October 2021 Gainesville Iguana

The October 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.

CMC celebrates 28 years

by JoJo Sacks, CMC Coordinator

The Civic Media Center will celebrate its 28th anniversary on Monday, Oct. 18 at 7pm. Sandra Parks, Stetson Kennedy’s wife, will present the program “Stetson Kennedy: Living a Life of Purpose” in a online presentation via Zoom. 

The program will explain the strategies Kennedy used for effective activism, such as his combating anti-Semitism in high school, infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940’s, and plotting to thwart Gainesville’s Koran-burning pastor in  2011. 

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It stinks: Alachua Development Review Committee OKs Micanopy Dollar General

by Homer Jack Moore

For background on the now-approved Dollar General in Micanopy, visit www.gainesvilleiguana.org and search for  “Dollar General.”

On Sept. 9, Stewart, a Native American and a member of the Florida Indigenous Alliance, gave wise counsel at a recent meeting of the Alachua Board of County Commissioners on a matter pertaining to a proposed Dollar General convenience store at a scenic gateway to the town adjacent to the Micanopy Native American Heritage Preserve. “No matter how much you polish a piece of excrement,” he explained, “a piece of excrement’s gonna be a piece of excrement.”

Then turning toward Matt Cason, president of the Gainesville Concept Companies, a development firm that plans to build the Dollar General, and leaving no doubt for the commissioners about whom he was speaking, Stewart continued, “A piece of excrement stood in front of y’all and said, ‘No matter what y’all do, no matter what anyone does, my money says everything.’”

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Suicide – say its name

 by Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson

Every life ended by suicide was unique. And so is the impact of suicide on loved ones—the “survivors” who sometimes are left to wonder why, and always what they could have done.  

The activists among us may be particularly vulnerable; their fervor is part of what we love about them—that inspiring selflessness, clarity of passion, and their willingness to sacrifice personal comfort for a greater cause. For them, and us, to carry on the fight, we must all do more to encourage self-care within our ranks. 

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James Thompson, Rest in Power

by John Thompson

A caveat: capturing James in a few words is unthinkable, almost criminal, when considering his own verbose writing style. As his brother of 46 years, I am still unpacking who he was and how much he meant to me, his loved ones, and the rest of his community. 

I may be an unreliable narrator; this is how I see my brother with a heavy heart. I do not wish to be limited by the following remembrance, as I expect we will all continue to glean additional insights from the wondrous life James shared with us all. 

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Supervisor of Elections alerts voters of unofficial mailings

Once again two Washington, D.C.-based nonprofits, the Center for Voter Information and the Voter Participation Center, are sending potentially misleading mailings to Alachua County voters and other residents.

The two groups, which routinely send similar mailings across Florida, announced they will collectively send more than 13,000 pieces of mail to Alachua County. In 2020, the same groups sent more than 30,000 mailings. Residents started receiving the unofficial mailings last week.

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City elections Nov. 16, candidate forums on Oct. 23

by Joe Courter

With the unexpected resignation announcement of At-Large City Commissioner Gail Johnson a couple months ago, the need for a special election has happened. That election will be Tuesday, Nov. 16, with early voting November 12-14. It is open to all City of Gainesville registered voters.

There are five candidates who have registered for the election. The most well-known and strongest in the field is former Mayor and City Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut, who served office in the City from 1987 to 1990, and then was a County Commissioner from 2002 to 2006. She has been very active in Democratic party politics over the past decades. She is also the candidate Gail Johnson has endorsed to carry on her agenda, which she cut short for various personal reasons just months after having been reelected in 2020. 

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Bat Fest 2021: Welcome back!

Lubee Bat Conservancy is excited to welcome everyone to our 17th Annual Florida Bat festival to be held Saturday, Oct. 23 from 10am-5pm.

Admission is $8 for ages 13 and up, $5 for ages 5-12, and kids 4 and under are free. The beer garden costs $25 for online purchases and $28 at the gate — the festival entry is included. 

Tickets are available at https://www.lubee.org/event-details/fl-bat-festival-2021. Funds will be used for the Conservancy’s ongoing research, conservation, and community education programs.

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Immigrant Neighbor Initiative aims for equity, inclusion

by Ethan Maia de Needell, Rural Women’s Health Project

In 2016, Mayor Poe proclaimed Gainesville to be a “Welcoming City” for its immigrant population. However, the list of criteria to certify this claim are still unmet. 

Many of our immigrant neighbors currently face challenges because limited language access results in a lack of access to transportation, broadband internet, and identification. Our inequitable system has prevented them from fully integrating into our community and taking advantage of critical benefits and services offered in the city. And these obstacles are present despite the immense, positive impact our foreign-born neighbors have on our community and local economy. For example, immigrants in Gainesville contribute over $20 million in state and local taxes, and are disproportionately represented in the workforce in relation to their population.

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Local writers read from UF Press’s ‘Wilder Heart of Florida’

Three local writers will read and discuss excerpts from their essays on the precarious beauty of North Central Florida that are included in a recently published anthology from the University of Florida (UF) Press, The Wilder Heart of Florida: More Writers Inspired by Florida Nature

The event, co-sponsored by Our Santa Fe River and the Ichetucknee Alliance, will begin at 6:30pm on Nov. 4 at Rum 138, 2070 SW County Road 138, Fort White, Florida, northwest of Gainesville and High Springs. 

