Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Celery Fields Grand Opening, Tues. May 3

The Grand Opening of the Celery Fields is finally here. Come out and race on Tuesday. Click on the image to enlarge:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day 2011

For Earth Day, a pointer to a decent article in Wikipedia about alternatives to fossil fuel. More clearly than ever, we see that there are ample sources of energy available to us - from sun, wind, water, algae, vanadium reflux batteries, hydrogen fuel cells and more. If we choose to pollute with a finite, increasingly expensive resource that has limitless political and economic implications, let's at least be clear that this is now a choice, and no longer a matter of necessity.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Pulitzer Earned and Deserved

When you read a story by Paige St. John, who has been unearthing reams of data about the insurance industry's dubious business practices in Florida, you realize you're in the presence of a journalist who's extremely smart, persevering, and who has thoroughly done her homework.

Congratulations to St. John and to the Herald Tribune for her Pulitzer.

If the paper can get over its justifiable glee, it should do a detailed overview showing what St. John's work has revealed, not simply about this specific industry, but about the context and environment in which big business is conducted in Florida. Here's a story by St. John from only a few days ago, showing how receptive the highest levels of state government to egregious ways the insurers have perfected of taking Floridians to the cleaners.

And the most important thing is, what's next. If the paper manages to hang on to this reporter, it should back broader and deeper investigations that will expose a climate of corrupt or non-existent regulation that the current crew in Tallahassee is happy to support and expand.

The recognition of Paige St. John's work is best honored in its continuation.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Sarasota, FL: To celebrate Fair Housing Month, Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota are announcing a community wide process to increase fair housing opportunity throughout Sarasota. Affirmatively furthering fair housing is a Federal requirement for counties and municipalities receiving affordable housing and community development block grant funding and an obligation of local governments.

The main tool that local governments use to enhance fair housing opportunity is fair housing planning. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development requires that all communities that receiving Community Development Block Grants submit an Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice (AI). The AI requires extensive public outreach, an analysis of local government regulations and community housing patterns to define an action plan to increase fair housing education and opportunity. The plan will not only detail existing impediments to fair housing, but, most importantly, provide the community with specific strategies to improve fair housing opportunity.

Over the next nine months, the Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD) will facilitate a public discussion on fair housing impediments and solutions in our community. The Office of Housing and Community Development is a joint City/County office that administers Federal and State affordable housing and community developments grants throughout Sarasota County.

The initial step to a full analysis is fair housing testing in our community. The results of these tests are then used as a baseline to determine types of fair housing training that should be offered to our community and how to best measure the long-term success of the training. The next fair housing training offered by the Office of Housing and Community Development will be in July 2011. The dates and locations of this training will be announced in the near future.

To learn more about the importance of fair housing opportunity in our community, please contact Debra Figueroa Debra. Community Development Manager,941-951-3640 ext. 3762

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Community Garden Open House in Englewood

"Gardening Together-Growing Community" Open House at Englewood Community Garden

As many enjoyed a session on community gardens in Civics 101, this news from the Friends of Englewood Community Gardensmight be of interest:
Everyone is invited to attend the "Gardening Together-Growing Community" Open House at the new Englewood Community Garden (ECG) on Tuesday, April 19th from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The garden is located at Buchan Airport Community Park on Old Englewood Road next to the Englewood Center for Sustainability (EC4S) and will officially open for planting in October. At the Open House that evening, full or part time residents of Sarasota County will have the opportunity to reserve a small parcel of land, for a nominal fee, for use as a vegetable garden. Reservations are on a first come/first served basis and a check must be submitted to rent a parcel for the fall planting. At the Open House, representatives from the Sarasota County Extension Service, the EC4S, Elsie Quirk Library, Friends of Sarasota County Parks(FOSCP) as well organic gardeners Jocelyn Hoch and Forrest Shafer from The Open Studio, will be available to answer questions about the garden (ECG), organic gardening and gardening resources. Light refreshments will be served and door prizes awarded.

For more information contact the Englewood Garden Committee at englewoodcommunitygarden@gmail.com or call the Englewood CRA office at 941-473-9795.

Additional information about the garden can be found on the EC4S website.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sheriff Tom Knight Issues Annual Report for 2010

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has published its 2010 Annual Report. The publication, available in print and online, recognizes agency-wide milestones and achievements in 2010, Sheriff Tom Knight’s second year in office.

