Category Archives: November-December 2017

Veterans for Peace to host annual Winter Solstice Celebration

Veterans for Peace will host its 31st Annual Winter Solstice Celebration on Saturday, Dec. 16 at 8 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 4225 N.W. 34th St.

The event will feature music from Cathy Dewitt & Mark Billman, Cherokee Peace Chant, Drums of Peace, Lauren Robinson, Janet and Maggie Rucker, Quartermoon, Other Voices, The Errelics, Jason Hedges & Sarah Darden, A Choir of Heavenly Semi-Angels, and more, along with readings from our Peace Poetry Contest winners. Bill Hutchinson will be the MC for the event.

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“Outrage” — Film explores the murder of black citizens, shot at lynching sites in six states

by Joe Courter

On Oct. 24 the Matheson Museum presented a powerful new film “An Outrage,” a relatively short 34-minute documentary that explores the reality of lynching in the United States.

In interviews with family members and friends, and visits to actual locations, the film travels to Virginia, Texas, South Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi, and spans from 1898 to 1946, demonstrating that the murder of black citizens was a form of social control and intimidation, and often was accompanied by protracted torture and abuse. These killings were widely reported in the black press, but largely ignored in the more “mainstream” media.

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Wes Skiles Water Stewardship Awards on Nov. 13

Florida has the largest convergence of freshwater springs on the planet and one of our most impressive natural wonders are the underwater caves.

Alachua County’s own, Wes C. Skiles, began diving at age 8 and quickly became internationally recognized for his accomplishments in underwater filming and springs conservation awareness.

Skiles’ work included more than 100 films for television that he filmed, produced, and edited. “Water’s Journey: The Hidden Rivers of Florida” still airs on PBS and reveals the journey of water above and within the earth; revealing how our lives are intertwined with the water we drink. Tragically, Skiles died while on a dive off Boynton Beach in 2010. He was posthumously awarded  “Explorer of the Year” in 2011 by National Geographic.

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History and the people who make it: Luresa Lake

Luresa Lake [L], original model for the historic Paradise Park, and her daughter Rose [R], were interviewed by Katie Gresham [G] in March, 2016.

This is the 44th in a series of transcript excerpts from the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program collection at the University of Florida.

Transcript edited by Pierce Butler.

L: I was born in Ocala, Florida on November 9, 1929. I am now eighty-six years young, not old. [Laughter] My father was a farmer. My mother was a seamstress, and she used to play the piano for the Shady Grove Baptist Church, which I was a member of all of my life.

G: Where did you go to school?

L: Evergreen Elementary School, and then to Howard High School. And I, being the only girl in the family, also went to school in New York for a couple of years. I can’t remember the school name at this time, but I went there. Me being an only girl in my family, all of my aunts wanted me to stay with them. Many times I stayed with them, and cared for a baby or something like that. All of my family thought that I was something very special.

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CMC celebrates 24 years

by Joe Courter

The Civic Media Center’s 24th Anniversary event at the Matheson Museum on Oct. 20 was a great success. Thank you to all who attended or sent in a donation to help us start the 24th year of operations.

It was great to have such a big crowd to mark the occasion: to present a surprise gift to honor one of the CMC’s most loyal volunteers Gaby Gross, to introduce a new CMC co-coordinator Kaithleen Hernandez, and have a keynote address from Carol Thomas, as well as the Penrod Award presentation to Candi Churchill. Numerous raffle items were claimed and all the silent auction items were bid on and purchased. Special thanks go to John Moran and Eric Admunson for their art donations. The Matheson was a great host, and thanks, also, to the CMC volunteers and Board members who shared their time nd efforts.

The food was awesome and without the following restaurants we would have been eating pizza: Andaz Indian Restaurant and Bar, Civilization, Elegant Events, Elizabeth Dionisi, Emiliano’s Cafe, Opus Coffee, Paramount Grill, Reggae Shack Cafe, Satchels, and Vine Organic Breads and Pasta. D

Author Larry Schnell at CMC, Nov. 12

by Joe Courter

What does a former news reporter do with his experiences covering Gainesville for eight years at the Sun?

Well, in Larry Schnell’s case, he writes a satirical book about it, and he will be at the Civic Media Center (433 S. Main St.) with copies of the book (or you can buy it at Wild Iris Books) on Sunday, Nov. 12, at 7pm.

The Year of The Gator is based around a storyline of shaky business investment, quick money scheming, political gamesmanship, some quite interesting characters and situations which are only a tad removed from actual people and true happenings of the time he was reporting for the Sun and the Times-Union, which is already set in the familiar confines of Alachua County.

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Exhibits, events at the Matheson History Museum

The main museum building at 513 East University Avenue hosts all programs and exhibitions. It is open Tuesday-Saturday 11am-4pm.


Finding the Fountain of Youth: Exploring the Myth of Florida’s Magical Waters

Mary Ann Cofrin Exhibit Hall

This exhibit is based on Rick Kilby’s award-winning book. The former traveling exhibit was created by the Florida Museum of Natural History and was donated to the Matheson by author Rick Kilby. The exhibit examines how the legend of Ponce de Leon’s quest for restorative waters shaped the Sunshine State’s image as a land of fantasy, rejuvenation and magical spring-fed waters.

