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SRQ DAILY Mar 25, 2023

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"There is some great news about this shift. It means we are living longer, we are healthier, maybe even happier."

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

[Under The Hood]  Experimenting with Extremism
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Sarasota has long been a Republican County. Records from 1966 show the county was the only one in Florida with more Republicans than Democrats. A dozen years before that, Dwight Eisenhower in 1954 became the first Republican president to win the county.

But that’s not to say the county has been some type of conservative beacon. Earlier this century, a majority of the all-Republican County Commission financially supported Planned Parenthood’s presence in the county. Democrat Barack Obama came within hundreds of votes of winning Sarasota County as recently as 2008. Two years before that, the region hosted the closest congressional election in the nation when now-U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, won his seat by just 369 votes.

A majority of Sarasota City Commissioners have been Democrats for yeats. A majority of School Board members were for a brief period that ended in November.

Nonetheless, Republicans long won political battles here far more often than they lost them. But often the Republicans who did win were of the corporate variety, more interested in empowering economic growth or privatizing social programs than in forcing any kind of cultural revolution. So it’s a bit surprising that in recent months, Sarasota politics became not simply fiscally conservative but genuinely right-wing. You see it in Hospital Board meetings, School Board workshops and gatherings at the park.

Honestly, the resulting attacks on once-untouchable institutions have delivered a shock to the system I’m not so sure local leaders know quite how to handle it. Ask Patricia Okker, who cordially welcomed a slate of trustees at New College in hopes they weren’t sent to destroy the place, only to be unceremoniously fired and replaced with an outspoken conservative political leader.

Or ask medical directors at Sarasota Memorial Hospital who two years ago were revered as frontline heroes and now must answer to anti-vaxxer extremists mobbing seats at meetings and quacks actually elected to seats on the governing board.

Politics always produces winners and losers, and elections indeed have consequences. The skyline and environment of the future will be sculpted by elected officials many can’t name without the help of an internet search. 

But this sudden lurch to the right produced visceral responses in the public square. At a meeting this week, School Board member Tom Edwards walked out after homophobes said he wanted to harm children in schools, two weeks after he was called a “groomer” during public input. His critics called him “Tommy Drama” and the walkout staged.

As all this unfolds, right-wing puppet master Michael Flynn from his home in Venice cultivates national paranoia from election denial to QAnon conspiracies. Now he’s going local, calling for privatizing the area’s largest hospital. He and associates have fed false outrage over a tasteless display at a local Pride event. They also accuse doctors of malpractice and defying some version of “medical freedom” that requires institutions to provide COVID-19 patients with untested treatments and even some proven as dangerous.

The result is a culture clash with dangerous potency. Already the progressive element within the community amped up rhetoric of its own, sometimes to equally disturbing levels. At the School Board meeting Edwards fled, nasty remarks attacked political associations of Republican School Board members Robyn Marinelli and Bridget Ziegler. Richard Corcoran, the new president of New College, was greeted at his first meeting by protestors calling him a fascist.

Extremism, predicably, will be met with extremism. The appearance of Proud Boys and open appeals to nationalism pull local leftists like a rubber band, in this case snapping openly socialist organizations to speak up at college trustee meetings.

But at some point, the region’s longtime leaders need to step up and restore the rhetoric and tone of local politics. It’s become en vogue to diminish the establish, but Sarasota needs reason and moderation to rise in prominence again. The alternative is an experimentation in what might happen to extremism left to fester unchecked.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ Media Group. 

[Higher Education]  Creative Ageing and Lifelong Learning
Dr. Larry Thompson, lthompso@ringling.edu

In 2018, the United States Census Bureau released their updated report stating that, “By 2034, there will be 77.0 million people 65 years and older compared to 76.5 million under the age of 18.” This shift highlights a couple of key points.

First, the baby boomer generation will be older than age 65 therefore expanding the size of the population, resulting in one in every five residents in the U.S. being considered of retirement age. Second, it is predicted that in a couple of decades, older people will outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history. For most of us who have lived in Sarasota for some time, these statistics may not be that surprising. After all, we have known for a long time that we are one of the most popular retirement destinations in the country. But the statistics do pose an important question: How are we preparing for our own aging as we move into the future?

There is some great news about this shift. It means we are living longer, we are healthier, maybe even happier, and it is reported that the vast majority of older adults are remaining cognitively fit and more active as we continue to age. Advances in medicine, healthcare, technology, and nutrition have all played important roles in this new age shift — but one other scientifically-proven way we can combat the effects of aging is to stimulate our minds and remain engaged in creative and educational activities.

