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SRQ DAILY Jul 1, 2023

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Our community, no matter the deep political rifts, is invested in students and teachers. "

- Jennifer Vigne, Education Foundation of Sarasota County

[Community]  United We Stand
Roxie Jerde, roxie@cfsarasota.org

As our nation prepares for Fourth of July celebrations, many will reflect on our national history and identity. This is the nature of birthdays, after all: to consider how all the individual experiences have accumulated to define a current character. 

Since the foundation of America, our national character has been described as a blending of many different ethnicities, cultures and traditions coming together to forge a cohesive identity, with shared values and common aspirations, both individually and collectively. Our nickname, the Melting Pot, reflects this notion. 

The ability to achieve the American Dream — to live with dignity and enjoy freedoms in a connected community — requires a collaborative will to protect our most vulnerable neighbors, propel those in need and support people during difficult times gives America a richness. 

In upholding our commitment to the vision of creating a community where everyone can thrive, June has been a busy month for the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. We’ve announced $1.3 million in grants to a wide variety of programs, with an additional $720,000 earmarked for future assistance. The programs supported are as diverse as the people who will benefit from them, but all bring us closer to our common goals of prosperity, dignity, stability and hope for achieving our dreams. 

Healing from a Hurricane

After months of fundraising, embracing best-practices guidance from disaster recovery experts, and listening to community stakeholders, the first round of Suncoast Disaster Recovery Fund grants were announced in early June, appropriately at the start of another hurricane season.

Nearly $1 million was granted to support ongoing issues stemming from last year’s Hurricane Ian, with funding priority given to hurricane survivor advocacy, mental and behavioral health support, and restoring educational programming to affected youth in hardest hit communities.

What we’ve learned in the months of seeking input is that disasters typically exacerbate existing disparities. The most disenfranchised citizens often are the ones for whom recovery takes longest, and these dollars support programming that will go far in helping our most vulnerable and affected neighbors.

Nurturing Neurological Health

In recognition of June as International Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, our Community Foundation has granted nearly $150,000 to support brain research, early diagnosis medical services, facilities serving residents with Alzheimer’s and adult day programs to provide respite for family caregivers.

As our Baby Boomer generation ages, the need for committed efforts to mitigate the impacts of Alzheimer’s and dementia grows. Ensuring that our aging citizens can continue to participate as fully as possible in society and retain their dignity is a national priority. 

Bolstering Nonprofit Capacity

Also last month, our Community Foundation also awarded $120,000 towards capacity-building projects for nonprofits. Recipients of these dollars will use funding towards strengthening their operations, whether that be in enhancing communications and marketing capabilities, providing professional development opportunities for staff and leadership, or expanding programmatic reach.

Nonprofits who benefited from these grants range in mission from ending hunger (Mayor’s Feed the Hungry Program) to inspiring artists (SaraSolo Productions). Still, while they support a range of experiences, they are united by the thread of empowering people to achieve their version of fulfillment. 

When we can nurture individuals and give them tools to accomplish their aspirations, we provide a path to achieving the American Dream. The more of us who can participate in our national welfare with lives characterized by dignity, accomplishments, and independence, the more contributors our nation will have to its exceptionalism today, and for generations to come.

Roxie Jerde is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. 

Image courtesy Pixabay.

[Education]  The Power of Dialogue to Unite a Community
Jennifer Vigne, jvigne@edfoundationsrq.org

Dialogue is essential in uniting a community and addressing the most pressing issues in our society today. Education, one such issue, profoundly shapes our world, and dialogue is a crucial component in driving progress forward. 

I’ve always believed that a thriving community and a high-quality education are inextricably linked. Public education fosters a more informed and empathetic society. 

To address challenges that students and teachers face today, the Education Foundation of Sarasota County recently held a creative problem-solving workshop, inviting youth-serving organizations, licensed mental health professionals, district student support staff, teachers, students and volunteer community members to identify solutions in strengthening resiliency in students through a collaborative approach. The community conducted extensive research and interviews and problem-solved collectively and creatively, helping to guide the Education Foundation’s work to support students and teachers. 

What most inspired me from this three-month initiative was the power of dialogue, the power of many voices, opinions and perspectives. The dialogue dramatically increased engagement as varied stakeholders addressed complex problems and developed solutions. 

This experience highlighted just how much people in our community care about education. Our community, no matter the deep political rifts, is invested in students and teachers. As the president and CEO of an organization dedicated to supporting those students and teachers, we have a responsibility as a community to provide an environment where dialogue creates connection and leads to a desire for change and progress.   

