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SRQ DAILY Dec 24, 2022

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Ringling College is committed to developing the whole student. This includes providing learning opportunities to help students enhance their leadership skills, build new friendships and facilitate teamwork and collaboration. "

- Dr. Larry Thompson, Ringling College of Art & Design

[Dialogue]  About the SRQ DAILY | Perspectives Edition

SRQ Daily: The Perspectives Edition features analysis, commentary and insight on current events in Sarasota and Manatee counties from regular columnists, local leaders and guest contributors. Readers are invited to submit letters that respectfully share their perspective on a local community topic or issue to: letters@srqme.com. Submissions received before Thursday of each week will be considered for the immediate Saturday edition. Editors reserve the right to fact-check and edit. SRQ MEDIA does not house an editorial board and as such does not publish editorials or endorsements of candidates. The opinions and analysis of columns and letters shared in this edition are those of the writer who submitted them. The Perspectives Edition serves as a respectful and thoughtful space for readers to share their voices on topics that are important to them. 

[Under The Hood]  Who Wields the Most Powerful Tool in State Politics?
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

A GOP official chuckled at a question I posed. Why would the far right try so hard to take over local party apparatuses. Aren’t these intra-party battles just ego flexes when people should focus on real elections?  “The Republican Party is a powerful tool,” replied Jonathan Martin, Lee County Republican Party chair at the time.

It’s no wonder he laughed at the question. To someone within the system it seemed obvious. Control the local party and you suddenly have access to resources that matter in bigger efforts.

In Sarasota County, a recent attempt by hard right activists, led by Michael Flynn, failed to seize the local Republican Executive Committee chairmanship from Jack Brill, outgoing Chairman Joe Gruters’ chosen successor. In Manatee, there was a similar failed attempt to unseat Chairman Steve Vernon, who ironically had spent years trying to push aside former Chair Kathleen King.

But Flynn and cohorts, including Collier County donor Alfie Oakes and former lawmaker Anthony Sabatini, succeeded in snagging other chairmanships around the state. They have enough power to force Gruters as Republican Party of Florida chair to call a special meeting and maybe pass a resolution saying Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel should go away.

If most of these names mean nothing to you, that probably means you live a happier life than us political junkies. Intraparty squabbles employing byzantine bylaws to compel public statements that someone mildly famous is bad at their job sounds like a serious waste of time.

Except there are higher stakes. The coming resolution is as much a show of force as anything. Flynn’s army of malcontents want control of the state party, indeed a powerful tool. 

Look at the Midterms. Not to take credit from Gov. Ron DeSantis for lifting the GOP ticket statewide, but Florida over-performed other states because of voter registration efforts by Gruters that were not matched by anyone.

Those who followed Gruters' career in Sarasota know his focus on growing raw numbers produces results. He took over the Sarasota party after an election where Barack Obama came a few hundred votes shy of winning the county for the first time since any Democcrat since Harry Truman. Some 14 years later, it’s a solid Republican County. Gruters was rewarded for that four years ago with his elevation to state chair, and expanded his strategy statewide to bountiful results.

Yet to hard right activists, Gruters’ failure to push a red meat agenda mars his time. It’s why Flynn found eager voices among the Proud Boy set who felt they were not heard in the local party. In some counties, enough hardcore extremists bought that message a new set of leaders was elected.

As we sit, Gruters aims to join McDaniel’s team as Treasurer for the RNC. Close Gruters ally Christian Ziegler, while no McDaniel fan, wants to replace him as state chair. But the Flynn set wants none of that. Sabatini notably recruited Evan Power, Ziegler’s chief rival for state chair, to sign onto the petition demanding the special meeting on McDaniel. Many expect Sabatini to run for state chair, if not this year then soon enough.

Those who hate the direction of the state under Republican leadership may hope chaos consumes the organization. A mutiny may sound like good news. But remember the state party still holds power. If it starts passing resolutions demanding statewide election audits, the Legislature and Governor may listen. The state chair could greatly influence a GOP Presidential Primary in 2024.

Never forget. The Republican Party is a powerful tool. Pay attention to who wields it.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor to SRQ MEDIA. 

[Higher Education]  Service Learning and Volunteerism
Dr. Larry Thompson, lthompso@ringling.edu

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” is an observation attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. Since we are well into the season of giving, it seemed an appropriate time to highlight the many ways our students at Ringling College of Art and Design are giving back.

