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MAY - JUNE 2014




YOU’VE YOU’VE SEENSEEN THE COMMERCIAL. THE COMMERCIAL. YOU’VE YOU’VE SPOTTED SPOTTED THE THE BILLBOARDS. BILLBOARDS. YOU’VE YOU’VE READREAD THE ADS. THE ADS. BUT HOW BUT HOW EXACTLY EXACTLY IS IS LAKELAND LAKELAND REGIONAL REGIONAL MEDICAL MEDICAL CENTER’S CENTER’S ER DIFFERENT? ER DIFFERENT? The entire TheERentire experience ER experience is different. is different. That’s how. That’s From how. theFrom minute the you minute come youthrough come through the doorstheand doors and are seenare by seen a registered by a registered nurse and nurse assessed and assessed by a doctor by aindoctor less than in less 20 than minutes 20 minutes on average, on average, you’ll seeyou’ll see firsthandfirsthand just how just different how different things are. things are. LakelandLakeland RegionalRegional Medical Medical Center isCenter Polk County’s is Polk County’s only state-designated only state-designated Level II Trauma Level II Center. Trauma More Center. More than 95% than of our 95% 62ofemergency our 62 emergency medicinemedicine physicians physicians are Board are certified Board or certified Boardor eligible Boardand eligible all 10 and of our all 10 of our pediatricpediatric physicians physicians are Board arecertified. Board certified. Our emergency Our emergency department department now usesnow a pod usesconcept a pod concept to group to group patient beds patient together beds together with a dedicated with a dedicated team of physicians team of physicians and nurses andtreating nursessome treating of the some area’s of the toughest area’s toughest emergency emergency cases. cases. LakelandLakeland RegionalRegional Medical Medical Center isCenter a not-for-profit is a not-for-profit healthcare healthcare facility that facility has that served hasLakeland served Lakeland and the and the surrounding surrounding communities communities for almost for100 almost years. 100More years. than More justthan a hospital, just a hospital, LakelandLakeland RegionalRegional Medical Medical Center isCenter ready to is serve ready any to serve medical any need medical youneed may you have. may have.

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Eleven Polk County locations to serve you Lakeland-Lake Gibson 6625 US 98 North (863) 858-3866 Lake Wales 126 Hwy. 60 W. (863) 676-6515

Lakeland Combee 1225 N. Combee Rd. (863) 665-3111

Lakeland North 1409 N. Florida Ave. (863) 682-8107

Frostproof Ft. Meade 500 N. Scenic Hwy. 1401 Hwy. 17 N. (863) 635-2645 (863) 285-9757

Lakeland Christina 6100 S. Florida Ave. (863) 646-2921

Auburndale 521 Hughes Rd. (863) 967-6602

Eagle Lake 1515 Hwy. 17 S. (863) 294-7749

Haines City 35495 Hwy. 27 (863) 422-3144 1350 N. Broadway (US 98) Bartow (863) 533-1611

3627 S. Florida Ave. | Lakeland, FL 33803 BE SURE TO LIKE US ON FACEBOOK TO RECEIVE EXCLUSIVE SPECIALS...FACEBOOK.COM/TRUEMDMEDSPA The patient and any other person responsible for payment has a right to refuse to pay, cancel payment or be reimbursed for payment for any other service, examination or treatment that is performed as a result of and within 72 hours of responding to the advertisement for the free, discounted fee or reduced fee service, examination or treatment. Limit one coupon per customer per visit. Coupons and special offers cannot be combined. Copyright 2014, True MD. All rights reserved.

LAKELAND 3240 S. FLORIDA AVE :: STE 101 863.644.7337 WINTER HAVEN 550 POPE AVE NW :: STE 200 863.299.2630 We accept most major medical insurances as well as HMOs and Medicaid.






26 MAY - JUNE 2014







This one may go down as one of our favorite shoots of all time. It was one of those instances where everything fell into place, our team jelled, and the environment was electric. We all knew something special was being created in our makeshift basement studio. It was a long day, perhaps eight hours or so start to finish, yet I know we all felt the result, as well as the process itself, was worth it. Lovely Bea was styled by Courtney Philpot. Hair by Joshua Vasquez. Photography by Penny & Finn. See more on page 96.

The Club at Eaglebrooke gratefully acknowledges the 2014 sponsors of the Paul D. McDonald Greater Lakeland Two-Man Amateur Team Championship. We are proud to support this year’s recipient of the event, the American Cancer Society, and its ongoing efforts to fight breast cancer.

Bright House Networks Jefferson-Allsopp, Inc. McDonald Construction Corporation Ring Power Corporation



The Eaglebrooke Club at Eaglebrooke is open to the public. Eaglebrooke Please visit us for a round of championship golf or a fine dining experience in our beautiful restaurant overlooking the 18th fairway. For more information, please call 863-701-0101 or visit our website at



The Club at Eaglebrooke | 1300 Eaglebrooke Blvd. | Lakeland, FL 33813THE | LAKELANDER





Adrian and Christie Lucas of Sassakala microfarm plant the seed that we can all grow our own vegetables — and eat better for it



Here’s the beef


The Lakelander burger




Florida’s west coast is calling



FLORIDA’S By 2018, Florida will need to fill an estimated 411,000 STEM jobs. Florida Poly offers six specialized degrees with 19 cutting-edge concentrations in engineering and technology.

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Celebrating Lakeland’s skateboarding community Melding alternative cultures to create community

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106 GROWING UP CREATIVE A coming-of-age tale





An industrious young family of four proves that builder’s beige doesn’t have to mean boring


116 EARLY LEARNING W hen kids succeed, we all win

Michael Clanton, Vice President & Commercial Lender and his wife Katie, are both natives of Bartow and live in Lakeland where they raise their family. Michael and his family attend Christ Community Presbyterian Church.   CenterState Bank employees are committed to the communities they serve and live in.

PUBLISHER Curt Patterson ASSOCIATE PUBLISHERS Jason Jacobs, Brandon Patterson

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Advertising ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Curt Patterson; 863.409.2449 ADVERTISING SALES Jason Jacobs; 863.606.8785 ADVERTISING SALES Brandon Patterson; 863.409.2447 Editorial EDITOR Jackie Houghton CULTURE EDITORS Adam Justice, Elyse Justice MEN’S STYLE EDITOR Mark Nielsen PEOPLE EDITOR Adam Spafford PHILANTHROPY CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Alice V. Koehler SHELTER EDITOR Rachel Plating SPORT EDITOR Ian Nance TASTE EDITOR Logan Crumpton WOMEN’S STYLE EDITOR Courtney Philpot COPY EDITOR Laura Burke OFFICE MANAGER Deb Patterson ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT Beatriz Salazar-Ruiz Design ART DIRECTOR Philip Pietri GRAPHIC DESIGNER Daniel Barcelo Photography CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS  Penny & Finn, Philip Pietri, Dustin Prickett, Tina Sargeant, Jason Stephens Circulation CIRCULATION DIRECTOR

Jason Jacobs

General Counsel

Ted W. Weeks IV

Published by Patterson Jacobs Publishing, LLC Curt Patterson | Jason Jacobs | Brandon Patterson | Steve Brown The Lakelander is published bimonthly by Patterson Jacobs Publishing, P.O. Box 41, Lakeland, FL 33802. Reproduction in whole or in part without express written permission of The Lakelander is prohibited. The Lakelander is not responsible for any unsolicited submissions. Contact Patterson Jacobs Publishing, P.O. Box 41, Lakeland, FL 33802 863.701.2707

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hat a ride it has been. From the first whispers of an idea, to conversations of what it could be, through naming, constructing, and launching this magazine into existence — I am fortunate to have been a part of it all. I remember toiling to put together the concept, showing it to a trusted few to make sure we were on the right track. I remember pitching this idea to our now editorial staff, asking them one by one if they would come along with me for this journey. And, amazingly, they all agreed! I remember late, late nights agonizing over wording, over the structure, the order of articles, the photos chosen. And then, all of a sudden it was here. The first issue of The Lakelander had arrived. We had indeed made something out of nothing, and it was quite a thrill. Truly, I loved it all: pitch meetings, draft edits, concepting and planning for shoots, location scouting, prop shopping, model fittings, and eight-hour shoot days. It was undeniably an incredible, incredible time. I am one lucky girl. But, as they say, all good things must come to an end. And so, it is time for my tenure as editor of this fine magazine to come to a close. It is time for me to pass the baton to another group of highly able, creative, wonderful folks who will do this publication justice. Now they get to nurture this magazine and the talented people who make it go. I have complete faith in them and cannot wait to see what they do next. As for me, I get to spend some much-needed time with my family and enjoy this great town. Admittedly, I am a bit sad for this season to end, yet peacefully looking forward to the days ahead with my two sweet daughters. I do want to say a big thank you to all of you who have read and supported The Lakelander from the very beginning. Your kind words, encouraging emails, phone calls, and notes all are of high value. You let me know that what we were doing really resonated with you and filled a void in the city. You told me that this magazine means something to you, and that means a great deal to me. I would also like to thank the kind souls who opened their doors, closets, businesses, and lives to us. We would not have these stories to tell without you. Thank you to my team. My dear friends, you are the most talented people I know. Many thanks for your patience and grace over these past two years. This magazine would not exist without you. I am also grateful to the Patterson Publishing team for having faith in me to do this work. And lastly, thank you to my husband for your continued support and selflessness through this entire journey. I am truly blessed. Jackie



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EDITORIAL BIOS LOGAN CRUMPTON TASTE EDITOR Logan Crumpton has been employed with the United States Postal Service for the last twelve years. Although he has lived nearly his entire life in the Lakeland area, he seeks out a world of food culture with the mindset of sharing it on a local level. Like many who have developed a love of food, he honed his skills in his grandmother’s kitchen, learning traditional Cuban and Italian classics. Pursuing more of a life in food has afforded him the opportunity of co-creating the food blog Eataduck, guest writing for online publications, as well as trying his hand as a caterer and private chef.


CULTURE EDITOR Elyse Gerstenecker loves old stuff. She studied historic preservation and art history at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, before receiving her master’s degree in the history of decorative arts from the Bard Graduate Center in New York City. She relocated to Lakeland in 2011 and works as Pinewood Estate coordinator at Bok Tower Gardens in nearby Lake Wales. She also teaches art history courses at Florida Southern College. Besides working amidst old stuff in an old house and teaching college kids about old stuff, she loves prowling through antique stores and visiting some of the best places Old Florida has to offer.


Adam Spafford came to Lakeland in 1999 to attend Florida Southern College and, except for a twenty-month graduate school stint in Massachusetts, has been here since. When he’s not writing pageturners for The Lakelander, he trades stock and index options.


Adam Justice is a Virginia native who moved to Lakeland in 2010 to become the curator of art at Polk Museum of Art. He received his B.A. in art history/ museum studies from Radford University and an M.A. in art history at Virginia Commonwealth University. Previously he was the chief curator at William King Museum in Abingdon, Virginia, and also served as the director of the Southwest/Blue Ridge Regions for the Virginia Association of Museums. Additionally, he taught art history at Virginia Commonwealth University, Rappahannock Community College, and Virginia Highlands Community College. While being the curator of art at Polk Museum of Art, he is also an adjunct professor of art history at Florida Southern College. He currently serves on various boards, including the Downtown Lakeland Partnership, Polk Vision and Polk Arts Alliance, and is involved with various service and civic organizations. 20



SPORT EDITOR A lifelong resident of Lakeland, Ian Nance lives with his wife, Carolyn, and twin children, Harrison and Cile. With a passion for the outdoors, he has hunted throughout Florida and the southeastern United States over the last twenty-five years. Ian is currently a member of Ducks Unlimited and also a member of Mossy Oak Camouflage’s Florida ProStaff. Along with hunting, he enjoys saltwater fishing, cooking, and writing and has been published in Petersen’s Hunting and Florida Game & Fish Magazine. He is author of the blog, “A Good Hunt,” on


My mouth was in serious trouble. I had four teeth left in the top of my mouth and two of them were loose and about to fall out. Additionally, I had little to no bone left in the top because I had been without teeth for so long. My bottom teeth and gums were seriously deteriorating. I am a College Professor, Public Speaker, and a Leadership Development Expert. However, I was extremely self conscious because I teach my students the importance of the four first impression skills that people use to make decisions about you in less than 90 seconds. They are your handshake, your smile, your visual delivery, and what you say and how you say it when you open your mouth. My professional ambitions were being hindered by the condition of my mouth. Now for the first time in years, since I’ve had all my teeth removed and my dental implants placed I don’t have to be selective with what I eat now. I can make healthier choices. The ease and comfort to chew what I want, when I want, has really empowered me to take control of my health. When people see me now, they are utterly amazed at how I look! My new smile has changed my whole outlook and I am not afraid to smile now. I am truly blessed and want people that read this to know and understand how caring the people are that work for Dr. Nerestant at Midtown Dental. My experience with Dr.Nerestant and Midtown Dental has really been phenomenal. Like many, I often associate a degree of anxiety and fear with going to the dentist. However, from the moment I walked into Midtown Dental, there was an atmosphere of “We are family.” By the time I walked from the door to the receptionist desk, all anxiety was gone. I now feel like I’m a part of the Midtown Family. What was really amazing to me was that even the young woman brought in to handle my IV sedation had the same attitude of the rest of the staff. To me, that says that Dr.Nerestant goes out of his way to ensure that everything and everyone connected with Midtown Dental portrays this attitude of caring and family. My experience has been phenomenal. They can do it all. From the everyday cleaning, to full mouth dental implants while you sleep peacefully. I encourage people to not be like me. Be sure to take care of your oral health. It is so important to your overall health. I would recommend Midtown Dental hands down. I am extremely grateful to Dr.Nerestant and Midtown Dental.

