Clearwater police officer brings bicycles to kids

A Clearwater police officer is making sure every kid at Sandy Lane Elementary has a ride to school through local donations.

Officer James Frederick Jr. is what the Clearwater Police Department likes to call a “community champion.” He brings bicycles to students in need or simply to reward their good behavior.

“It provides hope to these kids, so, by being able to give them a bike and when they’re smiling,” said Officer Frederick. “It just says for that moment in time that they won something. Someone cares about them enough to say you special, you’re being brought out in the middle of school to be given a bike.”

He receives the bikes from a local Walmart. The partnership started around Christmas time when Walmart reached out to the Clearwater Police Department to inform them that they had a few extra bikes. The Police Department took the bikes off their hands and started the program at Sandy Lane Elementary.

Some of the bikes that Walmart gave to Officer Frederick were in need of repairs. He brought them to a local bike shop to get them back into working condition.

“It’s a good partnership that I have with the school,” said Officer Frederick. “The administrators there, also Ms. Rivera, we talk often and she’s able to say, ‘Hey I have two kids that are coming in or such and such.’ Then I’m able to kind of link them up with the bikes we have.”

Not all of the bikes came from Walmart. Many have been donated by people from the Clearwater community.

As rewarding as the bike may be to a student, it seems like Officer Frederick enjoys the gift of giving just as much.

“It makes me feel great,” said Officer Frederick. “It brings me back to when I was a kid, and I remember all the little tricks I did when I got my bike, and jumping over ramps and different things like that.”

Officer Frederick thinks it would be beneficial for the youth if it could be more of an event.

“It will also be good too to have the community with us when we give out the bike,” said Officer Frederick. “The more the merrier. These kids, they are kids, and they are impressionable and sometimes being able to have the community centered around us, as police officers, as we give this bike away to the kid would be pretty cool.”

Besides attending the bike presentation, there are other ways of showing support for the program. The Clearwater Police Department says they could always use more bikes and people with the skills to repair them. Donors are welcome to bring their bikes to the station and they will be passed along to Officer Frederick.

Teaching Tampa Bay self-defense

For 18 years, Garret Brumfield prepared himself to fight off an attacker. Now, at Tampa Martial Arts and Self-Defense, he’s training others to stay safe.

His gym is located at the corner of Nebraska Avenue and Bougainvillea Avenue. He specializes in Wing Chun, a form of kung fu that focuses on redirecting an attacker’s aggression. This practice of countering and redirection allows anyone to learn it: men, women and children alike.

Brumfield began studying the style in 2008 under his sifu, or teacher, Justin Och. Now, he can add instructor to his repertoire, which hasn’t been the easiest of transitions.

“It’s tough, because like my sifu I have to make sure I’m showing them how to defend themselves,” Brumfield said. “There’s different personalities in the school, so I have to adjust to everybody’s personality to make sure that what I’m teaching them is correct and that everybody is satisfied as well.”

Unlike larger martial arts schools, Brumfield’s courses are smaller in size, allowing him to give more hands-on training and tips to his students. As a result, Brumfield has formed friendships with his students. Yan Gusinsky, who has been attending classes for over a year, built strong relationships with his peers.

“We’re definitely like a family,” Gusinsky said. “We do a lot of things outside of just the classroom atmosphere. We train together, encourage each other and push each other to be the best we can be.”

Friendships aside, students say they’re getting their money’s worth. They’ve not only seen improvements in their self-defense skills, but also in other aspects of life. Ruben Felix started three weeks ago and already has a different outlook on the challenges ahead of him.

“Life-changing, totally life-changing,” Felix said. “I’m more motivated to achieve anything in life. I feel like Wing Chun gave me a core to actually want to achieve all things in life. Aside from self-defense, I’m keeping fit, and I’m all around a more driven person because of it.”

According to Brumfield, Wing Chun is simplistic in style, so it is a great form to learn for beginners. For advanced students, Tampa Martial Arts provides an excellent environment to perfect techniques. USF student Ivan Koveni practiced the style for two years, but never competed in a tournament until joining Brumfield’s class.

“As a fighter, I’ve become a little more technical, a little more confident,” Koveni said. “Especially because last year we had to go to a tournament. It was my first one. I thought I would never be able to do one, and with the training, I’ve been able to get here, I had to transfer and muster my strengths and the qualities I needed to be able to get into that tournament.”

Learning a martial art is no easy feat, but Brumfield promises to deliver quality instruction that is applicable to the real world.

“The real nitty-gritty stuff is what you learn here in the gym. We do a lot of sparring, a lot of realistic self-defense here. You’re not going to learn it overnight, but it’s rewarding to learn Wing Chun.”

Newcomers can try out five classes for $25 or take one class free of charge.

 

3 places to visit on Tampa’s Riverwalk

Tampa’s Riverwalk now features three activities, all within steps from one another.

These activities include the family friendly Tampa Water Works Park, the repurposed fire station now restaurant Armature Works, and the Native American themed restaurant Ulele’s.

Kathy Slough, a resident of Atlanta, makes an annual trip to Tampa and  ensures the Riverwalk is always part of her trip.

“A group of us – we’ve been doing this trip for about 12 years. ” said Slough.

Many people like Slough enjoy spending time walking along the waterfront sidewalk. The air is filled with chirping birds , laughing children, and exciting  music.

“This, this is part of my lifestyle, it’s beautiful here,” Slough said. “We got the waterway, we got the public market, Ulele’s.”

Bikers can ride along the Hillsborough River and secure their bikes  at several bike racks along route. There are several docks next to the railings where people can park their boats or board the private water taxi that provides tours along the river for purchase.

Tampa Water Works Park is located along the Riverfront. Children may wear swimsuits and play inside a  gated splash zone. If children do not want to get wet, they can enjoy the nearby playground located next to the water activities. The pavilion is great for hosting parties, as the large grassy area is perfect for picnics.

People now have access to the new  Native American restaurant from the Riverwalk  by crossing a small bridge. The restaurant is named Ulele after a Native American princess. The restaurant cooks Native American inspired foods like the Native Sauté, Native Chili and Mahi Trevino. This resturant shares its name , Ulele, with one of  Tampa’s water springs.

Next to the Riverwalk area stands the repurposed fire station, that has been converted into a  series of restaurants all under the property name Armature Works. The restaurants combined  offer a  large variety of foods, from barbecue to Acai bowls. The current restaurants inside the station include: Astro Ice Cream, Butcher N Barbecue, Graze, Inside the Box, Union, Zukku, SwamiJuice, Hemingway’s, Cru Cellars, Ava, Cocktail Emporium, Imoto, and Surf and Turf. The Property  plans to add more variety to its current offerings in the near future.

In addition to restaurants  Armature Works includes a  fresh foods market, Heights Public Market and retail store AW Mercantile. The market offers guests the option to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the week. AW Mercantile is a retail shop that offers items that fall under the theme “rustic chic”. The shop is gaining popularity on social media with the hashtags “ #HPM” and “#armatureworks.”

All the shops  inside Armature Works have social media profiles, encouraging customers to share pictures of their experiences.

