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Save the date!

September issue: Deadline for all content is August 25

The Community Calendar will be returning for the September issue after over a year on hiatus.

Submit your events, content, and any questions to: gainesvilleiguana@cox.net

Women’s growing political clout

Friends of Susan B. Anthony to celebrate Women’s Equality Day 2021

The Friends of Susan B. Anthony will celebrate Women’s Equality Day (Aug. 26) with their annual festivities via Zoom on Saturday, Aug. 28 at 1 pm. This event, which began as an informal birthday party for Susan B. Anthony over forty years ago, is now held in conjunction with the anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote. 

Each year a local woman is recognized who exemplifies the spirit of Susan B. Anthony. This year, Jayne Moraski, director of Family Promise, will be honored for her community work in expansion of the sheltering program that assists families with children and helps them find their own homes.  

The featured speaker will be Dr. Susan MacManus, University of South Florida Distinguished University Professor Emerita (Political Science) and nationally known political analyst. Her presentation will focus on “Women’s Growing Political Clout: Focus on Florida.”

For further information, and instructions on how to access the Zoom celebration, please check our website: www.fosbagainesville.com, or contact June Littler at 371-6944. 

Update from the CMC

by Alex Hernandez, CMC Intern

Hello CMC friends! 

The Civic Media Center is thrilled to announce that we plan to reopen in August. We’re still keeping a careful eye on the local and national COVID numbers, but with vaccinations now widely available, we think it’s the right time to get ready to welcome you all back in person. 

We hope to have the library open for limited hours before the end of August, and we’re putting our heads together to come up with some great events for you. Stay tuned for specific dates, and details about how we will maintain social distancing and safety precautions at events. 

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History and the people who make it: Carnell and Jettie Henderson, and Henry Jones

Hawthorne resident Rev. Carnell Henderson [CH], his wife Jettie Henderson [JH], and their neighbor Henry W. Jones [J] were interviewed by Anna Brodrecht [B] and Hawthorne Branch Library manager Memree Stuart [S] on June 8, 2010. This is the 67th in a series of transcript excerpts from the UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program collection.

Transcript edited by Pierce Butler. 

CH: I was born December 2, 1926. It was out in the country, the town called Corn Crossing, about five miles from here. We had plenty of food: ’coon, opossum, you name it. Squirrels, gophers. Then we moved into Hawthorne.

JH: We lived there until we moved. Nineteen years old.

J: Some sixty years ago, through unfortunate circumstances, I moved to Hawthorne, but they turned out to be beautiful because of the people I met. So, I’m very happy, and I salute the community of Hawthorne. 

B: What year were you born? 

J: [Laughter] I’ll let you figure it out. I was born one year exactly behind the birth of Dr. King. 

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Update: Maura Brady Community Garden

As of now, the petition drive to rename McRorie Community Garden after Maura Brady, one of its principle founders, could still use some signatures. The garden is at the edge of the Power District on SE 4th Ave. 

The past two issues of the Iguana have talked about her and her positive impact in our community. Many kind words were heard at her memorial on May 22, attended by over 150 people.

If you live within the city of Gainesville, please get in touch and add your name at wethepeopletheater@gmail.com. Thank you. 

In memoriam: Frederick Pratt (1956-2021)

by Robert Karp

Is it possible for one person to squeeze so much out of life in 65 years on this earth? Frederick Pratt sure put it to the test.

Fred was born on January 20, 1956 in Pittsburgh PA. He grew up with spina bifida and relied on a wheelchair for mobility. In those days, the only schools available to him were for special education students with learning disabilities. He was not one of them. So in the 1960s he moved to St Petersburg, FL, to live with his grandparents and attended a school there that did accommodate students with wheelchairs. Wheelchair accessibility was just starting to become more common, but not prevalent in most places.

He ended up graduating high school and then attended University of South Florida in Tampa from 1977–1980 to complete a political science degree. It was at this time that he realized a second major life challenge—dealing with persistent and widespread homophobia, much of it undisguised and meant to hurt.  

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Alachua Conservation Trust awarded $5,000 for ADA accessible trail at Serenola Forest Preserve

by Heather Obara, Associate Director, Alachua Conservation Trust

Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) has been awarded a $5,000 grant from REI Co-op in support of the nonprofit land trust’s effort to install an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessible Trail at Serenola Forest Preserve in Gainesville. 

Opened in 2019 in partnership with Alachua County and the Florida Communities Trust, Serenola Forest Preserve is a 111-acre nature preserve owned and managed by ACT. The preserve is located in the Idylwild neighborhood near Idylwild Elementary School and the Oak Hammock Retirement Community. Not only does the preserve provide a critical wildlife corridor, it also provides public recreational opportunities for hiking, biking, and nature observation along a 1-mile trail system. 

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The Fellowship of the Springs: A documentary series

Florida’s springs are much more than places for people to cool off in the summer.

In this documentary film, we delve into the essence of these natural pools — educating viewers about what the springs are, how they function, and why they are critical to the well-being and sustainability of Florida’s growing populations.

