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SRQ DAILY May 14, 2022

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Our goal is to provide transparent, trustworthy, luxury body care that leaves your skin glowing and heart happy"

- Lauren David, New College of Florida

[Under The Hood]  Retaking a Reputation for Tolerance
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Sarasota seems to be developing a different profile in national headlines, one of atypical intolerance. Attention came this month for a few reasons, most recently when a gay Pine View student revealed he could be censored during a graduation speech if he touches on political issues. Before that, the Washington Post took a look at a proliferation of right-wing media setting up shop here, and ended up discussing the elevation of politicians promoting the most right wing of messages.

All this comes as Florida too frequently lands in headlines for approving arguably extremist policies on minority and LGBTQ rights.

Working in Sarasota well over a decade, I must say this prejudiced visage does not reflect the community I know. Yet these headlines were earned. There’s been a lurch to the far right in local politics over the past decade — moving past low taxes or regulation and toward gross bigotry and a denial of reality. Now this shift caught the attention of national press who wonder how Rumble, Cyber Ninjas, The Hollow and Trump Social all ended up with Sarasota County addresses.

This shocks those who know Sarasota so long welcomed a diversity of people. The city in 2007 made national news as the first municipality to consider hiring a city administrator fired in Pinellas County after she came out as transgender. While Susan Stanton didn’t get the job, she felt welcome enough here to apply for a position again years later.

Governments here also adopted Human Rights Ordinances before many other jurisdictions in the state, largely thanks to a drive from Ken Shelin, an openly gay former Sarasota City Commissioner. Shortly after marriage equality became law in Florida, Shelin, chair of Equality Florida at the time, also held a public wedding here, demonstrating the community’s embracing atmosphere

Sarasota also knows pain. It mourned when the first victim identified in the Pulse shooting turned out to be Eddie Sotomayor, a local travel agent and one of 49 killed by a terrorist at an Orlando gay club.

Other stories never made headlines. The Sarasota city employee who came out as trans and found a nurturing embrace from co-workers. The transgender singer who performed at high-profile events in town before and after transitioning, always greeted by cheers and applause. 

One wonders how we got here. I spoke this week to Zander Moricz, the class president at Pine View trying to decide what to do about graduation. He doesn’t want to disrupt an evening of celebration of his peers, but remains shook administrators he always worked with well have threatened to cut his microphone if he discusses Florida’s new ‘don’t say gay’ law. He’s a plaintiff challenging the statute in court.

He considers Pine View a safe place for LGBTQ youth, but doesn’t necessarily feel the same about Sarasota County. In Osprey, he has often felt a cold shoulder from elders within the community. I suspect cooler heads will prevail here, and Moricz will be able to touch on topics important to him while being coached away from the most incendiary language. But my greatest fear is this will lead Moricz, once his cap flies in the air, to leave town forever before his mortarboard reaches the ground.

There lies the problem with such an intolerant law as “don’t say gay,” legislation supported by nearly all lawmakers in the region (cheers to Rep. Will Robinson, R-Bradenton, for bucking party lines and voting no). It purports to be a “parental rights bill,” but creates no new rights. Rather, it intends to assuage those who fear schools turning their child transgender if they dare hear a word about gender identity before fourth grade. Never mind the rights of parents who want their children to never feel ashamed at school of who they are or what they feel.

I won’t name the pols here who too frequently empower the oppression of silence. I’ll resist also calling out those who even recently espoused tolerance but now cower to emboldened extremists. But I know that latter group would bend back to sanity with eagerness if constituents who for years ensured Sarasota’s reputation as a home for all filled their email inboxes with greater numbers than those gripped by fear of all that’s different.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ MEDIA. 

[Higher Education]  Launching Entrepreneurs!
Patricia Okker, patokker@ncf.edu

Entrepreneurs are often drawn to—and thrive at—New College of Florida. Our students are independent thinkers with bold ideas, and we’re committed to equipping them with the tools they need to execute their visions.

Embodying this idea is a brand-new initiative, known as the Launch [ ]! Student Entrepreneurship Program, which was collaboratively spearheaded this spring by New College and our friends at State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota.

New College students are now learning how to become entrepreneurs—at no cost to them—by participating in a yearlong training program at the business incubator at SCF’s 26 West Center. The program—which is guided by industry experts—is funded by generous New College donors, and four of our students (known as “Launchers”) have joined the inaugural 2022 cohort. 

“New College is the perfect partner for our 26 West Center student incubator because it reflects our values of creating an environment in which innovative thinking thrives, and then putting that mindset into action in all areas—from industry to social entrepreneurship,” says Todd Fritch, Ph.D., the executive vice president and provost at SCF.