As a former college and law student, and then well into my career in higher education, it has always struck me institutions tend to lose sight of the significance of service and volunteer work as one begins and then climbs the educational ladder. There is typically a heavy emphasis on volunteerism and its importance during a student’s high school years, particularly because college admissions representatives are looking for that as they review application forms. Once students are admitted to college, however, the incentive to continue service work is often diminished, as they move forward with their academic and professional pursuits. 

Ringling College is committed to developing the whole student. This includes providing learning opportunities to help students enhance their leadership skills, build new friendships and facilitate teamwork and collaboration. During New Student Orientation, before the freshman students even begin classes, they are encouraged to participate in a service project of their choosing. This past August, over 400 students participated in 10 different projects across our area. They volunteered their time to work with experts at InStride Equestrian Therapy; cleaning and revitalizing Selby Gardens Historic Spanish Point and Siesta Key beaches; working with the Early Learning Coalition, among others. Kickstarting their Ringling College career through volunteerism helps the students get familiar and acquainted with the local community. At the same time, these activities spark a sense of pride and instill a commitment to service that can be life changing and life-lasting. 

Commitment – the word is defined as an ‘agreement or pledge to do something in the future.’ Our students are the creative visionaries of that future. As educators, it is part of our charge to instill and encourage their shared responsibility to make a commitment to make the world a better place. 

A significant service project at Ringling College is our Youth Experiencing Arts (YEA) Program. Following the ease of COVID restrictions (hooray!), we were able to get students back in classrooms around Sarasota County. The YEA Program connects Ringling students with local teachers and their elementary-aged classes. This year alone, the College saw 35 students participate in the initiative. The benefits of this program are immeasurable: young children are exposed to the creative joys of art and design, exploring new skills and enhancing their social and educational development; the teachers get to experience further enrichment for their students; Ringling students can share their knowledge and passion for the arts with others, and benefit from the mental, emotional and physical positives of giving back. We had countless teachers confirm how much they love this program and how meaningful it is to their young students. 

Sometimes, giving back can be as simple as holding a drive and collecting items for people in need. In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, our College community came together to provide donated food, water, toiletries, clothing and other necessities to those who lost everything in the storm. Just recently, the team who worked on Code Red, a short film written and produced by Ringling College alumna Jada Wing Hang Poon (’20), was honored and selected by the Always brand as a Period Hero, distributing much-needed sanitary products to local schools and organizations in an effort to end the rife issue of “period poverty.” No matter how big or small the effort, it is the effort itself that holds such significance and worth. 

Part of Ringling College’s institutional mission is to “prepare students to be discerning visual thinkers and ethical practitioners.” We strive to support and foster the aesthetic, intellectual, professional, personal, and social development of our students. Service learning and volunteerism are indelible assets of our cause, as we continue to nurture tomorrow’s creative leaders. 

Dr. Larry Thompson is president of Ringling College of Art & Design. 

Photo of InStride Therapy

[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]  MUSIC: Sarasota Art Museum: Jazz Thursdays , January 13 – January 12, 5:30pm-8:30pm

Jazz Thursdays at Sarasota Art Museum will runs through January 12, 2023 from 5:30pm to 8:30pm. FREE for Members, $20 for Not-Yet Members. Sarasota Art Museum invites you to be our guest at our first Jazz Thursday at SAM, featuring Hot Club of SRQ. Sarasota Art Museum is partnering with the Jazz Club of Sarasota for Jazz Thursdays. Join us for our special late-night performances on the Marcy & Michael Klein Plaza. Jazz Thursdays will occur on the second Thursday of each month until January 12, 2023. Galleries + Bistro + Shop will be open.

[SOON]  : The Ringling - A Decade of Collecting , October 22 – January 22, Varied

A Decade of Collecting brings together a survey of artworks acquired for the permanent collection over the past eleven years. As the State Art Museum of Florida and a division of Florida State University, The Ringling’s collections are constantly expanding to provide our state and local community with access to current contemporary works in all media and thoughtful additions to our historic collections. Though the core of the collection has always been the works acquired by John and Mable Ringling, the museum’s holdings have been expanding ever since the State of Florida took full possession of the bequest in 1946. In the early years, these additions were mainly in pre-1800 European art and circus-related material, but over the second half of the 20th century, directors and curators also began acquiring works by modern and contemporary artists. A Decade of Collecting presents a unique snapshot of how The Ringling’s collection continues to evolve, allowing us to tell new stories of the past, present, and future. Visit ringling.org to plan your visit.

