In this news brief: The Humane Society of Tampa Bay has a unique way of encouraging new readers.
In this news brief: The Humane Society of Tampa Bay has a unique way of encouraging new readers.
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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.
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.”
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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.
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Voters elected incumbent Rick Kriseman to be mayor of St. Petersburg by a slim margin on Tuesday.
According to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, Kriseman won 51.64 percent of the vote. His opponent, former mayor of St. Petersburg Rick Baker, received 48.36 percent of the vote. Fewer than 2,000 votes separated the two candidates, both of whom have served time as the city’s mayor.
Kriseman campaigned with a platform that supported clean energy and LGBT equality, while openly criticizing President Donald Trump. He also emphasized his commitment to reducing crime and improving infrastructure.
Baker’s campaign also focused on reducing crime and making St. Petersburg more environmentally friendly. His campaign website’s “blueprint” also showed his desire to improve public schools, bring more jobs to the area and revitalize the downtown district.
On paper, both candidates seem to agree on most topics—but they certainly did not act like it. Baker, who was the city’s mayor from 2001 to 2010, repeatedly criticized Kriseman’s administration, blaming it for St. Pete’s “sewage crisis” which was worsened by Hurricane Irma. Kriseman called out Baker for not openly opposing Trump.
While the office is nonpartisan, political parties still play a major role. Kriseman is a Democrat and Baker is a Republican.
A columnist at the Tampa Bay Times advocated for Baker to speak publicly about Trump. For John Romano, the writer of that article, knowing a candidate’s political ideology is crucial when deciding who to vote for, and knowing whether Baker supports one of the most polarizing people in America could have swayed voters.
I am hereby barring Donald Trump from entering St. Petersburg until we fully understand the dangerous threat posed by all Trumps.
— Rick Kriseman (@Kriseman) December 8, 2015
While people criticized him for the tweet, he ultimately proved that being partisan in an increasingly politically divided nation can be advantageous.
Other Democrats won seats across the United States on Tuesday, leading one Washington Post journalist to label it the “Democratic wave.”
Democrat Rick Kriseman has been re-elected mayor of St. Petersburg. Democratic wave all over east coast.
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) November 8, 2017
Local politicians congratulated Kriseman after his victory.
— US Rep Kathy Castor (@USRepKCastor) November 8, 2017
— Bob Buckhorn (@BobBuckhorn) November 8, 2017
— CommissionerKenWelch (@Kenwelch) November 8, 2017
Kriseman won despite the fact that the Tampa Bay Times, the most popular local newspaper, endorsed Baker. The Times traditionally recommends Democrats, and some have questioned the newspaper’s motive for recommending Baker.
One local news publication questioned the newspaper’s integrity after discovering that a member of the editorial board wrote the foreword in Baker’s upcoming book.
After Kriseman won the election, he tweeted a thank you to those who supported him, and promised to uphold his campaign promises.
— Rick Kriseman (@Kriseman) November 8, 2017
Kriseman is the 53rd mayor of St. Petersburg.
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Oct. 16 marked the first of two days students from the University of South Florida would conduct interviews in Progress Village, Florida for WUSF, the school’s radio station.
Seated in a long, narrow room covered with art made by children, Linda Washington, President of the Progress Village Civic Council, spoke.
Washington told her own story.
She was born just outside of Tallahassee on Sept. 24, 1957, in a town called Quincy and moved to Progress Village in 1961. Washington still cherishes memories from her time there as a child.
Washington said one lady, the candy lady, had an impact on her life. She remembed the candy lady vividly.
“Mrs. Washington was the candy lady that lived next door to me,” Washington said. “It’s nice to have someone in the neighborhood that still provides those little sweets.”
The candy lady was a welcome sight because stores were few and far between Washington said.
“Having a candy lady next door to get a frozen cup or penny cookies, that was ideal,” Washington said.
Washington said that she was on only child for 16 years, so being able to go out in the community and play really met something to her.
Bad memories proved hard to recall but Washington shared her memory of the storm that tore through the village in the mid ’60s.
As she grew up, Washington had many ideas as to how her life would unfold.
” Well I thought was going to be a teacher for the longest because I used to play school in my bedroom,” Washington said. “So I really thought that I was going to go to college and become a school teacher.”
Washington notes the happiest moment of her life was having her daughter. Before her daughter, she married and moved away from Progress Village, to Bloomingdale, Florida. Several years later, she and her daughter returned.
“You knew almost the entire community whether it was through church, school or just, you know, activities that took place in the community,” said Washington. “I was raising a daughter and I knew that I would have a support structure with my parents living in the community.”
Washington’s return to Progress Village occurred in a way that was almost too good to be true. There was a home available.
“It was on a Christmas Eve,” Washington said. “I’ll never forget it, and that’s what started the wheels rolling, like I’m going to move back to Progress Village.”