Couches, chairs and stools are available inside all restaurants at Armature Works for seating. There are benches, chairs and umbrellas in front of the building as well. The location also offers  life-sized chess and checker boards for family amusement. The area is also very pet-friendly and almost always A musician can be found nearby strumming tunes.

Armature Works is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays, and from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays. It opens an hour later at 8a.m. and closes at 9 p.m. on Sundays.

USF students start frozen cookie dough business

Look out cookie dough lovers there’s a frozen treat for you around the Tampa Bay area. Fro-Dough is a new creation for Florida no matter the day or the weather.

Bree Sparks, sophomore, and Cameron Austin, freshman, a couple at The University of South Florida have combined the trend of edible cookie dough and the cold sweetness of ice cream to create Fro-Dough.

“People are super excited anytime they see it, they have to do a double take because it still is a really new concept,” said Sparks, founder of Fro-Dough.

For those worried about uncooked cookie dough making you sick, do not fear. Fro-Dough is completely harmless because it is made with safe flour and a replacement for eggs. Compared to other cookie dough companies it is unique because it is frozen. Many of the flavors are actually vegan or gluten-free.

Sparks is vegan and a huge cookie dough connoisseur herself. “Edible cookie dough has been like one of our many passions, like everyone else we love to eat it straight out of the bowl,” said Sparks.

There are a variety of flavors ranging from chocolate chip, sugar cookie, cake batter, brownie batter, sweet and salty and even a mixed berry cobbler flavor.

Vegan Brownie Batter is just one of the many flavors Fro-Dough has to offer around the Tampa Bay area. Photo by Deanna Salt

“Our flavors if we don’t absolutely love them, we don’t sell them and we freeze it. Not a lot of other people freeze it and in our opinions, it just makes it so much better,” said Austin.

While Fro-Dough does not have a specific location you can try free samples at many different events throughout the Tampa Bay area.

“We do markets around Tampa Bay like right now we’re selling every week on Wednesdays and Thursdays at USF Bull Market and we also do an array of events over the weekend that you can find on our Facebook page,” said Sparks.

Sparks and Austin have come a long way from when they first started making cookie dough for fun at home.

“It was pretty lengthy cause there’s really no instructions on doing it, especially like us, where we’re selling at markets rather than starting an actual brick and mortar place,” said Sparks. “It was a bit confusing to get licensed. We had to go through the Department of Hotels and Businesses and get licensed by them; a business license. We had to get our freezer, we had to get our trailer and perfect all our recipes.”

Fro-Dough uses a commercial kitchen in South Tampa where the whole dream comes together.

“This place helped out a lot because I went in here not knowing anything and I talked to the owner. She gave me a whole list of all the things that I needed to do which was super helpful,” Sparks explained.

After recently starting this business in 2017, Sparks and Austin have a lot of hope for Fro-Dough and want to open a physical location soon. They are partnering with a local non-profit, Keys to Kindness, which they will donate all proceeds from their Kind Blast-Mixed Berry Cobbler flavor.

Keep up with Fro-Dough on their Facebook page at Frodough.co and their Instagram @fro.dough.

Pasco County Fair Association celebrates 71st annual fair

The Ferris Wheel. Photo taken by Mila Cordeiro.

Pasco County hosted its 71st annual fair in Dade City this past weekend.

The Pasco County Fair began its development in 1947, opening for the first time in 1948. The five businessmen, who created the fair came together to buy the fairgrounds. They wanted to showcase youthful talent.
 
“The five men created the Pasco County Fair Association,” said Annual Fair Chairman Tracy J. Thompson. “The association is not owned by the county. It is privately owned by the association, which people get confused about.”
There are five buildings on the fairgrounds dedicated to the original members.
To keep the fair running, there are hundreds of unpaid volunteers that work together. The board itself has 30 members who volunteer their time to help run the countywide event.
 
“It takes a village to put on the fair for seven days,” said Thompson.
Children can enjoy events such as plant showings and sales, a hog show, a steer show, art exhibits, entertainment, food, and rides from the midway.
 
This year’s entertainment included shows such as The Fearless Flores Thrill Show, Robinson’s Racing Pigs and Extreme Illusions & Escapes. As for food, you could find funnel cakes, french fries, candy apples, pizza and boiled peanuts.


“For the past 12 to 14 years, we’ve had the PRCA Rodeo,” said Thompson. “This year we’re having what’s called the Ranch Rodeo, which will be ran a little differently.”

The Ranch Rodeo will consist of a group of men that will exhibit the different competitions that make up a regular rodeo.
The fair lasts for seven days and begins its first day on Presidents Day. Since the intention is to bring the youth together, the fair accommodates its opening times for children in the area. The fair opens at 4 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.
 
This year brought sponsors such as Covanta Energy, Kim Browne Dade City, Jarrett Ford Dade City, TECO and Pepsi.
 

“The biggest thing that I want people to take away from the fair is that it’s put on by a volunteer organization,” said Thompson. “It is not related to or run by the county.”

The fairgrounds hosts other events such as Sparklebration, weddings, parties and gun shows. These events assist with the upkeep of the grounds.

Interested in volunteering? Want to discover what other events the Pasco County Fairgrounds offers? Visit their website at www.pascocountyfair.com.

The Lights Fest makes Florida debut

For the first time ever, The Lights Fest and its incredible lantern launch took to the skies in the Sunshine State.

Over the past two weekends, the worldwide festival made its first stop in Florida at the Little Everglades Ranch in Dade City. Originally starting in Utah, The Lights Fest now spans across the United States and Europe. Each location includes food, games and live performances from local artists across the globe. It is a celebration for family and friends as well as a way to find closure and peace. Event Director Tiffany Townsend believes the festival is a way to put troubling matters to bed.

“The Lights Fest is special because it allows people to have closure about certain things,” Townsend said. “What happened in Florida, last week with the school shooting. Some people have bought tickets just to get closure about that, and really that’s what the company is about; giving people closure, giving people hope, giving them a chance to say goodbye to loved ones, and to pray for their loved ones if they’re injured or whatever it may be. So, it’s just a really good chance for people to think about their lives and basically look back at the good things and pray for the not so good things.”

The company has made a conscious effort to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Guests are reminded to properly dispose of their bottles and cans. The lanterns are designed for low flight, making them easier to track down and properly throw away. Even if one is lost, the lanterns are biodegradable, allowing them to break down naturally. The Lights Fest has also adopted a “Leave No Trace” policy, promising to leave venues the way they arrived.

While the festival is an all-day event, its well-known lantern launch is the grand finale. Each guest is given his or her own lantern to decorate and design as they please. Many are encouraged to write wishes, prayers and personal goals on their lanterns. Once they are launched, it is a remarkable sight to see. Samuel Malachowski, who acts as the master of ceremonies during the lantern launch, knows what the spectacle means to its guests.

“The main attraction why people come is for the lantern launch,” Malachowski said. “Just like what people have seen in the movie Tangled, you know it’s something seriously amazing, and it can become quite spiritual and very emotional for people. So, that’s what brings people to the event, and we’re just trying to leave good vibes, a good atmosphere for everyone to hopefully leave as a better person.”

