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Posts tagged ‘community’

St. Pete won’t fall victim to Sweetbay, committed to Midtown’s momentum of growth

It is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in St. Petersburg, FL, and a crowd has gathered at the Sweetbay Supermarket in the Midtown community. Community leaders and elected officials alike spoke with passion about saving the first supermarket that has come into this community since the A&P closed 31 years ago.

RepRusonThe Midtown community is a community that may have become far too used to being slighted, overlooked and forgotten, but a renaissance has begun. Economic development is sparking, and community development is burgeoning in the form of new businesses calling Midtown home. Educational institutions are making an investment here while houses are being refurbished and new ones are being built along with dollars being allocated towards helping this community grow into everything the people of Midtown believed it could be.

One key addition to this revitalization is the Sweetbay Supermarket, located on the corner of 22nd Street and 18th Avenue South. Florida State Representative Darryl Rouson said, “This is more than just a store. We took this property from drug lords. We walked around the block and there were houses here.” Rouson explained that the community decided what it needed most. They needed a grocery store.

And so, this Sweetbay Supermarket opened in 2005 after a lengthy city-led effort in which it invested $1.35 million for the construction of Tangerine Plaza and additional funds to assemble the land for the site. Many financial partners then pitched in with dollars from banking institutions along with county, state and federal funds to make this supermarket a reality.

“This Midtown store is just a number to Sweetbay corporate, but to our community, it is so much more. The city invested blood, sweat and tears and money to bring Midtown its first grocery store. Sweetbay has been a great partner in increasing vitality throughout the 22nd Street Corridor,” said Mayor Bill Foster.

MayorFosterBut, Sweetbay corporate is not talking, said the mayor, elected officials and business partners, including Urban Development Solutions Developer Larry Newsome. The company has not communicated with the business partners who have money invested in this project, nor the elected officials who have called numerous times requesting a conversation.

“Whatever resources I can bare from the State of Florida. I’ll bring here,” said Ruson. Representative Ruson was one official who publicly stated that he does feel insulted that Sweebay has not bothered contacting the community directly over the closure. Ruson expressed that he is frustrated that he doesn’t know what, if anything, it would take to keep the supermarket here. Addressing Sweetbay directly, he said, “Talk to us at the table to see about gap money.”

Pinellas County School Board member and lifelong Midtown resident Rene Flowers said, “We are a community who will work with people, and we will hold your hand and show you the way.” Flowers expressed her frustration in Sweetbay not showing any signs of being willing to work with the community.

“We will continue to have a high quality grocery store at this site in Midtown,” said Council Chair Karl Nurse. “This is about providing quality of life, community pride and jobs. If it isn’t a Sweetbay store, we will recruit and support another grocery store for our community.”

Community activist Theresa “Momma Tee” Lassiter expressed the critical need for a high quality grocery store in the community. “There are people right down this street who don’t have a vehicle. Their only choice was to buy meet from one of these meat markets that don’t keep their food at the right temperature. I’ve gone in myself and told [the store owners], ‘Either you clean this damn store, or I’m calling the health department.’”

Mamma Tee explained that she has shown people how they can walk down to Sweetbay, spend some money on groceries and take a cab home with a few dollars they have left so that they can buy all they need versus just a few things at a time, which they can carry home.

Not only is this about a community’s access to nutritious food, this also is about jobs, and this is being taken very seriously. Flowers said that the Urban League has committed to make sure the Sweetbay store employees will be able to “feed their families.” Likewise, Councilmember Wengay Newton stated that Wal-Mart has committed to helping these employees with jobs if Sweetbay does indeed close the store.

Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker also was present. Baker was the acting mayor when the plans for this Sweetbay were being made, and Foster was then on the City Council—Baker came to lend his support to this critical resource in the community and to support Mayor Foster’s efforts to save this store. Baker explained that this store is a large part in the vision he shares with Foster to have a seamless city. He explained that you cannot have a seamless city when people in one neighborhood have to take a bus to get to critical services such as a grocery store, a pharmacy, a post office.

For right now, elected officials, business partners and community members alike are simply asking that Sweetbay release the numbers and agree to a conversation to explore ways that this particular Sweetbay can remain open. The community is willing to do what it takes to keep this partnership going if possible.