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WOMEN’S STYLE EDITOR For as long as she can remember, Courtney has been doodling girls in dresses on any available paper, pad, or napkin. Born and raised in Lakeland, she attended FSU, where she received a degree in sociology and then earned a degree in fashion design and marketing from the Academy of Design in Tampa. After many years helping friends and family prepare for big events, she decided to turn her knack for fashion into a business. She created Style by Courtney, where she works as a stylist for personal clients, groups, photo shoots, and runway shows. Eventually, she wants to design her own prints to be used in her own apparel line. Until then, she plans on spending time with her husband, Bryce, and daughter, Sydney, while sharing her fashion philosophy that “You don’t need a million bucks to look like a million bucks” with her clients and readers.



PHILANTHROPY CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Alice Koehler is a longtime Lakeland resident, graduate of Florida Southern College, returned Peace Corps Volunteer, mother, and lifelong learner. She holds a certificate in nonprofit management as well as a B.S. in sociology and education. In 2013, she graduated from Leadership Lakeland Class 30 and began her journey as an MBA student. In her free time, she enjoys adventure seeking, memory making, joy giving, bargain hunting, community building, mind bending, knowledge acquiring, and soul filling. Since 2006, Alice has worked with and for the Learning Resource Center of Polk County, Inc. — an organization dedicated to helping all students maximize their learning potential; she is currently the assistant director.



Rachel Plating is a Florida girl through and through. Growing up she split her weekends fishing in the many lakes of Central Florida and playing bluegrass with her family on the lawn of her grandparents’ house in Eustis. When the time came to go to college, Florida Southern swept her off her feet with its ancient oaks draped in Spanish moss and the sleepy brick roads leading to and from the lakes around town. She and her husband met at FSC, and though called away from Lakeland for a time, they just couldn’t stay away forever. Three years later saw them moving back to this special town and making a home to raise their children among the community they love so much. When she’s not writing for The Lakelander, you can usually find her spending time with her family, making delicious meals, having art time with her kids, and playing music at church. When she is writing for The Lakelander, she can usually be found at Mitchell’s.

MARK NIELSEN STYLE EDITOR Mark Nielsen moved to Lakeland at the age of 12, moved away at 21, and came back just five years later. He attributes his interest in style to his career in design, translating the aesthetics and principles of design into fashion. Mark doesn’t sit still for long, and is currently building a café racer, has shaped a couple surfboards, maintains three blogs, and pursues a hobby shooting mediumformat film. An accomplished designer, his work has been featured in such international design publications as HOW, Communication Arts, and Print, as well as the New York Times Magazine, and others. Over the years, he has also added photography and filmmaking to his resume, winning awards for cinematography with his twin brother, Michael. Mark currently holds the role of creative director at Publix and lives in Lakeland with his wife, Jill; their daughters, Andie and Bridget; and a German shorthaired pointer, Charlie.

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WHIMSY BOUTIQUE 4415 S. Florida Avenue, Lakeland, FL 33813 (863) 640-2815 Monday to Friday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

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In mid-2013, Studio Aquatics was rebranded as FishH2O and moved to a new location, the former warehouse on East Edgewood Drive. “A full range of products for the aquarium hobbyist. Aquatic creatures of all shapes and colors wait for you to take them home.” 24



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High-quality veggies and herbs — and the passion to educate others about them — are growing at Adrian and Christie Lucas’ family microfarm in Mulberry. The Lakelander: Sassakala is successfully creating what at first seems like a contradiction — urban farms. How do you persuade people that it’s important to know how to grow veggies regardless of where we live? Adrian & Christie Lucas: It’s easy to persuade others with fresh-tasting, clean food that you grow yourself. Many of our conversations start with the produce they’re buying from the supermarket and how far it’s traveled, the lack of taste, and what it may have been treated with. GYO (growing your own food) eliminates these factors, and nothing is more local than your own backyard. Simply put: Food you grow yourself tastes great, and eating something you nurtured and grew from seed brings additional satisfaction that goes beyond flavor. TL: In addition to the satisfaction of growing something, what are the advantages of homegrown vegetables, and why do it hydroponically? A&C: It’s really convenient having your own food growing in the garden. We cook a lot at home, so it’s nice to have fresh, clean food that’s accessible without even leaving our yard. Sometimes we send the kids down to the garden to pick some fresh herbs if we’re in the middle of cooking and realize we need something extra. It means a lot to us that our kids are growing up in this environment and can recognize quite a large variety of herbs and vegetables. Sometimes we just wander out and see what’s ready to harvest and then figure out a meal from that. There’s nothing better than farm-to-table freshness.



We use a combination of hydroponic and organic methods. Many hydroponic systems are designed to maximize space and use automation to minimize labor (watering, etc). One of the most important things for us is to eliminate the need for chemical sprays and treatments, and we use a lot of natural methods like companion planting, live ladybugs, soaps, etc. In addition, we use high-quality seeds (organic, non-GMO). TL: You are in the vanguard of a movement that wants to know the provenance of our food. What do you think has sparked this movement? A&C: Education. People are finally opening their eyes and ears and wanting to know where their food comes from.


Many documentaries are unveiling the gross truths of what happens before the “food” (if you can call it that) reaches your plate, and we’re finally casting our votes by saying “no more” and buying locally at our farmers markets and natural food stores. Even better, it’s getting popular to have your own backyard garden no matter how small a space. Square-foot gardening, raised beds, and vertical growing are all trends that help with this movement. We’re also part of a movement that’s looking for a simpler way of life. We’re realizing that the price of all this convenience food and industrial food is pretty high when you look at what it’s doing to the health of our nation. We’re part of a growing movement that is resurrecting some of the common practices of our grandparents and great grandparents who couldn’t rely on the industrialization of food to provide nourishment for their families. They simply planted seeds. TL: There are some architects and urban planners who envision cities that grow vegetable crops on building rooftops and make creative use of other space for farming. Is microfarming as scalable as they propose? A&C: We’d like to think so. Urban farming might not completely replace traditional farming, but it could certainly supplement what other local farmers are doing and replace some of the items you frequently purchase from the store. Once people start to cooperate to build community gardens and trade local goods and products, the sky’s the limit. 28




The Living Wall at Catapult. Image courtesy of Christie Lucas

TL: How did you get started with the microfarm? A&C: Initially it was to provide herbs and veggies that tasted good. We love to cook, so having a variety of herbs on hand is something we’ve done for many years, as far back as when we were newlyweds and lived in a small apartment in South Florida. Then, with the birth of our two girls within the past six years, the motivation became much stronger to expand what we grew and how much. When we moved back to Florida from Dallas, Texas, we rented for a while in central Lakeland and just didn’t have the space or capability to grow in-ground, so we found the vertical towers were a perfect solution. We wanted an easy solution that feeds the family with very few trips to the produce section of the grocery store. More importantly though, we wanted our kids to know what “real food” is and where it comes from. The best way to teach them that lesson was to let them grow the seeds themselves and help cook the meals using what they’ve grown. This was a major focus of our homeschool curriculum last year. The kids’ education played a major role in building our microfarm as well as educating others. We now sell and help set up growing systems around the city in hopes to advance the urban farm movement in our local area. TL: I’ve grown vegetables with only modest yields, so I’m sure I’m not the first to ask you if it’s really possible for us weekend farmers to have yields that would actually replace buying vegetables.

A&C: Sure, it’s possible, but it’s quite a big commitment. We always suggest starting small, and once you’ve had some success then do a little more each season. Look into local workshops where master gardeners offer great tips, and don’t be afraid to ask questions from farmers in your area; they’re usually happy to offer guidance. Florida is a perfect place to grow year round with a lot of trial and error. After a few seasons of expanding like this, you’ll have built it into your routine and it won’t seem quite as daunting. Growing your own food is contagious. TL: What did you try that failed, and what makes your crops so bountiful now (what is the growing media, planters, etc.)? How does the hydroponic process work? A&C: There are a few crops that we still find challenging or that are short lived either because the bugs got a hold of them or some other animal came into the garden for a snack. Hydroponic growing basically means “grown in the absence of soil.” There are many variations and methods, but no soil means you don’t get soil- borne diseases and the problems that come with them. We use coconut fiber in our vertical garden systems. We mix a nutrient solution that feeds the plants a couple of times a day (it’s on an automated timer, so we don’t have to be present 24/7). The coconut fiber absorbs the water really well and feeds the roots of the plants continuously. Water usage is minimized and there is very little waste.





TL: As anyone who has been amazed by your Living Walls (such as the one at Catapult) could attest, your work is not always just practical but aesthetic. What was the inspiration for these Living Walls, and are there plans for more of them in town? A&C: Healthy living spaces, whether indoors or out, inspire us. Surround yourself with beautiful, natural things that make you happy. Christie has her degree in fine arts and education with former careers as mural artist, teacher, and photographer, and Adrian’s degree is in business with expertise in IT, so the Living Walls seemed like a perfect marriage of his technical skills and her design. The plants we use in indoor spaces are either edible or air purifying, and the goal is to beautify and enhance the environment where they’re placed. We’re passionate about food, growing plants, education, and design, and this business is the way we combine all of those into one that we hope will benefit our community. TL: Not only do you grow great veggies, but you also teach how to grow great veggies.

