Category Archives: May-June 2013

The Gears Grind On – South Main Community Update

by Christopher Fillie

We are now almost into June, and the deal for the South Main Arts community to vacate its long-term lease on the .85-acre parcel between SE 5th and SE 6th avenues (as well as negotiations on the parcel immediately to the East owned and occupied by Everyman Sound) is still making its way through the gears of the City. The deal was proposed to make way for the City Of Gainesville Fire Department’s Fire Station Number One to move and expand.

The land is currently occupied by the Repurpose Project, the Church of Holy Colors, Vibrant Community Development, Gainesville Compost, and parking for the Citizens Co-Op, the Civic Media Center, Display Gallery, the Sequential Artists Workshop, The Green Building Cooperative, Ricardo Cavallino and Associates Architecture, and (soon) Wild Iris Books. While we have agreed and understood that it is necessary to build a fire station that will be able to handle the growth forecasted in the central city through such projects as Innovation Square and the proposed Cade Museum, we are proceeding with caution and staying firm to our demands to mitigate the impacts to the needs and goals for the community we have grown into. We are being asked to give up a generous longterm lease and an agreement to purchase the property, for the betterment of the city. To date, the City has made good faith efforts to plan to provide on-street public parking to the area and to agree to community input for an urban design that will not discourage pedestrian traffic and social vibrancy through the arts and cultural corridor we have envisioned from downtown to Depot Park.

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Gainesville March Against Monsanto

Blogger Header MAM MainGainesville will be joining at least a dozen cities in Florida that will be marching as part of a global movement for justice and health. On Saturday, May 25, activists around the world will unite to March Against Monsanto. Joining Joanna of Gaia Grove to organize the march are Occupy Gainesville, the Zen Hostel, local organic farmers, student groups and others. Everyone is invited.

Join us in Gainesville on May 25!

1 pm – Meet at the Harn Museum of Art at UF (SW 34th Street and Hull Road) to prepare signs for the March

2 pm – March from the Harn to Publix on the corner of 34th Street and University Avenue

3 pm – Demonstration at Publix (if driving straight to Publix, please park across the street)

For more information about the March in Gainesville, check out the “March Against Monsanto-Gainesville, FL” Facebook page.

For more information on Monsanto, check out a recent report by Food & Water Watch on – “How U.S. State Department ‘Twists Arms’ on Monsanto’s Behalf”

Stephen Coats: Teacher of Solidarity, Presente!

by Paul Ortiz

Stephen Coats, the longtime executive director of the U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project (US/LEAP) died suddenly on April 1 at 61 years old.

This is a terrible loss for the labor movement in the Americas, and it is only bearable because Stephen trained and fortified so many activists (including the writer) to carry on his work.

For decades, the terms “international labor solidarity” and Stephen Coats were virtually synonymous. As coordinator of the U.S./Guatemala Education Project (US/GLEP) during the 1990s, Stephen relentlessly kept U.S. labor activists apprised of the repression of labor and social justice activists in Guatemala and throughout Central America. Brother Coats taught us that the death of one labor organizer in Guatemala was a blow to the labor movement in the United States.

In the era of Reaganism and Thatcherism, US/GLEP taught consumers to see the connections between low prices in the U.S. and low wages in Latin America. In those days, companies like Old Navy, the Gap, and Starbucks scoffed when we used the term “corporate social responsibility.”

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Struggle for Wage Theft Ordinance Not Over Yet, But Close

by Diana Moreno

On April 16, the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of passing a Wage Recovery Ordinance in Alachua County. The coalition behind the victory, The Alachua County Wage Theft Task Force, spent months outreaching to the religious and business community, as well as lobbying their elected county representatives to pass a local solution to our state’s wage theft epidemic. But what should have been a night of celebration for workers and organizers in Alachua County was muted by the ongoing legislative session and our representative’s efforts to kill our ordinance in Tallahassee.

