History and the people who make it: Sophia Threat (part 1)

This 2017 interview of Ms. Sophia Threat [T]of Groveland, Florida, by Deidre Houchen [H], offers a small peek into the ways race and labor played a role in everyday life in rural Florida in the mid 20th century, and how strong and resilient families had to be to survive. Threat recalls her childhood hearing about the Groveland Four: two of the falsely accused men were her uncles. Transcript edited by Donovan Carter.

H: Where were you born, Ms. Sophia?

T: I was born and raised in Groveland.

H: And who did you live with?

T: My mom, Louise Threat and E.T. Threat, my dad. 

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Christmas in June for Florida Power & Light

by Alachua County Labor Coalition

On June 28, Governor DeSantis signed the GRU Tallahassee takeover bill. This comes on the heels of his vetoing an ethical meat processing plant in Newberry. We are deeply disappointed — but unsurprised — that DeSantis has decided to continue Rep. Chuck Clemons’ and Sen. Keith Perry’s War on Gainesville.

It’s clear this bill is the first step in stealing our public utility and is eerily similar to Jacksonville’s public utility saga, when a small cartel of corporate fat cats attempted to steal their utility through shady astroturf groups and purchased politicians. 

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

Friends of Susan B. Anthony is happy to announce that Women’s Equality Day (Aug. 26) will be celebrated with their annual luncheon at the Best Western Gateway Grand in Gainesville on Saturday, Aug. 26 at 11:30am. 

The community is invited to this event, which began as an informal birthday party for Susan B. Anthony over forty years ago, and is now held in conjunction with the anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. 

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Protest marks 1-year anniversary of Dobbs, end of Roe v. Wade

On June 24, National Women’s Liberation, Gainesville Radical Reproductive Rights Network, and Planned Parenthood organized a demonstration outside the Alachua County Courthouse to protest the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, effectively ending abortion rights provided by Roe v. Wade. Below is the text of a speech given by Laura Blecha.

My name is Laura and I’m a member of the Gainesville chapter of National Women’s Liberation. We’re a grassroots, gender-affirming, radical feminist organization fighting back against male supremacy, white supremacy, and capitalism.

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Book review—War Made Invisible: How America Hides the Human Toll of Its Military Machine, by Norman Solomon

by Joe Courter

Note: A bulk order of War Made Invisible has been purchased for a fundraiser for the Civic Media Center. The new hardcover book, listed at $28, can be purchased from either Third House Books or from me at the Thursday Heartwood or Monday Cypress & Grove farmers markets. A donation of $15 to $20 is requested. Text me at 352-378-5655 if you want one and I will bring it. This is what City Lights Bookstore said in their review of the book: 

From the acclaimed veteran political analyst, a searing new exposé of how the American military, with the help of the media, conceals its perpetual war.

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We Are Stronger Together: County coalition counteracts growing legislative intolerance

by Ethan Maia de Needell, Rural Women’s Health Project

In an effort to rally Alachua County and to show up to the moment we all find ourselves in, local advocacy groups, nonprofits, faith institutions, and social service providers have come together to form the We Are Stronger Together campaign. 

As of July 1, Florida has ushered in a batch of legislation targeting our most vulnerable and marginalized communities. Our trans community is under attack by bills like SB254, which aims to impede trans adults from receiving their medical services and completely ban treatments (which have been validated by nationally recognized mental health authorities such as Columbia University, American Psychology Association, National Institute of Health) for trans minors. 

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From the publisher… Survival skills

by Joe Courter

When you are planning for a trip, you think about all that you need to know and do. How will you get there? Where you going to be staying? What will you need for food? Maybe consult the long-range weather forecast? That preparation ahead of time can make things go so much smoother.

Well, our trip has begun, the train has left the station. Not many of us had time to pack, and some people had been oblivious about their being on a train that might be departing that quickly. Turns out there was no preprinted schedule to consult. There’ve been rumors and speculation, but suddenly …  All aboard!