For those interested in the event, The Lights Fest is planning to make Florida a regular stop with four planned events annually. The next two dates this year will be sometime in the fall. Cities such as Jacksonville, Gainesville and Tallahassee have already pre-registered to host future events. With The Lights Fest now touching base in the Tampa Bay area, it is encouraged that people experience the event first-hand.

“It’s just a really good experience. I think everyone should do it at least once in their lifetime, just because it’s a cool thing to experience. Very spiritual. Magical.”

Tampa welcomes Bay Area Renaissance Festival

Hear ye, hear ye. The Renaissance Festival has officially made its way back to the Bay Area. This year, the festival is celebrating 39 years of existence. What started as a small get-together of Renaissance style partying and contests, evolved into what is loved by many today.

The festival opened its gates Feb. 10 and will continue to run through March 25. Operating hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every weekend, including Festival Friday on March 23. It’s located next to the Museum of Science and Industry and directly across USF.

It features 12 stages of various comedic Renaissance-themed shows, arts and crafts, roaming musicians and food that reflects both traditional and modern times.

Kiersten Lyons, a festival employee who has traveled with them for many years, expressed her excitement over the event.

“I absolutely love the fun freedom of all the different walks of life that come through here,” she said. “Anybody from the U.S. to the U.K. comes here. It’s an amazing event.”

Entertaining festival-goers this “statue” stays on his podium for most of the day. Photo taken by Yara Zayas.

Once you enter, you are immediately transported back in time. Everywhere you look you can see people dressed in Renaissance attire, speaking phrases like “huzzah” or “good morrow” and you may even see someone who will address themselves with a title of nobility, such as Lord or Lady.

“You got to get here! It’s awesome, it’s amazing to celebrate your heritage and your history,” said Lyons.

The gates have opened. #timetraveler #bayarearenfest

A post shared by Bay Area Renaissance Festival (@bayarearenfest) on

The event also features several activities that kids and adults will enjoy.

You can practice your ax throwing, try your hand at archery, ride a camel, test out your strength with a hammer game and do some bungee jumping. Also, if you know where to look, you’ll even find a mermaid cove or get a chance to have a photo taken with a unicorn.

“The mud show’s great, the jousting’s great, and they have a human chessboard,” said Lyons. “It’s absolutely wonderful. You get the best of everything around here.”

Lyons also made sure to mention how many of the people who put shows together make their living that way.

“The shows are definitely a great experience,” she said.

Festival-goers can also enjoy the shops that can be found throughout the grounds. You can find items such as swords, magic wands, hand-made mugs and art pieces from local artists all up for purchase. Prices vary with each vendor.

Most vendors and food booths accept credit and debit cards. However, you should always bring some cash. For convenience, there are ATMs available throughout the park.

The event offers seven differently themed weekends such as Pirates & Pets, Time Travelers, Shamrocks & Shenanigans, and Barbarian Brew Fest.

Travel back in time to the 16th century by visiting the Bay Area Renaissance Festival! With 12 stages of live…

Posted by Yara Zayas on Wednesday, March 7, 2018

If you’re interested in attending, tickets vary in price. Adult tickets are about $22, students with a valid ID can get in for about $18, and tickets for kids cost about $14. They also offer a military discount with proper identification.

Parking is always free for attendees, courtesy of MOSI.

Pets are also allowed inside the park after terms and conditions are met.

For more information visit the Bay Area Renaissance Festival site at http://www.bayarearenfest.com/.

Create wonderfully unique pottery at You Do the Dishes

At You Do the Dishes, guests can enjoy an array of specialty, well-made coffees while painting their potter. Photo by Sam Turke

With a cozy coffeehouse alongside an array of pottery waited to be made one’s own, at You Do the Dishes everyone can come make something that just won’t be found anywhere else.

 

The paint-your-own-pottery studio allows guests to choose any piece of pottery in the shop and hand paint it. One can find most anything from coffee mugs, to dinnerware, to animals.

The simple five step process makes things easier for everyone involved.

  1. Choose a piece
  2. Choose from a wide variety of colors
  3. Paint the piece
  4. Leave it at the studio to be glazed and fired
  5. Come back in a few days to pick up the finished product

With weekly specials running seven days a week, there is no reason not to take part in this wonderful experience. Nothing happening on a Monday? Bring the family for Family Night and enjoy a $6 flat rate per person from 7-10 p.m. During the Saturday night Friends Night special, paint for just $4/hour from 5 p.m. to close. On College Night, any student with their college ID can paint for just $6/hour from 7-10 p.m.

“We love coming to You Do the Dishes because of its practicality,” said Corie Tregoe, mother and wife. “Our first time here my husband painted a dinner plate that we still serve on two years later. We even use a bowl we painted for our dog.”

 

And not only is You Do the Dishes a pottery studio, but it is also a full-service coffee house. They serve locally roasted Buddy Brew coffee in a house brew, latte, iced latte, cappuccino, double shot of espresso and americano. They also have 11 flavors, including vanilla, chocolate, caramel, Irish cream and cinnamon. It does not stop there though. They also offer hot and cold teas, smoothies, milkshakes and more.

“This is one of my go-to study places,” said student Amber Norden. “Not only is the atmosphere so relaxing, but they offer the best vanilla lattes.”

Photo by Sam Turke

Anyone can come to study, or anyone can plan a one-of-a-kind date at You Do the Dishes.

“I actually came here on my second date with my current girlfriend,” Elijah Hudnell said. “She painted a cat to look just like mine. That same cat knocked it off of my desk and broke it. I felt horrible at first, but we look back and laugh about it now – the irony.”

The possibilities are endless. To follow all the updates on specials and get more information, You Do the Dishes is on Facebook and Instagram. Its website is www.youdothedishes.com. Its phone number is 813-975-1700, and they are located at 15357 Amberly Drive, Tampa, FL, 33647.

French bakery flourishes in downtown St. Pete

 

Streets along the Tampa Bay waterfront flood with a mixture of tropical colors. Hues of greens, blues and yellows pop against the cloudless sky on Beach Drive.

Skyscraping condos and small businesses share the small spaces between the land and the bay. The streets are littered with cars and small motorized bikes. The sun shines on shoppers eagerly entering and leaving the intricately decorated stores while strolling the sidewalks during the bright and humid afternoons.

Nestled directly in the middle of all the bustle and excitement is a taste of France.

Cassis Bakery is part of what used to be called Cassis American Brasserie. Its new name is Cassis St. Pete to avoid confusion and connect with the local culture. Cassis Bakery’s pastry chef, Katherine Williams, says the French-style restaurant is very convenient.

“Brasserie is sort of a thing in France that caters to all different times of the day,” said Williams. “Whether you want to get a cup of coffee, come in and get breakfast, or if you want to come in and have a nice dinner and a glass of wine, a brasserie caters to all that.”

Williams became the pastry chef at Cassis after her boss stepped down in January 2017. She graduated from USF with a degree in English but decided to pursue pastry at the Art Institute of Tampa after falling in love with her college hobby.

