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SRQ DAILY Feb 24, 2024

Saturday Perspectives Edition

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Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Training and employment in the trades offers a route to financial security and the American Dream."

- Mary Dougherty, GCBX

[Under The Hood]  The Political Price of Strange Bedfellows
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

A series of box trucks started driving around town this week with a picture of Bridget Ziegler across the side and the words “Stop the School Board Scandal.” The trucks debuted outside a School Board meeting this week as part of a campaign called the School Sanity Project. 

That group intends to continue challenging the personal integrity of arguably the area’s most famous school board member, before and after a scandal last year turned her and husband Christian Ziegler from power players to punchlines.

About four months into some a police investigation and some tawdry revelations, organizers for the campaign say they are just getting started. They plan to tie Ziegler’s notorious insincerity into a problem for a social conservative majority barely a year into its reign.

"We're fighting back against extremist school board members like Bridget Ziegler, who has turned the Sarasota School Board into a circus with her blatant hypocrisy and bad-faith policymaking," said Senior Advisor to the Project, Samantha Pollara. "This billboard is only the beginning of our campaign and our battle against extremists in education. Enough is enough. It's time to bring sanity back to our schools." 

It seems only fair at some point here to note Ziegler’s personal scandal doesn’t actually have anything to do with her work on the School Board, other than serving as an extraordinary juxtaposition to the moralizing policies she has helped advance. Her husband, importantly, is the only one facing any legal threat from the matter.

I won’t get into too many details in a morning newsletter. It’s an embarrassing mess, no three ways about it. 

Still, it didn’t directly involve curriculum or public spending or Black history or whether transgender people are imagining things. All those matters, indeed, have come up during her time at the dais, and many a constituent probably finds her positions equally embarrassing and outrageous. But Ziegler over three elections — two of which she won with less than 51% of the vote but more recently one she took by a landslide — had electoral mandates to back up those policies.

It seems highly unlikely she could win another term today, though in three years who knows. But the real test of the political campaign’s success won’t be the next time Ziegler faces an electorate, should that ever happen, but when he political allies stand for re-election. School Board chair Karen Rose appears on a ballot again this year. So does School Board member Tom Edwards, a long-time adversary of Ziegler’s. The clear dream scenario for School Sanity Project and many other who fought the Ziegler agenda for years would be to re-elect Edwards and drive Rose out in a rout.

No other member of the School Board had any role in Ziegler’s personal picadilloes. But they certainly helped in actions like driving a superintendent out of town with no cause whatsoever. Honestly, the push for change would have come this year regardless of the national headlines surrounding the conservative leader.

That’s why a refusal to resign her office has so upset allies and enemies alike. Truthfully, it seems increasingly likely her political foes secretly hope Ziegler never leaves the scene now. It’s anyone’s guess if she how she recovers personally or politically from the firestorm of the last few months. But the longer she stays at the dais, drawing hours of public condemnation at every hearing, the more likely it becomes that those who shared a political bed will be the ones who pay a price.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ MEDIA. 

Photo courtesy the School Sanity Project.

[Higher Education]  Success and Creativity Hinge on Normalizing Failure
Dr. Larry Thompson, lthompso@ringling.edu

At Ringling College of Art and Design, we strive to position our students for success—professionally and financially as well as personally and emotionally. We have spent decades shattering the myth of the “starving artist” and aligning our students on a path that leads them to turn their passions into professions.

I have long been an advocate for implementing STEAM within our educational systems. This adds the “A” for the Arts, alongside Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Art classes are the only classes where students are permitted and encouraged to be creative. It is within these classes where creativity and innovation flourish; where there are many different solutions to a problem, not just one; and where failure is normalized and an inherent part of the learning process. 

Some people may not think it’s possible to fail in the creative realm because the outcomes are not as black and white. In the art world, we hear the cliché, “There is no right answer.” But art can fail, too. It can be unclear, disengaging, misleading, plagiarized or simply reveal an artist who was momentarily unable—or unwilling—to engage with their process, their audience or themselves.

But here is the simple truth: embracing failure as part of the practice/process/journey is vital to our students’ experiences and successes. In fact, failure is vital to all of us; it’s a fundamental part of the human experience. In an environment centered on creativity, innovation and independent thought as well as open collaboration, Ringling College’s mission must include accepting, normalizing and even celebrating failures, both large and small.