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8:15 Hiroshima: From father to daughter

CMC film screening August 6 with director in attendance

by Joe Courter

8:15 Hiroshima/from Father to Daughter is a new film airing on PBS in August. Locally it will air on WUFT TV at 5pm on Saturday, Aug. 5. On Sunday, Aug. 6, the Civic Media Center will host a special screening of the film with its director, J. R. Heffelfinger, who recently moved to Gainesville. Doors open at 5pm, and the film will start at about 5:30 with a discussion and reception afterward. The Civic Media Center is at 433 S. Main St., with parking across the street or along East 5th Avenue.

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State takeover of GRU: Now what?

by Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson, Gainesville Residents United, Inc. 

Now that the State has officially taken over Gainesville Regional Utilities from the City Commission, there are a lot of things to do.

Some folks are recruiting prospective Utility Authority board members for the volunteer position of running the combined utility systems for the City. This includes setting rates and service levels, hiring and firing employees, running the power and water plants, establishing the half-billion dollar annual budget, and managing over a billion dollars in debt. 

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July/August 2023 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.

Editors’ picks: News that didn’t fit

New Immigration law sparks fear and worker exodus from Florida 
by Ana Goñi-Lessan and John Kennedy | USA Today | June 21 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1630
Florida’s new immigration law, which went into effect on July 1, is prompting many migrant workers to leave the state. The departures are sparking fear that a labor shortage will leave crops unpicked, tourist hotels short of staff, and construction sites idle. Even some of the governor’s supporters are starting to question the hateful new law, albeit because they’re concerned it’s bad for business and not because they’re concerned for the lives it will upend.

North Central Florida LGBTQ+ Town Hall (video)
Pride Community Center | Facebook.com | June 1 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1631
This is a video of the very informative town hall held at the University Club on June 1 to address the horrible anti-LGBTQ laws passed in Florida this year and how the community can remain resilient. It breaks down what the laws actually say, and don’t say. Great panel and Q&A, valuable for anyone to hear, whether here in Gainesville/Florida or elsewhere.

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Real Environmentalists Don’t Build Meat Processing Facilities

by Renée Hoffinger

Editors’ note: The article below is a rebuttal to an article published in the May/June 2023 Iguana: https://gainesvilleiguana.org/2023/articles/the-case-for-local-meat-processing-lets-opt-out-of-industrial-ag/.

No matter how you slice and dice it, animal agriculture is a major contributor to global climate change. So I was surprised to see an article in our progressive, climate-aware Iguana supporting Alachua County’s proposed meat processing facility. The proposed slaughterhouse is purported to provide economic relief to local ranchers who currently truck their livestock to large corporate processing plants. The price tag (omitted from the article) of $5.2M includes $2.5m of federal American Rescue Plan funds, $1.75m state funds (recently vetoed by the governor), with the remainder coming from the county. While I applaud efforts for ‘more humane, environmentally sound, and economically viable food production’, in the face of current science and the state of our planet, this current proposal is none of that – but rather misguided and socially irresponsible. Such a huge sum of money could be spent in more climate-friendly ways to benefit a larger segment of our county’s population.

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CMC Springboard event

The Civic Media Center is hosting a book discussion featuring Dr. Zoharah Simmons and, via Zoom, author Dan Berger on Saturday, June 3 from 2:30-4:30 pm.

Berger’s recent book, Stayed on Freedom: The Long History of Black Power Through One Family’s Journey,  chronicles the lives of two activist/organizers, Dr. Simmons and Michael Simmons, their meeting, organizing, and post-marriage independent lives still doing organizing work.

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Rest in power Dr. George Buchanan, 1954-2023

by Amy Coenen

Dr. George Buchanan was finishing his OB/GYN residency in the mid 1980s when he answered an ad for medical director of the Gainesville Women’s Health Center (GWHC). Founded in 1972 by 4 women activists shortly after the Roe v Wade decision, the clinic provided well-woman care, including abortions, to North Central Florida and beyond. In the words of Joan McTigue, who worked at the clinic in the 80s, “we quickly embraced him as quickly as he embraced us…not only did he understand the politics of women’s health care, he lived it.”