Author and innovator Seth Godin said that “a dialogue leads to connection, which leads to trust which leads to engagement.” In our daily work at the Education Foundation, we are constantly looking to engage with students, families, teachers and the community. Without dialogue and the trust and engagement it inspires, we would be unable to extend beyond surface-level interactions. 

The challenges students face and those affecting education today are too complicated to go it alone. They demand more than the current tug of war as those on both sides of the education debates strain to hold their position, to not give an inch. Problem-solving will require the collective energy of all the stakeholders to develop a vision that can be advanced together, one that holds as its guiding light students and the remarkable teachers who do so much to inspire them. And that begins with dialogue.  

The power of dialogue cannot be overstated. 

To develop a shared vision and unify around students and teachers won’t be easy, but it is possible. It becomes possible when thoughtful, engaged stakeholders sit down together and listen to one another. It becomes possible with an openness to learn new perspectives, seek understanding, consider bold ideas, hear new voices and meet one another with respect and kindness. 

The next generation deserves an exceptional education. It deserves a thriving ecosystem in which each and every student can reach their full potential. Making sure our system adapts to a fast-changing world will be no easy feat, but I can think of nothing more pressing. It is why I am so excited to fuel more dialogue.

Jennifer Vigne is president and CEO of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. 

Image courtesy Pixabay.

[On Education]  A Young Mind is Too Precious to Waste

The major purpose of education in our country is to prepare our children to be active and knowledgeable citizens, fully engaged in our economic, social and political processes. 

We believe that important components of preparing students for such engagement are that:

• All students must be able to read, write, perform mathematical functions and understand science at the appropriate grade level. 

• All students need to be exposed to our basic economic, societal and political institutions so that they understand how our country and world operate.

• All students need to develop thinking skills to collect and verify information, analyze different points of view, identify bias and draw and evaluate conclusions.

• All students must develop dispositions that enable and motivate them to engage in thinking independently, listening with understanding to the points of view of others, working in groups and being able to discuss, debate and solve problems.

• All students need to be taught in a physically, intellectually and emotionally safe environment that encourages listening to different perspectives, enabling them to solve real-life problems in a cooperative fashion within their local institutions, including family, friends, clubs, teams and communities.

• A successful education is a collaborative product of teachers, school boards, administrators and parents, all with important roles.

We acknowledge that there are different points of view about educational issues; conversations about these issues should respect these differences and all participants should be treated with respect and dignity.

We believe that different options should exist for educating students and parents have the right to choose what they think is best for their children.

How does our Report Card look?

• In Sarasota, 66% of the students score level 3 and above in reading (meaning ready for the next grade level, likely to excel at the next grade level or highly likely to excel at the next grade level) and 71% in math. (Niche.com using Florida State Assessment data)

• Statewide in Florida students in grades 3-8 score 52% in reading and 55% in math. (Florida State Assessment data)

• Nationally, 33% of our 4th grade students are considered at grade level or above in reading and 31% of our 8th grade students are at or above, 37% of our High School seniors across the country read at grade level, and 24% of our seniors nationally are proficient in math. (NAEP Nation Report Card 2019)

• Internationally, our 8th graders rank 12th out of 29 other countries around the world and our 4th graders rank 15th out of 58 countries in math.  (2019 Trends in International Mathematics and Science)

What can we as responsible citizens do?

As Parents: Support our children and grandchildren in their educational process.  It starts with the Family! Get involved in your local parent association. Stay abreast of the most current information about our students’ performance, i.e., test scores, graduation rates, post-secondary placements, etc.

As citizens: Elect responsible, high quality School Board Members who reflect the characteristics stated earlier.

Robert Gary, Nancy Greenhouse, Scott GrayPaul HylbertLucie LapovskyLynn LarsonEd SabolHerb Soroca, Becky van der Bogert and Shawna West are part of Miracle on the Key, a group of five Democrats and five Republicans devoted to civil dialogue as a means to address our country’s opportunities and problems. 

Image courtesy Pixabay.