Where can readers learn more from you? Can they visit the microfarm? A&C: At the moment, friends, family, and neighbors frequent the farm to get veggies and learn how to GYO food, because we’re still a private residence. But we’d like to offer workshops in the community where we set up our systems. We’re at the Lakeland Downtown Farmers Curb Market each month, where we talk with locals about how to get started growing their own food, and we offer simple solutions to get them growing. We’re glad to have started a partnership with VISTE to provide fresh produce for their volunteers through their urban garden which has both hydroponic towers and self-watering containers, and we’re educating volunteers on how to maintain the garden at their urban location. We’re also educating students about gardening at Magnolia Montessori Academy where our daughters attend this year. The students help to plan and develop their organic and hydroponic garden through fun gardening activities. We’re grateful that our girls attend a school where the

faculty and administration are excited to include this as part of the curriculum in years to come. TL: Final thoughts? A&C: We hear so many Lakeland citizens come to our stand at the farmers market and say they “can’t grow anything” or they “have a black thumb” and kill everything green. We’re here to say that no one has it perfectly figured out. We’re all in it together just trying to figure out what works best and to offer each other guidance to help put fresh, healthy food on our tables. We’ve met so many like-minded people at the market who want to know where their food comes from and understand the importance of buying local produce. We’re optimistic that this movement will gain strength in the community and more and more people will have their own urban gardens and buy local. If anyone would like to see more of what we’re working on or have further questions about getting started creating their own healthy living spaces, they can visit our website,, or like us on




HERE’S THE BEEF. story by Logan Crumpton photography by Penny & Finn



A great hamburger will in time become undoubtedly legendary. As Americans, we can rightfully claim only a handful of foods as being invented on our own soil. A little over a hundred years ago, a guy by the name of Louis Lassen was working in his minuscule wagon turned lunch kitchen when a hurried businessman accosted him to make something that could be eaten quickly on the go. Louis was out of steaks but had a few scraps from the trimmings, which he ground up and placed into his vertical cast-iron gas stove. He threw a slice of tomato and onion with a smattering of yellow mustard between two slices of toasted white bread, along with this newly invented flame-broiled patty, and sent the impatient man packing with what he later on called a “steak sandwich.” As with any groundbreaking invention, there are a dozen or so claims to be the first. However, Louis’ Lunch,  in New Haven, Connecticut, has the sole distinction from the Library of Congress to be acknowledged as the true originator of what we know in this modern world as the hamburger. Although technically in my mind a hamburger is a sandwich as it’s typically housed between two pieces of sliced bread, the hamburger

holds itself in a category distinctively its own. As far as a general concept, the hamburger is simplistic. Bread. Meat.  Condiments. All set. Yet, there are various TV programs, magazines, and blogs that give every possible ounce of content in order to praise the existence of the burger in all its many incarnations. People even devote vacation time  to travel the country in search of the perfect burger. In our lifetime, though, the hamburger has gone through an identity crisis. By the end of the twentieth century, assembly-line food had taken over. Hamburgers were being lumped in as the king of the fast-food menu due to the ease of preparation and relatively low cost to produce. In the beginning, no doubt, only a handful of places even made the things. In the 1950s, in Central Florida at least, it was more likely to find an old former cow poke slinging burgers filled with beef fat and character in the kitchen of a mom and pop, than to see some teenager in a brown and yellow uniform pulling a microscopic, limp gray puck out of a steamer box. As the years have gone by, the two approaches — that of a mom and pop vs. fast food — took a more drastically divided path. Respectfully, they each still have a viable stake

in the market. Culturally speaking, we talk a lot about the evolution of food, and how American consumers took a quarter turn at the onset of the new century toward adjusting the quality of our consumption. Now there seems to be a third category of the burger maker: one who makes a style of hamburger which is being touted at many varied restaurants as gourmet or haute. Something that once cost my dad a quarter to purchase now can come with a hefty price tag upwards of fifty bucks. You know what? Based on the quality of ingredients, I’m happy to oblige payment today for a hamburger I can have ... today. As  hamburger fanatics are plentiful, you may have already composed your own list of top local burgers. We have a wealth of quality in this category, so there’s much room for personal interpretation. Whatever your preference, we can all agree with the words of a very wise man: “There’s nothing in the world that can compare to a hamburger, so juicy and rare. There’s nothing in the world so divine, as a hamburger, tender and fine.” The following is a mélange of a few of our favorites showcasing the extraordinary flavor profiles,  along with the classic hamburger architecture which Lakeland has to offer.



A LAKELANDER BURGER ALMANAC We went on a hamburger crawl of sorts to showcase some of our favorite local options to be had. Some joints are landmark destinations, classic and untouched by time and trend. Others have tackled the culture that is the hamburger head-on with the most up-to-date flavor profiles, creating a King of the Lakeland Burger Ring type scenario.

Almost every neighborhood is well represented in our travels, from north to south and east to west. After coming to a cumulative conclusion of which places to go, our staff agreed: In our book, Lakeland has indeed distinguished itself as a burger-lover’s utopia, with many different cooking methods and cuisine styles vying for a shot at your flavor receptors.

THE CHOP SHOP: TEXAS PATTY MELT There are burgers, and there are sandwiches. Humanity has an understanding that the two are not one and the same, notwithstanding the physics of both being an extremely similar structure. The Texas Patty Melt makes the rule a lot cloudier with its inclusion of gargantuan slabs of buttered Texas toast instead of a traditional bun, as well as the out-and-out bold exclusion of the word “burger” anywhere in the title. The Chop Shop specializes in burgers, with around a dozen unique options. Our favorite is the Texas Patty Melt topped with roasted garlic aioli, griddled onions, and an incredible cheddar queso with a viscous consistency similar to felsic lava. Yet, there are a dozen or so unique options, including a great one for non-meat eaters, consisting of a homemade veggie patty, called The Bunny.



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S&L RESTAURANT: A CLASSIC, ALL THE WAY There’s little argument among the myriad of Lakeland lifers about who makes the best hamburger in town. From kids to adults, we’re all enamored with the Combee Settlement centerpiece that has been doing exactly the same thing for over thirty years. Do not let the constantly packed parking lot or the lines waiting at the counter discourage potential visits like it did to me for years. Their standard hamburger is worth however long it takes to wait. They are everything the legend has made them out to be. If this is your first trip, after one bite you will feel a great deal of both joy and pain all at once. With every bite your love for S&L will grow. At the same time, you will curse yourself for procrastinating.



When I was about ten, my dad schooled me on how to cook a proper hamburger. He said he learned his technique from watching his mom make them in a skillet when he was a boy. She learned it from watching a man make what was known at the time as “grease-burgers” at the local farmers market. According to my dad, the name “grease-burgers” was earned because they were cooked on a flat top and basically fried when the fat or “grease” rendered out of the patty. This is the method I always use to make burgers at home. It gives the meat a great crust on the exterior while keeping all of the flavors from the fat intact. With all due respect, grilling, in my opinion, is a less-than-desirable method of burger cookery. If you have some confidence and can cook at very high temperatures, you can still get a medium-rare doneness in a skillet, without sacrificing that nice, greasy char. If you choose to defy my advice and go with a more classic backyard-burger taste, the grill can be your greatest weapon or your own worst enemy. The key to both are a few variants. First, preheat the charcoal so that it’s screaming hot. I mean white hot. Second, try not to cook with the lid up, unless you have one of those fantastic ceramic-style grills that tend to keep a more constant temperature while still being open to the elements. Most importantly, especially if you’re having trouble regulating temperature, do not attempt any patty flipping with force or effectiveness until the meat has released either from the pan or from the grill grates. We all have fanciful dreams of having perfect grill marks and great color on the exterior crust of our protein patties. Your dreams will become nightmares if patience is not exercised.

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FRESCOES: THE DERBY I walked into Frecoes for the first time shortly after they opened for business. Back then, it was more bakery than restaurant. One thing in particular caught my eye as a fledgling food connoisseur. The Derby Burger, with its pimento cheese, bacon, and bourbon sauce brought the pairing of sweet with savory to town long before it became a menu fixture elsewhere. Although Frescoes’ facade, dining space, and menu have all evolved for the better over the past five years or so, a remaining constant is the inclusion of The Derby on the everyday lunch menu. You can also find it lurking in the dark, ready to be devoured as part of Frescoes’ weekend late-night eats lineup.



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FAT MAGGIE’S: PB&J BURGER With a title befitting a major gross-out to people thinking in a bubble, Fat Maggie’s latest special edition is a real head-scratcher. Yet, there is no peanut butter and there are no jellies. The name is simply to give the consumer something to think about as a way of playing with the mind. You might expect sickeningly sweet and confusingly creamy. This is not the case at all. There is, however, garlicky hummus and savory bacon jam to act as doppelgangers in place of PB&J. Chef thought up this masterpiece especially for our article. My one contention, and it will be yours at first taste, is that this should be laminated into the permanent menu at some point.








THE RED DOOR: DOUBLE DOUBLE MONSTER STYLE BURGER If you think the seasonal burger of choice over at The Red Door is an attempt to slap the conventions of America’s most famous chain restaurants’ most famous concoction square in the face, you’d be correct. I remember the chef bringing me a version of this a few months back as part of what might have been his super-secret product testing. It was so secret I didn’t even know I was a part of it. I was instructed to keep quiet on this beauty until spring. Well, the cat’s out of the bag now. One thing that stood out for me was the cascade of special sauce that emulsified along with the over-easy egg and the juice of the burger itself. Full disclosure: This sauce is much better than the dressings of all one thousand islands.



ANOTHER TOPIC OF CONVERSATION TO CONSIDER Your burgers, whether they be beef, turkey, chicken, lamb, fish, or made completely of mushed vegetables, will only be as good as the ingredients you use. With that said, in normal life I don’t eat a lot of meat because of the high cost of excellent beef. So when I find myself craving a hamburger and I want to eat it in-house, I’ll go for the best grassfed beef I can find. My blend preference is eighty percent beef / twenty percent fat. So, eat good food and the flavor will shine through on all fronts. Another key is finding the right condiment ratio. With quality meat I tend to stick with the classics, or

a simple composition of things I feel complement the protein best. There are many reasons why sliced tomato and raw white onion always are stacked neatly under a greasy burger, or why you’ll find chefs creating an avalanche of roasted mushroom and red wine demi glace to cascade down a hautecuisine stylized burger. We look for fresh and vibrant, earthy flavor to marry richness and decadence. No two palettes are built the same, hence the vast array of choices we have for our enjoyment. So go and try some of the places we’ve mentioned here. Then go make your own version. Here’s ours! >>>


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(with parmesan crisps, broccoli rabe, pan-roasted mushrooms and pine-nut butter)

Makes six third-pound burgers. 2 pounds 80/20 grass-fed ground beef salt and pepper to taste canola or grapeseed oil 6 brioche rolls or hamburger buns 2 tablespoons room-temperature unsalted butter Heat cast-iron skillet to High (or heat grill to 500 degrees). Keep meat refrigerated until you’re ready to form the patties into your desired size. Use your thumb to make an indentation in each burger to prevent patties from shrinking into too round of a shape when grilling. Place the burgers on a sheet tray and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in freezer for 5-10 minutes to firm up. Remove meat from freezer. Season on one side with a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper but not enough to overwhelm the flavor of the beef.  Drizzle a small amount of oil over the top the prevent sticking.  If the pan is heated to the proper temperature, you will see whiffs of smoke coming off of it. Place the patties directly on the hottest area, with the seasoned side down, giving yourself enough room to flip (work in groups of three to avoid overcrowding). Salt and pepper the unseasoned side of the burger and close the lid. Let sit about 3 minutes per side to achieve a medium doneness, or 2 to 2-1/2 minutes per side for medium-rare. In the meantime, split rolls or hamburger buns. Spread an even layer of butter on both sides and place face down onto another hot pan for about 20 seconds to get a touch of char and crisper texture on the bread. Remove buns and set aside. When the burgers are cooked to your preferred doneness, remove from pan and place directly on the flat-sided bun. You’re doing this because if the meat just rests on a plate or a cutting board, 48




there will be residual juice that departs your finished product. If you put the patty straight from the pan to the bread, all of that juice will get soaked up for your enjoyment. Don’t worry about the bun becoming soggy. These burgers won’t last that long. To complete the Lakelander burger, serve with these condiments:

PARMESAN CRISPS 4 ounces shaved parmesan cheese Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a nonstick or silicone cookie sheet, make six small piles with the shredded cheese, and then flatten them out so they are circular and level. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove and let cool. Once cooled they will be crispy discs of cheese, cracker-like in texture.

SAUTEED BROCCOLI RABE 1 bunch broccoli rabe or rappini (roughly chopped) 4 garlic cloves (thinly sliced) 2 tablespoons olive oil juice from 1 lemon pinch of red chili pepper flakes salt to taste From start to finish these greens will only take about 3 minutes to cook. Keep a close eye on them so as not to overdo it. Heat a large sauté pan on Medium-High. Pour in oil and let it heat up until heated through. Place broccoli rabe evenly in the pan and let sit about 1 minute. Sprinkle salt and garlic directly over the leaves. Toss until the leaves are tender and almost cooked through. Squeeze in lemon juice just before removing. Set aside, adding a pinch of red pepper flakes over the top.

PAN-ROASTED MUSHROOMS 2 4-ounce cartons of crimini or baby bella mushrooms (quartered) 4 tablespoons cold butter salt and pepper to taste Heat a large skillet to Medium-High. Place 3 tablespoons of butter in the pan and let melt completely. Add mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper. It’s very important not to move them around for the first few minutes so they can develop texture and color. After they’ve cooked

3-4 minutes, sauté until mushrooms are completely cooked through and a deep golden brown. Finish by adding remaining butter and a final seasoning of salt and pepper to taste.