After returning to Progress Village, Washington began attending meetings for the civic council. She said she enjoyed going, as she wished to be a part of the community. Attending regularly earned her the spot of President.
“I started going to the civic council meetings, and at that time, Mr. Kemp was the president,” Washington said. “And so, for the 2011 elections I was voted president of the civic council.”
Although she was hesitant to take on the position, because she was working full time, Washington accepted and has not looked back. Washington led the community after the storm of 2011.
“I never knew about storms like that,” Washington said. “There was a lot of devastation, and it was all material things. No loss of life.”
Washington could recall what that storm was like.
“March of 2011, we had tornadoes that hit Progress Village, and that was a lot of damage to homes,” Washington said. “I mean, it was pretty destructive because there were several tornadoes. It wasn’t just one that hit.”
In addition to making sure Progress Village recovers when tragedies occur, Washington also works to organize the town reunions.
“Every 10 years or so we have our reunion and that is unique in itself,” Washington said. “This is a community reunion, where people come back and share in the memories of what it was like living in Progress Village, and that’s always fun.”
As a leader of Progress Village, Washington credits the former president of the civic council with teaching her to successfully carry out the role.
“I have to say that, our past president, Mr. Kemp has been very influential in my life,” Washington said.
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‘Ready, aim, fire’ is a phrase that one USF student is very familiar with.
Clay shooting is one of the many activities that she enjoyed with her father before he died.
Sarah Gimbel, 20, and her dad had a very close relationship. As her parents’ only child she was always spending quality time with them. One of her family’s favorite pastimes was driving their motorcycle. Gimbel’s father was a motorcycle patrol officer for the Tampa Police Department for 20 years. On May 7, 2016 Gimbel’s father, Howard, was killed in a motorcycle accident while enjoying an off-duty ride with her mother, Tonya.
“I was in the driveway when my parents were about to leave for their motorcycle ride,” said Gimbel, “I remember telling him, ‘I will stop talking and let you guys go. I will just talk to you later! I love you!’ just a little later was when I got the call from my cousin.”
This is when her life changed forever. Gimbel shared a special relationship with her parents. She always loved having a police officer as a father. Gimbel and her friends always felt safe when her father was around.
“Sarah and her dad were very close,” said longtime friend Sarah Berry, “She always had the best experiences with him. When she was younger she truly felt that her dad was invincible.”
After the accident not only did she have to stay strong, she had to grow up fast for her mother’s sake. When her mother was in the ICU for over a week Gimbel had to make funeral arrangements for her father and sign the paperwork. She had to do all this on her parent’s behalf.
“Since my mom attended his funeral in a stretcher and by ambulance, I stepped up and gave a eulogy in front of close to 500 -700 people,” said Gimbel, “I became a stronger person because I knew that my dad deserved that. I can say today, a year and a half later, that I would have never been the person I am today without that tragic experience.”
After the outpouring support from the Tampa Police Department and the Tampa community Gimbel wanted to find a way to give back. The idea to create a memorial foundation in her father’s honor was only part of her plan.
“Competitive shooting clays is a sport my dad got me into,” said Gimbel, “We enjoyed shooting monthly tournaments together. When my father passed I was trying to think of something to do in memory of him and that’s when hosting a sporting clay shoot came to mind. It is now the most important thing to me.”
The annual shoot is an event hosted, planned and organized by Gimbel. After her first memorial shoot last year, Gimbel donated the money to a competitive youth sporting clays team for their trip to nationals.
For the other part of her plan, she was able to create a scholarship for a high school senior entering college. Her goal for the foundation is to extend the scholarship program and give more opportunities to students that have parents in law enforcement.
“Sarah is so quick to help others and she never complains,” said Berry, “she really embodies all of her dad’s great qualities. I see his humor, positivity and dedication in her.”
Gimbel also participates in other volunteer events with TPD. The annual Tampa Police Memorial 5k is one of her favorite events. Gimbel says that this is when she truly feels her father’s presence.
“It makes me so proud to be her friend,” said Berry, “I know that her father would be so proud of all her accomplishments and of the woman she has become.”
Two USF professors are trying to develop a program that will allow children to deal with their own problems anonymously.
Nathan Fisk, assistant professor of cybersecurity education in the USF College of Education, and Sriram Chellappan, associate professor in the USF department of computer science and engineering, received a grant for $498,333 from the National Science Foundation to research how to use metadata from the communications of children to provide early intervention and resources for possible problems the children might be facing. Fisk said they want to build a predictive model of distress.