Students in the Launch [ ]! program earn a certificate of completion for attending 10 entrepreneurship training classes—on topics such as developing a business model, finances, raising capital, customer discovery, branding and risk mitigation. While Launch [ ]! gives students the resources to start a business or nonprofit, our career coaches at New College’s Center for Career Engagement and Opportunity (CEO) help students brainstorm how to integrate their entrepreneurial ventures into their academic goals (through tutorials, senior projects/theses and course selections).

“What’s exciting about Launch [ ]! is that now we are helping students harness their entrepreneurial thinking into viable businesses and connecting them to a robust entrepreneurship ecosystem before they even graduate,” says Dwayne Peterson, the executive director of career education at New College. “New College, with its focus on student self-agency, engrains entrepreneurial thinking into all of our students. This creative approach to solving problems is a natural outcome of the New College experience and explains why so many of our graduates become successful entrepreneurs.”

Bristen Groves, a second-year theatre student at New College, got involved with Launch []! because “it is the exact opportunity I have been praying for: a means of helping me finally launch my business idea through mentorship and a business community,” she says.

Her business idea is called Gracefully Creative Co.—a platform for her to encourage and inspire others through the creative arts. It will likely include a blog, a shop where Groves can sell and showcase her graphic design works, and possibly dance videos and/or a podcast.

Michelle Read, a first-year environmental studies student at New College and current Launcher, is interested in using her “passion for environmental sustainability for creating and supporting ethical nonprofits and/or businesses,” Read says. Read aims to start a company that offers healthy, sustainable snacks, such as vegan, organic frozen yogurt.

Camila Blasi, a third-year general studies student at New College, joined Launch [ ]! to “start a food forest that will supply the New College cafeteria with fresh food daily, so that students and the Sarasota community can eat for free or at a low cost,” Blasi says.

And Lauren David, a third-year enviro/urban studies student at New College, wants to build a skincare brand called Saphalata (the Hindi word for “success”). All of her products will be 100% organic, cruelty-free, recyclable and handmade, David says.

“Our goal is to provide transparent, trustworthy, luxury body care that leaves your skin glowing and heart happy,” David says.

Groves, Read, Blasi and David all exemplify the entrepreneurial thinking that the Launch []! program—and New College as a whole—aim to nurture. We are thrilled to offer this to our students, as we help them realize their ambitious visions and prepare them for the world ahead.  

Patricia Okker, Ph.D. is the president of New College of Florida. 

Photo courtesy New College.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Farmers' Market at Lakewood Ranch , January 2 – December 25, 10am-2pm

The Farmers’ Market at Lakewood Ranch is home to more than 90 curated vendors of the region’s best food and flavors, located at Waterside Place in Lakewood Ranch. It takes place every Sunday from 10am to 2pm at Waterside Place. It’s your weekend destination for organic produce, meat, poultry, seafood, bread, pasta, juices and prepared foods. Stay up to date on vendors and events by visiting TheMarketLWR.com.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Selby Gardens: Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith: Flowers, Poetry, and Light , February 13 – June 26, Garden hours.

This winter, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (Selby Gardens) will spotlight the work of Robert Mapplethorpe, one of the most significant photographers of the 20th century, together with the poetry of legendary singer-songwriter and poet Patti Smith in a special exhibition on view throughout the garden’s 15-acre Downtown Sarasota campus. Marking the sixth edition of the Gardens’ annual Jean & Alfred Goldstein Exhibition Series, which explores the work of major artists through the lens of their connection to nature, this immersive exhibition puts a selection of Mapplethorpe’s photographs of orchids, hyacinths, and irises, and excerpts of Smith’s poems and lyrics on flowers and nature, in dialogue with new horticultural installations inspired by the two artists’ work. On view from February 13 through June 26, 2022, Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith: Flowers, Poetry, and Light is curated by Dr. Carol Ockman, Selby Gardens’ Curator-at-Large and the Robert Sterling Clark Professor of Art History Emerita at Williams College. The Gardens will host an Evening with Patti Smith, on Tuesday, February 15, a lecture and performance with Smith that will shed new light on this body of work. 

[SOON]  GALLERY: As long as there is sun, as long as there is light: Selections from the Bring Gift and The Ringling Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art , November 21 – August 13, Museum hours.

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is pleased to announce the opening of As long as there is sun, as long as there is light. Selections from the Bring Gift and The Ringling Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art. The exhibition will run Nov. 21, 2021 – Aug. 13, 2023, in the museum’s Searing Wing. In 2020, The Ringling received a significant gift of art from Murray Bring and Kay Delaney Bring, in support of the modern and contemporary collection. Highlights from the gift include an important minimalist work by Anne Truitt and a monumental work on canvas by Gene Davis, both artists affiliated with the Washington Color School, an art movement during the 1950s to 1970s in Washington D.C., made up of abstract expressionist artists Additional works in the gift represent a generation of prominent artists who work, or have worked, in abstraction, including Clement Meadmore, Jules Olitski, Beverly Pepper, Rebecca Salter, Kenneth Snelson, and Yuriko Yamaguchi, among others. Also on view are sculptures and paintings by distinguished African American and Latin American artists from The Ringling collection, including William Edmondson, Eduardo Mac Entyre, Omar Rayo, Baruj Salinas, and Joyce de Guatemala.  