PINE-NUT BUTTER I seem to find little bits of inspiration at the various restaurants I seek out. It’s easy to take these ideas home with you and adapt them to your own personal style, if you think about the basic mechanics of the flavors presented. I needed something that resembled mayo but in no way tasted of the sort. It should also be noted pine nuts are not nuts; they’re seeds. If you have nut allergies, have no worries. Just check the labels to be certain they weren’t processed in a facility that intermingles their nuts with seeds. You can use pine nuts in their raw state or lightly toast them in a pan to add depth. Be careful, though. Pine nuts burn as fast as you can take your eyes off those little expensive and indulgent darlings. Start by making a small batch, as a little goes farther than you might think. 1/2 cup pine nuts 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil 1/8 teaspoon salt In a food processor, combine all ingredients and blend on High until smooth. Place in a sealed jar or container. Refrigerate after use. Can be stored for only a few weeks, as pine nuts turn faster than other nut butters. As an added optional condiment:

RED-ONION QUICK PICKLES 1 medium red onion (sliced paper thin) 1/2 cup malt or red wine vinegar 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar 2 garlic cloves (smashed) 5 black peppercorns or 1/8 teaspoon black pepper Optional: 5 dried juniper berries, 1 sprig rosemary Place onions in a glass jar until it fills up to the top. In a small saucepan, place salt, sugar, garlic, and spices along with vinegar and simmer until the sugar and salt dissolve. Pour over onions. Cover any remaining space with tepid water. Close tight with a lid and shake so that the liquids incorporate. Chill for at least one hour before serving. After serving, refrigerate pickles immediately. Will keep up to one month if sealed tightly.




Let’s Go Fishing Florida’s west coast is calling As the days stretch from spring into summer, the west coast of Florida flourishes with natives. Long gone are the snowbirds who tolerated the gusty, sand-steeped winds of the winter simply because it’s not 15 degrees. Gone are the Spring Breakers and hip-hop beats and beer cans and detritus of barely aged beach and pontoon parties. No, now is the time when Floridians take advantage of the Gulf. While certainly many will soak in the sun and relax beachfront at a tiki bar, sportsmen



story by Ian Nance | photography by Jason Stephens

have their sights set on the action beneath the surface of the sea, and with good reason — anglers can hardly toss a line in the water these days without drawing the attention of at least one of a large number of sportfish that thrives off the coast this time of year. In the passes that squeeze water in and out of the bays and along the surrounding beaches, tarpon will bend rods and force fishermen to bow to them as they go airborne in fight. As the sea temperatures warm, snook emerge from rivers and deeper channels

and fan across the mangrove-bordered flats to assault the sardine and herring numbers before sliding out to the beaches where they will encounter a plethora of feisty fighters from Spanish mackerel to pompano, a variety of jacks and sharks, and the stragglers from the cobia and kingfish migrations of March and April. Left behind in the skinny waters are the spot-tailed redfish and spotted-allover sea trout. There chasing them will be legions of fishermen taking advantage of this prime time before the sweltering heat of July

Tim Cox fishes from a Hell’s Bay Waterman




Giovanni Moriello (left) and Brian Chambers (right) fish from a Hell’s Bay Professional.

and August chases everything into cooler climes soon after sunrise. Yes, the west-coast fishery is alive in May and June, and folks do not skimp on the opportunity to net a prize from the waters. Among the fishing fleet is Lakeland resident Tim Cox and his compatriots in casting. Over the course of many years, Tim and his buddies have come together to ply the grass flats from Terra Ceia to Hillsborough Bay in Tampa Bay, with the occasional foray down to Anna Maria, Sarasota, Charlotte Harbor, and Matlacha. Fishing from shallow-water skiffs, these men pursue snook, redfish, and trout, for fellowship and sport. “I enjoy the escape from the routine,” Tim says. “My mind relaxes, and I get in a different zone. I love the early-dawn boat ride from the launch to our first fishing spot, the breeze on my face, the smell of the salt air, and the

hope of catching that monster redfish or snook. It’s probably my favorite time of the day — everything feels new and hopeful. “I also enjoy the camaraderie shared with my fishing brothers. It seems we can fish for hours with only a few words spoken, but we’re successfully communicating. We share a common pursuit of fish and freedom, and when you fish with the same guys long enough, the chemistry is good. We anticipate each others’ moves and tend to know what the other is thinking… regarding fish, of course.” While numerous anglers will survey this list of targets and lick their lips as if standing in front of the craft-beer aisle ready to mixand-match after a winter of watery domestic drafts, each fish possesses their own challenges and requires different equipment and skill-sets from their pursuers. Many fishermen opt for a solitary pursuit, and

these folks tend to gravitate toward a game that complements their personalities. Tarpon fishermen, for example, are an ultra-competitive lot who match the toughness of the big fish perfectly. Whether drifting live-baits in deep passes or sightcasting to pods rolling along the beaches, strategies for hooking the silver king vary and are defended passionately. Turf wars among the boats pop up when working a school, all for the thrill of an impressive aerial display and the tenacity to wear down even a hardened gym rat. Snook are finicky, fashionable critters that attract fishermen in floppy hats and Columbia shirts with a thousand pockets. But all images of them being a finesse fish disappear when a bait or lure is slammed and simply enveloped in an explosion of saltwater that can leave a grown man shaking. Weak knots and nerves have no place with linesiders. THE LAKELANDER




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Then there are redfish, bruisers in their own right. On the flats where the water column is often measured in inches, fishermen enjoy sight-fishing for redfish. Largely bottomfeeders, the spotted tail of a red protrudes above the surface as it roots through the seagrasses and substrate for crustaceans and small fish. On calm days, this behavior betrays its location to keen-eyed wade fishermen who will attempt to slip within casting range to present a bait. An errant footstep or poor cast will send the red scooting spooked across the flat, plumes of brown mud swirling in its leave. Tim, a guy who enjoys the serenity of fishing, certainly has his preference. “Personally, I love stalking redfish. Snook are fun to catch — great fighters — and they often jump. To me, there’s just something about a redfish. I love the tap-tap or thump of the bite followed by the drag-peeling pull. It’s addictive. I enjoy the hunting and stalking of reds almost as much as the catch...almost.” With this abundance of opportunity comes the ability to try different methods of angling, as well as varying reasons for doing so. Shrimp buckets and the live shrimp to fill them with are readily available in most tackle stores; these popular baits will draw a bite from most fish with a pulse. Early in the



morning, it’s common to witness cast-netters fill live-wells with pilchards, herring, and sardine — collectively and locally referred to as whitebait or greenbacks — for chum and live-bait. Others, the most particular of this bunch being flyfishermen, are quite content casting various artificial lures, some of which resemble actual living creatures and others appearing offensive to nature and Darwinism. Some prefer quiet days alone seeking to ice a legal fish or three in the cooler for dinner, while there are dozens of professional tournaments that take place along the coast each year with high hopes of the Big Fish and Big Money. There’s truly something for everyone, and, not surprisingly, Tim and his friends choose to go about things in their own manner. “Most of the guys in our group only use artificial lures,” he says. “It’s not an elitist thing — nothing against live-bait guys at all — we just prefer the challenge of using artificials. Most of us throw soft plastics on jig-heads, my favorite, along with gold spoons. Although some of us may fish a tournament from time to time, I wouldn’t describe us as professional tournament fishermen.” However one chooses to experience the fishing, a successful trip turns extraordinary

with friends and family sharing the day, as Tim relates. “Sometimes we fish just one boat, sometimes two or three. And it could be any combination of guys, almost never more than two per boat. It can be competitive at times. Nothing too serious, though. All in good fun. It’s a guy thing, you know? Who catches the most or biggest redfish or snook. In Matlacha we have a little tournament, and that’s when it gets more competitive. It’s a lot of fun.” People and boats being what they are, many trips do not go as planned, and those adventures make for special memories, too. Good and bad. “Over the years, things like getting to the boat ramp and discovering someone left their boat key at home have happened. Or someone falling off their poling platform. Or forgotten toilet paper. Or phones dropped in the water. Or someone not realizing bananas are not allowed on boats for their bad mojo. Or a blown trailer tire at 70 mph on I-75. Or blown boat motors. Or running up on a hidden sandbar at 35 mph.” For those without boats or who are newbies to the sport, guided trips are always an option. While the sticker price may seem daunting at first, calculate the cost of operating a boat, from fuel to gear to bait




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While threats will remain to the fisheries and the unique ecosystems of Florida’s west coast, for now the fishing opportunity here is world-class.



Jesse Larson holds a redfish.

Stone’s Outdoors Polk County anglers have long visited Stone’s Outdoors in Lakeland for their tackle needs and friendly fishing advice.

Palace Pizza Jesse Larson, Tim Cox, Brian Chambers, and Gianni Moriello gather at Palace Pizza in Lakeland to swap tales of their successes — and screw-ups — on the water.



and all in between. Then realize that the best guides have spent far more time on the water than the average angler — the purchased price of this knowledge is every bit the difference in an outing of bent rods or stale baits. A number of reputable guides have come from or live in the Lakeland area, including Captains Shawn Crawford, John Gunter, Jason Lineberger, Greg Penix, Jeff Williams, and Bobby Woodard, among others. And while — with the Tampa Bay Skyway Bridge skyline and the phosphate docks of Boca Grande, not to mention jet skis and parasails — there’s little possibility of surveying the west coast and conjuring up the days of the Calusa, the fishing in these waters has markedly improved over the last twenty years. Though commercial interests consistently argue otherwise, the voter-approved net ban (which took effect in 1995 and prohibits gill nets of certain

dimensions in nearshore waters) has resulted in an impressive rebound of sportfish stocks, and recreational anglers have reaped the benefits. This ban was briefly overturned in late October 2013 by a Leon County Circuit Judge, thanks to the persistent efforts of commercial fishermen. On November 6, a petition to reinstate the ban was granted to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission by the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee. While threats will remain to the fisheries and the unique ecosystems of Florida’s west coast, for now the fishing opportunity here is world-class. For those like Tim, it’s a way of life that will continue to draw him back. A way of life that should be protected from overfishing — commercial and recreational — and the effects of other human activities. “I believe, Lord willing, that fishing will be

part of my life as long as I’m physically able, until I’m like ninety-five,” he says. “Although I’ve learned a lot about flats fishing over the past six or seven years, I’ve got plenty more to learn. and I look forward to that. And I believe, and hope, these friendships I’ve made with these guys will last a lifetime, in and out of fishing. I’m very hopeful that everyone will be responsible in conserving these wonderful natural resources that afford us the opportunity to fish. The resources are challenged every day, of course.” If all goes well in the foreseeable future, the tarpon will continue to roll through the passes and exert their might upon anglers. Snook will blow topwater plugs chest-high out of the water. Busy eating, redfish will periscope their tails above the clear, warm shallows. And, rest assured, the Florida fishermen of May and June will be out casting lines to them.





IT’S NOT A stor

y by Adam

The history of modern American skateboarding can be traced in a similar pattern as some of its twentiethcentury counterculture cousins. Like the beatniks, punk rock, and street art, skateboarding filled a social void during the mid-1970s for ambitious young outcasts who were energized by the thrill of something different. During a time of diverse cultural flux, modern skateboarding snuck in somewhere among introverted competitive


ice phot



camaraderie, communal adrenalized revolution, and freedom from cultural norms. Because of this, skateboarding long held the stigma of being an activity for social truants. As time passed, that hardened reputation gradually cracked, opening skateboarding to a broader range of participants and fans. It has, however, retained a sense of identity true to its history as an alternative sport for the wanderers, and remains that street game embraced by those

by P enn

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who dare to be different. Although the act of skateboarding was originally an international pastime, its modern American iteration began in California during the 1950s as an offshoot of surfing. Surfers waking to particularly calm seas would frequently turn to skateboarding as an alternative. This early association with surfing, however, gradually evaporated and created two separate groups: those who surfed and those who skated.



