Pine Ridge community canvassing report

Long-time tenants must vacate within 30 days, under threat of legal action

by Dmitry Podobreev, Paul Ortiz and Sheila Payne, Alachua County Labor Coalition

On July 2, the Alachua County Labor Coalition (ACLC) helped organize with members of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and members of the Pine Ridge community to go door-to-door to talk to residents of the Pine Ridge community in NW Gainesville with the aim of organizing resistance to their displacement by a new landlord. Twenty community members joined with 20 Pine Ridge residents in solidarity to defend the Pine Ridge residents’ rights to not lose their housing. This was after a Zoom meeting where Pine Ridge residents told what was happening to their community. 

Key City Capital, a Texas based investment firm, purchased 83 units in Pine Ridge in 2020, including a beloved community center building which provides the neighborhood children with programs and activities. The company says they are renovating the apartments and will raise the rents by almost $400. Current residents, many of whom have lived there for over a decade, some for over 25 years, were put on a month-to-month lease and are being told to leave their homes within 30 days with no guarantee of another place to stay. 

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Gainesville Community Redevelopment workshops

The city of Gainesville has been on a real building boom, both with the larger projects evidenced by the huge cranes that have appeared on skyline, and also with a lot of infill projects coming into neighborhood with at times shocking impact to the residents of those neighborhoods. If you live in or if you care about those who live in neighborhoods such as Porters or Pleasant Street, the Community Redevelopment Agency posted these upcoming meetings. Here is your invite to collaborate. Check their website for more information.

  • July 16 & 17, 8-11 am: Porters Infill Housing Collaborative Design Workshop, 405 SW 5th Ave
  • July 20, 5:30 pm: GCRA Advisory Board Monthly Meeting
  • July 30 & 31, 8-11 am: Pleasant Street Infill Housing Collaborative Design Workshop, 414 NW 5th Ave
  • August 17, 5:30 pm: GCRA Advisory Board Monthly Meeting

One Colombian’s view from Minnesota to Gainesville

by Didier Bolanos Gonzalez

Here you will find my personal short journey into activism as a Colombian immigrant in the US.

I remember when I saw George Floyd in Conga Latin Dance Club my last days in Minneapolis before moving to Gainesville, in north Florida. It was probably on a Friday after 10 p.m. and he was the main bouncer at the entrance. It is ironic that he was protecting everyone all night and a couple months later on May 25, 2020, a terrifyingly cruel arrest by the Minneapolis police ended his life.

As an international graduate student I was advised by the University of Minnesota to not participate in protests. That May 2020 while in Gainesville, I decided to support the demonstrations without fear. Injustice was clear to me and I decided to walk with people wearing mainly black and yelling “Black Lives Matter” around gentrified neighborhoods in Gainesville. My thoughts about Mr. Floyd were, “Could I stop his murder if I had been there?” However, it was too late for Mr. Floyd’s life and the Puerto Rican owners of the Conga club who had lost a dear friend.

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A new way forward for the Pride Community Center of North Central Florida …

After more than two decades, LGBTQ+ center re-envisions itself

by Tamára Perry-Lunardo, PCCNCF President 

On September 13, 2000, the local LGBTQ+ community came together to establish the first Pride community center in the area. The community approved the bylaws, selected the name “Pride Community Center of North Central Florida,” and elected the first Board of Directors in February 2001. In April 2002, we opened the doors of our first location at NW 6th Street in Gainesville, and in September 2007, we moved to the larger facility we still occupy at 3131 NW 13th St. 

In January 2008, the Pride Center merged with Pride Celebration of Gainesville and began producing Gainesville Pride Days, which includes the annual Pride Parade and Festival. In 2018, we merged with the Gainesville Area AIDS Project (GAAP) and began providing direct services to people with HIV/AIDS. 

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Dollar General: The final victory of systemic racism

by Homer Jack Moore

What does a Dollar General convenience store planned for the scenic Tuscawilla Road into Micanopy have to do with systemic racism? 

Plenty, it turns out. Understanding how racial exploitation now achieves a crowning moment in the form of a Dollar General convenience store lies in the history of Florida itself. And the history of Florida is a long one.