When the Florida capitol entered its last weeks of session, activists from across the state were watching closely as three preemption bills tried to move through both chambers. These bills — SB 726, HB 655, & SB 1216 — would have destroyed the Task Force’s efforts to protect workers from wage theft, as well as Orange County’s efforts to win paid sick-leave for their community.

Clearly, our state representatives’ distaste for “big government” disappeared quickly when the bottom line of powerful business and special interests groups was being threatened. In the end, session came to a close with only one of the three bills (HB 655) making it through. We were spared the gutting of our ordinance, although our Orange County friends were not as lucky.

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Making the Morning-After Pill Available for All, Regardless of Age

Photo by Pete Self. Courtesy of National Women's Liberation (NWL).

Photo by Pete Self. Courtesy of National Women’s Liberation (NWL).

Stephanie Seguin (of National Women’s Liberation) testifies as Gainesville activists, led by NWL as part of a national “Week of Action,” put the morning-after pill on the shelf during a feminist flashmob at a local CVS on Friday, May 17th. Seguin told the crowd how much easier the pill is to get in her experience in France and England; over 60 countries currently make the pill available without age or other restrictions.

NWL’s goal is to stir grassroots activism to pressure the Obama Administration to drop its appeal, which is blocking the April 5th federal court order to make the Morning-After Pill fully over-the-counter with no age restriction–just like aspirin.  Flashmobs or banner drops were held during the week in a dozen cities across the U.S., in collaboration with Women Organized to Defend and Resist.  See
For more information on the struggle to make the morning-after pill available to all, see “We won’t stop until the morning-after pill is available to all, regardless of age” from The Guardian.

Editorial Board’s Picks – What We’re Reading Right Now

Below are some stories the Iguana’s editorial board wanted to include in this issue, but we didn’t have the space. Have an article you think our readers should be aware of? Email links to

“The Last Letter: A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from a Dying Veteran”

This letter, penned by anti-war activist and paralyzed Iraq War veteran Tomas Young on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War, is a scathing condemnation of the Bush Administration’s decision to invade Iraq. In February, Young—who has spoken out against the wars that ruined his and thousands of others’ lives—publicly stated the he had decided to end his own life some time in the next few months. See more at Truthdig here.

“The major sea change in media discussions of Obama and civil liberties”

The mainstream media is up in arms about the Justice Department’s secret, unjustified seizure of two months’ worth of telephone records from Associated Press reporters and editors (a New York Times editorial called the act an “assault on the press, and democracy, too”). Glenn Greenwald gives a good analysis of the situation: “It is remarkable how media reactions to civil liberties assaults are shaped almost entirely by who the victims are.” Read the full article here.

History and the People Who Make It: Rosa B. Williams

Transcript edited by Pierce Butler

This is the fourteenth in a continuing series of transcript excerpts from the collection of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida.

Rosa B. Williams, long-time Gainesville community organizer, was interviewed by Joel Buchanan [B] in 1996.

B: Where were you born, Rosa?

In Starke, Florida. My mother was a housewife. When I was small I can remember her working out … taking in laundry at her house. But she never worked out after I got bigger. My father, … Roosevelt, first he was cutting cross ties, then he worked at a sawmill and then when he came here to live, he worked two jobs, Alachua General Hospital and the University of Florida.

B: Did you have a responsibility on the farm?

Yeah feeding the pigs, cows, chickens, doing everything else. We planted peanuts and all but we did have to go out and cut okras and potatoes. We used to make about 25 cents for a little basket.

B: What was your first job?

Working at Alachua General Hospital running the elevator, for about five years.

B: What did you make a week?

$13.50. That always stuck in my mind. I went to work as a maid [for] Deborah and Jane Stearic, until the beginning of the ’70s. She’s the one that really started pushing me out there. She used to go to the library and pick up my books for me. She said one day that she wasn’t going to, and I was going to go myself. And when I say “push,” if it had not been for her I wouldn’t have went to the library and insist that I get a library card, which I was the first black person which finally got one. It took us about two or three months.