Starting at Cassis right after graduating, she now manages the entire bakery. Her responsibilities include scheduling, ordering inventory and recipe testing.

“I like to make sure we have seasonal stuff that’s fresh, Florida flavors, which we didn’t have much of before,” said Williams. “But also keeping a balance of French traditional style.”

This is the fruit tart at the Cassis Bakery on Beach Drive in St. Pete. Photo taken by Rachel Rowan.

The Cassis Bakery is a completely separate business from their savory counterpart, which is a French-American style restaurant that is one swinging door away from the quaint French bakery.

Running the kitchen is Chef Jeremy Duclut. He offers French fare such as French onion soup, braised escargot and a croque monsieur. Duclut also offers Bahn Mi sliders, fried chicken and a roasted cauliflower head. It is a menu that seems to appeal to every palette.

Not only is Cassis a region in France, it is also a food ingredient known as black currant. It carries the same flavor as a dark grape or sour blueberry. Both the bakery and restaurant carry on the Cassis namesake by including the flavor into their recipes.

Williams said that Cassis’ recent brand modernization shows that the restaurant and bakery dedicate themselves to bringing fresh flavors to the locals. At the same time, the brasserie is still dedicated to its French culinary traditions with a light American twist.

Both the bakery and the restaurant plan to remain a St. Pete staple and will continue to serve the community. Not only does Cassis love their patrons, it also loves their fellow businesses. The bakery tries to collaborate whenever possible.

Bean Garden brings new art to St. Pete

The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg unveiled a new interactive installation last month called “The Bean Garden.”

Sitting in the center of the Atchison gallery is what appears to be a sand box.  The Bean Garden is filled with 2,500 pounds of dried great northern beans surrounded in a frame of solid juniper. It took about six museum employees to pour in all of the beans.

This interactive piece was created by Allison Knowles as part of the Fluxus movement, a period of art history that the museum hasn’t addressed before. According to MFA Curator Katherine Pill, it’s exciting for the museum to be able to fill in the gap of art history to showcase an incredible female performance artist.

“It is so cool to be able to feature a woman artist, it brings a lot to this museum,” Pill said.

The Bean Garden encapsulates a lot of the ideas of the Fluxus movement.  It is uniquely situated at MFA where usually you are not allowed to touch the artwork. Fluxus asks: who deems art? It says art is for everyone,  it should be treated as such. Employees expressed that it is an interesting statement to be exploring at the museum.

MFA borrowed this exhibit from a gallery in South Florida. According to Pill, the curator of the museum, Jade Dellinger, is an incredible source for Fluxus art.

“For Allison Knowles the artist, she was interested in the nourishment and the comfort that comes from food and its ability to bring people together.” Pill said.

Guests are invited to take off their shoes, put on the socks provided and then enter the installation, with  three people allowed to enter at a time. There is a sound box at the bottom of the Bean Garden. When you walk in it, it amplifies the sound made, casting a loud crunching sound that some find entertaining. 

Employees at the museum hope that there’s even a sense of camaraderie that comes over someone when they enter the exhibit. The Bean Garden was created to showcase an important message of art, but to also be a release of energy. When people enter the Bean Garden it brings them back to a “child-like” state. This was the artist’s intentions. The artists thought it was important for people to relax and have fun. She stressed that if you can combine the beauty of art and create a fun aspect then you have completed your mission.

Museum in St. Petersburg honors black excellence

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum is an excellent place to learn about the Father of Black History Month, as well as the African-American culture in the Bay area.

“We here at the Dr. Carter G Woodson African American History Museum take delight in not only preserving, presenting but interpreting African American history,” said Terri Lipsey Scott, executive director of the museum. “We celebrate the contributions of those past, but more importantly those of our community of current.”

The museum features bits of information about Woodson, but a fact not in the museum is that Woodson was selected as the doodle for Google.

Scott continued by saying, “His popularity is growing, particularly with this generation.”

“It wasn’t until 1976 that we begin celebrating Black History Month as a result of him introducing in 1926, the study of Negro History Week,” Scott said.

The Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum is the only museum in St.Petersburg dedicated to African-American history.

According to Scott, what makes this museum different than others is its prime location.

“We’re the only museum that does not sit on sit on the pristine waterfront, but that’s nestled in a community where the rich history was in fact cultivated,” Scott said.

The museum is free to the public, but the staff kindly accepts donations.

“We take pride in being able to showcase the talented work of so many artists throughout the Bay area and beyond,” Scott said.

“The Dr. Carter G Woodson African American History Museum, in fact, hosts every six to eight weeks a new exhibit. Because of the limited space that we have here,” Scott continued, “We are prideful in order to just showcase the talented art of African American artists who have never been seen or shown anywhere else, locally, nationally, or internationally and beyond.”

Many art pieces do not get the opportunity to be showcased and are often stored away in garages. The museum provides a forum for artists to get a chance to display their art.

On Feb. 1, St. Petersburg’s City Hall held a flag ceremony honoring the Woodson flag. The flag was raised at 10 a.m., marking the beginning of Black History Month. Across the nation, the city of St. Petersburg is the only place that raises the Woodson flag on a government entity.

The museum also hosts a number of activities, such as book clubs and piano lessons.

“We’re the home of the One City Chorus,” Scott said, “Who practice here every week, and they sing songs of the Civil Rights Movement.”

In addition to the One City Chorus, the museum partners with The Florida Orchestra. Once a month, from January through April, the museum hosts one of their segments.

Previously, the grounds of the museum were the Jordan Park community. In the early 2000s, the space was renovated. Behind the museum is a Legacy Garden. It features bricks with donors’ names on them. The garden is an ongoing fundraiser for the museum.

Scott is, “Delighted that folks are embracing not only the culture of African American history, but looking back, and recognizing and in fact celebrating the individual who in fact brought it to the forefront.”

Former resident returns to changed Progress Village

Alfred Sheffield, 66, recalls his childhood in Progress Village. Courtesy of Samantha Nieto.

 

Progress Village has been a nostalgic childhood home for one resident, who remembers a better time for the neighborhood even though the area’s recent value has seemed to diminish.

Alfred Sheffield moved back to Progress Village, after living in California for over 20 years, to take care of his mother because she had Alzheimer’s. He has acquired his childhood home and remains in the old community.

Progress Village has depreciated, compared with the surrounding complexes that are now being built. It is not as spacious, nor does it look as nice as it used to because so many people have moved in over the decades.

Previously, the houses in the community were all on large lots and similarly built. Which made for more space around each residence.

“It [the village] became depressed. It doesn’t look nearly as nice as it looked many years ago when we moved into the village,” Sheffield said. “It’s kind of sad to see that, because it really was a great community at one time, but just leaves a bit to be desired now.”

Sheffield, 66, began life in Progress Village in 1960. He was nine. His family bought a house in the neighborhood when it was first being constructed.

Jeanette Abrahamsen is a communications professor at the University of South Florida. She and her advanced reporting class teamed up with WUSF to showcase stories from the long-standing community.

“People are proud of this community, but there is also just difficult things they have been through,” Abrahamsen said.