(from left to right) Jeff Patterson, Justin Spangler, Travis Futch, Riley Patterson, Bruce “Rudy” Phillips, Alex Peavey

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During perhaps its first golden age in the 1970s, skateboarding amassed hoards of fans and skaters throughout the country who began transforming the activity into a performance art form and a commercial success. Although first published in 1964, Skateboarder Magazine became a huge resource in the mid-1970s, not only for celebrating the sport, but also for promoting the artistry and lifestyle that defined it. Later publications in the 1980s, like Thrasher and Transworld, also contributed to skateboarding’s identity, especially in terms of its association with the rebellious spirit. The sport’s identity continued to expand with the founding of Powell-Peralta in 1978, a manufacturing company that pushed the sport into new frontiers of commercial and social success. One of the company’s cofounders, Stacy Peralta, was a talented skater who originally belonged to the Zephyr team (or Z-Boys), a group that assisted in separating skateboarding from surfing. Later, Peralta’s unique approach of promoting the modern skateboarding lifestyle as an art form gave the sport an increased cultural depth. This eventually led him to form the Bones Brigade, which included such legendary skaters as Tony Hawk, Lance Mountain, and

Floridians Rodney Mullen, Alan Gelfand, and Mike McGill, who fanned the flames of skating’s competitive and commercial appeal beyond southern California. Thus began the modern era of skateboarding that, despite suffering several fluctuations in popularity, has evolved to be a professional sport while maintaining its original and distinctive rejection of the status quo. Although skateboarding’s roots were set deep within California culture, Florida proved to be attractive territory for skaters as a near equivalent to California in terms of weather and coastline. But the Sunshine State fostered its own unique cultural rift that Florida skaters had to overcome. Ryan Clements, a longtime skater in Tampa and an authority in the field, recalls, “...Floridian skateboarders really needed to innovate on their own because they simply had no choice and were basically cut off. The guys here in Florida were experimenting, pushing boundaries, and simply doing it their own ways.” Florida skaters were relentless in their attempts to make skateboarding a coastto-coast phenomenon. Without a lot of corporate backing or, in most cases, community support, they communally

kept the sport alive by nurturing a new skate culture. Florida skaters focused on constructing new skateparks, organizing competitions, and maintaining the unique skating lifestyle. Clements attests that, “...Florida has maintained a strong scene throughout the years, and that’s because of those dedicated lifers who have been committed to keeping the scene alive and advancing it forward through relentless commitment, fun events, and simply passing the lifestyle and culture along to new generations. Without that, the lifestyle aspect of skateboarding, which is vitally important, would die off.” The world’s first modern concrete public skatepark was constructed in Florida, not California. In March 1976, it opened in Port Orange as a testament to the efforts of early Florida skaters. There are currently about 115 skateparks throughout Florida, from Key West to Fort Walton Beach in the western panhandle. In May 2013, Lakeland joined this contingent by opening its very own stateof-the-art skatepark at Lake Bonny Park, located at 800 Bartow Road. The City of Lakeland contracted with Winter Springs– based Team Pain, one of the country’s leading THE LAKELANDER


designers of public skateparks, to build the state’s most contemporary hotspot for skaters. According to Pam Page, the deputy director of Lakeland’s Parks and Recreation Department, the skatepark was constructed “to provide free skate opportunities for Lakeland skaters to hone their skills.” Covering 22,500 square feet and encompassing a variety of skating obstacles, from rails, to bowls, to ramps, Lakeland SkatePark attracts skaters from every nook and cranny of the state. But you’ll find no one prouder and more possessive of our city’s new addition than the now-empowered Polk County skate community. Jason Penick, local skater and co-founder of Pi Skateboards in Bartow, equates the local skating community with the overall diversity of the sport and believes the new Lakeland SkatePark will be a powerful common denominator. Penick says, “The Polk County skateboard scene is diverse, from little to no experience on one end, to over four decades of skateboarding memories. The preferred terrain of skateboarders is just as diverse, from street obstacles to deep bowls. The new Lakeland SkatePark blends these diversities well, showcasing almost every aspect of skateboarding, and attracting every discipline and age group in the area, in a family-friendly environment.” Although this diverse skateboard community extends beyond city limits, Lakeland has its own organization, the Lakeland Skaters’ Alliance (LSA), whose mission is to advocate and educate in the name of skating. According to its president Bruce “Rudy” Phillips, the LSA was first formed in 2011. It is a nonprofit, grassroots group of citizen skaters who focus on the importance of skateboarding as a cross-generational activity. Their original mission was to promote and support the construction of a new and well-designed skatepark in Lakeland. And, following that mission, the LSA worked closely with the City of Lakeland’s Parks and Recreation Department to see the new skatepark at Lake Bonny Park into fruition.




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The LSA was instrumental and crucial to the process as a representative voice for the needs and wants of the local skate community. Following the opening of the skatepark in 2013, the LSA shifted the focus of their mission to “encourage the development of a community of skaters of all ages and abilities who can use the Lakeland SkatePark as a place to practice their sport.” Their long-term mission also includes a dedication to the vitality of the Lakeland SkatePark and to ensure that it remains a quality aspect of Lakeland’s landscape for years to come. The Lakeland Skaters’ Alliance is currently participating in a new and exciting event aimed at opening skateboard culture to a wider audience. On June 21, Innoskate 2014 will take place at the Lakeland SkatePark and Polk Museum of Art. Innoskate is being organized by the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, the Polk Museum of Art, the International Association of Skateboard Companies (IASC), the City of Lakeland, and the 70


Lakeland Skaters’ Alliance. The public festival will explore the artistry, innovation, and culture behind skateboarding. This local iteration of the event is modeled after last year’s original Innoskate organized by the Smithsonian on the national mall at Washington D.C. That public festival engaged the skating community by exploring the history and evolution of skating while discussing the contributions skating has on contemporary society. Demonstrations, interactive workshops, and Q&A panels with such skating legends as Tony Hawk and Rodney Mullen created a holistic look at the legacy and future of skateboard culture. According to Dr. Jeff Brodie, deputy director at the Lemelson Center, “The Innoskate festival was created in 2013 as a collaboration between the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation and the International Association of Skateboard Companies to share skateboard culture’s widespread innovative and creative spirit with public audiences. The success of the initial program in Washington, D.C. led us to consider how we might extend the Innoskate experience across the country. ”

Innoskate 2014 will simulate Smithsonian’s original event but will incorporate aspects from our local skate community. The mission of celebrating the artistry and innovation of skateboarding inspired Polk Museum of Art’s Executive Director Claire Orologas to pursue this project with the Smithsonian and remains crucial to Polk County’s Innoskate 2014. According to Orologas, “We want our citizens — all of our citizens — to see the museum as a welcoming and dynamic gathering place where ideas about the human experience can be explored through works of art. We want to broaden our reach and, through programs like this, bring seemingly unlikely partners together in celebration of the creative spirit.” Dr. Jeff Brodie reciprocates Orologas’ sentiment: “Together, and with the additional support of many other government and community partners, we have crafted a dynamic and informative program for the Lakeland community that will explore the intersection of skateboarding, invention and innovation, history, creativity, and artistic expression in new and unexpected ways.”

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The weekend-long event will kick off at the Polk Museum of Art on the evening of Friday, June 20, when attendees will enjoy a night of camaraderie, skating, and music as they gear up for Saturday’s main events. Saturday morning, June 21 (which is International Go Skateboarding Day and coincidentally marks Polk Museum of Art’s 48th anniversary), will include instructional sessions for young and emerging skaters, skate competitions, interview sessions, and board tagging at the Lakeland SkatePark. Around midday, major roads will be temporarily closed for “The Big Skate,” a group skate from the Lakeland SkatePark to the Polk Museum of Art. That afternoon will include skate-related workshops and panel sessions with professional skaters, artists, and scholars in the museum’s auditorium. Additionally, the museum’s skateboardinspired exhibition, co-organized by Chad and Suzie Cardoza from the Tampa skate community, will also be on view to introduce attendees to contemporary artworks made entirely of skate decks. Outside, live bands, food, and portable skate spots will keep wheels rolling on into the evening. Innoskate 2014 will celebrate the history and artistry of skateboarding, shed light on the current status of Lakeland’s skate

community, and provide glimpses into the future of skateboarding as an art form. The event’s primary objective will be to underscore the sport’s existence as much more than a physical activity; the creativity and lifestyles of skaters have defined a subculture for decades and now permeate aspects of local and popular culture. To perceive it as merely being a pastime for adolescent rebels or those without regard for the law is to not realize its essence. Skateboarding was created not as a means of protest, but as a segue into the creative and independent spirit. As a community, we must embrace skateboarding for these reasons and hope that its existence reminds us all to preserve a communal ambition for energy, progress, and openness, chasing that which at first seems “alternative.” The author especially thanks Betsy Gordon, project manager at the Smithsonian Institution and curator of the Smithsonian exhibition “Ramp It Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America,” which debuted at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in 2009. Gordon’s in-depth knowledge and appreciation for skateboarding’s culture and history contributed greatly to this article.


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Mixing the words “barbershop” and “skateboard” might conjure hilariously odd images of barbershop quartet singers in full redand-white striped suits and white handlebar mustaches rolling on skateboards, or some kind of new über-hipster phenomenon. Admittedly, some of the problem in combining the two stems from the stereotypes associated with their conventional respective cultures — the barbershop as the black man’s haven and the skate park as the white dude’s domain. Jairus Rutherford, the owner and operator of Lakeland’s Second 2 None Barbershop since he opened it in 2007, knows that nothing could be further from the truth. In his effort to create opportunities in our community and expand his business, Rutherford is blending the two subcultures.

From comedic films in popular culture to more serious scholarly examinations, the barbershop has been consistently associated with black culture. More often than not, the barbershop is positioned as an important community center for black masculine activity. The quality of the cuts, fades, and trims holds great significance, to be certain, but so are the conversations and the relationships. You can see this at Second 2 None even in a short visit on a quiet weekday, just in the spectrum of the clientele. A father brings in his very young son for what appears to be his first haircut, and when the tot begins to cry and clamor for his father, barber Kenny Davis kindly but firmly says, “There’s no tears in the barbershop.” Darien Chase, who has been with the shop for seven years, points to the teenage

boy in his chair and another waiting on a bench. “We’ve practically raised these two,” he says, not without some pride. The barbers share their stories of watching many of their clients grow up. In a way, they serve as the trustworthy uncles down the street whose guidance and even occasional advice is to be respected. Rutherford’s own life experiences attest to the powers of the barbershop. It was the first place he was allowed to go outside of his house as a boy, and photographs of his old neighborhood barbershop in Plant City hang on the walls of Second 2 None in homage to its importance. A barber since the age of thirteen, Rutherford embodies the potential impact of this experience in a young man’s life. When boys grow up, they can participate in the conversations the barbers have with the older men in their chairs on any



number of subjects, or sit in a comfortable silence, just enjoying the experience. However, Rutherford and the other barbers quickly point out that their shop is open to everyone, and indeed, in the space of this short visit, men of varying racial backgrounds take their seats at the chairs. On the other hand, skateboarding is often associated with a white masculine countercultural movement, despite its current prevalence in the mainstream. Emerging out of 1950s California surf culture, “sidewalk surfing,� as it was then known, allowed surfers to take their activities from the waves to the street. By the late 1970s, the sport took on increasingly rebellious tones as drought-stricken Californians emptied their pools and industrious skateboarders used the rounded concrete surfaces to execute high-flying tricks. Although public skate parks were opened at this time, low attendance and funding cuts caused their closure, and the 1980s saw the birth of street skating, when skaters rode handrails, sidewalks, and walls as new challenges. Thus, the sport became seen among many as a public nuisance, an activity for bored, unruly teenage boys. Since then, it has slowly shaken its negative connotations




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and become something embraced by the public as a common interest among multiple communities. As evidenced by the Polk Museum of Art’s upcoming Innoskate event, people of all ages, genders, and cultural backgrounds now take up skateboarding as a fun and challenging way to be more active. For Rutherford, sponsoring a skate team and starting a skate shop seemed like the next logical steps in his efforts to expand his business and build upon support for the greater Lakeland community. Like many local businesses, Second 2 None has long sponsored various community basketball and football teams, which Rutherford sees as good ways to keep kids busy and active. Signed college football jerseys from local players adorn the barbershop’s walls to serve as inspiration for his younger clients. When they in turn inform him that they will have jerseys on his wall one day, he gently reminds them that first they have to achieve the grades to be admitted into college. Rutherford also helps raise funds for local causes by sponsoring different events, but his most significant endeavor has been his own You see them Movies,T.V. T.V.Commercials Commercials andininM You see them and Imperial Hair Show. As in ainMovies, competition judge for Paul Mitchell, Rutherford has connections within the greater professional barber world, and he has been able to bring the phenomenon of competitive hairstyling to Lakeland. Scheduled for July 27, 2014, the Imperial Hair Show is part tradeshow, part spectacle, with the styling and barbering competitions being a highlight. Stylists and barbers compete to complete cuts in the fastest time or of the best quality. Of particular note is the hair art, in which barbers shave and sculpt the hair on a sitter’s head in various ways, most popularly, into portraits. Rutherford envisions the Hair Show as a major tourist revenue-generating attraction for all of Lakeland. As JULIANA BUONANNO JULIANA BUONANNO Appearing National Appearing in in thethe National TVTV Series Graceland 2 Episodes Series Graceland in in 2 Episodes USA Network. onon thethe USA Network.