Then when the Democrat Club was home around here, she was insistent that I go to their lunches and things and I was the only black person, you know.

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Film Alert: “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”

In mid-June, the Hippodrome Cinema will show “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” taken from the novel of the same name by Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid.

It tells the story of the impact that the 9/11 attacks had on a then-successful young Pakistani working on Wall Street and how he responds to both changes in American society and U.S. foreign policy in the years following. Check the Hippodrome’s website or call 352-375-4477 for film dates and times.

And congrats to the Hippodrome for 40 (!) years of bringing cultural enrichment to our community. They’ve come a long way from an old Seven-Eleven off Hawthorne Road.

Wild Iris Is Still Coming!

by Wild Iris

So here we are heading into summer, and we’re still waiting for the new space to be ready. We hope you’ve been following us on Facebook and online where we’re posting pictures of the progress. While we have some downtime, we’re getting things ready behind the scenes with a fresh new inventory upgrade, online stock availability, creative displays, Wild Iris merchandise, and signage created by our bad-ass interns, and new training modules for our amazing volunteers.

In the meantime, don’t forget that you can support us by shopping online at – we’re still offering free domestic shipping on any order over $25, and we’ve got millions of print and e-books to choose from. Find us in the social networking world you like the most, sign up for our newsletter and stay in touch.

We’ll also continue to host Feminist Open Mic in The Courtyard, last Tuesday night of every month from 7:30-9pm, poets, musicians and all creative types welcome.

“Dirty Wars” Shines a Light

by Joe Courter

Jeremy Scahill has become one of the investigative journalists of our times.

From his humble beginnings as a stringer on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! (I was recently told Amy actually hired him out of her own pocket initially), he hit major recognition with his 2007 book Blackwater, on the private mercenary army so heavily involved in the Bush war efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, even New Orleans post-Katrina.

Now Scahill is out with his new book, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, and it a riveting chronology of the expanding war footprint the U.S. is making in the Middle East and Africa, and the resulting blowback of these actions, especially the use of drones and the impact of the civilian killings they repeatedly cause.

Additionally, the documentary movie, also called Dirty Wars, will be released in June; it follows Scahill as he goes around the world’s hot spots to report and interview on-the-scene and sometimes under fire, researching for the book.

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Gainesville Organizes for Immigration Reform, Hopes to Influence Passage of Comprehensive Bill

by Liz Getzman

A group of local residents and organizations gathered at Gainesville’s Mennonite Meeting House on Tuesday, May 7, to continue organizing a coalition on immigration reform within the Third Congressional District of Florida.

Organized by Gainesville’s Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice, and under the leadership of Marihelen Wheeler, former Democratic primary candidate for Florida’s House of Representatives, the coalition hopes to influence the U.S. Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the coming months. A specific goal of the group is to work directly with Ted Yoho, U.S. Representative for the Third Congressional District.

Edwin Enciso, organizer for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) NOW, a Florida-based group that advocates for state and national immigration reform, joined residents Tuesday evening to help organize the Immigration Summit on Saturday, June 1, at 1 p.m. at the Fairfield Presbyterian Church in Marion County (15096 NW Highway 225, Fairfield, FL 32634).

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Election Reflection

by Joe Courter

So what can be said about the Mayor’s race in Gainesville? Disappointing, heck yeah, but not a surprise.

Through the culmination of many factors, Craig Lowe was a very much weakened candidate, quite sad and tragic in some ways, but self-inflicted in others. Ed Braddy, on the other hand, was able to capitalize on all the anti-biomass fervor to build a motivated coalition, use his own talents as a public speaker and sound bite artist, and utilize a backlash against Lowe to score a win.

But that win was an interesting split, with the eastern districts (1 & 4) going for Lowe and the west (2 & 3) for Braddy.

