January/February 2022 Iguana

The January-February issue of the Iguana is now available, and you can access it here! If you want to get your hands on a hard copy, check out our distro locations here.

Get involved with Free Grocery Store at Civic Media Center

The Free Grocery Store (FGS) is a food-based mutual aid project hosted by the Civic Media Center. 

The FGS seeks to challenge the commodification of food that has led to unequal food access and address the food waste inherent in our current food systems. To do so, we distribute free, sustainable food to members of the community. 

We’re currently packing and delivering free food to a total of 314 individuals across 101 households every two weeks. We also maintain a garden space at the McRorie Community Garden, which provides fresh veggies for us to share with community members. 

As we grow and increase the number of community members we are able to serve, we will need help with packing, driving, and gardening, along with other tasks involved in organizing our efforts. To help, you can find and message us on Instagram @gnvfgs, sign up/donate online using our linktree at linktr.ee/fgsgnv, or email us at fgsgnv@gmail.com to get in touch.

Civic Media Center update

by JoJo Sacks

We’ve been busy at the Civic Media Center programming safe ways for our community to get together, including through outdoor meetings and events, which we are in the process of planning. 

Gainesville organizers have been amazing throughout this pandemic, including Free Grocery Store and Free Store, two projects housed under our roof that feed and supply clothing and household items to the folks who need it. 

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Ernest Lee, rest in power

by Joe Courter

It was my pleasure to spend some time talking with artist Ernest Lee at the Thornebrook Art Festival this Fall, and it was sad to read of his passing on Nov. 27. Born in 1962 in North Carolina, he had an early touch with painting that grew later in life to a life passion after hearing of the famous Highwaymen and meeting one of them, S. M. Wells, who encouraged him to devote himself more to his art after seeing a painting Ernest had done when he was 15.

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Local in-person events…

Be safe, wear a mask and partake as you will.   

Starred* entries have multiple events going on. Find them online to see details and what else they are doing. 

Many other events, not listed here, are being held via Zoom. Keep in touch with your favorite organizations to find out what’s going on.

We will get through this!  

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Zero Waste Week 2022, Jan. 23-29

Join us for Zero Waste Week 2022, presented by by Zero Waste Gainesville, The Repurpose Project, and Life Unplastic, to celebrate the collaboration that makes Zero Waste successful. 

There are many ways to participate. Sign up for our daily newsletter, peruse online content, learn about the partnerships that make Zero Waste a reality, and attend our in-person event.

When: Jan. 23-29

Where: zerowastegainesville.com for online content

Keep an eye out for an in-person event at Reuse Planet (The Repurpose Project’s sister store).

Register here to receive a daily newsletter during Zero Waste Week: tinyurl.com/Iguana1334

Topics to be covered during the week: 

City of Gainesville Zero Waste Ordinance, Reusables to-go, Rescuing Edible Food, Composting, Reuse and Repurpose

Zero Waste Partners:

The City of Gainesville, Alachua County, Beaten Path Compost, Sierra Club Suwannee – St. Johns Group, We Are Neutral, NAACP ECJC, Working Food

Join us for seven days of Zero Waste education and activities.

Matheson History Museum Exhibition

We’re Tired of Asking: Black Thursday and Civil Rights at the University of Florida

Researched and curated by University of Florida graduate Alana Gomez, “We’re tired of asking: Black Thursday and civil rights at the University of Florida” follows one slice of African American history in Gainesville, but certainly not all of Gainesville’s Black history. 

The goal in this particular exhibition is to show the Civil Rights movement in Gainesville, Florida, from the 1960s until the early ’70s and how that affected the University of Florida’s racial atmosphere. 

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The fight continues to save Maguire Village/University Village South graduate housing

by Save UF Grad Housing

It perhaps was overshadowed by all of the other crises UF is facing, but at December’s UF Board of Trustees meeting, several graduate representatives spoke out against the awful plan to destroy Maguire/UVS graduate-family housing. Despite this, UF officials are still ignoring the ultimate request—not to “replace” our wonderful apartments with others off campus, but to reinvest in what we have and maintain Maguire/UVS for years to come!