Sheffield explained that over the decades, the village experienced many financial up and downs. Families were seriously affected by disappearance of unions and many people lost their jobs.

The community was established in the late 1950’s to provide affordable housing for black members of Hillsborough County, according to the University of South Florida’s library records.

The village was developed as a model community that would offset major displacements caused by redevelopment in predominantly black neighborhoods.

It grew under the responsibility of local leaders, including C. Blythe Andrews, Cody Fowler, James Hargrett, Sr., and Perry Harvey, Sr. Amongst others, they comprised the original Board of Trustees for Progress Village, Inc.

The Sheffield family moved to Progress Village from Tampa’s Central Park. A sub-section that was an urban area with low-cost housing, which no longer exists.

“Well, I know my mother was very excited. She loved it,” Sheffield said. “I remember how enthusiastic she was about the house, and having our first house like that. It was great.”

Adjusting to the country life came easy for him and his family. They were open to their new way of life.

“I’ve never lived in an environment like that. In no time, I was away from the house and exploring the neighborhood as a 9-year-old,” Sheffield said.

During Sheffield’s time at Progress Village, he learned about life in the country and the importance of a close community.

More than fifty years after Sheffield first moved, Progress Village still stands as a viable example of cooperative neighborhood development and public enterprise.

“I wonder how my life would have been like had we not moved,” Sheffield said. “But I understand now, of course, that that move was better for us as a family.”

 

 

 

Buying local this holiday season is good for the environment and the community

As the holiday season approaches, Americans will begin to purchase more gifts and perishable goods than any other time of year. Choosing local vendors could have a positive effect on the environment, as well as the local economy.

Luckily, Tampa Bay offers lots of local shopping options that reduce buyer’s carbon footprints and benefits the area.

Sustainable produce and dairy options are offered at places like Sweetwater Organic Farm and Tampa Bay’s Farmer Market.

Buying produce, goods and meat from a high traffic supermarkets may mean that your fresh breakfast is coming from hundreds of miles away, and could of been held in storage for days.

It may also mean that Christmas gifts contributed to the global crisis of industrial pollution.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, industrial pollution is responsible for nearly 50 percent of American pollution.

Local businesses mainly hire Tampa Bay residents. These business owners are mostly locals, who contribute to the Tampa community through their consumer choices and donations.

The profits from large retailers like Walmart, don’t linger in the local economy, but go to the top of the business’s pyramid.

According to the  Andersonville Study of Retail Economics, local businesses generate 70 percent more local economic activity than large retailers.

Not only this, but supermarkets and malls get their products from over long distances. Large scale businesses burn lots of  fossil fuels through the processing, packaging and shipping of goods.

Locally sourced retailers cut out most of the shipping and transporting fuel use because the items are sourced in Tampa.

Consignment shopping is also good for the environment because it eliminates waste.

Local plants, flowers and garden decorations are available at Parkesdale Farms. Photo by Abby Baker.

“If you want to buy gift or even some groceries for yourself, places like Parkesdale here is going to give right back to Plant City,” said Parkesdale Farms consumer Josie Carlson. “You know, they give a lot to charities and all around here.”

Between Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or any other festivities around wintertime, entertaining in your home requires more than a few trips to the grocery store.

If meat and dairy is on your menu, considering local, organic farms could be healthy for you and the planet.

Buying local meat is Eco-friendly. Photo by Abby Baker at the Hay Exchange in Plant City, FL.

Farms like TrailBale farm, Chuck’s Natural Food Market and Nature’s Harvest Market offer poultry and red meat that has not been treated with unnatural chemicals and is fed a natural diet.

On top of this, large factory farms contribute to pollution and water waste.

According to the EPA, animals on American factory farms produce around 500 million tons of waste annually.

Smaller, sustainable farms offer meat that is raised in a way that doesn’t destroy the land and water it utilizes. Buying from these farms also supports the farmers that use these green tactics.

Supporting these green business owners strengthens the local economy at the most basic level, but with years of participation in local buying, big changes could be made to the U.S. economy.

“I buy most of my fruits and veggies here (Parkesdale),” said Carlson. “Really, it’s a little cheaper and I think the food tastes cleaner.”

If you’re looking for Tampa Bay shops to shop locally, these options will keep your local shopping cart full.

  • Blind Tiger Cafe in Ybor City offers an assortment of coffee and tea.
  • Penelope T is an upscale Tampa boutique that offers classy apparel and jewelry.
  • Paper Street Market in St. Petersburg offers vintage furniture and home decor.
  • Secondhand Savvys in Brandon is bursting with slightly used clothing and home goods.

Plant City businesses and churches continues to grow

In recent years, Plant City has experienced a wealth of community growth in many areas, including businesses and religious buildings.

Plant City — despite its small size — is home to more than 100 religious centers, including churches, worship centers and, since 2007, a center for Scientology.

In 2007, Plant City saw the opening of its first Dianetics and Scientology Life Improvement Center. The center opened in the heart of downtown Plant City in a historic 11,000 square foot building it purchased for over $600,000.

The grand opening included “bounce” houses, a slide, a bake sale and other activities. The grand opening also coincided with the opening of a St. Petersburg location for the Church of Scientology that same weekend. The church plans to use these two centers as examples as it works to expand to at least six more cities in the area in the years following the opening of these two centers.
Plant City has seen the juxtaposition of new churches opening near existing ones, which has redefined the architecture of the town. One new church is New Hope Worship Center, which opened New Hope @ Cornerstone in November 2016. The building was previously home to First Baptist Church of Plant City from 1923 until 1994, when the church moved to a newer, larger building. From 1994, until the opening of New Hope, the structure sat vacant.

Currently, First Baptist Church of Plant City is working on building a new, even larger, location in Plant City off of James L. Redman Parkway. The  building is expected to be completed in either December 2017 or January 2018.

Plant City has also worked hard to promote the growth of local business, and many small businesses have been born in recent years. New establishments have popped up across the street from, and even directly beside, older establishments. In addition Plant City, properties are regularly opening up for lease and rent.

Previously, a thrift shop and gun store, 1916 Irish Pub, opened in August of 2016 and recently celebrated the success of its first year in the community. Home to the winner of the 2017 Best Bartender recipient, the new business has seen a growth in clientele, advertising and partnerships with the Plant City Chamber of Commerce and other local organizations.

Similarly, establishments including Mr. Sebas, Krazy Kup and College Hunks Hauling Junk have taken over properties that previously were home to different businesses.

Mr. Sebas Ice Cream and More is a family-owned ice cream shop that opened in March 2015. The owners are the Ruiz family who also own other businesses in downtown Plant City. The family opened the ice cream shop not only to break into the food trade — but also — they say, to create a safe hangout for local teens.

Krazy Kup is a coffee shop that opened in downtown Plant City in October 2013. The two story building includes a coffee shop with pasties downstairs, a space upstairs where open mic nights are held, a conference room and an outdoor patio space in the alley. The owners of Krazy Kup , Frank Trunzo and his wife, Wenda Trunzo, dreamed of opening a coffeehouse for years and spent that time collecting the eclectic memorabilia on display at the shop.