In addition to providing an overview of crime statistics, the annual budget and accreditation, the annual report provides insight into the people that propel the agency forward and their professional achievements. More...

Click on the link above to view the report as a .pdf file.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Water is not everywhere

A significant element of what we covered in Civics 101 had to do with resources and the husbanding thereof. The costs and energy associated with getting water to our sinks and dish washers were noted and notable.

Fresh Air's Terry Gross interviews a water expert here:

Currently, one out of six gallons of water acquired, treated and pumped by water utilities in the U.S. leaks back into the ground before it can be used by a home or business. This, says Charles Fishman in his new book, The Big Thirst, will change — but only if technology at water utility companies starts to improve.

"The average U.S. home pays an average of $34 a month. So our always-on, unlimited, almost universally reliably safe water costs us about $1 a day. Our water bill is less than half what our cable TV bill or our cell phone bill is. So cities are starved for financial resources and water utilities are often in terrible shape. In Philadelphia, there are 3,300 miles of water mains in the city, and they replace 20 miles a year. They're on 160-year replacement cycles. One of the officials from the Philadelphia water utility said to me, 'We want to make sure we get the 20 miles right.' That's not a question of money, it's a question of public resistance to digging up streets."

Conserving space and energy via smart grid tech

Recently a hot topic: Smart Grids - using energy with intelligence - storing and conserving it, "banking" it, instead of sending excess supplies into the ground, as seems to be the current practice.

Recently a New York architect offered an example of the kind of thinking that goes this way:
New York City has a lot of kids and precious few places where they can play outdoors and actually be kids (unless they're in private school!). New York architect Andrew Burdick's solution: Instead of building new fields, which would sap major time and money, extend the number of hours existing ones can be used.
To do that, Burdick, a finalist in the Philips Livable Cities Awardsand a staffer at Ennead Architects (formerly Polshek Partnership), proposes throwing up “smart-grid” solar- and wind-powered LED lights that'd allow kids and recreational sports teams to play in a safely lit space well into the night.. . .
Most field lights are huge purse and energy drains, so cities have little incentive to switch them on past dusk. Burdick's antenna-like fixtures include wind turbines and solar arrays that would feed energy to the grid during the day. At night, the fixtures would draw power directly from the grid, but because they're LEDs, they'd suck less juice than your average field light (often metal halide). All told, Burdick reckons that the lights would generate more power than they consume, resulting in a net gain for the city.

Monday, April 4, 2011

County ranked #4 in State for Health

CaduceusReport released on Sarasota County health ranking

Sarasota ranked fourth of the 67 counties in Florida, in overall rankings. Collier was #1, followed by Seminole and St. Johns.

From the report:
We examine mortality (or death) data to find out how long people live. More specifically, we measure what are known as premature deaths (deaths before age 75).

Morbidity is the term that refers to how healthy people feel while alive. Specifically, we report on the measures of their health-related quality of life (their overall health, their physical health, their mental health) and we also look at birth outcomes (in this case, babies born with a low birthweight).
Overall Florida State Map here. More about the approach here.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin released the 2011 County Health Ranking report. The first report that ranks counties nationwide on health outcomes and health behaviors was published last year. This year's report is available for viewing on www.countyhealthrankings.org. (MORE)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Role for Civics in future projections

What is the role of civics in a scenario like that painted by Richard Florida? He has a new book, called The Great Reset:

In The Great Reset, bestselling author and economic development expert Richard Florida provides an engaging and sweeping examination of these previous economic epochs, or “resets.” . . . Florida identifies the patterns that will drive the next Great Reset and transform virtually every aspect of our lives—from how and where we live, to how we work, to how we invest in individuals and infrastructure, to how we shape our cities and regions. Florida shows how these forces, when combined, will spur a fresh era of growth and prosperity, define a new geography of progress, and create surprising opportunities for all of us. Among these forces will be

  • new patterns of consumption, and new attitudes toward ownership that are less centered on houses and cars
  • the transformation of millions of service jobs into middle class careers that engage workers as a source of innovation
  • new forms of infrastructure that speed the movement of people, goods, and ideas
  • a radically altered and much denser economic landscape organized around “megaregions” that will drive the development of new industries, new jobs, and a whole new way of life More here...