December 12 - December 18, 2013
Freedom fighter, prisoner, moral compass and South Africa’s symbol of the struggle against racial oppression.
That was Nelson Mandela, who emerged from prison after 27 years to lead his country out of decades of apartheid.
He died Thursday night, Dec. 5th at age 95.
His message of reconciliation, not vengeance, inspired the world after he negotiated a peaceful end to segregation and urged forgiveness for the white government that imprisoned him.
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison,” Mandela said after he was freed in 1990.
Mandela, a former president, battled health issues in recent years, including a recurring lung infection that led to numerous hospitalizations.
Despite rare public appearances, he held a special place in the consciousness of the nation and the world.
Nelson Mandela was lauded as a “giant of history” and “one of the greatest leaders of our time” as tens of thousands cheered and almost 100 world leaders paid tribute to the anti-apartheid icon at a memorial service Tuesday.
“His struggle was your struggle. His triumph was your triumph. Your dignity and hope found expression in his life, and your freedom, your democracy is his cherished legacy,” Obama told the crowd at the 95,000-capacity stadium in Soweto. “The world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us.”
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described Mandela as “one of the greatest leaders of our time.”
He added: “South Africa has lost a hero, we have lost a father, the world has lost a beloved friend and mentor. Nelson Mandela showed us the way with a heart larger than this stadium.”
President Mandela was a testament to the strength of the human spirit. We stand on his shoulders and the shoulders of all those who lifted their voices to help perfect our world.
We will never forget to remember President Nelson Mandela’s legacy by continuing to do the work every day fighting for the empowerment of a nation to achieve equal rights, educationally, economically and politically, now and for future generations.
NEIGHBORS HOST COMMUNITY CONVENING AROUND CENTRAL-COCOANUT PLACE-BASED INITIATIVE
SARASOTA, FLORIDA - On December 4, neighbors of Central-Cocoanut hosted a gathering of people from various community organizations to discuss the place-based initiative that has been established in Sarasota through Sarasota Community Studio.
This place-based initiative involves comprehensive community change efforts that begin with the Central-Cocoanut neighborhood as a means of transforming the broader community. With a focus on the 47 blocks and 2100 residents who live in the area between 10th Street and Dr. MLK Way / Route 41 and the railroad tracks east of Central Avenue, it is an initiative with the goal of bringing about the thriving of all 500 kids in the neighborhood and the neighborhood as a whole. In so doing, it aims to bring about the transformation of the broader community as well.
Neighborkids were not only a focus of the community convening on December 4, but also active contributors and co-hosts. Prior to the meeting, Kyni Brantley (age 7), Taniya Hayes (age 8), Mia Frankel (age 9), Tatiana Johnson (age 10) and Craig Jones (age 11) prepared drawings of the neighborhood to share at the gathering as a way of communicating their perspective on the neighborhood. Mia also wrote the nametags and staffed the sign-in table. Landon Frankel (age 5) and Talia Peterson (age 9) welcomed participants upon arrival, and Quinlan Peterson (age 12) provided introductory remarks and served as the videographer of the event. Tracy Green and Ladis Colon, who are adult neighbors of Central-Cocoanut, assisted neighborkids in sharing their perspectives and contributing throughout the gathering.
Those participating in the convening from the broader community included staff and administrators from: Healthy Start, Early Learning Coalition, Sarasota County Libraries, Robert L. Taylor Center, YMCA, Girl Scouts, Florida Center, Newtown/North Sarasota Redevelopment, Suncoast Community Capital, Sarasota Parks Department, Sarasota County Neighborhoods Department, Sarasota Police Department, Department of Children and Families, Department of Juvenile Justice, and Sarasota Housing Authority, along with the city manager and the editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Allison Pinto and Tim Dutton, residents of Central-Cocoanut and co-executive directors of Sarasota Community Studio, provided an overview of Place-Based Initiatives and the efforts that have been growing in Central-Cocoanut.
Place-based initiatives are designed to bring about the overall thriving of all individuals and families in a designated neighborhood or geographically-defined community by ensuring that resources are relevant, sufficient, high-quality and well-connected, in order to improve physical, social and economic conditions. There is an emphasis on the role of residents in the change process, and the critical importance of community-building in addition to programs/services, policy/systems coordination, and data/evaluation to bring about comprehensive well-being.
Although many people in Sarasota are unfamiliar with place-based initiatives as a powerful approach to community change, these initiatives have been occurring in dozens of cities around the country over the past twenty years. In 2010, researchers associated with the Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change reported that the total philanthropic investment by that time was over ten billion dollars. Several federal place-based initiatives recently have been established as well, including Promise Neighborhoods / Promise Zones, Choice Neighborhoods, and the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation, patterned after Harlem Children’s Zone and other place-based efforts.
The most promising examples today are referred to as “next-generation” place-based initiatives. These efforts build upon lessons learned since the 1990’s, with greater attention paid to issues such as: following the lead of residents as primary changemakers, addressing community power imbalances, promoting economic improvements without causing gentrification that forces current neighbors out due to rising housing costs and cultural annihilation, and integrating place-based change with broad-scale systems reform.
What is happening in Central-Cocoanut through Sarasota Community Studio is an example of a next-generation place-based initiative. It focuses on signs of thriving in terms of all children who live in the neighborhood being: happy and emotionally grounded, in loving relationships, learning, and contributing --- in a neighborhood where community well-being is reflected in: housing, economics, social justice and the overall vibe. The Central-Cocoanut place-based initiative is cutting edge because it focuses on the process of self-organizing for community change, with residents as the ones who are initiating and leading the change efforts rather than local institutions such as schools, governmental agencies, or philanthropic foundations. It is also innovative because it follows the lead of “neighborkids,” (kids who take seriously their identity as neighbors), who are recognized as talented community changemakers due to their natural inclination to be curious, playful, social, joyful, story-telling, and boundary-crossing – the essential qualities of social innovators.
In January 2013, Sarasota Community Studio was established in response to four years of tremendous community-building by Central-Cocoanut neighborkids. Kids’ contributions have included: neighborhood scavenger hunting (a child-led approach to asset-mapping), hosting neighborhood celebrations, leading neighborhood responses to crises, restoring a neighborhood park, and re-establishing the Sarasota Beach Caravan. These contributions already are leading to innovations in programs/services, community data, and systems coordination as well.
Since January 2013, residents of Central-Cocoanut have been teaming up with neighborkids to create a state of readiness for the place-based initiative. This has involved: developing a neighborhood data profile, launching neighborhood reading and housing initiatives, speaking out for social justice, hosting celebrations for the sake of continued community-building, and establishing a “neighborkid talent squad” to strengthen home-neighborhood-school connections for the sake of children’s learning.
Now the broader community is invited to “get ready” for the Central-Cocoanut place-based initiative as well. This invitation is extended to everyone who is involved in the local community through a group or organization whose mission and efforts may contribute to or affect the lives of children in Central-Cocoanut.
For details about how your group or organization can develop a state of readiness, please contact Sarasota Community Studio at 941.952.3197 or studio@SRQstudio.org.