Category Archives: Articles

Standing on the Shoulders of Women Before Us

One morning in February 2021, Nkwanda Jah wrote to me and said she was having many thoughts about the women who had died who had influenced her and taught her how to be an activist. She wanted to brainstorm how to honor these women for Women’s History Month. We talked and decided on 10 women who fit that category. We hired a graphic artist, Tanisha Byars, and started writing to women we knew who had known one of the women and asked if they could write a short tribute to that woman. That’s how Kim Barton came to write the tribute to Barbara Higgins, who had worked at the Supervisor of Elections office for years and was instrumental in getting many black folks to register to vote. Vivian Filer wrote about Verdell Robinson, because they were both nursing professors at Santa Fe College. And so on. We hope to be a cog in the wheel of history that keeps these women alive in our collective memory.                                          

In the struggle,  
Pam Smith and Nkwanda Jah

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Civic Media Center SpringBoard features author, anti-Amazon activist Danny Caine

by the Civic Media Center Board

Going back decades, the Civic Media Center’s Board, with the help of the coordinators and volunteers, have organized a fundraising event in the spring, which we cleverly named the SpringBoard. 

The goal was to raise funds to put us ahead financially before the slower period of summer, by means of a community dinner event where we could celebrate with our supporters, present a notable speaker, and with the partnership of United Faculty of Florida, Veterans for Peace, and the Alachua County Labor Coalition, occasionally present the Jack Penrod Brigadas Award to a local organizer/activist. 

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History and the people who make it: Howard K. Suzuki

Dr. Howard K. Suzuki [S], former UF Dean, anatomist/physiologist, wildlife sculptor and photographer, was interviewed by Don Obrist [O] in November 2011. 

This is the 66th in a series of transcript excerpts from the UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program collection.

Transcript edited by Pierce Butler; notations in [square brackets] by SPOHP. 

O: Your date of birth?

S: April 3, 1927.

O: Where were you born?

S: In Ketchikan, Alaska. My father was born in Tokyo in the late 1800s and came to the United States around 1910 to work for the Great Northern Railway Company. He stayed there until 1914 thereabouts, then he moved to Ketchikan. At that time, he saved enough money that he was able to send for his bride. He had started a laundry and dry cleaning business. They worked hard like many of the immigrants would and still do. 

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Dollar General store provokes Micanopy unrest

by Homer Jack Moore

Protests continue against construction of a Dollar General store at Micanopy’s town limits. But why should anybody care?

Aside from the fact that the development site is at a scenic gateway into the historic town of Micanopy, abuts a Native American Heritage Preserve and burial mound, is cattycorner from the Tuscawilla Nature Preserve, and is across the street from a church, probably nobody would. Except for the fact that this land is sacred.

It serves to reflect on what “Micanopy” is all about. Micanopy was the Seminole Principle Chief in 1834 when things were getting a little hot in the Alachua area.

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Dangerous Dam: Rodman Dam suffers from serious structural problems

by Bruce Kaster

Rodman Dam, near Palatka,  has potentially serious structural problems that were initially recognized in a dam assessment report to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in 2015. 

This report listed numerous problems that indicated the potential for dam failure. When we gained access to the report in 2020, we became concerned. We learned that dam assessments were conducted in 2017 and 2019, but these subsequent reports were not  available to the public. 

Pursuit to a FOIA request to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, we obtained these reports causing us increased concern about the dam’s integrity. 

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5th Avenue Arts Festival moves online

This year’s 5th Avenue Arts Festival has moved online and expanded to more than a week’s length, on the theme of “Buy the Block, Build the Block, Keep the Block.” 

See www.culturalartscoalition.org/annual-5th-ave-arts-festival/ for the 41st celebration of the rich cultural heritage of the historic African American Community in music, dance and exhibits, with articles, historical exhibits, and virtual booths vending arts and crafts from our area, the nation, and across the world running from Saturday,  April 24 to Monday, May 3.

Civic Media Center Update

by JoJo Sacks, CMC Coordinator

We’re moving into Spring at the CMC and our volunteers have been putting in work! In the past month, we’ve put on some great Zoom programming, Free Grocery Store has served hundreds of people, and our book club read Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. 