For progressive-minded folks, this is significant because District 3 is Susan Bottcher’s district, and she will be up for re-election in the next cycle, along with Todd Chase (conservative NW district 2), and then an at-large open race as Thomas Hawkins is term-limited.

The balance of power hasn’t shifted yet; it’s still Gainesville and not Braddyville, but it ought to be a wake-up call to progressive-minded folks. And with Braddy as Mayor, there will be a very interesting new dynamic to the meetings; he’s smart, both quick-witted and abrasive, and a committed libertarian free-marketeer. It will be a challenging situation for all involved.

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2013 Peace Poetry Contest

Photo by Paul Ortiz.

Photo by Paul Ortiz.

by Jessica Newman

The 4th Annual Peace Poetry Contest, organized by Gainesville Veterans for Peace, was a great success this year with more than 230 total entries and 32 winners from grades 1–12. The Public Reading for the winners took place on May 11 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

Below is the 1st Place poem for grades 1–5 by Caden Kresak, a 4th grader from Archer Elementary School.

You can read all of the winning poems in the here: 2013 Peace Poetry Booklet. Photos of the event can be found here. Soon, you will also be able to see a video of the Public Reading there, thanks to the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program.

If We Try

If there are no boundaries
Between north and south, west and east
And we all share the land,
Then we can all live in peace

If we help one another
Aid the poor, spread the feast
And we all share Earth’s goods
Then we can all live in peace

If we can agree to disagree
The whole world sign a treaty
And we use words not weapons,
Then we can all live in peace

No folded flags for mothers
All the violence has ceased
If we all accept our neighbors,
Then we can all live in peace

Caden Kresak, 4th Grade, Archer Elementary School
1st Place, Grades 1–5

Note from the Publisher: Self-Radicalization & Self-Pacification

joe-WEBby Joe Courter

Self-radicalization is a term that came to the fore after the Boston Marathon bombing; the big question of how these two young men could, on their own, come up with the rationalization to do such an awful act on their own. It is a concept that troubles people when they contemplate the wide range of information available on the Internet which can deviate from the accepted norms and narrative of our society and culture. And of course we can see examples of behavior based on a set of constructed principles that groups and individuals adopt and act upon. That is normal human behavior. There is always the chance that the normal human behavior of forming or adopting some paradigm to live by will, in some people, be taken to the extreme

From the adoption of strict dietary principles, the fanatical fixation on sports teams, complete devotion to one form of music over all others, or one religion over all others; it is also what we humans do. Very troubling here is where “American Exceptionalism” fits in; one nation over all others.

One of the quite-neglected skills that our U.S. culture lacks is critical thinking; it is not emphasized in schools, and our media, with its bi-polar form of discussion, make it seem over-simplified. There is that common narrative everyone accepts, and then we argue shading within that narrow paradigm. There is a hubris that develops and a closing of the mind to alternatives. Taken further, there is a hostility that can develop to those who do accept a different point of view. We can see no better example than the hostility to single-payer healthcare, a practice most of the world uses. It is, as Obama said, “off the table.”

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Letter to the Editors: The John A. Penrod “Brigadas” Award for Peace and Justice

Dear Iguana,

I am extremely proud of receiving the John A. Penrod “Brigadas” Award for Peace and Justice. John Penrod was a great activist and humanitarian, who continues to inspire us to follow his example of a decent, intentional life. There are many activists and groups who work on causes in the Alachua County community. I would like to highlight the work of two of those groups that I have worked with, to point out the importance of group solidarity.

The 130 Meal Limit campaign sought to end the limit on the number of hungry folks who could eat at St. Francis. It was a beautiful effort that needed the many people, some of them first time activists who worked on this campaign. The ISO and ISO members like Katie Walters, a past Penrod winner, were instrumental in ending this inhumane practice of not providing food for more than 130 people per day.