The Plant City location of College Hunks Hauling Junk is owned by Plant City native and mayor’s son, Trent Lott. Lott grew up in Plant City, graduating from Plant City High School in 2012. He worked for College Hunks Hauling Junk, before deciding to make the jump to franchise owner. He opened his location on March 2016 at the age of 22.

Lott is also, involved in a local organization called RISE. The goal of RISE is to encourage young business men and women to stay in Plant City and promote economic growth locally, instead of commuting to nearby cities like Lakeland and Tampa. They hosts events regularly at new, upcoming businesses in Plant City to encourage not only the business owners, but also to encourage the growth of patronage at each establishment.

RISE has held events at local businesses including 1916 Irish Pub and The Corner Store. The Corner Store opened its doors in December 2007 aiming to create a local store where Plant City residents could not only enjoy some “slow food,” but also purchase ingredients. The owner and cook, Cynthia Diaz, opened The Corner Store after many trips made to other cities in search of just this sort of place. Celebrating its 10th  anniversary in Plant City next month, The Corner Store has become a fixture in downtown Plant City.

Local Tampa architect reveals unofficial Ray’s stadium design

The stadium design by Joe Toph includes a bird’s-eye view.

 

 

 

 

 

A Tampa architect has developed an unofficial visual concept for the proposed Tampa Bay Rays ballpark in Ybor City.

Joe Toph released his vision for the new stadium on SkyScraperCity.com under the username Bueller. The designs are unofficial and the Ray’s team was not involved in their creation.

“I created these for fun,” Toph said. “I just wanted to get a creative dialogue started on the potential the location has.”

Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan announced Oct. 24 that he found a site for a new baseball stadium. The 14 acre site is bordered by the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, North 15th Street, East 4th Avenue and Channelside Drive.

Locals and officials brought up one of the main issues with the location, which is parking. The lot is large enough for a baseball stadium, but there is concern that there may not be enough room on the proposed site for additional parking to be built.

However, the proximity to Ybor City and Downtown Tampa makes this site easily accessible through public transit. Toph’s plan includes the use of the trolley line, noting that it could also serve as a light rail line in the future. A possible Uber pickup lot and a water taxi marina are also included in the design.

If Toph’s vision does not pan out, and another garage cannot be built on the lot, there are other parking options. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told ABC Action News that the parking garages in Ybor City and in the downtown area are not used every night.

“The key will be to provide the linkages whether it’s a trolley or whatever to connect those garages to the stadium,” Buckhorn said.

The next hurdle for the proposed site will be finding the funding for the project.

“That’s going to be the $800 million question,” Buckhorn said.

The Rays will have to come to the table with a significant financial plan to fund the potential stadium. Mayor Buckhorn doesn’t want another stadium built on taxpayer dollars.

Raymond James Stadium is funded completely by taxpayer dollars and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lease to play in the stadium. According to Buckhorn, another stadium funded the same way would leave future generations of mayors and locals with an unpayable debt.

Tampa Bay real estate agent and Palmetto Beach resident, Laura Meyer, is looking forward to the possible development of the new stadium in such close proximity to the neighborhood she has called home for over a decade.

“A stadium in Ybor would have a huge impact on the residential community here,” Meyer said. “It’s the kind of boost the neighborhood could use to really put it on the map as a new up and coming area for Tampa.”

Palmetto Beach sits south of Ybor, west of 22nd Street and tucked on the east side of Desoto Park. Meyer says the area has a lot of potential to be another residential hot spot like Channelside and Hyde Park have become.

However, other locals are not as convinced that a stadium located in Ybor would be good move.

“I don’t know how they are going to fit a stadium onto the lot they are interested in,” Justin Cales, a student at Hillsborough Community College, said. “The traffic would just be terrible, as if it isn’t bad enough already. A stadium over here would be chaos.”

Cales has been attending HCC in Ybor for over a year. The small brick roads have taken time for him to adjust to and the idea of stadium traffic on those streets isn’t comforting.

“Ybor is great the way it is now, I don’t why we’d want to mess up a good thing,” Cales said.

Hillsborough teachers fight for promised raise

Teachers protest outside the Hillsborough County School Board meeting in downtown Tampa. The protest focused revolved around the school board’s decision to not provide a previously promised raise to qualified teachers. Photo by Justin Garcia.

Hundreds of public school teachers gathered at a recent school board meeting to demand higher pay.

Protesting teachers and supporters surrounded the Hillsborough district school board meeting off of Kennedy Avenue in downtown Tampa.  Most of the crowd was dressed in matching blue Hillsborough County Teacher’s Association shirts.  Many held signs reading ‘fair pay for fair work’ and ‘honor the contract.’

The messages on their signs referenced the school board’s recent decision to not pay the $4,000 a year wage increase promised to qualified teachers in their contracts.

“I’ve been teaching here for three years and have seen an increase to my salary of only $200,” said Britney Wegman, a teacher at Riverhills Elementary in Temple Terrace and rally organizer. “This is the year to get an increase and they’re telling me that there is no money. I’m here to stand up for other teachers in this position, I’m here to stand up for other school workers, who are, a lot of them, not making a living wage.”

Many Hillsborough teachers will be “working the contract” for the week after Thanksgiving, which means they will only work the hours that are required of them in their contract.

“It’s essentially showing the kind of work teachers do after class and before class, and what kind of impact that will have,”  Wegman said.

The school board said the money for the raise isn’t there.   Hillsborough Superintendent Jeff Eakins read from a prepared statement inside the school board meeting, “A lot of you are saying, ‘Just find the money for more raises somewhere.’  I hear you,” Eakins said.  “Here’s the issue: we’re not starting from a healthy, balanced budget. We’ve been starting way behind, every year, for several years.”

According to Eakins and the school board, state funding isn’t keeping up with Hillsborough County school growth.  Twenty years ago, the district had to add new schools and buildings due to growth and to comply with the class-size amendment.  They didn’t receive any state funding to help with the effort.

“That means right now we owe a billion dollars from new construction 20 years ago and we have a billion dollars in deferred maintenance,” Eakins said.

The school board maintains that the funding is not available because of funding decisions made at the state level.  On the same day the protest took place in Tampa, Governor Rick Scott proposed a major increase to school funding for 2018.  Earlier this year, Scott signed HB  7069, which directs more tax money to go to charter schools.

According to data from the Florida Department of Education,  the average teacher salary in Hillsborough is $49,910.

The average salary for teachers in Hillsborough county is $49,910.18 for the 2016-17 school year, according to the Florida Department of Education.

 

Along with teachers, students showed up at the school board meeting in support of their teachers.  The week before the board meeting, students began walking out of class in protest of the school board’s decision.

“I’m here to support my teachers who dedicate their lives and are completely devoted to my education.  They deserve a lot better from our school district,” said Graham Shelor, a student at Blake High School who showed up to protest with teachers. “And it’s not only them, students, staff, everyone under our public school system is very much affected by this.”

USF offers free and confidential counseling resources for students

Whether it’s on or off campus, it’s not unusual to know of a sexual violence incident. Fortunately, most college campuses offer resources for sexual violence victims who feel like they have nowhere to turn.