Our April book club pick is Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis. Sign up here: https://bit.ly/3su299f.

Coming up, we will have a pop-up Free Store in our courtyard on April 17th and our annual Springboard fundraiser to look forward to on May 21st on Zoom, featuring author Danny Caine. Keep an eye out on our Facebook and Instagram for updates, including new T-shirts we are printing for sale.

To get involved, register for our April volunteer meetings at: https://bit.ly/3w4hjl3. Of course, email with any questions: coordinators@civicmediacenter.org.

Actual, live (not virtual) Gainesville events

These are outdoor events. Mingle distantly with fellow humans. And please, masks required!

Mondays and Thursdays: Farmer’s Markets with Live Music, 4-7pm
Mondays at Cypress & Grove (1001 NW 4th St.); Thursdays at Heartwood Soundstage (619 S. Main St.)

Friday, April 9: Tedx UF kickoff event, 6-9pm
Heartwood Soundstage (610 S. Main St.), with tabling by local organizations (come say hi)

Saturday, April 10 (also May 22): Upper Santa Fe River Paddle, 9am-1pm
Join Lars Andersen for a guided paddle to Alachua Conservation Trust’s newest conservation purchase, Santa Fe Springs Preserve. Register at https://www.alachuaconservationtrust.org/upcoming-events.

Saturday, April 10: Artisans Guild event, 11am
At their new location, 224 NW 2nd Ave.

Saturday, April 10 and Saturday, May 8: Pop-Up Market, noon-5pm
AUK Market (2031 NW 6th St. – behind Curia on the Drag), hosts outdoor Pop-Up markets on 2nd Saturdays; support local artists and makers

Saturday, April 17: Bat Appreciation Day, noon to 4 pm
Black Adder Brewing (618 NW 60th St.)

Sunday, April 18: 7th Annual Tree Fest Drive-Thru, beer pre-sales begin online at 10am with pick-up from noon-7pm
Join Alachua Conservation Trust at Swamp Head Brewery (3650 SW 42nd Ave.) and help us plant trees in Alachua County. Hosted by Solar Impact, Inc. and Swamp Head Brewery. 
More at https://www.alachuaconservationtrust.org/upcoming-events.

Sunday, April 25: Glam Craft Show, noon-5pm
Cypress & Grove Brewing (1001 NW 4th St., across from Afternoon and Working Food) D

Matheson Museum reopens on weekends with two exhibits

The Matheson Museum, which hosts exhibits on Alachua County and Florida history, has reopened on a limited basis, with strict standards for covid precautions. It will be open on Fridays and Saturdays only, from 1 to 4 pm, and will allow only 12 people inside at a time. Masks must be worn (no bandanas, masks with exhale valves, or neck gaiters). The museum is located at 513 E University Ave.

Two exhibits will be on display: Trailblazers: 150 years of Alachua County Women and McCarthy Moment: The Johns Committee in Florida.

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The Repurpose Project seeks funds for expansion

by Chelsea Carnes

The Repurpose Project, a 501c3 junk shop and arts hub, has been so successful in its mission of helping folks rethink what they throw away, that the shop is running out of space. 

Consider: when we purge our closets of old clothing, we don’t usually trash it – we donate to a thrift store. But where does one send old kitchen cabinets after a remodel? Old garden pots? Used crayons? There are few easy options for repurposing goods such as building materials, art supplies, metals, furniture, appliances, and fabrics. 

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Court Services: a program in despair

by Cristina Cabada Sidawi, Alachua County Labor Coalition

 The ACLC’s Criminal Justice Committee is focused on reforming the Alachua County Court Services into an institution that helps keep people out of jails/prisons. Our committee published a white paper on Court Services with recommendations on how to make it a powerful tool in our criminal justice system, the full version can be found at our website www.laborcoalition.org.

The Alachua County Court Services is a broken system which for years has failed to live up to their goal of reducing incarceration and recidivism. This institution could be a powerful tool for progressive criminal justice reform in Alachua County, but, as it stands, has limited positive impact and often acts as a regressive ingredient in our broken criminal justice system. This is most evident by the shockingly high 78 percent of cases for whom this agency recommended monetary bonds. 