The Spanish came in the 1500s bringing smallpox, measles, Christianity, and slavery. Disease decimated the Timacua Native population. Spaniards later established cattle ranches on emptied lands in the interior. A large one was headquartered by the Chua, so-named in Timacuan dialect, a swallet on the north rim of, now, Paynes Prairie. By 1700 the Hacienda de la Chua failed. Abandoned Spanish cattle ran off into the impenetrable savannah. Attracted by feral cattle, splinter groups of Creeks started to move in. The Spaniards called them “Cimarrones,” wild ones.

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From the publisher … The great awokening

by Joe Courter

Although people were not thrilled to hear it, in early 2020 experts were saying this pandemic could take a year and a half to wind down. And here we are. As we look around the globe, it is troubling to see the lag time, and kind of disgusting to see the US stockpiling (like we couldn’t make more) vaccines when other nations don’t have any. It has been nice to see faces and share hugs, but stay cautious and don’t throw out your masks.

Speaking of other nations, it was good to see the US not being represented by the former White House occupant on the recent international trip. And I must say, that trip, and watching the international football (soccer) competition of the Euro and Copa Cups, and the Olympics, remind me of the reality of the wider world. This nation is but one of many, all going about the business of building and maintaining their own version of a functioning society.  

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A school board seat is vacant: what now?

by David Kaplan, Julie Crosby, and Sarah Rockwell

In August 2020,  Alachua County residents cast their ballots for two seats on the School Board of Alachua County, among other positions. When the votes were counted, Dr. Leanetta McNealy was re-elected to represent District 4, becoming Chairwoman of the Board, and Diyonne McGraw was elected to represent District 2. 

The election was a historic event for Alachua County, as Dr. McNealy and Ms. McGraw joined board member Tina Certain to create, for the first time, a Black majority on the five-person board with a strong public commitment to educational excellence and equity. The same election saw several other progressive, Black, and female candidates win seats in this County-wide election. 

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July/August 2021 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.

The Kent State Massacre at 51

by Gary Gordon

For many people my age (68) the Kent State Massacre on May 4, 1970 was a pivotal moment in American history. An eye-opener. A lesson on how far the government would go to quell opposition to the Vietnam War. For those of us (like me) who would be going to college that fall, it packed the additional wallop of being a warning to campus protesters.

But as time marched on and further knowledge of history is gained, one learns Kent State, while important, was not a singular moment. Anyone familiar with the history of the labor movement, the Civil Rights movement, the Black Panthers, the American Indian Movement (AIM) and more, knows or learns the truth of Frederick Douglass’s dictum: Power concedes nothing without demand. And demand has consequences.

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Thank you supporters: WGOT is moving ahead

by Chris Lake and Debi Martinez, WGOT Board Members

Thanks to everyone who donated during the Amazing Give. 

Without donations, we wouldn’t be here, since we depend solely on listener donations and business underwriting. 

All contributions are directly invested in WGOT. There are no board members with a cushy six-figure job. In fact, there are no board members with a cushy one-digit job. WGOT raised $455 in one day through the Amazing Give and we appreciate everyone who made it possible.

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Actual, live (not virtual) Gainesville events

These are outdoor events. Mingle distantly with fellow humans. 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.)

Saturday, May 22: Celebrating Maura’s life, 2pm, Florida School of Massage

Sunday, May 23: Vintage market, noon-5pm, Cypress & Grove Brewing 
(1001 NW 4th St., across from Afternoon and Working Food)

Saturday, June 5: Bazar a La Carte, Outdoor market, 4-10pm, Seagle Building

Sunday, June 6: Bazar a La Carte, Sunday version of above, 12-5pm

Sunday, June 6: Chuck Ragan, High Dive, masks mandatory

Saturday, June 12: Artisans Guild Event, Eco-Art, 11am, at their new location, 224 NW 2nd Ave

Saturday, June 12: 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, June 12: Tommy Emmanuel, Heartwood Soundstage, 7:30 pm

It’s just cheaper to bulldoze the trees

by Homer Jack Moore

Like many rural communities, Micanopy is rimmed by rural blight. Bombed-out vacant buildings are especially prevalent at the I-75 exit. 

The only building there that was ever successfully repurposed was an old Stuckey’s store, now the Cafe Risque, an escape place for lonely men who come to be titillated by naked girls.

