Category Archives: May-June 2017

Veterans display tombstones to remember fallen soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan

by Gainesville Veterans for Peace

Veterans for Peace will be displaying more than 6,915 tombstones from dawn on May 27 through dusk on Memorial Day on 8th Avenue just east of 31st Street as part of their Memorial Day Weekend event. This display is to remember those who have died in the wars in Afghanistan since 2001 and in Iraq since 2003.

The tombstones will line the street along 8th Avenue just east of 31st Street, where the Solar System Walk is located. This is the tenth year VFP has set up the display, and in 2008 we had to cross over to the North side of Eighth Avenue due to the continuing number of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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History and the people who make it: Lilly Sanchez

Lilly Sanchez [LS], of Nevada’s Western Shoshone tribe, and her daughter Virginia [VS] and granddaughter Cora Burchett [CB], were interviewed by Ryan Morini [RM] in December 2012.

This is the 40th in a series of transcript excerpts from the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program collection at the University of Florida.

Transcript edited by Pierce Butler.

LS: My name is Lilly Virginia Sanchez. I was born in Duckwater, where my grandfather always lived, under the willows. We never go to doctors those days, we just have our grandmother as a midwife.

RM: When were you born?

LS: 1923.

RM: Were you delivered by a midwife?

LS: Yes, by my grandmother, Mary Blackeye. My parents was Agnes Blackeye Penoli, and my father was Frank Penoli.

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Veterans for Peace announces public reading, reception for Peace Poetry Contest, Peace Scholarship Awards

by Gainesville Veterans for Peace

Veterans for Peace Gainesville Chapter 14 has announced the 8th Annual Public Reading and Reception of the Alachua  County Peace Poetry Contest and Peace Scholarship Awards.

On Saturday, May 20, 35 students from Alachua County schools will read their peace poems aloud at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship as winners of the 2017 Peace Poetry Contest.

The eighth annual Peace Poetry Contest began in January, inviting all K-12 students of Alachua County schools, both public and private, to submit one poem on what peace means to them. A team of community writers and poets judged the over 280 poems submitted, according to age group.

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WGOT-LP FM to hold volunteer information meeting

By Michele LeSure, WGOT Volunteer Coordinator

You’ve seen our logo and call letters advertised in these pages for going on ten years now. WGOT-LP FM, in partnership with the Civic Media Center, has been broadcasting continuously since 2008.

Recently, you may have read that WGOT-LP FM moved to a new frequency (100.1 FM) and a new studio space within the space of one month; that’s a major leap in such a short period of time (not to mention the installation of a new antenna to help our signal strength).

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ACRev continues political revolution

Alachua County Revolution’s purpose is to continue the political revolution Bernie Sanders started, through effective local action and is modeled after Our Revolution, the successor organization to the Bernie Sanders campaign.

ACRev supports other local, progressive and activist groups and hopes to identify a new generation of progressive leaders to fight for progressive change and help to elevate the political consciousness. 

ACRev promotes local action and sharing of events through the site. 

Who is the Resistance?

by Joe Courter

In the Editors’ Picks on this page there is a listing for a talk given in Chicago  and hosted by Haymarket Books. It features Michelle Alexander and Naomi Klein, two leading thinkers and analysts of our time. It is about 90 minutes and well worth it.

In her opening remarks Alexander questions the concept of Resistance as applied to the opposition to the Trump presidency. She says she appreciates how the term came into use, but then she turns it around.

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Women’s March Gainesville

Women’s March Gainesville is the official local chapter of Women’s March Florida, the originators of the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21.

We pride ourselves on being a non-violent organization with a pro-woman, pro-community, pro-sustainability, pro-love, and pro-diversity focus.

We believe in art as a means of revolutionary change. Our organization is a great place for first time activists as well as long-term activists interested in getting involved with the local government and our community.

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Vietnamese writer to speak May 30

Writer and illustrator Thi Bui, who has written the graphic memoir The Best We Could Do, an intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying her family’s journey from Vietnam during the war, will be speaking and reading on May 30 at the Civic Media Center. The event runs from 6:30 to 8 pm.

This beautifully illustrated and emotionally evocative memoir is about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.

At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love.

Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home.

In what Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen calls “a book to break your heart and heal it,” The Best We Could Do brings to life Thi Bui’s journey of understanding, and provides inspiration to all of those who search for a better future while longing for a simpler past.

“With great mastery of writing and drawing, Thi Bui shows the consequences of war lasting from generation to generation.”