Rather than chastising or ostracizing failure, a healthy academic environment, especially one so focused on the creative process, should have failure built into it. Artistic creations are open to feedback and critique from faculty as well as peers, giving way to revisions or even starting over from scratch. Our first ideas and earliest attempts will rarely be our best. For most people, we won’t know what a flawed effort looks or feels like until we actually go through with it. We have to TRY in order to learn and grow. And trying, by its nature, doesn’t guarantee success.

Unfortunately, a nonstop, win-first mentality means failure can be paralyzing. Especially these days in the competitive landscape of higher education and with the limitless reach of social media, too many young people turn away from their passions before they even have a chance to begin. Unlike adults who had more time to adjust their perspectives, many high school and college-aged students will experience failure, internalize it and maybe expect it to be permanent. Or they deny their failures outright and become defensive and unwilling to embark upon other avenues. 

These attitudes are debilitating—not just for individual goals but for whole communities that would ultimately benefit from new viewpoints and fearless experimentation. A fear of failure stops progress in its tracks. And progress is nothing without creativity. The need for immediate success leads to mediocrity. If we’re only looking for what merely works, we will accept the old, outdated and unoriginal. But if we expand into realms where failure is possible—or even likely and dare I say, encouraged—we open up the potential for new modes of success. At the very least, we walk away from failure with a broader, better understanding of our circumstances and ourselves. 

As a society and as educators, how can we normalize failure? By allowing it, sharing in it as a community and talking openly about our own failures—past and current. Let’s revel in the things that don’t work. Let’s celebrate starting over. Let’s recognize that humans are messy, often-failing creatures. Let’s meet all of our challenges with enthusiasm and grace. 

Ringling College will continue to produce graduates at the forefront of creativity and innovation, embracing failure as part of the creative process, rather than hiding it or running from it. And regardless of our graduates’ career choices, we believe our students will be in the best possible position to be happy, healthy, resilient and successful going forward, in part because of their failures along the way. 

Dr. Larry R. Thompson is president of Ringling College of Art and Design. 

Photo courtesy Ringling College.

[GCBX]  Education Critical to Industry Throughout Region
Mary Dougherty, Marydougherty@gcbx.org

One of the greatest attributes of the citizens of Sarasota and Manatee Counties is their generosity and commitment to quality education. This is good for the community, the educators and the students. 

There are many reasons a strong educational system is good for the community, but it is also a necessity for strong economic development. We need an educated and trained workforce for economic development.

As in the past, citizens this November will be asked to vote on a referendum to extend an optional local property tax for the School Districts in both Manatee and Sarasota Counties. This referendum has historically passed by a wide margin showing commitment to quality education in the region. Let’s work to make sure they pass once again. I focus on both of these referendums not only because as a trade association GCBX represents members in both counties, but also because we are one metropolitical statistical area (MSA) and one region. We must realize that and focus on a thriving, robust and sustainable region.

An educated and well-trained workforce is critical to the local economy. Currently, labor shortages compounded by supply chain issues are having a huge impact on the local commercial contracting industry.

Plenty of jobs are available in the trades and as project managers and superintendents with General Contracting firms. Training and employment in the trades offers a route to financial security and the American Dream.  

I’m reminded of the story of a young man who was laid off during the pandemic. He applied to CareerEdge Funders Collaborative (part of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce) to participate in the HVAC Express Program offered at Sarasota Technical College. Throughout his three-month training, he was mentored by veterans in the field. He developed interview and professional skills for employment and upon graduation was immediately offered a job. in nine months from when he first stepped foot in the training program, he worked his way to $25 per hour with time-and-a-half for overtime and double time when on call. His self-confidence and pride have gone through the roof. He and his wife (both working) have been able to purchase a small starter home. He is making his American Dream a reality.

This type of story isn’t just important for the Construction Industry, it’s important for the community.  We need more stories like this in the community. Locally, both the Manatee and Sarasota County School Boards understand the importance of workforce training. The Construction Technology Program at Riverview is in its second year and is hugely successful. Similar programs have also started in other high schools. It's important that we support the Technical Colleges and high schools that offer these programs and training and have a track record of success.  

At GCBX, we will be sponsoring our 7th Annual Construction Career Rodeo to offer juniors and seniors from Manatee and Sarasota Counties an opportunity to explore the many career paths they can embark on right out of High School. Each year, many of these students walk away with internship and apprenticeship opportunities that result in high wage careers right here at home.

These programs change lives. These programs help build communities and support economic development. Let’s hope we can continue to support our local schools by supporting the referendum in November and by supporting the successful programs that exist in the region for this type of training. 