Via Daphne Taylor Street. You can contact Daphne at daphnestreet@daphnestreet.com

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‘Lens’ design contract approved by St. Petersburg City Council–New Pier

The ‘Lens’ – City of St. Petersburg

Below is my Twitter feed from yesterday’s St. Petersburg City Council meeting about the Pier issue, using “Storify.”

  1. DaphneSt
    #stpete All council members vote yes on Pier resolution except for W. Newton. Motion passes.
    Thu, May 17 2012 19:24:06
  2. The ‘Lens’ design contract was therefore approved by council.
  3. DaphneSt
    #stpete Councilmember Curran “it’s easy to sign a petition-it’s difficult 2get involved” We want a project integrated in the com & downtown
    Thu, May 17 2012 19:21:18
  4. Councilmember Curran is making a case for public involvement versus criticism. She defended the ‘Lens’ design that was criticized by some in the audience as “not traditional-looking enough for downtown,” and cited the Dali Museum structure and its success and the forward-thinking design that the inverted pyramid was in its time. She also stressed that the new Pier is to be a project integrated in the community and downtown. Curran also conceded that the city needed to have done a much better job in communicating with and educating the public throughout the process, from beginning to now.
  5. DaphneSt
    #stpete Pier issue–Newton says that no one who wants to continue their political career will go against 16,000 votes. Re: #voteonthepier
    Thu, May 17 2012 19:15:22
  6. DaphneSt
    #stpete Councilmember W Newton “I’m definately not voting for this. If the people can’t vote, Wengay ain’t voting.” Tweeting on Pier meeting
    Thu, May 17 2012 19:12:02
  7. DaphneSt
    #stpete Councilmember Gerdes says he will vote to put the Pier on a public ballot if petitions meet threshold though not legally obligated
    Thu, May 17 2012 18:50:29
  8. DaphneSt
    #stpete petitions will not obligate city to bring Pier issue to popular vote by law.
    Thu, May 17 2012 18:44:37
  9. It appears that voteonthepier.org may obtain 16,000 petition signatures they are working to collect to have an opportunity for a public vote on the Pier. Based on a question by Councilmember Nurse, he was informed that legally, regardless of the number of signatures obtained, the city is not obligated to bring the issue to a public vote. Note: Most councilmembers agreed that if this number of signatures is obtained, they would make arrangements for a public vote regardless of legal requirements to do so.
  10. DaphneSt
    #stpete Councilmember Nurse- “Pier will either be torn down or it will fall down. Not even safe for garbage trucks. It’s coming down.”
    Thu, May 17 2012 18:43:20
  11. DaphneSt
    #stpete Councilmember Danner “The Pier has never been about history; it has always been about the future” Ref: Million Dollar Pier current
    Thu, May 17 2012 18:35:32
  12. DaphneSt
    #stpete Councilmember Kennedy not convinced design team is committed to project due to a contract clause that’s causing concern for $800,000
    Thu, May 17 2012 18:24:32
  13. Councilmember Kennedy expressed concerns that were also echoed in a lighter fashion by Councilmember Kornell about a particular clause allowing the architect/builder to pull out of the contract. After greater explanation, concerns were alleviated and confidence in the commitment of the architect/builder were restored.
  14. DaphneSt
    W. Newton Lens not the best idea & motion Nov vote: “I will not vote on something unless the people can vote.” Motion w/o 2nd dies. #stpete
    Thu, May 17 2012 18:17:45
  15. Councilmember Newton motioned to open the decision to allow for a public vote on the Pier and place this on the November ballot. No one on the council seconded the motion. The motion died.
  16. DaphneSt
    Lens Public presentation to be held in weeks at Coliseum St. Pete from developers. Details of event still under dev Tweeting from #stpete
    Thu, May 17 2012 18:06:13
  17. This presentation is coming too late to help gain the public trust and garner support for the ‘Lens.’ Recommend a streaming video of this presentation along with TV coverage to help reduce barriers to the information and allow for on-line questions submissions prior to the event.
  18. DaphneSt
    Seems like #stpete really should put The Pier issue up for public vote. That’s been said before, I know. Tweeting from City Council meeting
    Thu, May 17 2012 17:52:27

Philanthropy Rocks! Van Wilson supports St. Pete Free Clinic

This is a tale of caregivers, philanthropy, stewardship and rock ‘n’ roll.