“What we’re really looking to do with this particular project is talk to kids about how they prefer to be supervised, and how we can do supervision work and help guide them without violating their privacy,” Fisk said. “So we weren’t concerned as much with making another app or making an app at all that did the work of identifying cyberbullying. In some ways that’s not what we’re doing … we wanted to say we want to supervise kids, and kids kind of want supervision and guidance. They just also want privacy, and so how can we develop systems that can detect when kids are in some form of distress without violating their privacy.”
Their system will not collect message content. Instead, the two will gather metadata such as how many messages were received, what time they were received, whether or not they were replied to and other similar data points.
“We want to pick up data about the data, and then, so that way the privacy of the communication is also protected,” Chellappan said.
The idea behind the project, Fisk said, is that if someone is in trouble, their communication patterns will change predictably. Sometimes the best thing a child can have is a notification that provides resources for them to handle their problems, whether that’s notification of guidance counselors, parents, or law enforcement, or just links to web pages, Fisk said. Fisk and Chellappan want to talk to children to find out what they would prefer in a monitoring system.
“We can place into their hands the power to choose what to do and when if they have a problem,” Fisk said. “We’d like to protect their privacy, and we’d like to empower them to do what they feel are the appropriate next steps.”
The input of the children is also vital to Fisk and Chellappan because, they said, the children know better than adults what is a problem for them.
“We can’t just assume what those problems are, as we all too frequently do,” Fisk said.
For Chellappan and Fisk, this platform is all about protecting the privacy of the children.
“When people talk about cybersecurity in the past, privacy was always either you cared about it a little, or you never cared about it,” Chellappan said. “But now, privacy is becoming very, very important.”
The platform is designed to be completely anonymous, Fisk said. In addition to not collecting message content, their research will not collect phone numbers, names, or any other information that would identify the child.
“We don’t want to know anything about those things,” Fisk said. “We’re developing the platform specifically to make sure that we can’t know who they are.”
Chellappan and Fisk will collect metadata on communications from a sample size of about 1,000 middle school students. Fisk said they are looking to pull their sample from students in Pasco County, although he and Chellappan are discussing pulling from Hillsborough County as well. Fisk said the point where middle school students are in their lives made them the ideal candidates for the research.
“In middle school … you’re at a point in life where you’re starting to think about becoming an adult and being tired of being a younger kid with a lot more constraints,” Fisk said. “You can kind of see what’s going on in that adult world a little bit better, but you’re not there yet, and you’re not quite in that high school space where you have more freedoms, more access to power in the forms of jobs and cars and more easily accessible private spaces. So, you’re trapped in between those two worlds in a way that makes it harder to feel like you have any meaningful control over your own life.”
Before they get started, however, they have to lay out a lot of groundwork. They must develop the monitoring platform and the research platform, two separate applications. They also have to get approval from multiple layers of the International Review Board and gain parental permission for children participating in the study.
“It’s a long road,” Chellappan said. “It’s a very, very long road, and I only wish there were 48 hours in a day.”
Fisk said he would like to see this research platform be developed for use in social science spaces as a broader platform for any social scientist who wants to do research using metadata collection and survey analysis. He sees the potential for both platforms beyond this study. However, he said, their platform will never replace a child’s relationship with responsible adults to solve problems.
“At the end of the day … nothing is ever going to replace a strong, well-meaning relationship with trusted adults in the forms of parents and teachers who are going to be able to identify kids who are facing some kind of distress or abuse, but ideally this will be one more mechanism that will provide kids with a little bit more power when it comes to managing their own problems,” Fisk said.
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The Dr. Walter Smith Library is a two-building, former residential home managed by Dr. Walter Smith, where students of all ages can go to study and learn.
“Each day I saw the children playing in the streets after school with no place to go,” said Smith. “I decided I’d like to do something that would make a difference so they could have some place to come in, read and learn some things they didn’t know.”
The library was once Smith’s parent’s home before they died. He continues his parent’s legacy by welcoming and educating the community.
Walking into the library for the first time feels more like stepping into a museum. The library’s building one holds a variety of magazines and books on math, science and history.
There is a computer room with an exhibit of famous African-American astronauts—Robert Henry Lawrence and Dr. Mae Jemison. The exhibit hangs over a collection of dinosaur skulls that Smith has collected over the years.
“If you want to study biology, chemistry and physics [at the library], then you have what it takes to study it,” said Smith. “There’s the periodic table, too, on the wall.”
The library also has a collection of African-American art and sculptures that Smith obtained during the years he lived in Africa. During his time there, Smith was appointed senior fullbright scholar at the University of Malawi.
Building two of the library holds more books and magazines on Africa and African-American history, such as the national bestseller, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”.
There is a room filled with photos of Smith’s heroes: former President Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.
Nearby the dinosaur collection is an exhibit of the human body that hangs over the computers, where students can do their homework.
Smith was born in Tampa in 1935. He grew up in Cairo, Georgia; Tallahassee and Harlem.