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United Campus Workers of Florida comes to UF

by United Campus Workers of Florida (UCW UF)

After decades of not having a voice, and nearly two years of working through a global pandemic, staff and adjuncts of the University of Florida have formed a union. We are proud to announce the creation of United Campus Workers of Florida (UCW UF) as a chapter of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), one of the largest unions in the United States. Now we will be speaking for ourselves. A top 5 university needs a top 5 union to represent the interests of the people who make such an exalted standing possible, the workers. We are seeking greater fairness and equity in all aspects of our jobs, from hiring and retention to benefits and pay. 

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The CAC: It’s all about culture, arts and coalition building by the Environmental Ambassadors Youth Group

by Carol Mosley

If you don’t know of the Cultural Arts Coalition (CAC), you’ve been missing out on a whole lotta good news about dedicated youth and hope for the future. Cofounder and Executive Director NKwanda Jah is a dynamo who collects children under her wings and lets them know this beautiful world is full of wonder just waiting for them to find their niche.

The CAC was founded in 1983 and is housed at the Wilhelmina Johnson Resource Center in Gainesville. Emery “Chucky” Carter, a participant in this year’s Kwanzaa celebration, reflected on the importance of the programs at WJRC in his youth. Chucky said the WJRC gave the kids a place to get off the streets and was “a place to go where somebody would pat you on the back and say, ‘Hey, you’re a good kid’ versus a lot of what we heard out in the streets. I don’t think I would be the person I am if it wasn’t for those times I spent [at WJRC.]”

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WGOT presents 24-hour fundraising Omicronathon

by Fred Sowder, WGOT Station Coordinator

The pandemic has greatly affected a lot of individuals and organizations financially. WGOT, the Civic Media Center’s community radio station, is no different. 

Each year around this time, 100.1FM WGOT has celebrated its birthday with a fundraiser at The Atlantic with a full slate of some of the best local musical talent Gainesville has to offer. 

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From the publisher … Moving forward into 2022

by Joe Courter

Years ago I saw a play called Rhinoceros at the Hippodrome Theater downtown that really stuck with me. Written by Eugene Ionesco in 1959, it centers around the disturbing nature of group think, as the lead character experiences his fellow citizens slowly transform into rather disturbing people resembling rhinoceros with horns and greenish skin, and not quite like they used to be. While it expressed the playwright’s dark satire of the acceptance of authoritarian power in his native Romania in pre-WWII and in post-WWII France, I can’t help but feel like its premise is alive today. 

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Dr. James Thompson finally gets that PhD

In October 2021, the Iguana ran a moving testimonial to James Thompson following his untimely death. What follows, written by his brother John, relates the moving and profound awarding to James his posthumous doctorate at the UF graduation ceremony in December.

by John Thompson

My late brother James Thompson left something undone. He ran a race with a fierce pace, but then stopped at the finish line and refused to cross. There are stories we craft to protect ourselves. They are grand stories, some that even elevate us around those that admire and love us. Woven in the fabric seamlessly, they become badges.

James was a PhD candidate at the University of Florida in the late ’90s and early ’00s. For reasons equal parts personal and political, James never paid UF a technical fee to file his dissertation and receive his diploma. After James’s death in August, it was decided by his friends, family, and former advisers that he should receive, posthumously, the diploma he had earned while he was living. At the ceremony, I would walk the stage on his behalf.   

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City election runoff, Jan. 25: Vote Chestnut

by Joe Courter

Oh well, with ranked choice voting this would all have been done, but so it goes. 

The Nov. 16 special election for the seat on the City Commission abandoned by Gail Walker came down to a runoff between Cynthia Chestnut and Matt Howland. 

Early voting for the seat will take place on Jan. 21 and 22, and Election Day is Tuesday, Jan. 25.  