Patrick, Paul and Mark Wilson

On Oct. 15, Van Wilson, a local band made up of three brothers and some others, rocked the stage at St. Petersburg’s The Local 662 to a sold-out crowd. What matters here is not the rock show, which really did rock, but who these brothers are and what their rock concert did.

The brothers three happen to be Emmy and Tony Award nominated Patrick Wilson, Fox 13 news anchor Mark Wilson and advertising mogul Paul Wilson. What the concert did was raise about $4,000 of unrestricted funds for the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. The Brown Forman Corporation donated spirits to the event to be enjoyed by the patrons and to help raise money.

Rocking Out for a Cause

The concert opened with the John Kelly Band, warming up the crowd with original tunes that seemed familiar, though I’ve never heard them before. The venue began filling up with an enthusiastic crowd that soon swelled to a tame mob — a packed house made up of community members, friends and family of the Wilson brothers and, perhaps most significantly, Patrick Wilson’s graduating class of 1991 from Shorecrest Prep.

Let the show begin! Enter Paul Wilson from behind the crowd, looking like the smooth devil he is, covering the Rolling Stones classic “Sympathy for the Devil.” The music was a walk down amnesia lane for many of us who grew up listening to Van Halen, Guns N’ Roses and even a touch of Jimmy Buffett.

Mark Wilson captivated the crowd with his masterful guitar riffs. Patrick Wilson never missed a beat, playing drums while his brother Paul Wilson played front man with larger-than-life incarnations of classic rock stars such as Mick Jagger and David Lee Roth. Yet, the majority of the songs were crooned by the Broadway veteran Patrick, never disappointing his adoring fans.

Philanthropy Is in the Blood

I’ve known the Wilson brothers since I was about 10 years old, growing up with them in the church where their mother, Mary K. Wilson, was the choir director of four choirs at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, and their dad, John Wilson, news anchor at Fox 13, was often nearby lending a hand with nearly anything for anyone.

Beyond John and Mary K. being extraordinarily talented professionals, their overarching shared attribute is that they both have hearts the size of planets. It would be alien to their nature to not give of themselves in large and small ways to their community and to people in need. They are far from pushovers, but they have a level of integrity that flows beyond honesty and manifests in stewardship and philanthropy.

Certainly this sense of stewardship and philanthropy influenced Patrick, Mark and Paul, but I believe it goes beyond that — it’s in their DNA. Paul Wilson said, “At a nascent age, my parents instilled in us a sense of giving. My mother wrote checks to the power company to pay for others — paying someone else’s power bill, someone who couldn’t afford it. My mother is altruism personified. To us, helping others was always part of our family values. My dad seldom ignored the chance to give someone a ride when their car broke down. So we get it from both sets of genes.”

The brothers have been raising money for charitable organizations through their “family reunion” concerts for a couple of years now. Mark Wilson explained that this is an opportunity for the family to get together, have fun and give back to the community.

Patrick Wilson said in a recent interview with CBS, “if you can get the common person that may just want to come out and have a good time and hear some music and give to charity — especially a very noble one like the free clinic — then we’re in good shape.”

I asked Paul why giving back is so important to him and why it is so meaningful to his family. “In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to forget how easy it can be to help others, how valuable it can be for the spirit, yours and those in need. But it is the giving that nurtures the soul and replenishes it,” he said.

How to Give Back in Your Community

Each week I write a simple column, raising awareness and celebrating the great works caregivers do in your community. This article is a call to action.

This story is all about the power of a little generosity and a lot of commitment to making communities and lives a little better and a little stronger through raising awareness and funds. Right now, our economy is putting a strain on most families and unemployment is plaguing more and more of our neighbors, making large-scale philanthropy and fundraising increasingly scarce. Yet, if we all joined together and dedicated just a few hours of our time, talent and resources, it would make a world of difference to those most in need right in your own neighborhood.

Just think of a nonprofit or a cause that means something to you, and then think of a way that you can donate talents, skills, time, resources or even money to help support that cause. If we all work together to make the change we want to see in our community, imagine what great things we could do.

For a listing of charitable organizations in your community, call 211 or visit 211tampabay.org.

PUBLISHED ARTICLE: http://largo.patch.com/articles/wilson-brothers-give-back#photo-8197554

UPDATE: Check out the upcoming concert 5/26/2012, benefitting Paws for Patriots: http://www.facebook.com/#!/vanwilsonband

SAVE BILL!