Museum of Art Searing Galleries

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Asolo Repertory Theatre: Cabaret , November 16 – December 31, Varied

Willkommen to Kander and Ebb’s iconic CABARET, which transports us to 1939 Berlin and the dynamic and pleasure-filled Kit Kat Klub. As a dark shadow falls over the city and the power of the Third Reich begins to mount, the Klub’s performers and patrons must decide if they’ll wake up to the evil on their doorsteps or continue to escape to the alluring fantasy world of the cabaret. Since its debut in 1967, this classic musical has won countless awards, including the Tony Awards® for Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Revival of a Musical. Packed with vibrant and beloved songs like “Willkommen,” “Maybe This Time,” “Money,” “Don’t Tell Mama,” and, of course, “Cabaret,” this timely masterwork will burst to life on stage under the direction of Broadway and Asolo Rep favorite Josh Rhodes. 

Asolo Repertory Theatre

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: FST - A Place in the Sun - A Tribute to Stevie Wonder , November 16 – April 16, Varied

A Place in the Sun – A Tribute to Stevie Wonder, will begin playing in FST’s Goldstein Cabaret on November 16, 2022. The new music revue celebrates the legendary musician whose catalogue spans six decades and multiple musical genres, taking audiences through the beloved songbook of musical pioneer, Stevie Wonder. Created by Jason Cannon, Richard Hopkins, and Sarah Durham, this all-new Cabaret features such timeless hits as “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” “Isn’t She Lovely?,” and “Superstition.” Tickets are now on sale at FloridaStudioTheatre.org or at 941.366.9000.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Walking Tours at The Ringling's Arboretum Available Now Through May 2023 , November 26 – May 29, 12:00 PM

This walking tour led by volunteer guides will introduce you to interesting botanical specimens on the estate while providing a historic overview of the development of the estate. The Ringling Arboretum has been accredited at Level II through ArbNet and there are over 2350 trees within the arboretum representing native, exotic, historical, and culturally significant trees. Garden Tours are available Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays and take place entirely outdoors. It is 90 minutes in length and covers approximately 1 mile. We encourage visitors to bring bottled water, and wear appropriate footwear, preferably closed-toe, sunblock, and hats. There will be a maximum of 10 participants per tour. Tours are subject to weather conditions. Please check it at the Visitors Pavilion prior to your tour. Tickets will be available 30 days prior to each tour.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Geckos Grill and Pubs Trivia , July 1 – June 1, 7:30 pm

Geckos Grill & Pub’s Award-winning Trivia-Think While You Drink! If you love Trivia, join the fun at Geckos all year round. All Trivia starts at 7:30pm. We will have prizes, giveaways and specials plus the Geckos made-to-order fare, signature cocktails and hospitality you love. Monday trivia will be held at the Clark Road location in Palmer Crossing and on Tuesdays at the SR 64 location in Braden River Plaza. The SR 64 location will be taking a break from Trivia in October, but will start back up in April. On Wednesdays, trivia will take place at the Hillview Street location in Southside Village. www.GeckosGrill.com.

[SOON]  FOOD: Make Your Christmas Feast Easy and Delicious! , December 6 – December 25

Holiday roast pre orders are now open! You can now order everything you need for your holiday feast! Tenderloin, Wagyu and Rib Roasts, Tomahawks, Turkeys, six home made take and bake side items, sauces and Der Dutchman Pies! Also featuring our Warface Marinated Tenderloin Roast!

[SOON]  BUSINESS: Festive Food and Drink at the Ritz Carlton , December 31 – January 1

Festive Food & Drink This year, the resort will be bringing back its lavish Grand Ballroom festive dining experiences – a guest and local favorite. The experiences will kick off with a Christmas Day Brunch featuring a traditional feast curated by the resort’s master chefs. Followed by an exquisite Christmas Grand Ballroom Brunch featuring chef-attended action stations. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners are also available for guest reservations at Jack Dusty and Ridley’s Porch, both serving seasonally themed menus. In the lobby, overnight guests can indulge in daily surprise and delight experiences including culinary creations from the resort’s talented chefs, après-sun hand-shaved ice-cold snow cones, decadent holiday-inspired shooters, morning fresh squeezed juices, and more. Club Lounge guests will enjoy exclusive culinary programming and offerings like Autumn Sangria, cookie decorating and hot cocoa, twelve-days of Christmas champagne pairings, and more.

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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