neighbors alike when the now-sprawling surface parking lots occupying an appreciable portion of the campus are consolidated under a multi-level parking structure adorned with solar panels and enrobed with leafy “living walls.” Once completed, the campus will be one of the first energy net-positive botanical garden complexes in the world.   

Before the ceremonial shovel-and-hard-hat segment of the celebration, uplifting words from local political leadership—specifically Mayor Hagen Brody and State Sen. Joe Gruters—reminded the audience of the slings and arrows Selby’s leadership team endured as they navigated the seemingly impenetrable thicket of an unnecessarily politicized approval process. Opposition to the Gardens’ Master Plan became so personal and so overblown it backfired, awakening the community to the poison-ivy politicking of the few that has polluted City Hall for decades. In politics—just like in physics—for every action there’s always an equal and opposite reaction. The resultant change of course in city politics has been nothing less than a sea change for the better.  

There are two key reasons why City Hall’s “Old Guard” was swept out in a King Tide last November: (1) for the first time, a more diverse electorate weighed in on the selection of their City Commissioners, and; (2) the “Old Guard,” led by former Commissioner Susan Chapman, mercilessly attacked and vilified one of Sarasota’s most prized assets—Selby Gardens—and its leadership team, demonstrating just how damaging this small but privileged group can be to our community’s cultural landscape. 

Should Commissioner Jennifer Ahearn-Koch’s slate of candidates have prevailed last November, a 4-1 vote in favor of Selby may have been a 3-2 against the Gardens. And the redevelopment of the Bayfront Cultural District, now known as The Bay, may have been stalled yet again if Commissioner Ahearn-Koch’s “No” vote(s) weren’t countered by a centrist majority. In order to preserve Sarasota’s most prized assets, they must be allowed to adapt and grow. President and CEO Jennifer Rominiecki and her lieutenant, Chief Operating Officer Wendy Deming, ought to be commended for their persistence, perseverance and resilience. But for their leadership, it might have been Payne Mansion and the 18th century manuscripts housed within, carried out to sea, instead. 

Gabriel Hament is a Sarasota native and a Democratic political strategist.  



[In This Issue]  Mining The Gap

The pandemic challenged school districts and educators like never before. Foundations and nonprofits stepped up to help. 

Click here to read the full article in SRQ's May/June 2021 edition.

[SOON]  FOOD: Tour of California Wine Dinner , June 19, 6:30-10pm

Join Sommelier Austin Harlow and award-winning Chef Greg Campbell for a Tour of California, an exclusive, one-time event at GROVE! This immersive five-course wine dinner will feature the best wines from select regions paired with locally sourced ingredients to create a one-of-a-kind experience.

Grove Restaurant , 10670 Boardwalk Loop

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: The Bishop: Manatee Habits Reopen , June 16

Manatees are back and you're invited to see the newly renovated Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat when it reopens to the public today! The Habitat now resembles a cypress spring and provides rehabilitating manatees with an environment that more closely mimics what they will encounter in the wild. They will be caring for two manatees upon reopening.

The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature , 201 10th St. West, Bradenton

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: The Bishop: June Stelliferous , June 23, 7pm - 9pm

Join The Bishop in person in The Planetarium for this monthly guide to the night skies. You can experience the new upgraded Planetarium system and feel like an astronaut as you experience a 50-foot dome and discover the latest news from the world of astronomy! This live talk includes opportunities for Q&A.

The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature , 201 10th St. West, Bradenton

[SOON]  MUSIC: Sarasota Orchestra: Sarasota Music Festival , June 12 – June 19

Get ready for one marvelous week of music-making this June as the sounds of the Sarasota Music Festival (SMF) fill Holley Hall. From June 12 to 19, SMF artistic leadership, faculty artists, and distinguished alumni will present a special series comprised of four concerts and a lecture. Each event celebrates SMF's deeply held values regarding the magnificence of chamber music and offers performances of the highest caliber. Due to health and safety considerations, the 2021 SMF will not include the teaching component that normally convenes 100 faculty and fellows from around the world, but Sarasota Orchestra looks forward to returning to the full festival format in 2022. This year, all concerts in Holley Hall will follow the same safety protocols that have guided the Orchestra's 2020-2021 concert season, including required masks, temperature checks at entry, and socially distanced seating for audiences of less than 50 patrons. Patrons who want to attend concerts in person can sign up to the events' registration lists through June 4 for the chance to purchase tickets. Streaming will also be available starting June 24, so patrons won't miss a note. A $40 SMF Streaming Pass includes online access to all five remarkable programs of this year's reimagined festival.