[SOON]  THEATER: Finding Nemo Jr. , June 30 – July 2, Various times

Join our Teen Summer Bootcamp actors as they swim through the ocean in Finding Nemo Jr., the musical adaptation of the beloved 2003 Disney and Pixar movie Finding Nemo. With new music by award-winning songwriting team Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez we follow Marlin, an anxious and over-protective clownfish, who lives in the Great Barrier Reef with his kid Nemo, who longs to explore the world beyond their anemone home. But when Nemo is captured and taken to Sydney, Marlin faces his fears and sets off on an epic adventure across the ocean. With the help of lovable characters such as optimistic Dory, laid-back sea turtle Crush, and the supportive Tank Gang, Marlin and Nemo both overcome challenges on their journey to find each other and themselves. 3501 S. Tamiami Trail, Suite 1130, Sarasota, theplayers.org.

[SOON]  THEATER: Freedom, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Laughter , July 1, 7:30 pm
Celebrate Independence Day with FST Improv. Sure, you know the story of the American Revolution. Red coats vs. colonialists. Taxation without representation. Hotdogs and fireworks. But do you know the back, back, backstory behind the major historic events? Join our cast of patriotic improvisers as they celebrate the birth of our great nation and reveal an untold story of the American Revolution in this never-before-seen musical. Bownes Lab, 1265 First St., Sarasota, floridastudiotheatre.org.
[SOON]  GALLERY: Creative Collaboration , July 1 – July 28, Various times

The newest artists at Art Uptown Gallery will be featured in the July exhibit, Creative Collaboration, showcasing their original paintings. Meet the artists, Donna Grossman, Christine Hales, Debbie Kadagian, Maureen Riesco and Kathryn Adele Schumacher at the First Friday public reception on July 7 from 6-9 p.m. All five award-winning artists are local, full-time residents of Sarasota. The exhibit opens on Saturday, July 1 and runs through Friday, July 28. Art Uptown Gallery welcomes patrons and friends at 1367 Main Street where the diverse work of regional award-winning artists is exhibited. Telephone 941-955-5409 or visit www.artuptown.com for hours and further information.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Great American Picnic , July 1, Various times

Wellen Park invites the community to an all-day Great American Picnic celebration Saturday, July 1, in Downtown Wellen. The Great American Picnic, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., marks the beginning of the Fourth of July holiday weekend with live music, family-friendly activities, a pie bake-off and plenty of food and drinks for everyone to enjoy. The festival will also debut Wellen Park’s new augmented reality experience showcasing the vibrant, playful spirit of Downtown Wellen. The festival will feature live music throughout the day by Rob Hazen, Derek Lersch Country Band, Queen Kay Duo and the Nightbreakers. Family-friendly activities include a water balloon toss, face painting, carnival games, cornhole and more. Once the sun sets, guests will enjoy a special projection art show at select locations in Downtown Wellen. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs for seating on the Great Lawn and pack their own picnic baskets, or purchase picnic eats from The Yard food containers and restaurants throughout downtown. The event is open to the public. For more information, visit wellenpark.com/events/great-american-picnic.

[SOON]  THEATER: Off The Charts , July 2 – July 9, 10 am

Journey with us from the jukebox to the iPhone as we celebrate the universal language of music. This energetic music revue features family-friendly versions of some pop greatest hits, from Hound Dog and I Want to Hold Your Hand to Shake it Off. With over a dozen chart-topping songs from the past eight decades, Off the Charts explores music’s ability to make us think, feel, and connect across generations. Florida Studio Theatre, Bownes Lab, 1265 First St., Sarasota.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Sculputure Anatomy Classes with Stephen Perkins , July 3 – July 17, 2 to 5 pm

Solid anatomy study should be the foundation for all figurative art. But have you ever studied anatomy from a round or 3-D perspective? This way of learning is a game-changer for bringing your understanding of anatomy back into your drawing and painting. Whether you choose to explore this class in charcoal or clay, you’ll benefit from Stephen’s in-depth guidance of the subtleties of the beautiful and suggestive gestures and anatomy of the hands and feet. Stephen Perkins is recommended by some of the top sculpture organizations in the world including the National Sculpture Society, The Posey Foundation, and the American Numismatic Society. To learn more and enroll, visit mianoacademy.org.

[SOON]  SPORTS: Publix Fireworks 5K on The Lake , July 3, 7 pm
Festive family fun to kick off the 4th of July. Join us for the best patriotic party in the Sarasota area with a festive 5K Race around the lake at Nathan Benderson Park. Celebrate Independence Day with a patriotic-themed race, then stay for the fireworks and fun. To learn more and register, visit raceroster.com.
[SOON]  SEMINAR: Creative Personal Development Workshops , July 3 – July 31, 7:30 to 8:30 am

Artist Laine Nixon is offering a new personal development workshops for the month of July for anyone looking to add a spark of creativity to their routines. The Creative Habits Lab is a daily, structured hour to build a consistent creative morning routine.  The lab meets every weekday morning during July. To learn more and register, visit lainenixon.com/workshops.