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Protect your rights: Sign petition to get abortion issue on the ballot

by Kai Christmas, Regional Organizer, Planned Parenthood

On Monday, May 8, Floridians Protecting Freedom launched a citizen-led ballot initiataive campaign to give Florida voters the chance to ensure that their personal medical decisions are theirs and theirs alone to make. 

The decision of whether or not to have an abortion belongs to Floridians, their families, and those they trust — this campaign is an opportunity to further enshrine those protections in our state constitution.

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Gainesville celebrates Juneteenth!

Join the City of Gainesville Juneteenth’s Celebration with the A. Quinn Jones Museum’s Juneteenth Film Festival, Saturday, June 10 from 5:30 to 9:30pm. The film Festival will be held at A. Quinn Jones Museum and Cultural Center at 1013 NW 7th Ave. in Gainesville.

The Juneteenth Film Festival showcases a wide range of entertainment made by locals, and features the people, places, music, dance and experiences of Gainesville residents.

Bar-b-que food truck, lemonade stand and an assortment of cakes will be available for purchase. Chairs provided, or you can bring your own. 

See more Juneteenth activities in the events list on pages 26-27.

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DylanFest: May 21 at Heartwood Soundstage

The 2nd Annual DylanFest, a celebration of Bob Dylan and his songs, will take place a few days shy of his 82nd birthday on Sunday, May 21, from 1 to 7pm, at Heartwood Soundstage. 

Produced by Gary Gordon and Heartwood Soundstage, the emphasis will be on Dylan’s songs. Donations benefit the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute.

The mission of the Florida Springs Institute is to improve the understanding of springs ecology and to foster the development of science-based education and management actions needed to restore and protect springs throughout Florida.

DylanFest II features several Gainesville area musicians including Ric Kaestner, Mick Marino, Hollyanne Page, Michael Tamayo, Gary Gordon And, George Gomez, Quincy Flint, Barry Sides, Big Owl & Tony, Nicole André Wagner, Shawn Manley, Cathy DeWitt, Eli Tragash, Tapewerm, Mark and Barbara Armbrecht, The Ramblin’ Mutts, and more.  The Emcee is Chris Qualmann.

The concert is free and takes place outdoors. Donations are requested. For info see: tinyurl.com/Iguana1611

Gary Gordon teaching two classes at SFC this summer

As part of Santa Fe College’s community education classes, Gary Gordon — author, musician, and former Gainesville City Commissioner — will be teaching Intro to Screenwriting and American Revolution: 1763–1815.

Registration instructions and additional information is at: sfcollege.edu/communityed/ or call 352-395-5193. 

The summer brochure with a complete class listing is at: issuu.com/santafecollege/docs/enrichsummer_2023/.

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A word about donations

by Joe Courter

Hello readers. Glad you are here in this slightly expanded 32-page Iguana. This is more of an ask than the usual passive box on the page inviting your support. The Iguana sustains itself on its advertisers and its friendly readers, some of whom get it mailed to them, or get the emailed link, or just randomly pick it up and kick in.  No one gets paid on the staff (me included) and this system has worked well; we (Beth, Jessica, Pierce, those who write articles and those that help distribute the paper) have a process of turning out the paper that works and that we feel good about doing.

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Support the Civic Media Center

by Sloan Tran, CMC coordinator, and Sage, CMC volunteer

The CMC was founded as a community-based alternative to corporate media. During this time of book bans, this resource has become more vital than ever. In response to the bans, a large donation from Haymarket Books has helped us expand our library. We also host educational events about issues that are not accurately represented in mainstream media, such as the recent abortion bans and anti-trans bills. We hope to host more events focused around disability justice, anti-immigration laws, and other relevant topics. If you have any ideas for future events, please email coordinators@civicmediacenter.org.

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