[SOON]  SEMINAR: Neuro Challenge Foundation for Parkinson's: 4th Annual Parkinson's Expo , June 12, 9am-1pm

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Neuro Challenge Foundation for Parkinson’s will present The 4th Annual Parkinson’s Expo on Saturday, June 12, 2021 from 9am to 1pm.  This signature annual event created in 2018 is designed to educate, engage and empower the Parkinson’s community. The Parkinson’s Expo is FREE to attend but registration is required at www.neurochallenge.org/expo or by calling 941-926-6413 x105. The Parkinson’s Expo features presentations by nationally renowned Parkinson’s experts. More than 1,400 people attended the Parkinson’s Expo in 2020 making it the largest event of its kind in the United States. This year the Parkinson’s Expo will be presented virtually. This will allow attendees of the Parkinson’s Expo to become educated, empowered, and engaged from the safety and the comfort of their own home, no matter the location. All participants registered by June 1 will receive a free “Swag Bag” with educational materials, giveaways, and resources. Presenters and Session Topics include: "Exploring Exercise for PD” with Danny Bega, “Mind-Body Approaches and Social Connection in Parkinson's” with Indu Subramanian, "The First and Only Sublingual (Under the Tongue) Short-term Treatment for OFF Times in Parkinson’s Disease" with Dean Sutherland, "Natural Therapies and Nutritional Requirements for PD” with Laurie Mischley, and "Research, Advocacy & Diversity in Parkinson's" with Michael Okun.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Big Cat Habitat: Liger Luau , June 12, 5:30pm-8:30pm

Join us on Saturday, June 12 from 5:30pm to 8:30pm for some summer fun at a luau style evening including special animal guests, Hawaiian inspired cuisine and wild entertainment. We are excited to host the Liger Luau, as the fourth event in our Sunset Safari Feast series! Enjoy the animals like never before in an evening setting. What To Expect: Special Animal Guests, Live Music, Hawaiian Inspired Cusine Buffet by Chef Jarek Dymek, Wild Entertainment, Beer/Win Bar, Silent Auction, Raffles & Games, And More. Tickets include admission, buffet meal, non-alcoholic beverages, special animal guests, entertainment and games. Tickets are $50 - $75.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Pulse Nightclub 5 Year Memorial Candlelight Vigil , June 12, 8:30pm

Join Project PRIDE SRQ to remember the 49 lives taken June 12, 2016 inside Pulse Nightclub In Orlando, FL. June 12, 2021 marks the five-year memorial of the attack against the LGBTQ+ community. The candlelight vigil will take place on Saturday, June 12 at 8:30pm on Cocoanut Ave. near the PrideWalk as we dedicate the names of the 49 lost, who will be memorialized virtually on the rainbow crosswalk.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Van Wezel: Artist in Residence Latinx Hip-Hop Artist Olmeca Community Performance , June 12, 11am

The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and the Van Wezel Foundation today announced that the first-of-its-kind, year-long “virtual” residency with Latinx Hip-hop Artist, Kennedy Center Citizen and Scholar Olmeca will culminate with a free in-person live community performance on Saturday, June 12, 2021, at 11am, outdoors on the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall’s lawn. The Van Wezel Artist residency pilot was part of a new initiative, called IDEA (inclusivity, diversity, equity and access), which is made possible due to the generous donors of the Van Wezel Foundation and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. The initiative strives to teach and create with cultural appreciation in mind, believing that art can increase student empowerment, destroy negative stereotypes, promote innovation, and equip students with the necessary tools to become more aware of their own agency from a local and global perspective. Olmeca’ s powerful Hip-hop lyrics, backed by a live band featuring Latin American rhythms will get the whole family dancing during this free community performance. This in-person visit to Sarasota builds off the recent year-long “virtual” residency that launched during the pandemic, with the overall goal of bringing groups together to talk about essential topics and social issues, such as diversity, inclusion and seeing the world through a different lens.