— Maxine Hong Kingston

“Be prepared to take your heart on an emotional roller-coaster journey with this thought-provoking account that completely satisfies as the story comes full circle. Highly recommended for teens and adults; an excellent choice for book clubs.”

— Library Journal online (starred review) D

Debunking alternate energy denial: seven responses

By Larry Behnke

Climate change denial has been around for years. But there’s another climate-related denial that is just as damaging: alternate energy denial. You usually hear this put-down of alternate energy from utilities that fear loss of control and income as people discover ways to produce their own power.

Solar electricity is often the target for alt-energy denial. We’ve heard for years, “It’s too expensive; it’s inefficient; we need more research.” But the efficiency of PV (photo voltaic) panels has increased as their price has dropped the last few years. More people are buying them, while utility companies fret.

Over the past few months in our area, I have seen the following examples of alt-energy denial, actual quotes from local officials. I will comment on each one according to my experience as a user of solar electricity to power my home with a system I installed in 1984.

“Salesmen will tell potential customers that their panels will save them X amount of money over a 30-year period, but the panels themselves are only warranted for 20 years. That means the homeowner has to re-invest in new solar panels before they have received the benefit of the utility savings.”

Only 20 years? Your car should have such a warranty! But that’s just a warranty, not the life of the panels. My PV panels have been producing more electricity than I can use for 33 years. The panels General Electric made 60 years ago still work. Some scientists predict PV panels could work for 100 years; there are no moving parts to wear out (although there is slight loss of output). You will never have to buy new panels unless you want to expand the size of your system, and it is easy to wire on new panels.

“PVs don’t produce any voltage on cloudy days.”

Yes they do, just not as much as in bright sun. My PV panels fully charge my batteries by around noon or 1 p.m. On cloudy days it may take until 2 or 3 p.m. to get a full charge. I know this as fact from 33 years of checking my battery voltage. I simply push a contact button on my wall to see the voltmeter reading.

“Solar panels can’t move with the sun.”

For more than three decades the Zomeworks Company has built an efficient tracker that moves panels to follow the sun across the sky all day and then repositions them for the next morning, all with self-contained solar power. But my panels don’t need to move.

“PVs don’t produce much voltage in the winter or when covered with ice or snow.”

PVs actually work better in winter, producing more power when they are cold (a balance to the shorter days of sunlight). That’s why an air space between the panels and roof is important during hot weather (and why solar shingles are less efficient).

Ice and snow are no problem in the Sunshine State. If northern PV panels don’t slope enough, snow may accumulate. But a rare covering of ice would still let enough sunshine through to produce electricity.

“Solar is higher cost compared with other forms of generating electricity.”

That may have been true 30 years ago, but in some communities, solar electricity is the same cost as coal generation (fossil fuels and nuclear would be far more expensive without their government subsidies and tax breaks). But what is the added cost of burning coal for electricity? Damage to humans who have to breathe its toxins, as well as the heat of burning coal that is warming up our planet (2016 was the hottest year on record).

Recent research by Bloomberg showed that new solar power around the world is “robustly entering the era of undercutting fossil-fuel prices.”

“The most expensive and inefficient use of solar is by one individual;…”

I am one individual using solar electricity to pump all my water from a well. I use solar for lights, fans and assorted 12-volt appliances. The cost of my PV system, figured over the years I’ve used it, is $8 a month. Does that sound expensive?

I also use $5 a month worth of grid power (plus the customer fee of $20, and taxes) for my refrigerator, lights and TV. My house is wired for these two separate systems, so I am less affected when the grid goes down during storms.

“…it is more cost effective if solar use is on a city-wide basis, and most cost effective if a group of cities can employ solar using the very latest technology.”

Solar is only more cost effective on a citywide basis for the utility company so they can sell solar electricity to their customers. They don’t make profits when people have their own solar “power companies” on rooftops.

Making electricity on site with PVs is more efficient than having to transport it over long distances, losing power along miles of lines.

Not all utilities are in denial. According to Lynn Jurich, CEO of Sunrun: “Sunrun pays to install a solar electric system on a person’s roof. There’s no up-front cost for homeowners. They then buy the power from us, typically at 20 percent less than what their utilities charge. We take care of the maintenance. Homeowners save money immediately. We’re in 12 states now.”

Of course our local utilities would rather have “solar farms” that they can own and control to sell power to their customers as they always have. As for cities being able to use the “latest technology,” PVs themselves have changed very little over the decades. What has changed is that they are much more efficient and cheaper than ever. I paid $260 for a 30-watt panel in 1984. Now you could buy a 300-watt panel for the same amount.