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Screening of ‘Behind Closed Doors: The Dark Legacy of the Johns Committee’

Oct. 21, 7pm  – Free In-Person Program

The Matheson History Museum and Pride Community Center of North Central Florida invite you to join them on Thursday, Oct. 21, at 7pm at the Matheson for the screening and discussion of the 2000 documentary Behind Closed Doors: The Dark Legacy of the Johns Committee. This program coincides with one of the Matheson’s current exhibitions—McCarthy Moment: The Johns Committee in Florida. 

For the safety of staff and attendees, capacity will be limited to 50 people and masks are required. Admission is free but registration is required. Registration information is at: https://tinyurl.com/Iguana1255

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WGOT: Community radio: Nothing without supporters

By Fred Sowder, WGOT Station Coordinator

One habit I’ve engaged in more often during the pandemic is participating in trivia nights. They’re outdoors, distanced, and fun. Just this week, a friend joined our team who’s well known for co-founding a former music venue here in Gainesville. I mentioned to her in passing that WGOT has been struggling financially through the past 18 months, and she immediately sent us a very generous donation. It’s now become my mission to speak of the virtues of community radio.

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‘Don’t pass gas’: Reject UF’s proposed gas-powered energy plant

by Debra Trione

Transforming the global economy to run on clean energy instead of fossil fuels, like natural gas, will be a task of almost unbelievable proportions. Thankfully, we don’t have to tackle that problem in full. Our focus needs to be on Gainesville and UF. We do have some control over what happens here.

Scientists use scenario analysis to predict what might happen under a range of uncertainties. In the case of climate change the most relevant uncertainty right now is not scientific, but political.

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Once upon a time: Free the Ocklawaha

by Jim Gross

Once upon a time in the United States of America we built dams all across our land. We built them because it was the 20th century and because we had become the greatest power on Earth. We built them for power generation, water supply, and flood control. We even built some for commercial navigation. It was an age of innocence. We built dams to a large extent because we could, with little if any consideration of whether we should.

The golden age of dam building in the U.S. did not make it to the end of the 20th century. The heyday of dam building came to a halt by the mid 1970s, shortly after the first Earth Day in 1970. By then we had begun to realize that the costs of our dams exceeded the dollars needed to build and operate them. Our dams had devastated aquatic ecosystems from mountains to sea. Entire species of fish disappeared from our rivers, particularly migratory species that moved back and forth from river to ocean as part of their natural reproductive cycles.

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Reuse Planet’s grand opening October 9

The Repurpose Project is excited to announce the grand opening of Reuse Planet, its second reuse store that will feature larger items such as furniture, cabinets, appliances and more.

The grand opening will be held at the newly purchased 20,000 square foot building at 1540 NE Waldo Road in Gainesville on Oct. 9 from 10am to 6pm, with a ribbon cutting at 10am. The local reuse economy is getting larger, and that is a great thing for this community and the planet.

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From the publisher … Fundamental changes

by Joe Courter

This month brings us to within a year of a very pivotal election. We can all see that the road ahead has a lot of problems. It gets hard to prioritize what to do, and can be overwhelming to contemplate.

An overriding worry for many of us is climate change, but the impact of our human activity manifests in so many ways, from weather patterns to mass migrations, ocean rise to the breakdown of cultural mores as social media trumps science and knowledge. This is exemplified by extreme polarization and the rise of authoritarian leaders in many nations.

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National Abortion Rights NOW!


Jane Pollack holds a sign that captures the mood at the Gainesville rally for reproductive rights on Oct. 2. Photo by Candi Churchill

by Joe Courter

In just a few short weeks after Texas’ restrictive abortion law was green lighted by the Supreme Court, plans for massive nationwide resistance hatched, and Alachua County was right in the mix. Organized by National Women’s Liberation and North Central Florida Indivisible and a host of other organizations, twin marches from the UF Campus area and from Depot Park converged at newly dedicated Cora Roberson Park Saturday afternoon Oct. 2.

Here, and nationwide the message was clear: women demand autonomy over her own bodies, that reproductive decisions are hers and hers alone to make.  Speakers and marchers spanned from youth to elders, and the broad lawn of the park was filled with people, perhaps a thousand or more.

No to proposed rezoning of S. Main St.: Too much of a good thing, way too much

by John Barrow

Just a few years ago I, along with many others, participated in a series of workshops to develop a vision for the South Main Street corridor. City of Gainesville staff and their consultants turned our vision into reality, designing and rebuilding South Main into a beautiful, pedestrian-friendly, and multi-modal street, which is already transforming the corridor.

As is generally the case, following good planning and design of public infrastructure, the private sector is investing in and rebuilding the businesses and property along the corridor. Most would agree, that’s a good thing.

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UF GAU, UFF demand COVID-19 safety protocols

by Bryn Taylor, UF-Graduate Assistants United Communications Chair

Almost 12,000 new students arrived on campus in late August with 32,329 active COVID-19 cases in Alachua County. 

UF expected faculty, staff, and graduate assistants to teach in-person, full-capacity classes with no university policies to enforce any kind of health and safety protocol. GAU and UFF rallied outside Tigert Hall and listed the following demands:

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Things to do

  • Julie Naim, a master gardener, will present a talk on “Welcoming Winter: Cool Season Vegetable Gardening in Florida.” Sunday Assembly, Sept. 19, 11am. The in-person meeting will be at the Pride Center (3131 NW 13th St) and masks are required if not fully vaccinated.
  • Looking to leave the house and find things to do? The City of Gainesville hosts an award winning weekly events page of things going on. https://www.facebook.com/visitgainesvilleflorida 
  • This is one of the smartest daily reads out there. Great analysis and observations from a historian. No bs, no hype. Read it. https://www.facebook.com/heathercoxrichardson