I got involved because I volunteer in the kitchen at St. Francis, and it dehumanized not only those who were turned away, but was dispiriting to all who saw hungry people turned away. Members of the Central Labor Council, Veterans for Peace and the Labor Party also kept the pressure on those who had the power to overturn this inhumane ordinance.

I got involved in the Labor Party because of my friend Kimberly Hunter, another Penrod winner, who was a staff person for the Labor Party and a fierce, driven member of another group I work with, the Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice. I joined the Labor Party because I wanted to support Kimberly and also I liked that the Labor Party had become actively involved in supporting labor issues such as the teacher’s demonstrations against cuts to education funding.

The Labor Party is now putting their resources into helping pass the Wage Theft Ordinance in Alachua County, which was another example of a group of committed folks who came together, used the different skills they had to wage a beautiful campaign. Victory is sweet.

Decades ago when I was organizing during an eight-year farm worker-led boycott campaign in rainy Washington State, we all came out twice a week for boycott activities because we knew that our friends were getting soaked in the freezing cold. We didn’t want them to be out there by themselves. This is what organizing means to me, standing with my comrades in the struggle, together.

I am so honored to be the Penrod Award winner this year, but really I can think of dozens of folks that I have worked with in the last five years who I believe are collectively being honored by this award for all of our grinding, focused advocacy work. I accept this honor on behalf of all of us.

Thank you to the Labor Party, Veterans for Peace and United Faculty of Florida for sponsoring this award.

Don’t give up, don’t give in, love and support each other, we can do it together.

Thank you,

Sheila Payne, 2013 Penrod Award Winner

Update on Adena Springs Ranch Battle

Adena Springs Ranch slaughter house. Photo courtesy of Putnam County Environmental Council.

Adena Springs Ranch slaughter house. Photo courtesy of Putnam County Environmental Council.

by Karen Ahlers

Close scrutiny by citizen activists is making a big difference in the Adena Springs Ranch consumptive use permit application process. Citizens, backed by a team of attorneys and professional scientists, are pleased that the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) has issued a third Request for Additional Information (RAI) to better understand potential impacts to Silver Springs and the Ocklawaha River from Adena’s proposed 5.3 million gallon per day (MGD) average withdrawal.

“The real impacts to Silver Springs will come at the worst possible time during dry periods when irrigation is most needed,” said Water Action Team (WAT) hydrogeologist Dr. Todd Kincaid. “What we should be focused on is the maximum daily withdrawal, based on Adena consultant reports, of 24.8 MGD.” Kincaid notes that on Table #1 in Adena’s CUP application dated April 15, 2013 that 49.3 MGD is needed for the project. This raises concern that Adena will request a modification to increase the  permitted amount to make the project economically feasible.

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8th Annual Memorial Mile Display – May 25-27

Photos by Mary Bahr.

Photos by Mary Bahr.

by Gainesville Veterans for Peace

When the Gainesville chapter of Veterans for Peace first came up with the idea of Memorial Mile eight years ago, we had no idea that, in 2013, we’d still be displaying the tombstones of American service members who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. We thought the wars would be over, that the U.S. would be disengaged from these unjust occupations.

But instead, the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq just passed (with relatively little fanfare), and we’re going on 12 years in Afghanistan. Instead, the state of warfare is in flux, and the U.S. is waging even more secretive attacks through drone strikes, killing an unknown number of innocent civilians.

This is why we will erect the Memorial Mile display by sunrise on Sat., May 25, along the Solar System Walk. The display will stay up through sunset on Memorial Day, May 27.

Veterans for Peace encourage the public to stop by and walk the stunning mile at any time, believing this is the best way to take in the reality of these wars. Each tombstone representing individual Americans also represents the friends and family of the deceased who were and still are affected by these wars.

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May/June 2013 Gainesville Iguana

coverCan’t get into town for the print Iguana? Or did you make it to the box a little late this month?

Well, don’t worry! We have the whole May/June 2013  issue here for your perusal.