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UF students need to fight Tallahassee’s political grip

by Allan Frasheri, President, UF YDSA

“Every single thing we do — as a board, as an administration, as faculty, as University of Florida employees and officials — Everything MUST have our students as our number one priority. Our job is to give our amazing students a top-five university education.” 

This is how Mori Hosseini, chair of UF’s Board of Trustees, started the Board of Trustees meeting on Dec. 3. He continues, “Unfortunately, we learned a couple years ago, that we had a small number of faculty members who were not carrying out the responsibilities of their jobs here. They were not putting the students first. In fact, they were using university time, resources, and sometimes even our students to benefit outside jobs and positions from which the faculty were personally profiting directly.”

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CMC Soft Reopening

by Joe Courter

We tried back in August entertaining the notion of slowly reopening the Civic Media Center as a public space, but then Delta showed up and we went back into our shell, with just Free Grocery Store, Books for Prisoners, bi-weekly volunteer meetings and occasional other meetings. 

But recently the collections committee has resumed meeting, and of course we had our anniversary program Oct. 18 with an intentionally small in-person audience of volunteers for Sandra Parks and the “Stetson Kennedy, A Life of Purpose” program. That was streamed on Zoom and Facebook, and can still be seen on the CMC Facebook page.

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Spotlight on … Florida Coalition for Peace and Social Justice

The Florida Coalition for Peace and Social Justice provides space for meetings, retreats, workshops, camps, and educational activities that promote peace, human rights and social justice awareness, conflict resolution, self-empowerment programs and environmental discovery and awareness. 

The organization was founded in 1982 in Orlando, and the Geiger family donated land located in Bradford County in the 1990s to serve as a meeting facility for peace activism and youth. 

The land serves as a location for meetings, demonstrations, workshops, and retreats sponsored by the Coalition including annual summer peace camps for youth and young adults. 

The Coalition’s annual meeting will take place on Nov. 13 at 10am at 10665 SW 89th Ave., Hampton, FL, 32044. 

For more information, visit florida4peace.org or call 352-603-3680.

Dr. Paul Ortiz to speak at Sunday Assembly

Dr. Paul Ortiz, director of the award-winning Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, will be the guest speaker at Sunday Assembly, on Sunday, Nov. 21, at 11am.

The title of his talk will be “Defending History: The Struggle to Tell Historical Truths in the United States.” 

The event will be held at the Pride Center in the Liberty Center, 3131 NW 13th Street, Gainesville. 

Masks are required for those not fully vaccinated. 

For more info, contact: SundayAssembly32601@gmail.com.

History and the people who make it: Ilena Rotundo Camilo

Ilena Rotundo Camilo [C], the Founding Mother of Gamma Eta Sorority, Incorporated, who worked on creating a more inclusive and diverse community on the University of Florida Campus and beyond, was interviewed by an unknown interviewer [U] on July 15, 2018. The sorority was founded in1995.

Transcript edited by Donovan Carter. 

This is an excerpt from the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program – Latinx Diaspora of the Americas Project (LDAP) Collection, and the 69th in a series from the SPOHP collection.

U: What gave you the idea to create a sorority on campus? 

C: Well, at the time, the Hispanic population was not as noticeable at the university. I heard over and over that all the Latina girls want to try to fit in somewhere, but it was a bit difficult, and because it was something new and there were more of us than there were before, people weren’t as welcoming as all the other ladies. There wasn’t anything where Hispanic women would fit in. 

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Free First Saturday at Appleton Museum of Art

Date: December 4
Time: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Location: 4333 E Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala
Admission: Free on the first Saturday of each month

Practice the art of staycation and visit our permanent collection and special exhibitions. Or, make art in the Artspace and enjoy our beautiful outdoor spaces with large-scale sculpture (perfect for selfies!).

Big Lee’s BBQ food truck will be onsite for lunch 11am-2 pm.