Thursday, August 7, 2014

Drop an F-Bomb to Save a Friend

Posted By on Thu, Aug 7, 2014 at 1:18 PM

click image Drop an F-Bomb campaign is catching the attention of young people through social media and hashtags.
  • Drop an F-Bomb campaign is catching the attention of young people through social media and hashtags.

A new grass-roots campaign encourages teenagers to drop an “F-bomb” to save a friend who may be a victim of human trafficking.

The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay initiated the campaign, Drop an F-Bomb, in early June to combat sex trafficking of young people.

Although it may seem vulgar, the “F” actually stands for something positive: friendship.

“We thought about playing on a vulgarity [to turn it] into a symbol of hope. It [is also] a call of action,” said David Braughton, president and CEO of the Crisis Center. “A friend does not let these things happen to their friend. They take some action.”

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pride Issue 2014: Beyond the bars

As LGBT rights and visibility expand, so do the options for having fun (and doing good).

Posted By on Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 2:00 AM

TRUE COLORS: The Righteously Outrageous Twirling Corps (aka ROTC) strut their stuff at last year's Pride Parade. - NICK CARDELLO
  • Nick Cardello
  • TRUE COLORS: The Righteously Outrageous Twirling Corps (aka ROTC) strut their stuff at last year's Pride Parade.

There’s more to being part of the LGBT community than partying. The following organizations are among the many that offer alternatives to the local bar scene, from helping kids to playing softball to singing show tunes. Not that these groups eschew the bars; hey, one of the prime benefits of, say, playing softball, is the beer afterwards. It’s all about balance — and, in many instances, combining socializing with social service.

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tampa observes World Refugee Day

Posted By on Sat, Jun 14, 2014 at 6:24 PM

  • Flags from all around the world
Before walking into the front doors of Jefferson High school in Tampa, you could not help but be amazed by the number of anxious people lined up to enter the building where World Refugee Day was taking place last Thursday. Men, women and children had no excuse but to show off their colorful, printed or embellished cultural outfits complemented by some extravagant jewelry. Many attendees were limited in the English language but that did not make a difference as smiling was the universal language used at the event. Over thirty countries were represented by former refugees who had to flee their home countries and move into Florida due to conflicts and wars driven by religious disagreements or political feuds.

“Every four seconds, someone somewhere in the world is forced to flee their home. Every four seconds,” emphasized Jana Mason, Senior Advisor for Government Relations and External Affairs of UNHCR. “That’s probably twenty to thirty thousand people a day.”

The first thing seen at the entrance of the building was a simulation of a typical tent at a refugee camp. The tent was held together by metal rods and covered in thin white cloth, and though relatively small,  was efficiently rigged to include a kitchen, bedroom, living room, and even used to hang and dry clothes. The simulation was a perfect representation of the harsh living conditions refugees undergo.

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ask the Locals: Cheong Choi of Café Hey

Posted By on Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 2:20 PM

  • Photo by Heidi Kurpiela

Cheong Choi is the owner of Café Hey, the downtown Tampa hotbed for hipsters, politicos, crunchy vegetarians and caffeine addicts. 
Choi grew up in Tampa and graduated from H.B. Plant High School in South Tampa. He studied transportation and urban restructuring in China and Belgium before moving back home and opening a boho-esque coffee shop next door to his parents’ Asian grocery store (Oceanic Supermarket) on North Franklin Avenue.
Despite being in business for seven years, Café Hey still has an underground feel, mostly because it’s still off the grid, or as Choi puts it, “not in the prettiest neighborhood.” Still, the shop attracts a crowd morning after morning, night after night thanks to its Buddy Brew coffee, live music offerings, art shows and eclectic soup and sandwich menu. (How many coffee shops make sammies using almond butter, apricot jam, shredded jicama, vegan bacon, kimchi and sesame sunflower dust?)
Like his business, Choi is a multilayered and relatively underground figure. An avid bicyclist, he pedals to work and almost everywhere else within a five-block radius of his Tampa Heights home. (“I don’t like to leave my bubble,” Choi says.) In 2012, he riled city officials when he displayed posters that were critical of the GOP during the Republican National Convention. He further stoked the fire by adding a “99 Percent Dinner” to his menu. Part left-wing rebel and part serious boss, Choi is so beloved by his young staff that they’ve invented nicknames to describe his dual personalities: Day Cheong and Night Cheong.
“As Day Cheong I tend to be focused and very problem solving-orientated,” Choi says. “When Night Cheong shows up, he tends to say things that may or may not be offensive. He’s a lot of fun, but he’s kind of an asshole.”

The holiday food tradition he can’t shake: Christmas dinner at Yummy House. “It’s where we have our [Café Hey] Christmas [party]. We’ve got a lot of vegetarians on staff and they make sure those guys are taken care of. We go with a big group and eat family-style.”

The reason he never needs gas money: He rides his bicycle everywhere. “I’ve learned to appreciate bike lanes in Florida. I was a bit skeptical about biking at first. Florida is generally a deathtrap for cyclists, but I’ve learned to really enjoy it.”

The happy hour that lives up to its name: Cocktail hour at SideBern's. “You can walk out of there feeling pretty full and pretty happy having spent a minimal amount of money. The only problem is they won’t valet my bike.”

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Coalition of Immokalee Farm Workers picket Publix on Labor Day Weekend

Posted By on Mon, Sep 2, 2013 at 5:49 PM

WAGE OF CONSENT: Protesters urge a livable wage for tomato workers at the Gandy Publix. The grocery chain is one of the holdouts that has not agreed to pay more for the crop.
  • Alayne Unterberger
  • WAGE OF CONSENT: Protesters urge a livable wage for tomato workers at the Gandy Publix. The grocery chain is one of the holdouts that has not agreed to pay more for the crop.
The 2013 Labor Day Weekend has been more resonant than the barbecue-a-thon of previous years, as local and national organizations voiced their right to make a livable wage.