At USF there are free and confidential resources available to help students who have experienced sexual violence. Students also receive certain rights when attending on-campus counseling.

According to Student Eligibility and Rights of USF’s Counseling Center, “All currently registered USF students who have paid the Tampa campus student health fee are eligible for Counseling Center services. Students have a right to professional and ethical services at the Counseling Center. Students have a right to a respectful therapeutic relationship without physical, sexual, verbal, or other abuse.”

Below is a video from the USF Counseling Center website explaining what they do.

Located at SVC 2124, the USF Counseling Center has counselors who are trained to help students with whatever they are going through. Once the student fills out an application at the counseling center, he or she will be provided with an available counselor. After the student has signed up for counseling, he or she can make appointments with their counselor.

According to the USF Counseling Center website, “The Counseling Center offers comprehensive psychological services to help students navigate the challenges of college life and take advantage of opportunities for personal growth.”

The Counseling Center is available for students who are currently enrolled in classes. They offer ways for patients to solve their problems, learn new skills and new insights or perspectives on how they can cope with their issue or trauma.

As stated by the USF Counseling Center’s website, their mission is, “To promote the well being of the campus community by providing culturally sensitive counseling, consultation, prevention, and training that enhances student academic and personal success.”

Whether it be for an individual, a couple, or a group in need of help, the center offers different types of counseling. For the couples counseling, both must be registered USF students to receive the free consultation. Meanwhile, group counseling has several different groups someone can connect with.

The Counseling Center offers several types of group counseling including for LGBTQ students, for those coping with grief, for those dealing with body image, and for those in need of family counseling.

Another resource is USF’s Center for Victim Advocacy, which provides free and confidential services to USF students, faculty, and staff.

Photo from Center for Victim Advocacy website

As stated by the USF Center for Victim Advocacy, “We serve men, women, and people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expression who have experienced crime, violence or abuse on or off campus either recently or in the past.”

Photo from Center for Victim Advocacy website.

USF’s Center for Victim Advocacy attempts to empower survivors of crime, violence, or abuse by promoting the restoration of decision making, by advocating for their rights, and by offering support and resources. However, while there are counselors at USF’s Counseling Center, the Center for Victim Advocacy has advocates.

An advocate with the USF Center for Victim Advocacy is a professional who is trained to respond with compassion and expertise to the victims of crime, violence, and abuse. Which includes crisis intervention, advocacy and accompaniment, safety planning, academic and housing assistance, and nonjudgmental support to victims to help them get through the experience and regain control of their lives.

The Advocacy Center has different sources it uses to help victims who have experienced sexual violence including individual support, academic/university support, medical support, court support, reporting assistance and more. The center is there to help victims learn and understand the rights for the specific crime he or she is dealing with it.

The center provides advocates to victims for guidance every step of the way, in any way possible. The center’s website also gives information on a list of crimes which show how the advocates can explain and assist the clients with their personal experience of sexual violence.

The following is an interview provided by USF’s Counseling Center advocate Angela Candela:

“How long has the advocacy center been open?”

“For at least 10 years,” said Candela. “We’ve been open for a really long time.”

“What’s the process like when someone comes in?”

“If somebody wants our services the first step would be to schedule an appointment by walking into the office to schedule an appointment or you could call and schedule an appointment,” said Candela.  “Then you receive an intake appointment with your advocate. They will have already looked at the paper and case file that you provided for them, then they will walk you through steps on what can be done and like to do”

“How many people come in on a weekly basis? Do you guys have a certain amount or is it random?”

“Its kind of random depending on the time of year, right now its busy during fall, slows down during spring and is dead during the summer. It really varies,” said Candela.

“What advice would you give to victims who have not gotten help or have not gone to an advocacy center or have just been very silent?”

“I would say that your best resource when you have experienced some type of crime would be an advocate. An advocate is really somebody that is there in your corner, that’s what we’re there for. We’re confidential, we’re not ever going to report anything. Its okay even if you were drinking underage at the time of the crime, we’re not going to judge you. We don’t care and are not going to tell on you or anything. All we are concern about is giving help to somebody who is a victim of a crime,” Candela said. “It’s scary, it’s not always easy. It takes a lot of bravery and strength to do so in the first place, to come out and say, ‘Hey I need help.’ If they feel like they can, I think it’s an amazing option.”

Photo by Megan Holzwarth

Both USF’s Victim Advocacy Center and Counseling Center are  options that are available to students. Other options include the University Police Department (USFPD) and the Student Health Services which are available to USF students who would like to receive help.

Sexual violence can happen to students on or off campus. With this in mind, USF offers resources to students in need of a safe space. Everyone deserves to know his or her rights and what services are available for students.

Below is the full audio link with the interview with Angela Candela.

 

Lessening the environmental footprint

TradeWinds Island Grand Resort on St. Pete Beach is known for its eco-friendly presence in the community. From reusable hand towels in the restrooms to air-conditioning units that automatically turn off when a patio door is opened, the beach resort lives by the Green Lodging lifestyle.

TradeWinds employee, Jessica Leonard, is taking that to a whole new level. In June, Leonard created the TradeWinds Eco Team (TWEC).

Jessica Leonard helped create the TradeWinds Eco Team geared toward lessening TradeWinds Island Grand Resort’s environmental footprint.photo by Courtney Aurich

Leonard is an internal communications and training coordinator at the resort. She is mainly responsible for the employee culture side of Human Resources. Part of her job includes enrolling employees in the Habitat for Humanity program. She’s in charge of getting TradeWinds employees to volunteer 200 hours building a house for another employee in need. Leonard is also an active volunteer and enjoys making a difference in the community and in the environment

“I value people. I think if somebody else is in need and I have … or if I can provide for myself and someone else can’t, who am I to not help them?” said Leonard.

Leonard often gives her change to war vets begging in the street. She has picked up the tab for a homeless man at local buffet. She finds joy in helping others.

Leonard’s generosity dates back to volunteering at a local animal shelter when she was a teenager

“They always needed your parents to go and it was really hard before 16,” said Leonard. She would push her mom to come with her, just as she pushes people at work at Habitat for Humanity.

Familiar with her inspiring ways, Leonard’s co-worker, Sophie Bajack, proposed the idea of starting a beach cleanup on St. Pete Beach.

“I shut her down right away,” said Leonard. “There’s not enough trash on this beach to make a tangible result. People are going to pick up two straws, and be like, ‘why the hell did I wake up early and come out to this?’ I said no.”

She did like the eco-friendly concept, however, and the idea of helping the environment. From that, the TWEC was born.

The TWEC, as described on the organization’s Facebook page, is an organization that plans to “lessen the footprint they leave on the environment” through education, teamwork and outreach. TWEC attempts this by preserving wildlife and maintaining clean waters.

Leonard and Bajack are the founders of the TWEC with TradeWinds is the sponsor. TradeWinds provides meeting spaces, snacks and merchandise giveaways for the organization and partner, Keep Pinellas Beautiful, donates gloves, safety equipment and cleaning supplies.