Mary Dougherty is executive director of the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange. 

Photo courtesy Pixabay. By Hermann Traub.

[SOON]  DANCE: Celtic Throne, The Royal Journey of Irish Dance , June 2, 7:30pm
Irish dancers and musicians from Edmonds Herbert W. Armstrong College and Armstrong Dance will embark on their fifth U.S. tour beginning May 5, visiting 10 states over seven weeks with their show Celtic Throne, The Royal Journey of Irish Dance. Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall will host a one-night performance at 7:30 p.m., June 2. Celtic Throne, The Royal Journey of Irish Dance explores the ancient origins of Irish step dance and celebrates the millennia-long journey of a music-and-dance-loving people as they migrate from the ancient Near East to Ireland, Scotland, England and the United States. Tickets to Celtic Throne, The Royal Journey of Irish Dance begin at $25 and can be purchased at VanWezel.org. For more information, please visit celticthrone.com.
[SOON]  BUSINESS: Borrow Smart, Choosing the Right Loan for Your Business Needs , March 27, 12pm
This presentation will highlight the various types of bank loans from consumer and residential to commercial loans for business. Free, online webinar. score.org/manasota.
[SOON]  BUSINESS: Can Writing a Book Boost Your Business , March 20, 12pm
Writing and publishing a book can make all the difference in your entrepreneurial journey. It is an endeavor that goes beyond sharing knowledge and insights. It is a powerful tool to build credibility, increase influence, strengthen your personal and business branding, drive personal growth, and leave a lasting legacy. We’ll be reviewing the types of publishing and the pitfalls. Free, online webinar. score.org/manasota.
[SOON]  BUSINESS: New Worker Categorization: W-2 vs 1099, Challenges for Business Owners and Independent Contractors , March 14, 12pm
In 2024, the Department of Labor will issue regulations that will require business owners to reconsider how they classify their workers on company tax returns. Effective March 11, 2024, these rules describe many newly created factors to help business owners determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. The rules have created a situation where some businesses may inadvertently misclassify workers on company tax returns, and could incur civil and criminal penalties if the IRS suspects intentional misconduct. Once this new rule takes effect, the risk of misclassification may skyrocket. This means that more businesses may face potential liability for not paying these benefits to their workers. Free, online webinar. score.org/manasota.
[SOON]  BUSINESS: Choosing the Right Business Type, An Attorney Weighs In , March 13, 12pm
There are so many options when choosing a business entity. Your choice can affect your legal liability and asset protection. Sara Castro Potts explains the options and helps you decide which is best for your business. Free, online webinar. score.org/manasota.
[SOON]  BUSINESS: Passive Profits, Active Pursuits, Build Your Retirement Nest Egg with a Franchise , March 6, 12pm

Do you know what you will retire to? Or keep your job and create income via semi-absentee or fully absentee franchise options. Sign up for this webinar that could change your life. Free, online webinar. score.org/manasota.

[SOON]  SPORTS: Oyster Boys Fundraiser with the Baltimore Orioles , March 4, 1:05pm
Support the Oyster Boys and enjoy a spring training game with the Baltimore Orioles on March 4. $5 of every purchase made through the following link goes directly towards the Oyster Boys Conservation. https://fevo-enterprise.com/event/Oysterboys20240212-14581004
[SOON]  GRAB BAG: 47th Annual Simply Sarasota Tour of Homes , February 23 – February 24, 10am-4pm

The 47th Annual Simply Sarasota Tour of Homes, run by the Junior League of Sarasota will offer two days of access to five noteworthy homes in Sarasota on Friday, February 23, and Saturday, February 24, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. As part of the tour experience, guests will be treated to live music, art demonstrations, pop-up shops, light bites, wine tastings, and more. The Simply Sarasota Tour of Homes allows the public to take a peek into some of the most sought-after homes in the area, with styles ranging from historic to modern. General admission tickets are $50, and VIP tickets are $130. VIP ticket holders will enjoy trolley transportation between homes with Prosecco, personal charcuterie boxes, and narration by John McCarthy, vice president for regional history at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, and architect Hannah Boehmer of Sweet Sparkman Architects. General admission tickets are available at JLSarasota.org and at each home during the tour. VIP tickets must be purchased in advance at JLSarasota.org.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Caples Historic Tour , February 21 – March 2, 10am-4pm
Daily tours of Historic Caples Mansion have begun and will run through March 2nd, 2024. Take a tour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Explore 12 rooms decorated by local interior designers and learn about the history of this iconic bayfront estate. To learn more and purchase tickets, visit ncf.edu/alumni/caplestour/
[SOON]  THEATER: Misery , February 21 – March 10, Various times

The Sarasota Players gets down and dirty with the classic Stephen King thriller, Misery by William Goldman running through March 10 at The Crossings at Siesta Key, 3501 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Starring real-life married couple Alison Guerrero-Heideman and Jeremy Guerrero-Heideman and directed by Kelly Woodland, this show will have you on the edge of your seat. To learn more and purchase tickets, visit theplayers.org.