Why do our utility officials tell us all these falsehoods about solar electricity? Control and profit. They can sell electricity for a profit when they control the buying and selling of coal, gas, oil and nuclear. But they have not figured out a way to sell us sunshine, except with their own solar farms.

In the stock market fossil fuel has been among the worst performing sectors, while investors are now piling more money into renewables, because that’s where the growth will come. Economics will kill alt-energy denial.

Perhaps our local utilities will someday work with their customers to promote and sell PV panels. But they are used to doing business their old way, so for now they will use alt-energy denial to dissuade us from installing our own PV power, using free sunshine.

You can contact Larry Behnke at,   386-454-3249, or  P.O.Box 1311, High Springs, FL 32655. D

Open House/Open Wings at Lubee Bat Conservancy

In honor of Endangered Species Day, Lubee Bat Conservancy will host our Open House/Open Wings event, Saturday, May 20 from 11am to 3pm. The entrance fee is $5/person, and children 4 and under are free.

Guests will have a chance to listen to educational talks, check out native bat houses, talk to experts on installation and exclusion, and of course, view the beautiful bats playing with numerous toys. Great fun for all ages!

Director Brian Pope will give a special presentation on endangered species, wildlife trafficking, and the importance of preserving animals and habitats.

This family-friendly event focuses on endangered species, native bats, and viewing the largest bats in the world.

All proceeds benefit Lubee’s conservation and education efforts. The  Facebook Open House/Open Wings event page is at

The event will take place at 1309 NW 192nd Ave. in  Gainesville. For more information, call 352-485-1250 or  go to

Working Food Community Food Center supports farmers, food entrepreneurs, resilient food system

by Maya Velesko

Forage and Blue Oven Kitchens have been working together and collaborating with our community to support and expand our local food system for over five years.

Their latest endeavor is no exception. The ambitious and exciting project – Working Food – will allow the organizations to combine forces and provide a physical hub for efforts at the intersection of Kitchens, Commerce, and Culture.

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New Gainesville city commissioners sworn in

by Joe Courter

Thursday, May 4, was a day where the hard work of political organizing bore fruits, as the new and re-elected City Commission candidates were sworn into office at a noontime event at the Thelma Boltin Center. New Commissioners David Arreola and Harvey Ward and returning commissioner Helen Warren took turns recognizing their campaign staffs and laying out their hopes and ideals for their coming term to a standing-room crowd of over 200. There was much support among all of them for an active addressing of community problems of income disparity, improvements to public services, and an especially welcome call for closer cooperation between city, county and school board. Low voter turnout was addressed by Harvey Ward with this story of his encounter with a potential voter while going door-to-door in Northwood Oaks:

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From the publisher … On bending the arc

by Joe Courter

These are challenging times to make sense of. Last week we saw Trump fire the director of the FBI and also announce thousands of more troops to Afghanistan. Healthcare is in the hands of the Senate. Each of these acts will impact lives and set off chains of events whose outcome we cannot know in advance. We are along for the ride, and it can easily make one feel powerless. But powerless we are not.

Martin Luther King Jr. popularized the phrase “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

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Legislative Recap 2017: immigration, education, etc.

by Jeremiah Tattersall

Florida’s House, Senate, and Governor are all Republicans and thank God they don’t get along. This last session had both losses and defensive victories for working families. The overarching theme of the session was that of disunity and political bickering. House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R, Land O’Lakes) held many bills and the budget hostage, while Senate President Joe Negron (R, Palm City) and Governor Rick Scott did their best to save face.

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Update: Voting Rights Restoration Initiative

by Heidi Harris

Women’s March members, working with Julie Thaler, continue to collect signed petitions for the Voter Rights Restoration Petition to be delivered to the Florida State House and Senate and Gov. Rick Scott.

On April 20, the ballot language passed the state supreme court, a victory for this measure that will help restore voter rights to Florida citizens.

We have partnered with the Alachua County Labor Coalition (ACLC) to structure and manage the process of gathering almost 800,000 signatures statewide. Together, we have formed the North Florida Voter Rights Restoration Coalition, and will continue to network and join efforts with other activist groups across the state.

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Madres Sin Fronteras fights racism

by Gia Del Pinolead, organizer with Madres Sin Fronteras

In the aftermath of the Trump election a group of undocumented and semi-documented immigrants grouped together to stand up to the racism affecting their communities. After witnessing increases in bullying to their children and intimidation from their bosses they formed Madres Sin Fronteras to demand their human rights.

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May-June 2017 Gainesville Iguana

The 2017 May-June issue of the Iguana is now available! If you want to get your hands on a hard copy, check out our distro locations here.