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Holiday events: Party for Progress!, CLC spaghetti dinner

In December, Gainesville holiday events include the first Party for Progress! and the North Central Florida CLC Gainesville dinner.

The first Party for Progress! is on Dec. 3 at the Heartwood Soundstage (619 S. Main St.) from 5pm until 11pm. There’ll be a photo booth sponsored by Lauren Poe’s Dank Meme Stash, food, drinks, and raffle contests. A coalition of organizations are hosting including Alachua County Revolution, Alachua County Young Democrats, Alachua County Labor Coalition, Women’s March, Gainesville Area NOW, Central Florida Democratic Socialists of America, Lauren Poe’s Dank Meme Stash, Planned Parenthood, Civic Media Center, the Gainesville Iguana, Mama Trish and Heartwood Soundstage. You’ll have a chance to register/update your voter status and meet candidates running for local office.

On Monday, Dec. 11, from 6:30pm until 8pm, the North Central Florida Central Labor Council (CLC) hosts their annual holiday spaghetti dinner at the Senior Center/ElderCare of Alachua County (5701 NW 34th Street). This year guest speakers will be Gainesville Commissioner Harvey Ward, the President of the Florida Building & Construction Trades Council Theresa King, and Say Yes to Second Chances organizer Jhody Polk.

The dinner is free and open to anyone who believes in the labor movement. Feel free to bring friends, family and colleagues.

Clay, Putnam, Bradford County updates

by Kate Ellison

Putnam Democrats  kick-off election 2018

The November meeting of the Putnam Democratic Party marked the start of the 2018 election season with a potluck dinner and planning meeting. Several candidates spoke, and it is evident that the 2018 primary season will be lively on both sides of the isle. Stay tuned for more details and check for future events on the party’s web page at

More events in early evening hours are planned so that students and working volunteers can come. Putnam County is ground zero in the coming election.

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Humanist Society presents ‘Why I love Kurt Vonnegut’

Dr. Paul Ortiz, associate professor in the UF history department, will present a talk entitled “Why I Love Kurt Vonnegut” at 6:30 pm on Nov. 15 at the Unitarian Fellowship of Gainesville, located at 4225 NW 34th St.

Kurt Vonnegut is remembered as a primary source for reflecting on the rapid changes in our society during the twentieth century, told in a voice deep in irony, sharp critical analysis, and his greatest trademark, biting humor.

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Alachua County at turning point: Repair bureaucracy

by Pierce Butler

Way back in early August, uncountable Trump scandals ago, the Alachua County Commission voted 4-1 to fire then-County Manager Lee Niblock. One of the final straws provoking that decision was a budget proposal for $50,000 for bonuses to help retain the six Assistant County Managers that Dr. Niblock had hired, while rank-&-file staff pay had stagnated for years.

Another precipitating cause had occurred in July, when a Board of Commissioners morning meeting had acknowledged twenty-five years of work on the part of training manager Suzanne Clausier – and that evening considered Niblock’s budget plan terminating her position (and that of a county horticulturalist, with neither named and the firings obscured by bureaucratic jargon).

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Morris Dees speaks at SLC’s 40th Anniversary

by Renaud Lajoie

Two days after white nationalists and protesters faced off at UF, one of the country’s most successful civil rights attorneys, Morris Dees, spoke just blocks away at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center.

He served as the keynote speaker for the Southern Legal Counsel’s 40th anniversary event. The Florida nonprofit law firm, headquartered in Gainesville, has litigated pivotal changes in public policies for the public’s interest against corporations, state and local governments.

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Voting Rights Restoration Amendment: Homestretch for making the 2018 ballot

by Jack Kulas

BALLOT TITLE: Voting Restoration Amendment

BALLOT SUMMARY: This amendment restores the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation. The amendment would not apply to those convicted of murder or sexual offenses, who would continue to be permanently barred from voting unless the Governor and Cabinet vote to restore their voting rights on a case-by-case basis.

December 31 is the deadline to submit signed and completed Voting Restoration Amendment petitions to Supervisor of Elections offices around the state to get items on the November 2018 ballot.
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From the publisher … Winding down 2017

by Joe Courter

Thinking back a year I am reminded how shocked and apprehensive (to put it mildly) we were with the harsh reality of the election outcome. When I got out a sweatshirt the other day I saw it had a safety pin on it, something that was suggested people do to make immigrants or other threatened or at risk people know that we were a friendly person to trust. We had groups mobilizing, lots of meetings. Thankfully some of those have persisted, Indivisible, Women’s March and off shoots like Second Chance voting rights. We are, I believe, more “woke,” but the level of resistance seems to have diminished, as the forewarned normalization has occurred.

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Spencer Takeaway

by Joe Courter

Background: On Oct. 19, self-styled “Alt-right” figurehead Richard Spencer came to Gainesville to speak at the Phillips Center on the UF campus. 

His organization (National Policy Institute) was charged about $11,000 for use of the building, Governor Rick Scott called it a State of Emergency, and taxpayers paid about $500,000 for security outside the building.

Spencer had two or three dozen supporters sitting up front in their white shirts and khakis. About 250 people who got tickets outside from NPI sat and stood in the rear of the hall with empty rows between them.

A number of people of color and people with disabilities were excluded. A vast majority of the audience were anti racists, who were raucous but peaceful.

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November-December 2017 Gainesville Iguana

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