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: SHINE Festival and St. Pete Pride: Once Upon A Shine: A Gay Mural Scavenger Hunt , June 12 – June 19

Two of St. Petersburg’s best events, St. Pete Pride and The SHINE Mural Festival have come together to produce Once Upon A Shine: A Gay Mural Scavenger Hunt as part of this year’s Pride festivities. The event features freeFall Theatre’s award-winning actor and drag performer, Matthew McGee, as a fairy godmother providing clues to the whereabouts of Cinderella’s lost stiletto. Retrace her steps from mural to mural while deciphering clues using the free PixelStix app. The scavenger hunt can be completed anytime during Pride’s Arts & Music week, starting Saturday June 12 and ending Saturday June 19. Plan for 2-3 hours of mural hunting and social media challenges. Individuals or teams (up to 6 people) can compete to find the lost stiletto and be entered to win the grand prize, a 2 night stay at the new Tru by Hilton on Central Avenue. Every person that completes the scavenger hunt is eligible to receive $1 off a beer at Grand Central Brewhouse (21+) and a free yoga class at The Body Electric Yoga Company. Plus, SHINE is giving away other great prizes for the best photos and videos posted on social media with the hashtag #OnceUponAShine. Visit the website to see a full list of prizes, details and to register: www.stpeteartsalliance.org/PRIDE. Participants must download the free PixelStix app on iPhone or Android phone to play. This event is sponsored by Artistry St. Pete Apartments & Regions Bank. Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, this event is free to the public but donations are encouraged to support the creation of more murals during this year’s SHINE Mural Festival, October 15-24, 2021. Donations can be made online 

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Mote Marine: Sensory Saturday , June 12, 8:30am

On Saturday June 12, Mote Aquarium will open its doors an hour early exclusively for individuals who have sensory processing differences or those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Individuals with disabilities who would benefit from a calmer sensory experience are also welcome. Our exhibits may be enjoyed under soft lighting without heavy crowds, and with decreased noise and visual stimulation wherever possible. The event will begin at 8:30am for those wishing to attend. Get more information and tickets here. In addition to Sensory Saturday, Mote Aquarium is a designated Autism Friendly Business by CARD at University of South Florida. Download our Sensory Guide prior to your visit.

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Mote Marine: Shark Pups & Grownups Class , June 12 – August 28, 9:30am-11am

MEGA-lodon sized fun for you and your little one! Join us as we explore the marine environment through imaginative play, songs, crafts and more. For preschool (2-5) aged kids and their favorite adult. Each class includes: movement (Ocean Moves with Mote), science tool exploration, role play/games, and immersive water time (dipnetting in the bay). All classes meet at the Whale Fountain at the entrance to The Aquarium. Be sure to read your confirmation email to know what to bring and wear to class. Click on "More Info" for additional details on our Shark Pups and Grownup class offerings, as well as information on at home options for Shark Pups near and far. Dates: June 12, 2021, June 26, 2021, July 10, 2021, July 24, 2021, August 14, 2021, and August 28, 2021 from 9:30am to 11am. 

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Van Wezel: IDEA Artist-In-Residence Pilot Program , June 12, 11am

The Van Wezel Foundation’s philanthropy united with the mission of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall’s new IDEA initiative to create a first-of-its-kind, Artist-in-residence Program that seamlessly melds digital events with in-person ones to form a hybrid prototype that can serve as a national model for the future. Its inaugural Artist-in-residence is internationally recognized Hip-hop Artist, Activist, Scholar, and Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Olmeca, whose year-long virtual residency will conclude with a week-long residence in Sarasota with curated in-person community lectures, workshops, master classes and performances. As a result of their work together, the Foundation, in partnership with the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall education department, launched a new initiative, called IDEA (inclusivity, diversity, equity and access). IDEA strives to teach and create with cultural appreciation in mind, championing the belief that art can increase student empowerment, destroy negative stereotypes, promote innovation, and equip students with the necessary tools to become more aware of their own agency from a local and global perspective. Olmeca will conclude his Van Wezel artist residency in person in Sarasota, where he will curate community lectures, workshops, and master classes with the overall goal of bringing groups together to talk about essential topics and social issues, such as diversity, inclusion and seeing the world through a different lens. Olmeca’s Sarasota visit will culminate with a special free bilingual community performance on the Van Wezel lawn on Saturday, June 12, 2021, at 11am.

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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