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Second 2 None Barbershop owner, Jairus Rutherford





it’s positioned perfectly between Orlando and Tampa, he anticipates the show eventually attracting bigger audiences from afar that will stay in the city’s hotels, eat at its restaurants, and shop in its stores. Clearly, Rutherford understands his business’s position as a community center and takes it to heart. Like the Imperial Hair Show, the Second 2 None Skate Team combines Rutherford’s interests in both his business and the community. The team is an activity that can help young people in the community stay active and out of trouble. Rutherford requires the participants to maintain good grades in order to remain members. As a former skater, he enjoys the sport and understands what the skaters need

(although, if you ask him about his skating these days, he grins, shakes his head, and protests that those days are over). The team is in its initial stages, with just a few members, but will likely grow. Second 2 None helped sponsor the first skate competition at Lake Bonny Park last December, and the Second 2 None Skate Team practices at Lake Bonny and competes in Tampa. The skate team also fits into Rutherford’s plans to “mainstream” the shop. “Every shop needs a theme,” he says, and he has decided that his will be skating. He has outfitted the open space in the shop’s center with cases full of decks, wheels, and other accessories. Clients will be able to come in, get a haircut, and pick up a skateboard, too, if

they wish. With this city’s increasing love of novelty, this should be a big hit. Lakeland has been progressing in leaps and bounds because of its core — the people innovating for a better future. Rutherford exemplifies the best of us, as an individual with strong entrepreneurial ambitions and an enormous dedication to our city. He looks beyond the mire of stereotypes and race and combines different alternative cultures to create something much larger and more beneficial in this community. This kind of unprejudiced, guileless ingenuity perfectly suits Lakeland’s maturation into the great center of creativity and eclecticism that certainly occupies our future.





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In their four years of marriage, Joseph and Taylor Irby have moved four times and welcomed two beautiful children into the world. Their most recent relocation led them to a fairly standard three-bedroom apartment in the large apartment community, Victoria Manor, in North Lakeland. However, what they’ve done with their dwelling is anything but standard. Personally, when I walk into a newish apartment with beige carpet, beige walls, and anything but distinctive architectural features, I fall into a morose state and stay there, uninspired and with no idea what to do or where to begin. (My first apartment in Columbia, Maryland, would prove my point. So, so boring.) But where many of us see only limitations, Taylor sees options. The Lakelander: Joseph is from a large family in Arkansas. You’re a down-home Southern gal from Charleston, South Carolina. How did you meet? Taylor Irby: Joseph and I met in Charleston through a mutual friend. He moved to Charleston to attend the Citadel Military College while I was attending Charleston Southern University. It was at Charleston Southern that I met a dear friend, Irene, who knew Joseph from church. I’ll never forget the day I was sitting on my college roommate’s couch and received Irene’s phone call excitedly asking, “Do you want to come out to Patriot’s Point and go sailing?” In a matter

of seconds I was scrambling for my bathing suit and sun hat and heading out the door. It was on that day that I first met Joseph (even though he argues we met once before) as he showed us our beautiful city from the harbor view. Joseph’s love for sailing always attracted a fun group of friends on the Charleston Harbor, and while he seemed like a fun guy (and very interested in getting to know me), I didn’t know if he was dating material. When he asked me out on a date, I politely declined — maybe too politely, because he continually persisted. I eventually agreed to go out on a date with him where he took me sailing and had a beautiful and

A defined color palette does wonders for any space. Taylor used cool tones in steel blue and purples, mixed with wheat/gold upholstery and mirrored accents. The result is uber sophisticated but still inviting. Personal mementos and family photos add to the sense of warmth.

well-prepared day trip ready for us. It was then that he shared his passion for traveling and his love for God and family. I saw a new side to him that made me think twice about my assumptions and oblige to a second date. I believe that it was his adventurous demeanor that made me hesitant to accept his initial invitation, but I later learned that this quality is one of the main reasons I adore and admire him so much. TL: You’ve said that ever since your marriage you’ve led a quasi-nomadic lifestyle, moving about once a year. How did you end up in Lakeland? THE LAKELANDER



These are a few of Taylor’s original paintings which are scattered throughout the apartment. They’re all done on mirror, so up close you get a bit of sparkle peeking through the paint. Brilliant.

The tent frame in the corner serves alternately as fairy tent, teepee for games of cowboys and Indians, or a really beautiful sculptural element, adding just a touch of whimsy in an otherwise very grownup space.

Taylor: We’ve moved quite a bit since we’ve been married. We initially moved from our downtown [Charleston] duplex when we found out that we were expecting our daughter, Inslee, in an effort to be closer to some of my family. About a year later, we moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, for Joseph’s work. Eight months later, the company merged, and the acquiring company proposed an opportunity in Florida. The relocation demands were simple: “We need you in Florida.” Knowing that the job would require a lot of travel throughout the state meant Joseph needed to be as centrally located as possible. He pulled out a map and said, “Right here between Orlando and Tampa is a city that seems like it would be perfect.” He was pointing to Lakeland. I went online and researched potential places to live and very quickly became overwhelmed. I found only one apartment complex that seemed like it would be a good fit for our family, and much to Joseph’s liking, it was conveniently located right off of I-4. The next day, Joseph very enthusiastically announced that he had a distant connection to a family who lived in Lakeland. We both had children the same age and were in our first trimesters with our second child. We connected on Facebook, and I soon learned that we would have wonderful friends in Daniel and Jessica Wilson. As I bombarded her with questions about the city (as I regrettably still do!), she offered to go and check out the apartment complex. She drove over and said that it seemed great. And that was that. As total strangers, she helped our family find a home at Victoria Manor. In a matter of a week or so, Joseph flew back to Charleston and moved our belongings. Shortly thereafter, he came back to Little Rock to drive us to our new home in Lakeland. TL: With all of this moving, and now with two kids in tow, how do you stay inspired to do the fun things, like decorating and making each dwelling place feel like home?





PAINTING NOVICE (How I did it, and you can, too!)


Be inspired by a subject that you can’t wait to create. It has to be something you’re really excited about. This enthusiasm gets me through the process when at times it can seem too difficult, or if I’m having a hard time creating what I was envisioning in my mind.


Finding the desired medium. For me it has been finding unique mirrors with interesting frame shapes. Picking out the mirror is almost as important as what I paint on it. The curve of a mirror frame or its color can greatly enhance the painting itself.


Start painting. Since I enjoy using bright colors for the main subjects, I usually paint over the entire surface (leaving some slight streaks untouched) with a neutral color such as white or a light grey. I then choose one color to paint the outline and main features of the main subject (I often use various pictures of inspiration to help guide me through the initial sketch). After you’re pleased with the general shape...


...go crazy with layering colors. This is my favorite part. I feel as if it’s a pure artistic expression where one can play with color combinations and accent the curves and edges of the subject. For me, there’s really no rhyme or reason to this method. I just paint what I’m feeling and watch the sketch come to life in vivid color.


Find a prominent place to display your new masterpiece!



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Taylor: I simply can’t help it. It’s probably due to my simple desire to create spaces for my friends and family where they will feel comfortable and relaxed. It’s also an expression of our journey as a family and the way I can tell the story of our life. I love finding decor that represents something significant to my past or has a deeper meaning, such as the magnolia picture which now serves as the centerpiece of our living space. There were magnolia trees completely surrounding Joseph’s home in Charleston, and he would say to me the winter before we got married, “By the time the magnolias bloom, I am going to make you my wife.” The first time I saw the painting it brought back that warm feeling of love and security I got every time he spoke those words, and I knew it would be a beautiful centerpiece for our home. I truly believe that we are on a journey of becoming better and better as each day comes. I am encountering a new city that holds different experiences, and I’m meeting new people almost every day. I am witnessing firsthand how my life is being transformed, and I know that it is this belief that inspires me to create. Decorating and making our space feel like home is a direct correlation with my spiritual journey to find contentment and joy, no matter the space and no matter the limitations (dollars, time, etc).

TL: Just having small children at home is more than a full-time job. How do you find the time? Do you think beauty in their environment impacts the kids? Why has this been important for you? Taylor: We are busy, to say the least. I very quickly learned that there is a time and a season for everything and that throughout these seasons it is impossible to do everything “right” or to the fullest potential as you would if any one project was your sole focus. There have been times where I am particularly drawn to cooking beautiful and somewhat complex meals every night, which my family gets to join in on and experience with me. There have been seasons where I feel my mind is focused more toward sewing or painting or even meticulously organizing a space (which comes in handy with apartment living!). I feel free in my home to explore these avenues and dedicate my spare time to doing them as well as I possibly can. Which leads me to “spare time.” This most often means my children’s nap times or after they have gone to bed for the night. I must admit that there are times when I sacrifice spending oneon-one time with my children to pursue hobbies or side jobs. For the most part, I think for our family, this is OK. I think it’s beneficial for my daughter to see that Mommy can paint a picture

of her favorite animal in all of her favorite colors, or to see that the scraps of fabric she picked out from the fabric store can become a place where she can rest her head every night and feel like a princess. Anderson is still quite small, but as he gets older I’m eager to see how he becomes involved with our little craft projects around the house. With all of these fun and creative endeavors come two ever-challenging factors for me: priorities and balance. Priorities such as spending time with my family in the morning, making sure they have a wonderful breakfast while teaching my kids spiritual truths, or laughing at silly things that happened the day before. Balance such as allowing them time to play and explore while I split my attention between their playtime and whatever creative avenue I’m currently pursuing. It’s important to me to strive to maintain a home where my family feels secure and loved so that they can more fully appreciate that our home is a space for all of us to be free to create and grow and even to make more beautiful. TL: They say that necessity is the mother of invention. That proves true in your home when it comes to the glass paintings hanging throughout your apartment. After exhausting






2014 CANDIDATES BOARD OF DIRECTORS ThankTHEyou from READ Lakeland! Thank you from READ Lakeland! Over $40,000 was raised during our “Kiss The Pig” FUNdraising event for READ Lakeland to help adults learn to read. Thank Over $40,000 was raised during our “Kiss The Pig” FUNdraising event for READ to help adults learn to read. Thank you 2014 “Kiss The Pig” Candidates, Sponsors, campaign teams and volunteers forLakeland your unwavering support to help us raise Thank you from READ Lakeland! you 2014 “Kiss The Pig” Candidates, Sponsors, campaign and volunteers your unwavering support help us raise more funds than ever before. WHO Kissed the PIG? Laurateams Pinner DID! 1st Placefor| Laura Pinner - Wex rapid! to | Greta Dupuy more $40,000 funds before. WHO the-Pig” PIG? Laura Pinner DID!Dantzler 1stREAD PlaceRealty | Lakeland Laura| Steve Pinner - Wex | Jones Greta Dupuy Publix Superthan Markets, Inc. | Lauren Saunders CBCFUNdraising Saunders Ralston - rapid! Hamic Hamic &Over wasever raised during our Kissed “Kiss The event for to Hamic help adults learn to read. Thank Publix Super Markets, Inc. | Lauren Saunders CBC Saunders Ralston Dantzler Realty | Steve Hamic Hamic Jones Hamic Sturwold, P.A. | Mandy Morton & Amanda Herman Hatties Branches Boutique | Sharon Casey Community Southern Bank you 2014 “Kiss The Pig” Candidates, Sponsors, campaign teams and volunteers for your unwavering support to help us raise& Sturwold, P.A. | Mandy Morton &| Curt Amanda Herman - Hatties Branches Boutique Sharon Casey- -Wex Community Bank |more Rebecca Wroten - Haka Fitness Patterson - Patterson Publishing/The Lakelander | Natalie Oldenkamp -Southern Realty World funds than ever before. WHO Kissed the PIG? Laura Pinner DID! 1st Place ||Laura Pinner rapid! | Greta Dupuy - | | Rebecca Wroten - Haka Fitness Patterson - Patterson Lakelander | Natalie Oldenkamp - Realty World Chrissy Catlin - Alpha Delta Pi | Curt Publix Super Markets, Inc. | Lauren Saunders - CBC SaundersPublishing/The Ralston Dantzler Realty | Steve Hamic - Hamic Jones Hamic &| Chrissy Catlin Alpha Delta Pi & Amanda Herman - Hatties Branches Boutique | Sharon Casey - Community Southern Bank Sturwold, P.A. |- Mandy Morton | Rebecca Wroten - Haka Fitness | Curt Patterson - Patterson Publishing/The Lakelander | Natalie Oldenkamp - Realty World | Chrissy Catlin - Alpha Delta Pi SPONSORS Detroit Tigers | Southern Homes | Polk State College | Parry’s Lawn & Landscaping, Inc. | Bartow Ford Company SPONSORS Detroit Tigers | Southern Homes | Polk State College | Parry’s Lawn & Landscaping, Inc. | Bartow Ford Company


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READ Lakeland is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in our community through teaching basic literacy skills to adult nonreaders and promoting adult and family literacy. An estimated 24% percent of adults in Lakeland are functionally illiterate: they cannot read medical instructions, fill out an employment application, or read a simple story to a child. READ Lakeland provides oneREAD tutoring Lakelandand is a small nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to read. improving quality of life our community through teaching basic literacy skills to adult nonreaders and promoting adult and family literacy. to-one group instruction to help them learn to ALL ofthe our services are in FREE to our learners. An estimated 24% percent of adults in Lakeland are functionally illiterate: they cannot read medical instructions, fill out an employment application, or read a simple story to a child. READ Lakeland provides oneto-one tutoring and small group instruction to help them learn to read. ALL of our services are FREE to our learners. READ Lakeland is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in our community through teaching basic literacy skills to adult nonreaders and promoting adult and family literacy. An estimated 24% percent of adults in Lakeland are functionally illiterate: they cannot read medical instructions, fill out an employment application, or read a simple story to a child. READ Lakeland provides oneTHE LAKELANDER to-one tutoring and small group instruction to help them learn to read. ALL of our services are FREE to our learners.