[SOON]  THEATER: The Mantle , July 7 – July 9, Various times

The Players Centre is happy to produce the 2020 winner of The Players New Play Festival, The Mantle by Jalex Scott. Directed by Amanda Schlachter, this production will take place in The Players new black box theatre in the Rosemary District, Space is limited, and there will be a talkback after each performance led by Artistic Director Steven Butler. On the anniversary of the most traumatic experience of his life, Benny Craft records a suicide note and sets it up to post on social media at midnight. Armed with a to-do list and pursued by a handsome, pushy stranger, he sets off on his last day to visit his therapist and the two most important women in his life. But is Benny really looking to say goodbye or desperately searching for a reason to not have to? 1400 Blvd. of the Arts, Suite 200 (Second Floor), Sarasota, theplayers.org.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Fresh Harvest Farmers Market at Wellen Park , June 25 – December 29, 9 am to 1 pm

Visit Fresh Harvest, the newly launched weekly farmers market in Downtown Wellen. Fresh Harvest offers a selection of local goods from nearly 40 local vendors. Fresh Harvest takes place every Sunday in Downtown Wellen from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Attendees can peruse different vendor booths and stock up on a variety of goods. Vendors will offer a wide variety of locally grown and produced food, including herbs, spices, cut flowers, teas, canned and preserved fruits and vegetables, syrups, baked goods, pickled foods, fresh seafood, meats, poultry, eggs, milk and prepared food and beverages. A limited selection of craft vendors also participate in the farmers market. For a listing of participating vendors and more information on Fresh Harvest Farmers Market, visit wellenpark.com/events/fresh-harvest-farmers-market. Downtown Wellen, 19745 Wellen Park Blvd., Venice.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: The Summer Circus Spectacular , June 9 – August 12, Various times

Circus fans of all ages, from near and far, can beat the heat this summer at reasonable prices while experiencing the best of the circus arts, thanks to the continued partnership of The Circus Arts Academy and The Ringling. The Summer Circus Spectacular returns this year, with exciting acts signed on for the one-hour, action-packed show. The 2023 Summer Circus Spectacular, which has become a seasonal highlight for locals, visitors, families and groups alike, takes place from June 9 through August 12. Tickets are $20 for adults, $13 for children 12 and under, and tickets for the 7 p.m. opening night performance and celebration on Friday, June 9, which includes a gala reception with the artists, are $50. To complete their circus experience, Summer Circus Spectacular patrons can enjoy access to the Circus Museum on the day they attend a show for an additional $5. Visit Ringling.org or call the Box Office at 941-360-7399 to purchase tickets and learn more. The Historic Asolo Theater at The Ringling, 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota.

[SOON]  FOOD: SIN Nights at Geckos on Hillview , May 12 – August 31, 10 pm to midnight

Enjoy SIN Nights for Geckos Hospitality and Service Industry Colleagues. Join Geckos on Hillview Street in Southside Village and let us serve you late at night after your shift on Friday and Saturday nights. We will keep the light on late for you and offer Geckos food and drink specials just for you from 10-Midnight. Come in wearing your uniform or bring in your schedule and enjoy the camaraderie of friends at Geckos on Hillview. 1900 Hillview Street, Sarasota, www.GeckosGrill.com.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Laser Light Nights at The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature , May 25 – September 2, 7pm and 9pm

Break out the big hair and acid-washed denim because Laser Light Nights are back at The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature. Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night from May 25 through September 2, we are rocking out to some of your favorite artists in the Planetarium! A variety of food options and drinks are available for purchase onsite with cash or card. Tickets are $15. The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, 201 10th St W., Bradenton, bishopscience.org.

[SOON]  THEATER: Shear Madness , May 31 – July 16, Various times

There has been a murder in a local hair salon, and it is up to the audience to solve the crime. Everyone is a suspect when the old lady living above Shear Madness salon is mysteriously offed. Join two police officers to piece together the clues behind this strange, scissor-stabbing homicide. Chock full of up-to-the minute spontaneous humor, Shear Madness has slayed the hearts of audiences around the world. Now it is up to Sarasota audiences to outwit the suspects and catch the killer in this interactive comedy whodunit. FST Gompertz Theatre, 1265 First St.
Sarasota, floridastudiotheatre.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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