[SOON]  THEATER: Born with Teeth , February 21 – March 29, Various times
Do not miss the opportunity to witness the fascinating dynamic between Shakespeare and Marlowe as their secrets unravel on stage. Born with Teeth runs through March 29, 2024. Visit asolorep.org for a full performance schedule. Tickets start at $35 and are available now in person at the Asolo Rep Box Office at 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, by phone at 941-351-8000 or 800-361-8388, or online at asolorep.org.
[SOON]  BUSINESS: Business Networking and Cowork Session , August 22 – June 25, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Attention all business professionals. Join us for a productive and inspiring coworking event every Tuesday at Out and About Coffee in downtown Sarasota. Take advantage of this opportunity to network and collaborate with fellow professionals in a relaxed and comfortable environment. Limited spots available, so register now on Eventbrite. O and A Coffee Supply, 1316 Main St., Sarasota.

[SOON]  GALLERY: Clyde Butcher: Nature Through the Lens , November 11 – August 31, N/a

Clyde Butcher: Nature Through the Lens will be on view through August 31, 2024 at the Historic Spanish Point campus. Selby Gardens is excited to present the extraordinary imagery of photographer and conservationist Clyde Butcher throughout the grounds of the Historic Spanish Point campus. Large-scale prints on aluminum of Butcher’s beautiful photographs of plants, animals, and habitats of Florida will be exhibited amid the natural landscape of the 30-acre waterfront preserve, enabling the public to engage with the artist’s work like never before. In the tradition of earlier landscape photographers like Ansel Adams, Butcher captures the beauty and majesty of America’s natural treasures in dramatic black and white. The unique environments of Florida have been subjects of particular interest to Butcher since the 1980s, when he was first introduced to the magic and mystery of sites such as Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park. Nature Through the Lens will include Butcher’s photographs of regional locales such as Myakka River State Park and Casey Key. This exhibition is presented in partnership with the Clyde Butcher Gallery & Studio in Venice, Florida. For more information, visit selby.org.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Bradenton Market Returns , October 7 – May 25, 9am-2pm

Realize Bradenton is happy to announce the return of the Bradenton Market to its weekly schedule. This beloved community gathering will be held Saturdays through May 25, 2024 from 9:00 am - 2:00 pm on Old Main Street in Bradenton. Founded in 1979, the Market has expanded to include more than 90 local vendors. In addition to the weekly shopping and music, the Market hosts special event days throughout the season. Halloween at the Market will be held on Saturday, October 28. This family-friendly event includes trick or treating with vendors, face painting with Manatee School for the Arts Academic Team from 9:30 am - 12:30 pm, and a dance performance by Slick Motion Studios at 10:00 am. For more information, visit RealizeBradenton.com.

[SOON]  FOOD: Farmers Market at Lakewood Ranch , September 3 – September 30, 10am-2pm

Experience some of the best food and flavors of the region with more than 100, and still growing, curated vendors. The Farmers Market at Lakewood Ranch has fast become a favorite weekly tradition for people from all over the region seeking farm-fresh produce, delicious prepared foods, and specialty items and gifts. Aside from all the goodies you can shop at the Farmers Market, find your flow in a free yoga class or have the kiddos get creative during weekly-hosted workshops. 1561 Lakefront Dr., Lakewood Ranch.

[SOON]  FOOD: Siesta Key Rum Distillery Tours , September 2 – September 30, Various times

Siesta Key Rum runs free year-round tours for guests to learn the story of the craft distillery, the awards they have won and the secret to how they make their rums taste so good. During our 30-45 minute tour we will discuss the following topics: history of Siesta Key Rum, an overview of the awards our small company has won, what makes our rums taste so good, the rum-making process from mashing and fermentation to distillation, barrel aging and bottling of our rums. After the tour, we welcome you to sample a freshly made Siesta Key Rum cocktail, stock up on your favorite rums and browse our gift shop. 2212 Industrial Blvd., Sarasota.

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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