Can a community gather together and help counteract the effects of a dismal healthcare system? Friday, May 11 from 8 – 10 p.m. at Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill, St. Petersburg and the Grand Central District is going to give it a shot, hosting a fundraiser for Bill Georgiou, owner of The Burg Bar & Grill.

Why does Bill need a fundraiser? Bill needs a $25,000 operation for a condition called Achalasia that his insurance won’t pay for claiming it’s a pre-existing condition. This story sounds too familiar all across the country these days. But, maybe, just maybe with a caring community gathering together to help out a guy like Bill, a little bit of hope can go a long way.

“Bill and The Burg have been a great giving part of our community; now it’s time the community gives back,” said Kurt Donley, past president of the Grand Central District Association.

How can you take part? Here is Ferg’s official announcement:

Friday May 11th is the SAVE BILL! Fundraiser at Ferg’s. Come join us to help save Bill. He needs an operation and we can help him by drinking and eating…WAIT…we do that anyway… I’m in! $10 gets you access to the party area and a free drink and food!…AND MUSIC. Where are you going to find a deal like that and help someone in need at the same time?…So be there or be square!

Several St. Petersburg artists and businesses have donated items to be raffled and you can enjoy live music from the Hideaway Café’s John Kelly Band.

You also can make donations at the following locations:

  • The Craftsman House
  • Queenshead
  • Nitally’s
  • Beaks Old Florida
  • Neo Soul
  • The Cigar Loft
  • Central Art Supply
  • Steel City Brewhouse
  • Botega Art Gallery
  • Art Pool Gallery
  • Haslam’s Book Store
  • The Hideaway Café
  • The Burg Bar & Grill
  • Semeraros
  • Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill
  • Zen Glass
  • Christian Zvonik Glass

 

Nonprofit Org: Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay gets a thumbs up from the City

Link to Full Article here: http://saintpetersblog.com/2012/01/st-petersburg-city-council-approves-community-contribution-tax-credit-to-benefit-rebuilding-together-tampa-bay/

At the St. Petersburg City Council meeting held January 12, 2012, the council voted unanimously to approve the Community Contribution Tax Credit, allowing an additional 50 percent state tax credit for those who make contributions to the Rebuilding Together Tampa Bayorganization.

Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay (RTTB) reports that its purpose is to repair homes of those in need. And that it intends to preserve and revitalize houses and communities, in the Tampa Bay Area, assuring that low-income homeowners live in warmth, safety and independence.

It’s great to see the City of St. Petersburg support great organization such as RTTB. According to RTTB spokesman Mario Farias regarding the city approved Community Contribution Tax Credit, “We are using this to entice more corporations to donate to RTTB in their mission to rehab the homes of low income home owners. Our focus is always to help the elderly, disabled and veterans in making their homes safe, healthier and more energy efficient. RTTB is a great organization. We have some big plans for the Campbell Park area in 2012.”

Thanks Mario, and thanks to RTTB and The St. Petersburg City Council for prioritizing the rebuilding, revitalization and development of our community!

The Cardboard Stories: community theatre brings messages of hard truths about homelessness with inspiration and hope

The Pinellas County Coalition for the Homeless (PCCH) in partnership with Joyeous Productions premiered its first theatrical production, The Cardboard Stories‘ “Blissful Turmoil”, in November of 2010. The brainchild of PCCH Director of Development and Performance Evaluation George Bolden, its mission was to instill hope and inspire action, telling a story of the true faces of homelessness. A bold mission, and I must admit, from the very first show: mission accomplished!

From the Palladium Theatre in downtown St. Petersburg, the setting of the play transported us all right down the street. Down the street and just around the corner to nearby William’s Park. I was struck by the scenery, from the busses to the park benches that had armrails installed down the center to make it difficult for St. Petersburg homeless to stretch out. Then, the people started filling the stage. The homeless, police, a familiar mix.

This scene brought me back to my childhood–memories of attending church at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, right across from William’s Park. Countless interactions with the homeless who have always seemed to be a part of the park’s landscape as far back as I can remember. I remember feeling uneasy around them, watching the uneasiness of the adults around me, watching them avert their eyes, watching them take effort not to acknowledge these humans, no smiles, no hellos and not a word about them following the experience.