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fast food workers' wages picketed in Tampa.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 29, 2013 at 9:41 PM

Tom Filbert who is currently unemployed demonstrates for higher wages for fast food workers

Tom Filbert who is currently unemployed holds a sign in front of Wendy's showing support for higher wages for fast food workers

In what was billed in a press release as a fast food workers' strike, about 50 people marched in front of several restaurants on Fowler Ave. in Tampa on Thursday afternoon. Protesters in Boston, New York, and Chicago also staged walkouts as part of a nationwide movement attempting to bring awareness to the low wages traditionally paid employees in the fast food industry.

The rally met in front of a Wendy's Hamburgers around 4:30 p.m. on Thursday and proceeded down Fowler Avenue to three other fast food chains. The original plan was to cross the highway and wrap up at a Kentucky Fried Chicken on the other side but after more than 20 minutes of heavy rain, organizers dispersed the crowd around 5:30 p.m.

Many of those in attendance wore labor union t-shirts. Dustin Ponder, who describes himself as a rank-and-file member of the Teamsters at UPS, said the unions were there to support and educate fast food workers.


About 50 demonstrators picket in front of Long John Silvers on Fowler Avenue.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Occupy Tampa booted from area malls

Posted By on Sun, Jul 28, 2013 at 11:27 AM


A member of Occupy Tampa is detained and escorted off the International Plaza property by a Tampa police officer.

A group of approximately 30 people from Occupy Tampa were escorted from two different Bay area malls on Saturday for protesting in advocacy for the release of Bradley Manning, the 25-year-old Army private currently jailed for his alleged role in the release of classified information to the website WikiLeaks. Calling the demonstrations Flash Mobs, the group appeared at West Shore Plaza and International Plaza in Tampa. During their brief protests they wore masks with the face of Manning, handed out pamphlets denouncing arrests for whistle blowing, and recited a scripted dialog loudly, calling attention to their message from both passersby and mall security. They were escorted off of the premises by security officers at West Shore Plaza and both Tampa Police Department and security members at International Plaza.


Bradley Manning masks being donned by the protesters, this one at Westshore Plaza.

A scripted message was recited by the group, quicly gaining the attention of shoppers and security.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

The Many faces of Trayvon — images from Tampa Bay rallies this weekend

Posted By on Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 1:59 AM

Linda Paulk of Ice Cream Magazine holds portrait of Travon Martin

Linda Paulk of Ice Cream Magazine holds portrait of Travon Martin at the Justice for Trayvon rally at Tampa Federal Courthouse Saturday

Hundreds of people in the Tampa Bay area rallied this weekend wearing shirts, carrying signs and chanting, saying "We are Trayvon." Two rallies, one in St Petersburg and one in Tampa, were organized after last weeks not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial in Sanford, where Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Some in attendance were there to listen, some to lend support, and some to be heard.


This couple exemplifies much of the concern and unity expressed at Saturdays rally in downtown Tampa

Justice and Unity t Shirts_1
T- shirts were worn by some of those attending the Unity and Justice Rally at St. Petersburg Vinoy Park on Friday

On Friday a Unity and Justice rally was held in Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg under threatening skies. The tenor of the rally was peaceful as speakers challenged the multi-race audience of about 85 people to action. They suggested contacting their elected officials about the Florida Stand Your Ground law and educating themselves about public officials before getting out to vote. The event ended with a march to city hall in downtown St Petersburg.

On Saturday an estimated 400 people attended a Justice for Trayvon rally in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Tampa. Many of them expressed the same sentiment as the Friday rally, calling for a repeal of the Stand Your Ground law, federal action against George Zimmerman, and expressing a bond with the Martin family, some of whom were in attendance.

D'Aarius Robinson 12 years old

12-year-old D'Aarius Robinson is wearing hoodie and holding a bag of Skittles as a sign of solidarity with Trayvon Martin and family. He attended Friday's St Petersburg event with his mother and aunt.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Environmental Activist Bill McKibben speaks at Eckerd College's 2013 Graduation

Posted By on Tue, May 21, 2013 at 1:37 PM

Sunday, May 19, marked the Golden Anniversary of the annual Eckerd College graduation commencement in Saint Petersburg. More than 500 graduates, their families and well-wishers, the faculty and the board of trustees all gathered under a circus-styled big top for the ceremony. This year’s commencement address was delivered by Bill McKibben, a world-renowned environmental activist and educator.


McKibben has written several books on global warming and alternative energy, and is the founder of the grassroots climate movement The 350 number refers to the amount of CO2 in parts per million which is the safe upper limit on a human tolerance scale.

Scientists, including McKibben, assert that an accelerated greenhouse effect will be the outcome if 350 ppm is exceeded, and that translates directly into bizarre and erratic climate change. is behind what's considered to be the largest globally coordinated protest, with 5,200 simultaneous demonstrations in 181 countries.

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Helping those in Sandy's aftermath from afar

Posted By on Mon, Nov 5, 2012 at 3:41 PM

A pork-fueled fundraiser near Brooklyn to help those affected by Sandy.
  • @AndrewOKnowlton
  • A pork-fueled fundraiser near Brooklyn to help those affected by Sandy.
With upwards of $60 billion in damage, and over a hundred dead and counting, Hurricane Sandy's impression is deep and widespread across the Northeast.

As Floridians, hurricanes are routine. We are conditioned to it, the pace of preparation every year like clockwork. But as one New Yorker wrote me this morning, "Yes, you guys have hurricanes down there unfortunately. NYC does not, sadly."

So here are some ways people in the area are helping or can help.

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