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From the publisher: Big truths we can’t forget

by Joe Courter

We are here on this planet at an absolutely stunning time of knowledge and awareness. In all the vastness of time past, our present science and technology give us a clear window of understanding into the timescale itself, the mechanics of living organisms, and the components that make up our physical world, that of the other planets and galaxies beyond. 

Never in history have we humans been able to know so much, have the tools and ability to enhance our lives and life experience. Yes, we are making an environmental mess, but damn, what a time to be alive. 

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Elections recap

Desmon Duncan-Walker takes City Commission’s District One 

by James Thompson

In a historic race for Gainesville’s City Commission District One seat, public arts and community history advocate Desmon Duncan-Walker unseated incumbent Gigi Simmons with 52.5 percent of the vote. Commissioner Simmons earned 47.5 percent. In the At-Large Commission seat, incumbent Gail Johnson handily defeated her opponent. 

The precinct totals for the Duncan-Walker/Simmons race were not nearly as even keeled as the overall results, as each candidate won by about a 60-40 split in all but one of the nine precincts. 

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Stop Asian Hate! Alachua County folks gather in rage and grief

by Jyoti Parmar

On March 16 a gunman targeted and killed six Asian women in Atlanta – the latest attack on people of Asian and Pacific Islander origins in America. 

On March 27 the people of Alachua County gathered in rage and grief to build a unified response to these horrific killings and the escalating violence against Asians and AAPI. 

About 200 of us marched from Bo-Diddley Plaza to Depot Park and about 400 A/AAPI/BIPOC and allies gathered at the Vigil at Depot Park. 

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April 2021 Gainesville Iguana

The April 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.

Update on the Civic Media Center

by JoJo Sacks

While the Civic Media Center hasn’t yet opened up, volunteers have been engaged in significant mutual aid efforts that are helping our community in these difficult times.

Organizers from the Free Grocery Store and Food Not Bombs have used the CMC as a home base for serving hundreds of folks each week. Books to Prisoners has been operational for the past two months, sending books to prisoners throughout Florida and the southeast. Groups like Florida Prisoner Solidarity and Dream Defenders regularly use the space for staging for actions and protests.

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Saving McCarty Woods Conservation Area

By Allison Wodar and Scott Eisenstark

The McCarty Woods Conservation Area is a 2.9-acre preserve located between Museum Road and McCarty Drive and is a mere stone’s throw away from the heart of the UF campus and Reitz Union. 

As the name implies, the woods are a conservation area, providing a small respite for nature, and a place where students can just simply exist away from the hustle and bustle of campus. It is also an important habitat for wildlife and provides many environmental benefits to Gainesville. 

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Eden Maria Faelnar, rest in power

by Tim Tia, Jeremiah Tattersall, and Fi Stewart-Taylor

Eden Faelnar, a beloved member of our Gainesville radical community, passed away in Philadelphia on Jan. 12. Eden organized with the IWW and the Alachua County Labor Coalition, including organizing an exceptional May Day with the IWW, and working on ACLC’s campaign to end abuse of the OPS, or Other Personnel Services, classification system at the University of Florida. 

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Safe and affordable housing, renters’ rights update

by Jason Fults, Alachua County Labor Coalition

In September, amid the pandemic, the Alachua Count Labor Coalition celebrated one of our largest local victories in the history of the organization. A multi-year campaign we dubbed “Safe & Healthy Housing for All” culminated in a 7-0 vote by our City Commission in support of a “Renters Rights and Responsibilities” ordinance.  

Thanks to ACLC member advocacy and some stellar work by our Commissioners (particularly Adrian Hayes-Santos and Reina Saco), we overcame fierce, continuous opposition by the local Realtors Association and passed one of the strongest, most comprehensive sets of protections for renters that you are likely to find. 

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Problems with Publix: why we’re boycotting

by Pierce Butler

A spontaneous boycott of Publix supermarkets has begun, sparked by several missteps linked to the grocery chain:

• A week after Publix donated $100,000 to the political action committee “Friends of Ron DeSantis,” the governor — who has taken major pandemic decision-making away from local health officials and into his own office — declared that Publix would be the only Covid-19 vaccine distribution venue for all of Palm Beach County (where the chain concentrates its stores in affluent, mostly-white neighborhoods).

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