It’s as if they were ghosts. Some supernatural entities that we are not to mention for fear that then, if they were to be acknowledged or to come up in conversation, we would ultimately have to face our individual responsibility to do something. Something helpful. Something kind. Something outside of our familiarities.

Children learn through example, but all along, I knew this behavior was wrong. Averted eyes, speeded gates, tugging on their children’s hands to move them swiftly by. Wait!  These are people. We should smile at them. We should say hello. We should be kind. We should acknowledge humanity.

Then, the characters started to come alive on the stage, telling a profound tale of an all too common scene: a young mother who recently aged out of foster care to find herself homeless with a baby, living on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. An original stage play written by a local playwrite, Marvia Joye Watkins “Joye”brought a difficult story to her audience in a balanced fashion that wasn’t too uncomfortably hard yet moving and real.  

Blended into the story was original music brought to us by recording artist and The Cardboard Stories Music Director September Penn. Tears welled up in many eyes as the message came home to us all: Faces of Hope… what about us, we know you see us… we were displaced now we’re searching for faces of hope… For the full song, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upmf56NP87w 

Keeping it real was a primary focus of the production from day one. Several key figures responsible for shaping this production spent Labor Day weekend living as homeless persons on the streets and in shelters in St. Petersburg. They came back with an altered, realistic perspective that influenced the production. Some of the cast members were homeless themselves. The Pinellas County Coalition for the Homeless provided well-research statistics of homelessness in Pinellas County, which was integrated within the play (about 65 percent of homeless persons are women and children; less than 40 percent of homeless have issues with addictions). Theatergoers were provided with the facts and some of the realities of homelessness, yet with an overarching message of hope and inspiration.

A closing message: may we remember to at the very least acknowledge humanity. Do not invert your eyes any longer. Just take a moment and have the courage in your heart to look, smile and say, “hello.”

The Cardboard Stories is actually a series of four plays. The curtain has closed on the first, though the production is receiving invitation to take the show on the road and perform encore productions! Meanwhile, the cast and crew are back at work, producing the next in its series, “Sweet Atrocity” to be premiered in the Spring of 2011. I invite you all to stay posted by “liking” The Cardboard Stories on Facebook, and sharing this inspirational story with your family, friends, coworkers and faith-based communities.

For more information on The Cardboard Stories, please visit:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Cardboard-Stories/106224186099865

Web: http://www.thecardboardstories.com

Media (St. Petersburg Times): http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/cardboard-stories-play-about-homelessness-opens-eyes-at-palladium/1137969 

Media (Bay News 9): http://www.baynews9.com/article/news/2010/november/174292/Plays-goal:-Raise-awareness-about-homelessnesso

Slideshow (Tampabay.com): http://www.tampabay.com/specials/2010/audio_slide_shows/cardboard_stories/

Photos: http://hornphotographyanddesign.blogspot.com/2010/11/cardboard-stories.html

PSA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkWs2yYPSjE&feature=related

Promo Ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tV-PrXGxk84&feature=related

The Digital Divide: Not everyone who matters is plugged in & many messages are best relayed eyeball-to-eyeball

Sometimes low-tech is the best way to get a message out

I respect the digital divide.

Not everyone has or wants to access the web for content, networking, research, etc. And honestly, that’s okay.

Some of these unplugged people are part of your most critical audience–they may be powerful community leaders, grassroots activists and wildly popular small business owners. While I’ll admit that getting plugged-in would only expand their reach and influence, they are very effective where they are and how they operate. You must be committed to meeting them where they are to make sure you are as inclusive in your communications strategies as possible. Be certain to provide no-tech recourses and communication tools, and not just as an after-thought. Make it meaningful and tied directly to your no-tech audience.

Additionally, some content isn’t best suited for the web. Some presentations and communications strategies are best suited to kinesthetic, tactile, manipulative, in-person, eyeball-to-eyeball hands-on connections. Get creative, and make these options available. Remember that people are physical not electronic entities. They sometimes like to hold things and have person-to-person conversations and connections.

Best practices: know & meet the needs of all your public where they are. Remember that a person-to-person conversation, sharing a laugh, or catching someone’s eye as they tell a story is critical in communications.

Never substitute technology for in-person. Technology is an enhancement not a replacement.

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