Yet right across town on the other side, the minions in service to the multibillion-dollar Dollar General Corporation are warming up the heavy equipment to rip up trees at the corner of an Alachua County Scenic Road, and make way for a convenience store. You would have thought that one of those already distressed properties would have been cheaper and more suitable. But, no.

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Veterans display tombstones to remember fallen soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan 

by Gainesville Veterans for Peace

Veterans for Peace will be hosting a virtual Memorial Mile this year to remember those who have died in the wars in Afghanistan since 2001 and in Iraq since 2003. The virtual commemoration can be viewed at starting on Saturday, May 29, through Memorial Day, May 31, at dusk. 

This is the 14th year that VFP has held a commemoration, as there are a continuing number of deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

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Labor Coalition, others protest Collier Companies’ illegal discrimination against tenants with vouchers

by Dmitry Podobreev, ACLC coordinator

The Alachua County Labor Coalition (ACLC) held a protest on Monday, May 3, in front of the Collier Companies offices to respond to Collier’s illegal discrimination against tenants using Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) and Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV). 

Around 30 people came to register their complaints with Collier, which owns over 11,000 housing units across the state of Florida including 21 apartment complexes in Alachua County. 

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VP Harris on George Floyd: ‘This work is long overdue’

Following is the April 20 transcript of Vice President Kamala Harris’s speech on the Minnesota guilty verdict for Derek Chauvin, followed by relevant comments by Joe Courter, Iguana publisher

VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS: Good evening. First I want to thank the jury for their service and I want to thank Mr. Floyd’s family for your steadfastness. 

Today, we feel a sigh of relief. Still, it cannot take away the pain. A measure of justice isn’t the same as equal justice. This verdict brings us a step closer, and the fact is we still have work to do.

We still must reform the system. Last summer, together with Senator Cory Booker and Representative Karen Bass, I introduced the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. This bill would hold law enforcement accountable and help build trust between law enforcement and our communities. 

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From the publisher: Looking forward

by Joe Courter

We seem to be emerging into a brighter future. The masking and distancing practices we at first felt awkward about became accepted, and now with the vaccines becoming widely available, we can start loosening up a bit, and get a sense of normalcy returning. 

Careful living vaccinated people can finally see each other’s faces and even share some well appreciated hugs. Those practices worked, as made obvious by the incredibly low flu rates during the same period. Looking forward we need to hope that our reopening won’t be compromised by the self-centered among us who won’t accept the science or the ethic of cooperation and enable the virus to continue to mutate and spread.  

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The power of local community and divesting

By Sarah Goff, Executive Director and Co-Founder of The Repurpose Project

The most wonderful and amazing thing happened during The Repurpose Project Building Expansion Fundraiser: the bank loan that we were relying on fell through. 

Sure, those first few days were not wonderful. I sat in the office after that bank phone call, completely overwhelmed with emotion and unable to hold back tears as my mind visited each and every disappointed face. 

We were 36 days into our 60-day fundraiser and had raised an astounding $115,000 of our $200,000 goal. Our community was supporting us in a major way, plus they were shopping in our store.We experienced record sales, and we were gaining confidence that we would be able to bridge a fundraising gap with this extra revenue.

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No drilling!

Burnett Oil takes steps toward oil drilling in Everglades

by Vickie Machado

The weather was warm though not sweltering in the Everglades on the afternoon of Saturday, April 10. The region was dry, about a month away from the daily afternoon thunderstorms that are a mainstay of South Florida summers. White billowing clouds hovered over 50 to 60 demonstrators gathered along the grassy shoulder of Alligator Alley, near the Collier County rest-stop in the upper-reaches of the Big Cypress Swamp. 

The crowd and the signs they carried were hard to miss on the interstate stretch connecting Fort Lauderdale to Naples. Carefully painted capitalized black lettering on the yellow, blue, and lime green fabric of banners proclaimed: “SPEAK UP FOR NATURE’S RIGHTS,” “RESPETE LOS EVERGLADES,” and, announcing the central sentiment of the protest, “DEFEND THE SACRED.” A range of other signs of various shapes, sizes, and colors read: “Speak up for Nature,” “Say NO to Burnett Oil,” “Oil and Water Don’t Mix.” South Floridians from both coasts and between converged in the middle of Big Cypress for Signs Across the Alley, a rally to protect the glades from oil drilling. 

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May-June 2021 Iguana

The May-June 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.

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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