“There’s food. You get a free T-shirt that says, ‘Eco Team’ on it. It’s completely free,” said Leonard.

Recently, TWEC adopted its first sea turtle nest which will hatch anywhere from 68-102 eggs. They have also created their own beach cleanup that takes place twice a month.

The first beach cleanup was June 8.

“We picked up 68.9 pounds,” said Jessica. “We had like 25 garbage bags full. It was horrifying.”

Since then, TWEC has hosted beach cleanups every second Tuesday and fourth Saturday of the month. Pickups take place from 8-11 a.m. Volunteers begin at the TradeWinds Island Grand property and end at Guy Harvey Outpost Resort. Volunteers are as young as 7 years old and any employee or community member can attend.

“Last cleanup, we found a fire extinguisher, a knife, and a rolled-up dollar bill for — it was definitely a drug-related paraphernalia. You find a lot of condoms and just weird stuff,” said Leonard.

Eco team member, Victor Cifuentes, 28, believes in “lessening footprints” on and off the beach. At the bar where he works, he cuts six-pack rings before throwing them into the trash. Cifuentes worries the plastic rings will eventually end up on the beach and hurt sea life.

“You got to respect where you live,” said Cifuentes.

 

Little League children taught to succeed off field

Bianco Berry (left) and his daughter, London. Photo by Katie Ebner

The vice president of Progress Village Little League teaches children more about life than baseball in hopes of inspiring a misunderstood community.

Progress Village was created less than 60 years ago—before the height of the civil rights movement—to give black people an affordable community to call home. Only a railroad track separated it from the Klu Klux Klan, who terrorized members of the new community.

Progress Village changed a lot over the years, but it still fights a bad reputation from its drug problems and murders that seem to be the only reasons the community makes the news.

Little League Vice President Bianco Berry, however, sees Progress Village differently than outsiders. Though he did not grow up there, the tight-knit community enjoys a rich storytelling culture, which is how he learned about its history.

“Just to hear the old stories is really, it’s almost like, you growing up, you wasn’t always here, but you always feel like you was always involved in the community,” said Berry.

Berry started volunteering with the Little League when he moved to Tampa in 2006. His passion for giving back to the community and being a positive influence for his children and the children he coaches earned him a spot on the Little League board, and eventually the title as vice president.

During his stint as vice president he coached both of his children, and even coached his daughter’s softball team when it won the district championship two years ago. His daughter, London, 11, cherishes her relationship with her dad for more than what they have accomplished on the field together.

“Many people don’t have a dad that can just tell them that, ‘oh you’re amazing, you’re worth it in life,’ so I just feel like respected that like I have someone that is there for me that can tell me that,” said London.

She credits the Little League for playing a big role in teaching children like her valuable life lessons.

“I think that kids can develop great leadership because Progress Village, we hold a lot of like activities for the children to do, just to get involved more, and also it gives the kids like new opportunities to learn something new, and to experience things off of others,” said London.

His primary focus is not winning games. It’s helping children learn how to achieve great things beyond Little League Baseball.

“We’re trying to teach you the game, trying to teach you the fundamentals, trying to teach you this is how life is,” said Berry.

As one of the league’s leaders, Berry wants players to recognize the importance of working together.

“We try to give you the tools that’s not necessary to succeed in sport but to succeed in life as well,” said Berry. “This has to be like a team organization. You got to have teamwork when you go to your job, you got to have a team, got to be able to rely on others, you try to teach them it’s not always about ‘me me me.'”

He also emphasizes the importance of giving at-risk children a positive atmosphere to learn and grow, instead of falling into bad habits.

“[We] try to teach them to be respectful of everyone, and just try to provide a safe and fun environment for them to come out and do stuff, and not have to be always in the streets, always doing something negative,” said Berry. “Try to turn something negative, and try to make them keep, keep a positive attitude.”

Bianco and London spoke to WUSF as part of its “Telling Tampa Bay Stories” radio series. Photo by Katie Ebner

Berry teaches his own children these same values. On every family vacation, he and his wife take their children to different universities wherever they visit to show their kids what they can achieve if they continue to work hard and be positive influences on others. These trips gave his daughter a new perspective, and inspired her to make a difference in others’ lives.

” … Until like a few years ago I didn’t really realize that most people don’t exactly get like I have,” said London. “[I’m] able to do stuff in life, [and] not always [be] one of those people who’s always down. I can always stay positive.”

According to Berry, both of his children exemplify the values he tries to teach Little League players, and he could not be more proud of them. His daughter talks about how she stands up for kids who get bullied at school, and how she is involved with Sisters Network—an organization that raises awareness for African-American women impacted by breast cancer. One day, she wants to be a doctor or professional athlete.

“I mean, she’s a pleasure,” said Berry about his daughter. “Both my kids are, so I’m just happy trying to do the right thing by them, make sure they can be productive citizens in life.”

Everyone’s favorite spanish retailer, Zara, has done it again. On top of it’s new arrivals comes another controversy. It’s been revealed that unpaid workers from the company’s factory hid secret messages in the clothing.

Website, Business of Fashion, reports that several factory workers in Istanbul, Turkey are slipping cries for help in the form of handwritten notes into the pockets of in-store merchandise. After shoppers began to discover unusual tags attached to or tucked into their garments, it was clear that an underground campaign from factory workers who made the pieces was brewing.

“I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it,” is just one example of the words allegedly written on the tags. Essentially, the notes are meant to put pressure on the shopper to send a message to the top that the retailer’s factory workers are going uncompensated for as long as up to three months and without severance pay.

The tags reportedly state that the workers are employed by Bravo Tekstil, one of Zara’s factories based in Istanbul. The factory, which also produces clothing for Next and Mango, allegedly closed last year following similar allegations. But this isn’t the first time Zara has been the target of its discontented Turkish employees.

After the shutdown of the manufacturing company in July 2016, workers launched an online petition demanding the mega-retailers they’d been hocking clothing for dole out their overdue pay.

It’s reported that, despite having over a year to do so, neither Zara nor Next or Mango, have been able to reach a solution to pay the some 140 workers employed by Bravo Tekstil. Not only are the clothing companies responsible for every aspect of the production of their merchandise, but they reserve the right to randomly shut down their manufacturing centers, too, which isn’t uncommon in the fast-fashion realm of the industry, but contributes to the ongoing crisis of little to zero protections for factory workers and their hard earned pay.

What’s interesting about these revelations,  is the fact that factory workers are going into the stores to disrupt the post-production process, as opposed to sewing their mission into the tags before the items hit stores. Upon hearing of this news, Refinery29 reached out to Zara for comment and was provided with the following statement from an Inditex spokesperson: “Inditex has met all of its contractual obligations to Bravo Textil and is currently working on a proposal with the local IndustriALL affiliate, Mango, and Next to establish a hardship fund for the workers affected by the fraudulent disappearance of the Bravo factory’s owner.

“This hardship fund would cover unpaid wages, notice indemnity, unused vacation, and severance payments of workers that were employed at the time of the sudden shutdown of their factory in July 2016. We are committed to finding a swift solution for all of those impacted.”