Smith received his associate’s degree from Gibb’s Junior College. He then received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in leadership from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.
He later became FAMU’s seventh president. After completing his master’s, Smith received his doctoral degree in higher education from Florida State University.
“It’s not all just sitting down at a computer,” said Smith. “You’ve got to read, you’ve got to do research, you’ve got to talk, you’ve got to travel. You put all that together and you grow.”
For Smith, it’s important that young people know their history. One can expect a short history quiz when they come in the library and meet him for the first time.
“Education is very important,” Smith said. “We need to start educating our young people in our homes. Far too many parents don’t take the time to read the books.”
In honor of his mother, Smith has an area within the library that exhibits a dress she handmade for his retirement party. She was always proud of his achievements, he said.
“I told my mother I would never sell this property,” Smith said. “I bought the facility and began to make it like we wanted and care for young people. God works in mysterious ways.”
Smith has been given over 100 awards since his early adulthood.
He received the Soaring Eagle Award in 2003 for his lifetime contributions to American community colleges. Other awards relate to his outstanding professional achievement and work within both the Tampa and Tallahassee communities.
Smith’s library is located on 905 North Albany Ave. and is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
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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).
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.
Sand and gravel are mined all over the world and used to create concrete for the structures and streets humans take advantage of every day. Manufacturing concrete is not the only thing sand and gravel are mined for and because of the continuously rising demand for sand, the world is beginning to run out.
An article by David Owen for The New Yorker states a beach volleyball tournament held in Toronto imported 35 semitruck loads of sand. In addition to the reporters eyewitness account, he also cites a study done in March 2014 by the U.N. Environmental Programme’s (UNEP) Global Environmental Alert Service regarding the fact that Earth is losing sand faster than the environment can naturally produce more.
“Globally, between 47 and 59 billion tons of material is mined every year, of which sand and gravel … account for both the largest share (from 68-85 percent) and the fastest extraction increase,” the UNEP study said. “Surprisingly, although more sand and gravel are mined than any other material, reliable data on their extraction in certain developed countries are available only for recent years. The absence of global data on aggregates mining makes environmental assessment very difficult and has contributed to the lack of awareness about this issue.”
The world’s demand for sand and gravel in construction projects is rising as humans construct roads and buildings while working to replenishing shorelines. Alone, China constructed approximately 90,968 miles of roadways in 2013.
“[C]ement demand by China has increased exponentially by 437.5 percent in 20 years, while use in the rest of the world increased by 59.8 percent. Each Chinese citizen is currently using 6.6 times more cement than a U.S. citizen,” the UNEP study said.
The study goes on to note that sand, once mined and extracted from land quarries, riverbeds and streams is now mined and extracted from the ocean and coastlands. Resources from inland areas are declining due to the over mining.
However, sand is still extracted from these areas. This is due in part to the lack of legislation regarding mining of sand and gravel. What follows is an excerpt from ThreeIssues.sdsu.edu which states U.S. law.
“Sandmining from streambeds in the U.S. is regulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 33, Chapter 26, Subchapter IV, Section 1344: Permits for dredged or fill material),” it said. “Under this legislation, the government is authorized to deny or restrict the specification of any defined area as a disposal site, whenever it is determined, after notice and opportunity for public hearings, that the discharge of dredged or fill materials into such area will have an unacceptable adverse effect on municipal water supplies, shellfish beds and fishery areas (including spawning and breeding areas), wildlife, or recreational areas.”
The entirety of the law can be found here. The law shows that the U.S. is able to issue permits, however, there is no definite law stating punishment for over mining or making any areas illegal to mine from.
Another reason sand is still extracted from areas that are beginning to run low is that certain projects require specific types of sand and gravel.
“For concrete, in-stream gravel requires less processing and produces high-quality material, while marine aggregate needs to be thoroughly washed to remove salt,” the UNEP study said. “If the sodium is not removed from marine aggregate, a structure built with it might collapse after few decades due to corrosion of its metal structures. Most sand from deserts cannot be used for concrete and land reclaiming, as the wind erosion process forms round grains that do not bind well.”
If more strict laws are not put in place around the world, it is possible the Earth could run out of sand in the future. UNEP suggests that a lack of monitoring and regulating leads to over mining and a great deal of damage to the environment.
Over mining of sand and gravel is also drastically affecting marine life.
“The mining of aggregates in rivers has led to severe damage to river basins, including pollution and changes in levels of pH,” the UNEP study said. “Removing sediment from rivers causes the river to cut its channel through the bed of the valley floor (or channel incision) both upstream and downstream of the extraction site. This leads to coarsening of bed material and lateral channel instability. It can change the riverbed itself.”
Although this issue is one that is not widely known, it is staring to garner attention as popular news sites report on it.
The entirety of the UNEP Global Environmental Alert Service’s study can be found here.