In addition to remaining “switched on,” it is equally important, maybe more so in many cases, to seek out activities and pastimes which bring joy, camaraderie, and a sense of belonging. For what seemed like too long during the pandemic, this was especially difficult to do. So now that we seem to be on the other side of the pandemic, it is crucial to get up, get out, and explore those activities that are of interest. By engaging in these experiences, not only are you stimulating your mind and using your creativity, but you simultaneously combat other negative factors such as isolation and loneliness. 

Lucky for us, Sarasota is home to myriad lifelong learning opportunities in this community for people of all ages. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, or OLLI, at Ringling College provides one of the most robust offerings for those aged 50 or better. Located at Sarasota Art Museum on the Ringling College Museum Campus, there is something for everyone with nearly 200 opportunities ranging from art and culture, to food and travel, science and technology, history, languages, film and book reviews, and more. These classes, lectures, group discussions, are not graded — they exist purely for the joy of learning and spending quality and engaged time among your peers.

In addition to OLLI at Ringling College, Sarasota Art Museum offers studio classes under their moniker, The Studios @ SAM. These are “making” opportunities including the likes of painting, drawing, ceramics, and jewelry making. Similar studio classes are also offered at the College’s Englewood Art Center, down south. 

In a recent report researched and published by the American Alliance of Museums, they define the term ageism as “a pervasive form of prejudice that can have detrimental social, psychological, and economic consequences.” Ageism harms everyone, but has been found to disproportionately impact women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Ageism can unfortunately lead to loneliness, which is then linked to a decline in physical and mental health, as well as increased stress on families and caregivers. But there’s good news, too. That same report also found that scientifically, as we become older, we attain a new level of wisdom, insight, and creativity that was not possible to reach during our younger years. There is a whole science behind this, but the crux of it all is that as happier and wiser individuals, we become more open as we age to new experiences and different people. 

Epidemiologist and aging specialist Dr. Alexandre Kalache said, “We are privileged to live at this time of a revolution in longevity. It will be a tragedy for humanity if we mess it up.” Okay, so let’s not! Become a member of OLLI at Ringling College, visit Sarasota Art Museum, finally take that ceramics class… your friends, your family, your health, and your soul will thank you for it. 

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

Photo curtesy Ringling College: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

[SOON]  THEATER: Asolo Repertory Theatre: Ken Ludwigs The Three Musketeers , January 11 – March 26, Varied

Adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas. Directed by Peter Amster. Harrowing adventure, bravery, and friendship take center stage in Ken Ludwig's THE THREE MUSKETEERS, a thrilling adaptation of the popular novel by Alexandre Dumas. One of the world’s most enduring comedies, this classic tells the tale of a daring young man who finds himself in the company of the world’s greatest swordsmen, as well as some of the world’s most dangerous men and women. Directed by Peter Amster, who most recently directed Asolo Rep’s smash hit Murder on the Orient Express in 2020, this play promises to be a fast-paced, witty, swashbuckling good time. All for one, and one for all! 

Asolo Repertory Theatre

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens 2023 Jean & Alfred Goldstein Exhibition Tiffany: The Pursuit of Beauty in Nature , February 12 – June 26, During garden hours

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ 2023 Jean and Alfred Goldstein Exhibition Tiffany: The Pursuit of Beauty in Nature showcases the creativity and innovation of American artist and designer Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933). The first exhibition of its type to be presented in a botanical garden, the exhibition highlights the inspiring connection between Tiffany Studios and the natural world through unique horticultural displays in the Tropical Conservatory and the Gardens, accompanied by seminal examples of Tiffany’s work on view in the Museum of Botany and the Arts. To learn more, visit selby.org. Selby Gardens Downtown Sarasota campus, 1534 Mound St., Sarasota.

[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]  THEATER: Asolo Repertory Theatre: Chicken & Biscuits , February 15 – April 13, Varied

The hilarious new play CHICKEN & BISCUITS introduces us to the Jenkins family, as they gather to celebrate the life of their beloved and recently deceased father and grandfather, the Revered Bernard Jenkins. When an unexpected guest reveals a secret, they all discover that nothing brings a family together like a big side of drama. This side-splitting new Broadway comedy explores the tenderness of family, the joy of reconciliation, and the nourishing power of love. Written by Broadway newcomer Douglas Lyons and directed by the talented Bianca LaVerne Jones, who was associate director of the 2021 Broadway production, CHICKEN & BISCUITS proves that while family may drive us crazy, we’re lucky to have each other. 