[SOON]  GALLERY: The Ringling: Eleanor Merritt: Remembrance , February 18 – August 21, Museum hours.

The Ringling is pleased to present an exhibition that celebrates the life and artwork of Eleanor Merritt from February 18, 2022 to August 21, 2022. Eleanor was a dedicated volunteer at The Ringling for many years as a docent and Board member. She also served as president of the Venice Art Center and was active in other arts organizations as well. Eleanor passed away in 2019 leaving a legacy of art and public service. This exhibition is dedicated to her spirit and creativity and represents a small sample of a significant body of work the artist created over her long career. Beginning with an early work from the 1950s Untitled (Seated Figure) and concluding with her last painting Blue Embrace of 2018, the exhibition highlights her creative use of materials, movement between figuration and abstraction, and her commitment to women’s rights. The works in the exhibition come from the artist’s estate and from a few prestigious private collections. The artist’s daughter, Lisa, and artist Mike Solomon were critical guides in the development of this exhibition. 

[SOON]  GALLERY: The Ringling: Metadata: Rethinking Photography from the 21st Century , March 6 – August 28, Museum hours.

The exhibition features work from the past decade by an international selection of artists and visual activists that are working to make palpable the unseen information, or metadata, that undergirds the image regime. This includes not just the tags or descriptors attached to image files, but the power relationships, biases, and economic interests that are not always visible in the image itself. The exhibition emphasizes an expanded concept of photographic practice that includes research-based projects, installation, conceptual work, and activism as well as analog and digital photographs. Artists featured are Mohsen Azar, Viktoria Binschtok, Mladen Bizumic, Joy Buolamwini, Jason Lazarus, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Lilly Lulay, Trevor Paglen, and Penelope Umbrico. Metadata: Rethinking Photography in the 21st Century will be held at The John and Mable Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida from March 6 through August 28th, 2022. The exhibition is curated by Christopher Jones, Stanton B. and Nancy W. Kaplan Curator of Photography and Media Art.

[SOON]  GALLERY: M A R A Art Studio + Gallery Presents "black+white" Monochrome Expression by 9 Artists , May 1 – May 31, Varies.

M A R A Art Studio + Gallery presents “black+white,” featuring monochromatic works by nine artists: Grace Howl, Jack Shapiro, Jana Millstone, Ralph Berger, Lisa DiFranza, Craig Palmer, Dan Wilkerson, Sam Wuerfel, and MARA Torres, May 1-31. The opening reception is Friday, May 6, 5:30-7 p.m. The gallery is at 1421 5th Street, Rosemary District, Sarasota. For more information, call (941) 914-8110 or visit MaraStudioGallery.com

[TODAY]  PERFORMANCE: Poets Unplugged: An Evening of Spoken Word and Music , May 14, 7pm

Fogartyville will present the final event in their “Poets Unplugged” Spoken Word series on Saturday, May 14. Doors will open at 7pm as DJ Rozay sets the mood with his musical mix. At 8pm there will be a curated Open Mic featuring some of the best poets from the previous spoken word events. The featured poet this month will be local spoken word artist and series host Melanie Lavender. Tickets are $5 and are available online at www.Fogartyville.org. Food will be available for purchase from C&D’s Sandwich Shop.


[TODAY]  DANCE: Sarasota Contemporary Dance: In-Studio Performance Series featuring SCDE: Spring Showcase , May 13 – May 14, 7pm

"SCDE Spring Showcase" Featuring works choreographed by SCDE Co-Directors Melissa Rummel and Xiao-Xuan Yang Dancigers, as well as guest artists Kathleen Candales and SCD Company Member Monessa Salley. This performance will take place on Friday May 13th at 7pm and Saturday May 14th at 3pm and 7pm and its Virtual Stream will take place on Saturday May 14th at 7pm.

[TODAY]  MUSIC: Sarasota Orchestra: Discover Mozart: Genius of Youth , May 14, 7:30pm

Musical prodigies have always fascinated. Britten wrote his Sinfonietta No. 1 at age 18, dedicating the ingenious work to his teacher. Mozart's highly dramatic Symphony No. 25, composed at 17, shows extraordinary musical maturity. Teen cellist Ifetayo Ali-Landing makes her Sarasota debut playing Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations, proving that young people of rare talent are not just the stuff of legend and will take place on Saturday, May 14 at 7:30pm at the Sarasota Opera House.

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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