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In Inslee’s room, Taylor went crazy with DIYs. She made the headboard, curtains, and bedding, and mixed in vintage pieces for an eclectic yet princess-appropriate space.

your usual thrift-store haunts in search of the perfect idiosyncratic piece to display on a newly painted wall, you stopped looking for the perfect thing and gave it a go with your own two hands, dusting off some acrylic paints that had been sitting in a closet and settling on a gilded mirror as your medium. The result was splendid, and now you have a whole series of glass paintings stretching throughout your space. What inspired you to paint on mirrors? What attributes do you find to be distinctive to painting on glass versus canvas or another surface? Taylor: What initially inspired me to paint on the mirror was that it was a framed surface that I already had. I thought it would look substantial and finished if I could somehow translate my ideas to the surface. At first I was hesitant to attempt painting on a mirror because I didn’t want it to look like a DIY project and was afraid the paint wouldn’t conceal the entire surface. What I found is that it indeed was possible to conceal it, but I actually liked the quality of the painting more with leaving small hints of the mirror in view. The reflected light gives the painting a new dimension. Additionally, in my experience I feel as though it’s easier to edit your work if you’re working on glass (and can even wipe or scrape off any “oops” spots). I also enjoy that, unlike using canvas with acrylics, you’re able to go over a stroke with a different color and can conceal the initial stroke if desired. You’re really able to mold your work throughout the process, and the smooth surface of the glass makes it feel effortless.

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Taylor made a mobile inspired by all of Joseph’s sailing memorabilia which fills their son, Anderson’s, room. It’s probably the manliest nursery I’ve ever seen.

I particularly enjoy using a lot of variation in strokes with multiple bright hues. The first time I painted, all I had to work with was an inexpensive craft sponge brush. I found it to be perfect for what I was trying to create and have since used one for every painting. I never wash, clean, or wipe it off throughout the process, which I feel gives it a sense of fluidity as I move from section to section. Mixing all of the bright colors through one sponge creates a variation that I feel, for me, would be more difficult if I were working with one color at a time or with multiple sponges. TL: You’ve been in Lakeland over a year now. Do you think you just might stay? Taylor: I think we might! We are making wonderful friends and have come to love that Lakeland has so much to offer families like ours with small children. We’ve enjoyed finding the little gems of the city such as the great “hole in the wall” restaurants, and, of course, all of the great parks and lakes. The Saturday morning farmer’s market downtown has been so much fun for us and is slightly reminiscent of my home in Charleston. We also have found that within Lakeland there are many opportunities for our family to serve others and to help those around us. We love those whose paths have intersected with ours and hope to be here for some time to continue to grow and nurture those relationships.







Every September and February, the who’s-who in fashion converge in Manhattan for front-row seats at what has become the Super Bowl of the fashion industry — Fashion Week. To many of you this is as foreign as it gets and perhaps registers only a buzz word recalled from late-night Pinterest perusing and Twitter feeds. Safe to say, Fashion Week is probably not something that rates high on your bucket list. But to a starry-eyed fashion student one freezing afternoon in February 2007, it meant everything. I had the opportunity to take a seat among all of the fashion editors, bloggers, and designers I looked up to. I felt the insane adrenaline rush as the lights went down, the buzzing crowd grew silent, and the music started. While my vantage point was not from the front row, I will never forget the awe-inspiring emotions as I witnessed the detailed works of art saunter effortlessly down the dimly lit runway or the way the luxurious fabrics caught the hint of light from the photographer’s flash. To be up close and personal with the handiwork of Vera Wang, one of the great designers of our time, is an imprint in my memory I hope to someday repeat. If you ever get the chance to attend a show at New York Fashion Week, or the couture shows in Paris — take it. Better yet, take me! I promise, you will never look at a garment the same way. But be duly warned; you’re likely to morph into a fashion geek like me. 96


Other than the exhilarating experience, another take-away from Fashion Week is a first-hand glimpse into the next season’s trends. Whether watching the shows live or streaming them online, you’ll begin to notice the recurring styles and themes popping up on the runways from New York to Paris. These are the looks that will make their way into production and onto the racks and into your closet by spring. At last September’s shows, designers delivered a wide array of styles and trends for Spring/Summer 2014: wide-leg, culotte-style pants; high-waisted trousers; menswear-inspired tuxedo pants and bomber jackets; Oxford button-downs completely remixed; pastel everything; feminine skirts in midi and tea lengths; bold crop tops; earth tones; fringe; sweaters; collarless and boxy-style jackets; pleats galore; and sheer paneling to name a few. It was a bohemian rhapsody with globally inspired looks, an artistic explosion with museum-worthy pieces, floral prints with major attitude, abstract turned up a notch, and wordplay with graphic poetry plastered across garments. These are just a handful of the multitude of trends that graced the Spring/Summer 2014 runways. The following five trends are some of the heavy hitters and some of the better options for wearability. Follow these tips and pictorial examples on how to work these looks into your own spring/ summer wardrobe.


Designers’ printed pieces took an unexpected turn this spring with abstract prints and brushstroke-quality florals taking center stage. Surrealist works of art, graffiti walls, and poetic compositions came to life on spring runways, while daydreams of tropical getaways and fields of blooming flowers were taken into consideration as designers showcased painterly petals and tropicalinspired pieces. So whether you want to put a little spring in your step with abstract floral heels or tropical pants, or make a statement in poetic verse, you’ll find an array of styles out there from which to choose.


As with any bold print, keep the rest of your look simple, allowing the print to stand alone, front and center. Or, get courageous and mix your florals. Just be sure to watch the scale and color. I like to go with a smaller print on top and bigger on bottom. Not feeling that bold? Go smaller in scale on both, and break up the print with a solid color jacket, blazer, or cardigan. On our model we paired a bold floral skinny jean with a darker tee, which complements the lighter-colored print. We completed the look with a white blazer.

White Blazer (Eliza J, Nordstrom) Abstract Floral Skinnies (Calvin Klein, TJ Maxx) Charcoal Tee (Marshall’s) Poppy-Colored Pumps (model’s own)




While crop tops made a huge appearance on runways as one of the season’s biggest trends, my New Year’s resolution to get to the gym did not have as much staying power. Therefore, I will not be partaking in this trend. While not for everyone, it certainly plays well with some of this season’s other hot looks: high-waisted, wide-leg trousers and exaggerated-volume midi and tealength skirts.


Watch the proportion. High-waisted pants and voluminous skirts work best with a fitted crop. Not feeling bold or buff enough? Try it with a higher-waisted pant or skirt that doesn’t show much midriff. You can also pair the top with a jacket that distracts from the middle and keeps things a bit more conservative. In our example here, you will once again see combined trends, as the crop combines the artistic floral trend as well. Our model wears a longer, more boxy-cut crop, paired with a boyfriend jean for a more doable, casual, summer-weekend look.

Watercolor Floral Print Crop Top (Anthropologie) Boyfriend Jeans (model’s own) Taupe Lace-Up Oxfords (Marshall’s) Straw Hat (Apt. 9, Kohl’s)


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While each season sees its share of gentlemanly influence, this season saw more than just tuxedo pants, Oxford lace, and poplin button-downs. A sporty influence also showed up in vast quantities, with the return of the varsity bomber jacket, mesh wear, oversized sweatshirts, and athletic pants and shorts. And — wait for it — denim overalls are back! While I like taking cues here and there from our male counterparts, I gravitate much more toward the feminine aesthetic. However, the classic white button-down that dominated spring runways made me very, very giddy. I’m not sure there’s a sexier, more versatile piece of clothing out there. But the designers didn’t stop there. This classic piece was reinvented into shirt dresses, unique pullovers, and shift blouses.

White Button-Down (Jones New York, TJ Maxx) Pleated Midi Skirt (MNG for JCPenney) Black Booties (Apt. 9, Kohl’s) Yellow Bag (Kate Spade)

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When it comes to sporty attire, add pieces sparingly. A head-to-toe athletic look can verge on looking costumey. Add feminine qualities to balance out this look. For instance, layer a varsity bomber over a floral sheath dress or pants and tee. Pair a silk blouse with athletic pants or shorts. As far as trends go, quintessential menswear pieces, such as wide-leg trousers and Oxfords, have the most staying power. These items repeat every couple of seasons, so it’s safe to invest in them. Pair your Oxford lace-ups with skinnies or boyfriend jeans, or even your pleated midi skirts. For your classic white button-down, dress it up Carolina Herrera style, worn with a skirt or pants, taking it as far as black tie, or dress it down with denim or tied over a maxi dress. As styled here on our model, we went with a dressier approach. It doesn’t get much more effortless than this. Paired with an accordion-pleated midi skirt, shirt partially tucked in, and black peep-toe booties to offset the conservative look with some edge, it’s the perfect look for the office or lunch. A change of the bag and you’re ready for dinner!



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another successful Polk County Heart & Stroke Ball Email: PolkAHA 6:30pm For sponsorship information and reservations, pleas

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d reservations, contact TREND 4:please PASTEL PERFECTION On the runway, soft pastels are all the rage this -6941 ext spring, 8032 with pinks, blush tones, and lilac leading the pack. Keep your mint green from last spring se contact front and center; it’s back as another strong player, as are coral and baby blue. Fortunately, designers LKHEARTBALL .HEART.ORG created some chic, tailored pastel pieces, such as



sleek pencil skirts, tailored blazers, and cropped jackets. This way, the color won’t create an overwhelmingly cutesy, EasterMedia egg–inspired look. Sponsors


Inc. • GEICOIf solid pastel pieces are worn together, make

sure to break up the look with a neutral- or boldMedia Sponsors colored jacket or cardigan. For example, wear a camel trench over a violet- or peach-colored head-to-toe look. A palette cleansing from all of the bold prints spring has to offer with a soft look via earthy, neutral tones can be a refreshing take. Our model wears an example of this look — a soft blush tone paired with a neutral olive harem pant. This outfit can be paired with a jacket for a more pulled-together, dressy look for work or dinner.

Blush-Colored Buttoned-Up Blouse (Marshall’s) Olive-Gold Ankle-Zip Harem Pants (Dillard’s) Mesh Cut-Out Booties (Jennifer Lopez, Kohl’s) Watercolor Print Clutch (Anthropologie)



If girly-girl is your style, you’ll certainly be on trend this season. Whether you’re pretty in pleats or lovely in lace, chiffon, silk, tulle, or organza, you’ll have multiple styles of skirts and dresses from which to choose. Designer offerings of a more whimsical, softer, flowing silhouette give a nod to classic femininity. If femme fatale is more your speed, then sheer pieces, silk jumpsuits, and racy lace numbers are also in abundance this season.