We will explore how nature and industry can co-exist and thrive in north Florida, and what that partnership represents for the whole state.

The film will also compare north Florida’s water challenges to other parts of the world dealing with aquifer management issues such as Northern India, Namibia, California and Northern China.

Explica Media will produce a 60-minute educational documentary film, a virtual reality video and a series of shorter videos on the issue.

Airing on WUFT in Gainesville and surrounding areas on July 21 and 28 at 10pm. 

For more information, visit floridasmagicwaters.com.

Florida needs state constitutional amendment for rights to clean water

by David W. Moritz, Director, North Florida Region, Florida Rights of Nature Network

Florida’s water woes are no secret, but now there is something that we, the people, can do about that. If enough of us sign petitions, we can put a state constitutional amendment on Florida’s ballot in 2022—an amendment that will secure the Right to Clean Water for both people and natural systems such as our freshwater springs.

From north to south, Florida’s once-pristine waters are suffering.  Springs and rivers in North Florida are polluted and have lost flow. Closer to Central Florida, the Indian River Lagoon is dying and manatees are starving to death. Farther south, polluted discharges from Lake Okeechobee to both coasts feed red tide and blue-green algae. All of these problems are accompanied by the financial losses that inevitably accompany ecocide, in a state where tourism is the lifeblood of our economy.

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Gainesville Veterans for Peace announces scholarship winners

Gainesville Veterans for Peace Chapter 14 is excited to announce the recipients of VFP’s seventh annual Peace College Scholarship awards. Each year, Veterans for Peace awards three scholarships to applicants from Alachua County who demonstrate academic excellence as well as a strong commitment to equal justice and nonviolent social change.  

This year’s Alachua County Peace Scholarship winners are:  

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Nonprofit coalition helps residents reduce utility bills

by Alane Humrich, Program Director, Community Weatherization Coalition

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, local Gainesville nonprofit, the Community Weatherization Coalition (CWC), found new ways to continue to bring utility savings to low-income Alachua County residents. CWC volunteers have helped reduce utility bills for over 1,200 families since operations started in 2008. With an innovative, new Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Home Energy Tune-up Program launched last year, the CWC upheld their mission to help their neighbors save energy and water and reduce their utility bills, by engaging volunteers, building community, and learning together. 

In March of 2020, the CWC halted its in-home, volunteer-led, Home Energy Tune-up Program out of caution around the global pandemic. Last summer, the CWC rolled out the DIY Home Energy Tune Up service, which taught Alachua County renters and homeowners how to perform a tune-up on their own homes, while protecting our community from the spread of COVID-19. 

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Health care for some, help for adults who need insurance

by Diane Dimperio

Every year it gets worse! Politicians elected to represent the citizens of Florida are following the agenda provided by the doners who fund their campaigns. In return for their likely re-election our lawmakers are governing according to the dictates of wealthy conservatives. One glaringly consistent Republican policy has been its virulent antagonism toward the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). When the ACA first passed into law in 2010, the negative messaging by Mitch McConnell and his cronies was effective in turning people against it but over the decade it has been in place families have seen the benefits and attitudes have shifted. There are many benefits of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) but the best known is improved access to health insurance for adults between 19 and 64 years of age. The ACA envisioned two options to make health insurance affordable. Medicaid, which has no cost to participants, was to be available for very low-income adults and, people with low and moderate incomes could purchase subsidized insurance through an online portal called the “Marketplace.” Two issues interfered with the implementation of the ACA. Insurance offered through the Marketplace was put in the hands of private sector insurance companies, which are profit driven, and were more expensive than many could afford. Then the Supreme Court made Medicaid Expansion (MedEx) optional so states were free to accept or reject it. Many Republican dominated states initially rejected it but now only 13 states, including Florida, have denied its citizens access to this life saving health coverage. 

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Pine Ridge community canvassing report

Long-time tenants must vacate within 30 days, under threat of legal action

by Dmitry Podobreev, Paul Ortiz and Sheila Payne, Alachua County Labor Coalition

On July 2, the Alachua County Labor Coalition (ACLC) helped organize with members of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and members of the Pine Ridge community to go door-to-door to talk to residents of the Pine Ridge community in NW Gainesville with the aim of organizing resistance to their displacement by a new landlord. Twenty community members joined with 20 Pine Ridge residents in solidarity to defend the Pine Ridge residents’ rights to not lose their housing. This was after a Zoom meeting where Pine Ridge residents told what was happening to their community. 

Key City Capital, a Texas based investment firm, purchased 83 units in Pine Ridge in 2020, including a beloved community center building which provides the neighborhood children with programs and activities. The company says they are renovating the apartments and will raise the rents by almost $400. Current residents, many of whom have lived there for over a decade, some for over 25 years, were put on a month-to-month lease and are being told to leave their homes within 30 days with no guarantee of another place to stay. 