Asolo Repertory Theatre

[SOON]  MUSIC: Reel Music at the Florida Studio Theatre , February 15 – June 25, Various times

Florida Studio Theatre presents the original music revue, Reel Music, celebrating the movies that helped create the soundtrack to the last century. Featuring classics like “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Circle of Life,” and “My Heart Will Go On,” this new Cabaret traces how films—and the music highlighted in them—have evolved over the past one hundred years. Created by Richard Hopkins, Rebecca Hopkins, and Sarah Durham with musical arrangements by Jim Prosser, Reel Music begins playing February 15, 2023, in FST’s Court Cabaret. Single tickets for Reel Music
range between $18-39 and are now on sale at FloridaStudioTheatre.org or at 941.366.9000.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Sarasota Opera: Don Giovanni , February 25 – March 25, Varied

Don Giovanni is an Opera in two acts. Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte. Mozart’s most famous opera is a comic and tragic masterpiece. Set in 17th century Spain, this tale of obsession, betrayal, crime, and retribution centers around the infamous lover Don Juan, who leaves a path of broken hearts wherever he goes. Sung in Italian with English Translations in English. February 25th-March 25th. For tickets visit sarasotaopera.org, Ph. +1 941 328 1300, 61 N Pineapple Ave Sarasota, FL 34236

Sarasota Opera , 61 N Pineapple Ave. Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Resilience: A Guided Walking Tour Experience by Compass Rose History Experiences , February 25 – April 22, 3:30 p.m.

Compass Rose History Experiences announces the launch of Resilience: A Guided Walking Tour Experience. Guides Mimi Cirbusova and Andrea Knies will navigate attendees on a journey back in time down Main Street as we explore the resilience of the Sarasota community during the Great Depression and World War II. Locals and visitors alike will find inspiration from the stories of the people and places of Sarasota's past. Tours meet at Five Points Park in Downtown Sarasota and cover a distance of less than one mile over the 75-90 minute tour. All tours begin at 3:30 pm. Tickets cost $20.00 and must be purchased in advance. Guests purchasing both tours can receive a $10 discount by selecting the ticket package. Visit CompassRoseHistory.com to purchase your tickets or to learn more about Compass Rose History Experiences.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Sarasota Opera: Ernani , March 11 – March 26, Varied

Ernani is a Dramma lirico in four acts. Music by Giuseppe Verdi. Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. The bandit Ernani has lost his land, wealth, and title, and faces competing suitors, including the king, as he pursues his true love, Elvira. One of the greatest of Verdi’s early works encompasses love, honor, and tragedy with passionate choruses, emotional arias, and a stirring score. Sung in Italian with Translations in English. Runs March 11th-March 26th. For tickets visit sarasotaopera.org, Ph. +1 941 328 1300 

Sarasota Opera , 61 N Pineapple Ave. Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Sarasota Opera: Therese , March 17 – March 25, Varied

Therese is an opera in two acts. Music by Jules Massenet. Libretto by Jules Claretie. A love triangle during the French Revolution is the setting for this rarely heard work. Therese is torn between love for her former lover and her affection and duty towards her husband. Moments of lyrical beauty are punctuated by the drama of the “Reign of Terror” in this opera. Sung in French with Translations in English. March 17th-March 25th For tickets visit sarasotaopera.org, Ph. +1 941 328 1300

Sarasota Opera , 61 N Pineapple Ave. Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  DANCE: Sarasota Ballet: Program 6 - La Sylphide , March 24 – March 25

The Sarasota Ballet is excited to announce the Company’s 2022 – 2023 Season. Over seven programs, The Sarasota Ballet will perform 15 works by some of the most celebrated and prestigious choreographers and composers of the ballet world. Program 6 - La Sylphide. March 24-25, 2023. At the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. La Sylphide (Company Premiere) Choreography by Johan Kobborg after August Bournonville, Music by Herman Severin Lovenskiold. For more information visit www.sarasotaballet.org, Box office 941.359.0099

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall , 777 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  THEATER: Urbanite Theatre: Backwards Forwards Back , March 24 – April 23, Varied

