Matheson History Museum’s April events

This month the Matheson History Museum has two programs scheduled: “The poetics of resistance in Gainesville” and  “The Swamp Peddlers: How lot sellers, land scammers, and retirees built modern Florida and transformed the American dream.” They are closing the exhibition “We Are Tired of Asking: Black Thursday and Civil Rights at the University of Florida” on April 22. 

Friday, April 14, 7pm 
The Poetics of Resistance in Gainesville and the States with Alejandro Aguirre

This workshop explores the place of poetry in response to a history of segregation. Following a discussion of examples, visitors will compose a collaborative poem via the “exquisite corpse,” a technique invented by the surrealists. Alejandro Aguirre was a finalist for the Atlanta Review’s Dan Veach Prize for Younger Poets. See:

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Thursday, April 20, 7pm 
The Swamp Peddlers: How lot sellers, land scammers, and retirees built modern Florida and transformed the American dream with Jason Vuic

Historian Dr. Jason Vuic will talk about his book The Swamp Peddlers, including the “installment land sales industry,” which seemingly appeared out of nowhere to sell billions of dollars of Florida residential property, sight unseen, to retiring northerners. 

For $10 down and $10 a month, working-class pensioners could buy a piece of the Florida dream: a graded homesite waiting for them in a planned community. The result was Cape Coral, Port St. Lucie, Deltona, Port Charlotte, Palm Coast, and Spring Hill, among others—sprawling exurban communities with no downtowns and little industry but millions of residential lots. 

These communities allowed generations of northerners to move to Florida cheaply, but at a price: high-pressure sales tactics begat fraud; poor urban planning begat sprawl; developers cleared forests, drained wetlands, and built thousands of miles of roads in grid-like subdivisions, which, fifty years later, played an inordinate role in the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis.

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