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Gainesville Community Redevelopment workshops

The city of Gainesville has been on a real building boom, both with the larger projects evidenced by the huge cranes that have appeared on skyline, and also with a lot of infill projects coming into neighborhood with at times shocking impact to the residents of those neighborhoods. If you live in or if you care about those who live in neighborhoods such as Porters or Pleasant Street, the Community Redevelopment Agency posted these upcoming meetings. Here is your invite to collaborate. Check their website for more information.

  • July 16 & 17, 8-11 am: Porters Infill Housing Collaborative Design Workshop, 405 SW 5th Ave
  • July 20, 5:30 pm: GCRA Advisory Board Monthly Meeting
  • July 30 & 31, 8-11 am: Pleasant Street Infill Housing Collaborative Design Workshop, 414 NW 5th Ave
  • August 17, 5:30 pm: GCRA Advisory Board Monthly Meeting

One Colombian’s view from Minnesota to Gainesville

by Didier Bolanos Gonzalez

Here you will find my personal short journey into activism as a Colombian immigrant in the US.

I remember when I saw George Floyd in Conga Latin Dance Club my last days in Minneapolis before moving to Gainesville, in north Florida. It was probably on a Friday after 10 p.m. and he was the main bouncer at the entrance. It is ironic that he was protecting everyone all night and a couple months later on May 25, 2020, a terrifyingly cruel arrest by the Minneapolis police ended his life.

As an international graduate student I was advised by the University of Minnesota to not participate in protests. That May 2020 while in Gainesville, I decided to support the demonstrations without fear. Injustice was clear to me and I decided to walk with people wearing mainly black and yelling “Black Lives Matter” around gentrified neighborhoods in Gainesville. My thoughts about Mr. Floyd were, “Could I stop his murder if I had been there?” However, it was too late for Mr. Floyd’s life and the Puerto Rican owners of the Conga club who had lost a dear friend.

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A new way forward for the Pride Community Center of North Central Florida …

After more than two decades, LGBTQ+ center re-envisions itself

by Tamára Perry-Lunardo, PCCNCF President 

On September 13, 2000, the local LGBTQ+ community came together to establish the first Pride community center in the area. The community approved the bylaws, selected the name “Pride Community Center of North Central Florida,” and elected the first Board of Directors in February 2001. In April 2002, we opened the doors of our first location at NW 6th Street in Gainesville, and in September 2007, we moved to the larger facility we still occupy at 3131 NW 13th St. 

In January 2008, the Pride Center merged with Pride Celebration of Gainesville and began producing Gainesville Pride Days, which includes the annual Pride Parade and Festival. In 2018, we merged with the Gainesville Area AIDS Project (GAAP) and began providing direct services to people with HIV/AIDS. 

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Dollar General: The final victory of systemic racism

by Homer Jack Moore

What does a Dollar General convenience store planned for the scenic Tuscawilla Road into Micanopy have to do with systemic racism? 

Plenty, it turns out. Understanding how racial exploitation now achieves a crowning moment in the form of a Dollar General convenience store lies in the history of Florida itself. And the history of Florida is a long one.

The Spanish came in the 1500s bringing smallpox, measles, Christianity, and slavery. Disease decimated the Timacua Native population. Spaniards later established cattle ranches on emptied lands in the interior. A large one was headquartered by the Chua, so-named in Timacuan dialect, a swallet on the north rim of, now, Paynes Prairie. By 1700 the Hacienda de la Chua failed. Abandoned Spanish cattle ran off into the impenetrable savannah. Attracted by feral cattle, splinter groups of Creeks started to move in. The Spaniards called them “Cimarrones,” wild ones.

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From the publisher … The great awokening

by Joe Courter

Although people were not thrilled to hear it, in early 2020 experts were saying this pandemic could take a year and a half to wind down. And here we are. As we look around the globe, it is troubling to see the lag time, and kind of disgusting to see the US stockpiling (like we couldn’t make more) vaccines when other nations don’t have any. It has been nice to see faces and share hugs, but stay cautious and don’t throw out your masks.

Speaking of other nations, it was good to see the US not being represented by the former White House occupant on the recent international trip. And I must say, that trip, and watching the international football (soccer) competition of the Euro and Copa Cups, and the Olympics, remind me of the reality of the wider world. This nation is but one of many, all going about the business of building and maintaining their own version of a functioning society.  

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A school board seat is vacant: what now?

by David Kaplan, Julie Crosby, and Sarah Rockwell

In August 2020,  Alachua County residents cast their ballots for two seats on the School Board of Alachua County, among other positions. When the votes were counted, Dr. Leanetta McNealy was re-elected to represent District 4, becoming Chairwoman of the Board, and Diyonne McGraw was elected to represent District 2. 

The election was a historic event for Alachua County, as Dr. McNealy and Ms. McGraw joined board member Tina Certain to create, for the first time, a Black majority on the five-person board with a strong public commitment to educational excellence and equity. The same election saw several other progressive, Black, and female candidates win seats in this County-wide election. 

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July/August 2021 Gainesville Iguana

The July/August 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.