BACKWARDS FORWARDS BACK by Jacqueline Goldfinger. A World Premiere. March 24 - April 23, 2023. Urbanite Theatre. When a soldier returns from war carrying the ghosts of his tour, he’s faced with a sobering decision: address his alarming PTSD with Virtual Reality therapy, or risk losing access to his family forever. Can this new technology recalibrate the brains and bodies of wounded soldiers? This electric, vivid, one-man drama studies the power of healing and finding strength in vulnerability. For tickets and info contact phone (941) 321-1397, email info@urbanitetheatre.com, website www.urbanitetheatre.com

Urbanite Theatre , 1487 2nd Street Sarasota FL, 34236

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: History Day in the Park at Phillippi Estate Park , March 25, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Phillippi Estate Park, as the home of the Edson Keith Mansion and the historic Keith Farmhouse, is holding History Day in the Park on Saturday March 25 2023. We’re helping preserve the fascinating history of the greater Sarasota area by presenting local history to residents and visitors. The event will feature live music, kids' activities, historical fun and more. Phillippi Estate Park, 5500 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. historydayinthepark.com.

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Bradenton Spring Festival , March 25, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Humane Society of Manatee County is proud to present the first Bradenton Spring Festival Fundraiser. Located at Caddy’s of Bradenton, 801 Riverside Drive East, this family, and pet-friendly festival will allow guests to enjoy an abundance of activities such as a dog lure course, photo booth, DJ, games, raffle prizes, local vendors, adoptable dogs and more. Individuals and fundraising teams can buy tickets now by visiting the events page at www.humanemanatee.org. 

[SOON]  SEMINAR: Relocating and Reconstituting Modern Structures , March 28, 5:30 p.m.

Does a Modern building’s design significance stand independent from its original site, as does a work of art or sculpture? This talk will explore the concept, the recent trend, the future implications, and the possible preservation opportunities of treating Modern architecture as "moveable" heritage. In addition to moving buildings to preserve them, the presentation will also feature the emerging phenomena of treating significant Modern architecture as works of art that can be acquired by collectors including their sale and auction followed by being disassembled, packed up, transported, and reassembled on a new site. McCulloch Pavilion 265 S Orange Ave., Sarasota, architecturesarasota.org. 

[SOON]  THEATER: Asolo Rep: Incident at Our Lady of Perpetual Help , March 15 – April 22, Varied

Take a trip back to 1973 with the Irish Catholic OShea family in the uproarious INCIDENT AT OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP. This boisterous and moving new memory play introduces us to young Linda, as she recalls a week she’ll never forget. When Linda’s mother instructs her to tell her sister about the birds and the bees, things quickly snowball into a potential crisis after the conversation is overheard by the parish priest. Secrets are unintentionally revealed, and a quick-witted group of women realize what really matters as they work to protect their family reputation and each other. This wild and tender comedy directed by Asolo Rep Associate Artistic Director Celine Rosenthal explores the foolishness of first love, the pains of Catholic guilt, and ultimately, the power of family.  

Asolo Repertory Theatre

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: SPARCC Runway Fashion Show - Timeless Treasures , March 31, 10:00 am - 2:30 pm

Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC) is hosting its signature, annual fashion show on Friday, March 31, 2023 at The Ritz Carlton, Sarasota. The 2023 event, SPARCC Runway: Timeless Treasures will be filled with nostalgia and fashion-forward styles as we showcase trends that have come full-circle. Guests will enjoy valet parking, a champagne toast, shopping in the event’s premiere, pop-up fashion boutique (featuring great deals on high-end fashion pieces from SPARCC Treasure Chest), a delicious luncheon complete with wine service, and an unforgettable and fantastic runway fashion show. This year guests can also join in on our inaugural Fashion Show After-Party, and avoid the valet rush, with musical entertainment, for purchase beverage options and additional opportunities to shop the boutique. Registration and shopping begin at 10 AM, followed by the seated luncheon and fashion show at noon and the after-party immediately following. All festivities wrap-up by 2:30 PM. This year’s Fashion Show Chairs are: Vickie Smith, Event Chair; Darci Jacob, Fashion Chair; Coral Pleas (Cutting Loose Hair Salons) and Terry McKee (Nuovo Salon Group) as Honorary Chairs. As the owners of Sarasota’s most beloved hair salons the event’s Honorary Chairs are coming together to show their support of SPARCC, take a stand for survivors and help make Timeless Treasures an event to remember! All proceeds from the event support SPARCC’s free and confidential programs and services for
survivors of domestic and sexual violence. For tickets and sponsorship opportunities, visit www.sparcc.net/events or call 941-365-0208 ext. 110.

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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