For a feminine look, we chose all-over pleats with a raspberry-colored pleated maxi dress. While we went simplistic and let the dress stand alone with limited jewelry, you could really dress it up or down. Add a denim or leather jacket or vest for some contrast and to dress it down. Add statement earrings and metallic heels for a dressier look. Raspberry-Colored Pleated Maxi (Eliza J, Dillard’s) Turquoise Pendant Necklace (Lucky, TJ Maxx)




Growing Up Creative

A coming-of-age tale

story by Mark Nielsen • photography by Dustin Prickett


Charcoal and Gray-Detail Blazer (H&M) Ss Alfie Printed Shirt (Cotton On) Tan 511 Slim Fit Jeans by Levi’s (Marshall’s) Loafers (G.H. Bass & Co.)



ost teenage guys don’t dress well. This was especially true when I was a teenager. These days it’s not much better, as young guys just don’t seem to care. Shorts, flip-flops, T-shirt, and a sweat-stained baseball cap are all it takes to be deemed ready to go out. The problem is that when these young men enter the workforce, their bad habits stay with them. For some, the problem is resolved for them: They work in a place with a dress code (see The Lakelander Issue 7), such as in a law office where

they have to wear a suit, in a garage or factory job where they have to wear a uniform, or a similar occupation with predefined clothing criteria. But a guy who works in a creative field — especially one who owns his own business — can get caught in a weird world of in-betweens and almost-theres, of does-itreally-matter and I-think-I-should-be-moreprofessional. For this man, designing logos, print ads, or websites doesn’t seem to be a career that requires anything particularly special in the way of style. However, as he gets more successful

there will come a time when he’s faced with a dilemma: How do I grow up, or become mature and client-facing, without losing who I am? Without losing my creativity? I’ve been there. In fact, I face it every day when I get ready for work. It’s no easy task, and I feel for you guys. The good news is that there are options out there. And really, it’s easier nowadays than it’s ever been. We’ll walk you through some choices, some creative-guy staples, and give you a few tips along the way. Maybe growing up won’t be so hard after all.

Shoes We have to start with the shoes. Most people can take a quick glance at your shoes and know if you’ve given it any thought. And maybe they think, if you don’t care about those old Skechers on your feet, you don’t care too much about my brand either. Seriously. Here we go. • The easy choice? Cole Haan. Grab a pair of Cole Haans with a pop of color, like their Great Jones. Try not to get too crazy — the goal is to keep your edge, not look like a clown. • If the Cole Haans are too expensive, or buying shoes in time for Thursday’s presentation just isn’t an option, try giving your old dress shoes a boost with a pair of colorful shoelaces. These need to be laces meant for dress shoes: Those wide Converse laces are going to look like you put mud tires on a Cadillac, so get it right. You can order them online or pick them up next time you’re at Cole Haan or Nordstrom. • Desert boots are a great option if dress shoes aren’t your thing. And you can find them in Lakeland. The classics are made by Clarks, and those should be your first choice (check Belk for an in-town source). But you can find other (and cheaper) versions if you look around. The color is up to you, as long as it’s neutral.

Socks Next up are your socks. No creative guy should be wearing black dress socks or (gasp) white crew socks. Ever. You’ve got so many options. Solid colors, patterns, mismatched. You can even find them at Target. Another option is no socks at all (or no-show socks), especially for summer. Shoes and Laces (Cole Haan)



Pants • Fit: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Slim. Maybe even skinny. But most guys should at least try slim. Those guys who say they can’t wear slim because of their age are probably trying a skinny fit instead of a slim. Try Levi’s 511 or even 514. If you feel your body’s not shaped for a slim- or skinny-fit pant, it means a regular-fit probably fits you like a slim fits other guys. The goal is just to look like your pants fit you well. • Color: Since you started with your shoes (if you’re paying attention), you may need to use some serious discretion here. Colorful pants can be a great way to do something different and set yourself apart. However, if you’re intent on wearing a colorful pair of shoes, you may want to keep the pants neutral. Let the shoes carry that torch. Then again, if your shoes are simple — desert boots, maybe — let your pants say you’re not afraid of color. PacSun usually has some, while Dockers and Levi’s both have good options from time to time and can be found in Lakeland at Kohl’s, Dillard’s, etc. Orange, blue, green, and red are acceptable. • Dark jeans are OK, too, and fit perfectly with everything else mentioned here.

Belt Wear one. I don’t care what kind, but try to match your shoes. Some shoes are hard to match, so in those cases I’ll choose a cloth or web belt that goes with something else.


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You can’t go too wrong here if you’ve done the other three things right. Again, try not to look like a clown. If you’ve added color somewhere else, stick with a white or blue Oxford cloth button-down (OCBD). If you’re wearing navy or khaki chinos, you could add a little color with your shirt. But usually a loud shirt won’t look cool; it’ll just look like a loud shirt. Subtle is better, in my opinion.

Jacket If you feel your outfit needs a little something more, maybe something to dress it up for a special client, try adding a sport coat. The only rule here is to make sure it’s tailored. For you. Take it to someone in town — Nathan’s, Helen’s, Jos. A. Bank — and get it to fit perfectly. Then you’ll be money.


Accessories Don’t accessorize too much. I don’t really count the actual number, but I think I try to pick only two or three of the following. Any more and you look like you might open your jacket and start selling gold watches out of it. • Pocket square. If you’re wearing a jacket, you probably should wear a pocket square. • Tie. Try one on. See if it works for you. Keep the pattern small, or go for a repp stripe. Sometimes a solid tie is best (with a gingham shirt, for example). • Watch. See Issue 9 of The Lakelander. This won’t count against the two- or three-item rule. • Hat. This may count for two. • Rings, necklaces, bracelets. You may be reading the wrong section. Above all, keep it fun, and make sure you feel good in what you’re wearing.

We shot this article at Catapult in Lakeland with two Lakeland creatives: Designer/Author Fred Koehler (wearing tie) and Graphic Designer Daniel Barceló (wearing sport coat). If you haven’t heard of it yet, Catapult helps entrepreneurs launch their business through collaboration, mentoring, and programs. With co-working spaces, dedicated desks, or semiprivate offices, it’s the perfect kind of place for budding entrepreneurs and creative types to get their ideas off the ground. Learn more at Shirt by Tommy Hilfiger (TJ Maxx) Tie (TJ Maxx) Levi’s 511 Jeans (TJ Maxx) Belt (model’s own) Leather Bag (model’s own)






Six thousand babies are born each year in Polk County. And, each year, Polk County has six thousand opportunities to create a better and brighter future, a stronger community for itself. The Early Learning Coalition of Polk County is harnessing these opportunities and building a solid foundation for our future by offering engaging early education initiatives to Polk County’s families, giving kids the tools they need to flourish. For Avery Diane, a bright, spunky four-yearold, bubbling with personality and spark, the world should have been hers to explore. Early in her life, however, Avery encountered devastating challenges that resulted in a move away from her biological parents and into the home and care of a family friend. Since the onset of these life-altering circumstances, those who love and care for Avery have rallied around her to be sure she doesn’t fall behind. Avery’s guardian enrolled her at FurtureCare Learning Center, where her caregivers quickly noticed that Avery experienced intense separation anxiety, did not respond well to transitions or schedule changes, and lacked developmentally appropriate social,

language, and communication skills. Without the Early Learning Coalition’s interventions and the caregivers who supported Avery’s success, her future may have had a very different outlook. Like most children, Avery was born with nearly all of the nerve cells she will ever use. Years of brain research confirm that this is so for most children who develop normally in utero. In order to thrive, babies need these cells to form strong connections in the first five years of life. How and to what degree their brain cells connect are critical to a child’s development and can provide an accurate predictor of some key indicators of later success. Consistent stimulation and activity build and strengthen brain connections, while weak and unused connections are discarded as a child develops. These connections, or lack thereof, can accurately predict whether or not a child will stay in school, have behavioral or health problems, or face early pregnancy or incarceration down the road, travesties that cost Polk County nearly $1,000,000,000 (yes, one billion dollars) each year, according to the Early Learning Coalition of Polk County.


The Early Learning Coalition of Polk County is a cornerstone of our community working to prevent these travesties by investing in young children like Avery. The ELC ensures that children are given ample opportunities to make the necessary brain connections through meaningful interactions and early childhood experiences within their contracted childcare provider sites. Every experience in a child’s life offers them the opportunity for healthy brain development: a trip to the grocery store, story time with a parent, leaf piles in the yard, clouds in the sky, library bookshelves, interaction with peers, a Sunday afternoon bike ride, a phone conversation with a loved one, paints and scraps of paper. The most mundane materials can become the framework for encouraging brain connectivity, exercising the brain to be ready to learn and keep learning later. Since 1999, the Early Learning Coalition has implemented initiatives to redefine childcare, teaching the community that early childhood care should be more than a loving babysitting environment, but can and should be an interactive, sensory-enlivening experience for young children. In 2001, the Commission on the Study of Children with Developmental Delays

reported that 17.3 percent of students were not ready for kindergarten. Today, Polk County Schools and United Way of Central Florida’s Success by Six Program report that more than one out of every three beginning kindergartners is not proficient in “school ready” skills. Key variables specific to Polk County, such as sheer size and geographic spread as well as rising poverty rates, contribute to the challenges of effectively preparing children for learning. Thus, the need for the Early Learning Coalition’s programs and initiatives is on the rise. It’s no secret that when children start behind, they stay behind. While it’s certainly possible to fill learning gaps in later school years, this approach is often met with frustration and little success. In December of 2013, James Campbell, a noted senior communications manager at the Johns Hopkins School of Education reported that, “New research is finding learning deficits can start as early as eighteen months. The United States has one of the highest poverty rates of all developed countries — twentytwo percent for school-aged children — and income inequality, the disparity between society’s richest and poorest, is now greater in the U.S. than all developed countries.

Avid fishermen celebrate the opening of the fishing season at Lake Morton (1937) Photo Courtesy of Special Collections, Lakeland Public Library



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Since the 1970s, income inequality has risen drastically, leading to levels not seen for the past century.” According to the Washington, D.C.– based Brookings Institute, 17.7 percent of Lakeland’s suburban population lives in poverty (2010), making Lakeland the nation’s seventh-highest poverty-stricken community among the nation’s one hundred largest metro areas. “In 2011, there were more than 94,000 people living in poverty in suburban Polk — defined as all of the cities and communities surrounding Lakeland. That reflected a ninety-percent increase in a little more than a decade” (The Ledger, 2013). Stanford Researcher Sean Reardon posits that poverty and family income, or the income achievement gap, is quickly becoming a “much stronger predictor of school success than the black-white gap” once was. Children who enter school from disparate backgrounds differ dramatically in the preparation they receive for learning, especially in language development. According to extensive research by child psychologists Betty Hart and Todd Risley, children from low socio-economic

families come to school with significantly smaller vocabularies than their peers from working-class and professional family situations. By age four there is a staggering gap of nearly thirty million words between children reared in poverty stricken situations and children from middle- to upper-class scenarios. Serving as many as nine thousand children every month through a variety of programs, the Early Learning Coalition believes passionately in improving the lives of all of Polk County’s children. Voluntary Prekindergarten, School Readiness programs, quality improvement measures, and a handful of awareness-raising and outreach activities make up the bulk of the ELC’s efforts to improve early childhood education in Polk County. The free-to-parents Voluntary Prekindergarten Program is charged with preparing children for their first year of school by focusing on teaching and learning that is grounded in a whole-child approach. Instruction accounts for physical, social, cognitive, and emotional development, language, communication, and

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Returns to a Unit Dollar Invested Early childhood education is an efficient and effective investment for economic and workforce development. The earlier the investment, the greater the return on investment

eligible students. The Child Care Resource and Referral service assists families in making an educated and well-informed decision when selecting a childcare provider. Teaching Strategies GOLD, a comprehensive assessment tools grounded in the principles of early learning, provides valuable feedback and measurement to teachers and parents about a child’s progression through an early education program. FutureCare Learning Center, where Avery Diane attends preschool, implements many of ELC’s tools and programs. Using Teaching Strategies GOLD, Avery’s caregivers developed strategies and techniques to help her reach important developmental markers. With this tool, they were able to regularly track her progress and adjust the program as needed. Within a few months, Avery was able to communicate with friends, express emotions, speak clearly, and engage in conversations with teachers. Her language and literacy skills rose to a level on par with her peers. She was becoming herself again, and beginning to flourish. Through Florida legislation, The School Readiness Act was passed in 1999, mandating the creation of thirty-one Early Learning Coalitions throughout the state to help children like Avery. