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SRQ DAILY Aug 21, 2021

Saturday Perspectives Edition

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Saturday Perspectives Edition

"It was so much fun to watch the campers get switched on by the programming and fly drones around. "

- Dr. Carol Probstfeld, State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota

[Gulf Coast]  Finding Good News Amid the Pandemic
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

In recent weeks, the news has been saturated with stories about the resurgence of COVID-19. The spread of the delta variant has set grim new patient-count records at hospitals, stretched our heroic health-care providers to their limits, and—regrettably—deepened the divides caused by those who politicize public health and amplify misinformation. This surge has refocused our attention on how we can get through this together without tearing each other apart.

Amid the very real health and economic crises we face, life-saving work continues to be everyday business for many of our region’s nonprofit organizations. They should be commended.

CenterPlace Health just launched two mobile vaccination units to get more residents protected against COVID-19. CenterPlace retrofitted mobile health-clinic vans to safely deliver all three types of vaccine to underserved communities. A new strategy of the regional “Shots in Arms” coalition, the effort targets areas where access or hesitancy remains a barrier to better vaccination rates.

Local nonprofit film company Wingspan Productions is creating awareness videos to promote public-health best practices during the pandemic. The PSAs both feature and target young adults, who have a much lower vaccination rate than older residents of our region.

Even vaccinated older adults have real concerns about their vulnerability right now. Last year, Senior Friendship Centers saw demand for support services from homebound seniors with limited resources double—and those numbers aren’t going down. Through its Friendship at Home program, Friendship Centers is helping seniors who can’t leave their homes with things like reassurance visits and check-in phone calls, emergency food and household supplies, and financial, home, and car-repair assistance.

Also serving a vulnerable population, Loveland Center in Venice has had to purchase and install numerous facility enhancements on its eight-acre campus to ensure the safety and security of its members, who are individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. These improvements enable Loveland’s caring staff to focus on helping those it serves live their lives to the fullest in an increasingly complicated environment.

These projects account for just a portion of the grants awarded recently from our COVID-19 Response Initiative, which Gulf Coast Community Foundation launched in partnership with Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation nearly a year and a half ago. (In fact, we announced the initiative 17 months ago to the day in this very column!) Within weeks of creating our fund, we received millions in donations from donors in our community who wanted to help.

On top of that, open communication and thoughtful coordination with fellow foundations and among the nonprofits has helped each donated dollar go farther. Community collaboration is a silver lining of this emergency that we can’t afford to lose when it finally does recede.

We thank our donors for the difference they are making in the lives of the disabled, the elderly and low-income families. As requests for mission-critical help from our nonprofit partners continue to come in, we will bolster their vital work thanks to these generous philanthropists.

 Mark Pritchett is president and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. 

[Argus]  Not-to-Exceed Rates Tell Gov’t Budgeting Story
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

Local not-to-exceed millage rates are being set by local governments all over the state of Florida. It is a peek inside which governments have gone the extra mile with financial oversight since the onset of COVID-19, and also a testament to how hard they worked in prioritizing their budgets.

All local governments in the county are receiving more money this year than last year. They will also see more money next year than this year if they maintain current millage rates because property values are increasing. 

Our overall local tax revenue did not take as bad of a hit this past year as it did in other areas of the country. The elected officials who made sure their taxpayers were financially protected throughout COVID by actively taking steps to trim budgets themselves are now in a better fiscal position today. They not only have enough money for budgeting, they have enough for their priorities and any emergencies created by COVID-19. What happened last year in cutting recurring expenses affects savings in this year’s budget.    

Pro-active governments are intentional in their conservative budgeting, they set parameters at the beginning. They state their goal out loud that they are going to keep the millage rates flat or decrease them. They thoughtfully build their budgets around the premise that they are going to make sure they live within their means while making sure the priorities of the community are addressed. This type of assurance to their constituents, many who are still financially recovering from COVID and facing an uncertain future with the current spike, is immensely important to an economic environment and it positively affects affordable housing. 

For instance, the City of Sarasota just set its maximum millage rate at the roll-back rate, meaning they are actually lowering their millage rate. They were active in cutting and pulling items from the consent agenda to make sure they had enough money for their priorities. They did this while taking on more financial responsibility passed on from governments above them. It was refreshing and the work, and that of the city manager, has not gone unnoticed.

There is a direct relationship to taxes and affordable housing the City of Sarasota understands. Literally every penny counts when you are living on the financial edge. 

The Suncoast United Way reminds us of what those on the financial edge are facing with the hardship study on ALICE families (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed). In big broad letters on its website, officials report, “43% of households in the region struggle financially.” This translates into “..2 out of 5 working households cannot cover basic needs.” If taxes increase, so does the gap of financial stability and those falling into it. The City of Sarasota is not only making sure it doesn’t add to that gap, it is relieving families of that struggle.

Responsible budgeting is actively and aggressively protecting your taxpayers, including those on the financial edge, creating a stable economic environment with your words and actions, and making sure you act now to save for later. The Argus Foundation salutes the City of Sarasota and those governments who are prioritizing their budgets for their taxpayers and working families. Your hard work and steady, early determination has not gone unnoticed. Congratulations.

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation. 

Image from Pixabay

[Higher Education]  Summer Camps Launch SCF Coding Academy
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

From our first planning discussions I expected that a coding academy at the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, would be a transformational opportunity for our community. This summer, I got to see just how accurate that expectation was.

Our STEM-tastic Summer Coding Camps brought hundreds of local youths to our campuses to program and fly drones, design and build robots and learn the basics of coding and information technology. What they also experienced was a transformational opportunity to see how the technology they enjoyed could lead to an education and careers in Manatee and Sarasota Counties.

SCF conducted eight one-week coding camps this summer for 294 students from second grade through high school. Our objective was to help campers develop an entrepreneurial mindset and encourage them to pursue academic programs and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Students were exposed to multiple perspectives on coding and information technology through drones, robotics, game design, manufacturing design and virtual reality.

Our college has a long history of summer camps, but the coding academy is an exciting way to link campers to technology, SCF educational programming and careers in local industry. Deshjuana Bagley, SCF’s Director of the IT/Coding Academy, brought 16 years of technology-based summer camp experience to the college and hit the ground running to launch this successful new venture with her team.

Our local industry partners were critical to the camp’s success and were integrated into the program through sponsorships, camp visits and “Made in Florida” industry tours. We are extremely grateful to our sponsors for providing scholarships, transportation and take-home robotics kits. Their contributions removed barriers to attending our camps for many students and the industry tours changed the perceptions of our middle- and high-school campers about manufacturing careers in our region. Sponsorships also allowed us to target demographic groups not typically exposed to technology, including an all-girls camp and a large high school student group from the Newtown area.

This summer’s camps demonstrated the transformational capability of our coding academy. As summer turns to fall, the academy’s focus turns to our adult learners with a focus on career building through IT industry certifications and immersive bootcamps and workshops:

  • SCF will offer short-term, flexible technology certification courses based on industry demand. Each course prepares participants to earn certificates that open doors to high-earning careers and college credit.
  • Through bootcamps and workshops our coding academy teaches IT and programming skills needed for today’s jobs, while also preparing and mentoring participants for jobs in the future.

There is much more to come as we identify emerging needs in the IT industry. The academy’s goal is to build an on-campus coding community where local industry mentors can help our IT learners and hire them when they complete their training. Those learners then return as mentors and continue the cycle.

For more information on the SCF Coding Academy, please email Deshjuana Bagley at bagleyd@scf.edu or visit www.scf.edu.

It was so much fun to watch the campers get switched on by the programming and fly drones around. The young campers were excited to show me the “manatee money” they had earned, and I was very impressed to see the entrepreneurial presentations our older campers gave to their parents.

I am excited to see those campers return to SCF for their education and to see the academy expand to all areas of our community for transformational summer camps and adult learning. 

Dr. Carol Probstfeld is President of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. 

Image courtesy SCF.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: St. Armands Circle: Sol of the Circle: St. Armands Family Day , June 27 – September 26, 11am-1pm

Life on the Circle only gets better when days are bathed in the summer sun. Enjoy a breath of fresh air and immerse yourself in the perfect setting for adventure and fun. Join us for the “Sol of the Circle,” a series of special events for the entire family. St. Armands Family Day will take place every last Sunday from 11am to 1pm. Dates are June 27, July 25, August 29, and September 26.

[SOON]  GALLERY: New Color Perspectives Gallery , August 28 – September 24

The five newest artists at Art Uptown Gallery will be featured in the September exhibit, New Color Perspectives, showcasing their paintings, drawings and jewelry art. Diane Boone, jewelry artist; Peter Garon, Judy Gilmer, and Hunter Jay, painters; and Arlene Steinberg, colored pencil artist, are all local, full-time residents of national and international recognition. Meet the artists on September 3 from 6 pm to 9 pm at the First Friday public reception with refreshments at the gallery. The exhibit opens on Saturday, August 28 and runs through Friday, September 25. Art Uptown Gallery welcomes patrons and friends at 1367 Main Street where the diverse art works of 28 local artists are shown, Tuesday-Friday 11 am-5 pm (except First Friday when open until 9 pm), and Saturday 10 am-3 pm. www.artuptown.com. Telephone 941-955-5409 for further information

Art Uptown Gallery, 1367 Main St., Sarasota

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Virtual: Children's Cancer Center: 9th Annual Chick-fil-A Fall Stampede , September 1 – September 30

This year marks the 9th annual Chick-fil-A Fall Stampede benefitting the Children’s Cancer Center. The event is held every September, Childhood Cancer Awareness month. We challenge you to virtually walk or run with your herd for the Children’s Cancer Center. Run/Walk: We challenge you to set a mileage goal to complete by the end of September. All participants will be entered in a chance drawing where 30 people will win FREE Chick-fil-A for a MONTH; 1 Mile, 5 Miles, 10 Miles, 25 Miles, 50 Miles, and 100 Miles. Raise: Create a fundraising page and raise funds throughout the challenge for the immediate needs of children battling pediatric cancer. The top 10 fundraisers will receive FREE Chick-fil-A for a MONTH. Packet Pickup: Drive by our COVID-19 compliant Packet Pick Up Party on Monday, August 31 from 8am to 10am or 6pm to 8pm where all participants will receive a t-shirt, swag bag and a Chick-fil-A sandwich. Tampa: Children’s Cancer Center (4901 W. Cypress St. Tampa) or Sarasota: Fruitville Chick-fil-A (5384 Fruitville Rd., Sarasota). Free Chick-fil-A for a Month consists of 30 promotional cards redeemable for a free Chick-fil-A entrée (Chick-fil-A Sandwich, Original or Spicy, Chick- fil-A Nuggets, Original or Grilled (8-count) or a Grilled Chicken Sandwich). Valid during lunch and dinner hours only.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Ecoperformance Week , September 6 – September 12

The John and Mable ringling Museum of Art is pleased to present Ecoperformance Week, Sept. 6- 12, 2021. Ecoperformance events at The Ringling have an arts-driven focus on conversations, performances, activities and films about ecology, climate, culture and environmental justice. The field of eco-performance looks at climate change and environmental justice as multifaceted environmental and social phenomena that can be transformed through cultural engagement. The week will kick-off with a streaming presentation of Ludic Proxy: Fukushima on Sept. 6. Set a few years after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster in Fukushima, Japan, the film is a video adaptation of Brooklyn-based theater-maker Aya Ogawa’s play Ludic Proxy. The presentation, which runs approximately 35 minutes and is presented in Japanese with English subtitles, may be viewed anytime during the day. Additionally, all ticketholders will have access to an “on demand” version, available from Sept. 6-12, 2021. Performance and Environmental Justice: A Panel Discussion will be offered via ZOOM on Sept. 8 at 7:30 p.m. This panel presents perspectives that elucidate and redefine environmental justice and how culture, performance and storytelling impact awareness and social transformation around these issues. The series will include two films that will be screened in the Historic Asolo Theater. TrashDance will be presented Sept.9 th at 1 p.m. Trash Dance follows choreographer Allison Orr as she finds beauty and grace in garbage trucks, and in the unseen men and women who pick up our trash. Waste Land will be shown Sept. 10 at 6:30 p.m. The week will close with a workshop on Sept. 11 via ZOOM. Decolonizing Theatre Basics with Groundwater Arts will examine the nuances of colonization and how they intersect with how we live and work. The workshop will entail both active and passive activities, videos and discussions, creating radical access points for everyone of all levels to leave empowered.

The Ringling Museum , 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Florida Studio Theatre: Great Balls of Fire , June 15 – August 22

In the Cabaret, FST will present the ultimate tribute to Jerry Lee Lewis: Great Balls of Fire. Created by Jason Cohen and Michael Schiralli, Great Balls of Fire brings the ivory-smashing superstar back to life, featuring “Good Golly, Miss Molly,” “Shake, Rattle, and Roll,” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” This electrifying act will play in FST’s Court Cabaret beginning Tuesday, June 15 and will play through August 22. Jerry Lee Lewis was the original bad boy of Rock & Roll. Led by Jason Cohen, who has played Lewis in nearly 80 cities across North America, Great Balls of Fire brings the ivory-smashing superstar back to life. With hits from the ‘50s and beyond, including “Good Golly, Miss Molly,” “Shake, Rattle, and Roll,” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” this electrifying act will have you dancing in your seat.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Motorworks Yappy Hour to Benefit Friends of Manatee County Animal Services , February 21 – December 19, 1pm-4pm

Friends of Manatee County Animal Services (FoMCAS) invites everyone to join them at the February Yappy Hour at Motorworks Brewery. FoMCAS will be the featured nonprofit and will have over $4000 in raffles and silent auction items plus a 50/50 drawing to help fundraise for the Manatee County Animal Services shelter animals. The family friendly and pet friendly event will be held on Sunday, February 21st in the Motorworks Beer Garden from 1pm to 4pm. The event will feature vendors selling an array of pet and non-pet related products with drink specials and food from local food trucks all in the 12,000 sq ft. artificially turfed beer garden. Raffles and silent auction items include resort stays on Anna Maria Island, spa packages, restaurant gift cards, sailing excursions, fabulous gift baskets, pet items, tickets to sporting events and a golf package, handmade arts by local artisans, jewelry, baskets of spirits, gourmet gift packages, and much, much more. Pet owners are encouraged to bring their leashed pets to enjoy the day and help contribute to the Friends of Manatee County Animal Services whose mission it is to work hand in hand with Manatee County Animal Services to enrich the lives of the shelter animals by raising funds to provide additional resources, medical care and heartworm treatment. Animal Network is the event partner with Motorworks Brewery for the monthly Yappy Hour held on the third Sunday of each month. It features different local nonprofit animal organizations that support, rescue, and find loving homes for dogs and cats in our community. Each month, the guest organization receives the funds raised through the silent auction, raffles and 50/50 split drawing. Over the last three years the event has raised over $100,000 shared among the various guest organizations. Animal Network, Dawg Phonics and Motorworks are sponsors of the Yappy Hour.

[SOON]  SEMINAR: Virtual: The Ringling: Private Lectures presented by Dr. David Berry , April 13 – December 31

David Berry, Associate Director of Academic Affairs and Special Projects, is one of Sarasota’s favorite lecturers. His dry sense of humor and wealth of knowledge is sure to both entertain and educate your group. Dr. Berry is available to speak on any of the following subjects: The origins of museums, museum architecture and display, The Victorian museum, early museums in America, museums, education, and community engagement, great women collectors, the illicit trafficking of cultural property, world fairs, an introduction to natural history, great illustrated natural history books, natural history and children’s literature, scientific illustration, natural history specimens, natural history collections, art and medicine, the art of anatomy, the art of astronomy and microscopy, the art of geology and paleontology (including dinosaurs), botanical and zoological art, botanical and zoological gardens, the golden age of botanical exploration, the orchid craze in Victorian Britain, and Japanese garden design and horticultural practices (ikebana and bonsai). $100 flat fee; must be scheduled at least 3 weeks in advance, $250 for custom topics; must be scheduled at least 6 weeks in advance. Lectures include a single-speaker, slide illustrated lecture. All programs are hosted via Zoom. For additional information, or to book a virtual program, contact Laura Steefel-Moore, Head of Educational Programs, at laura.steefel-moore@ringling.org.

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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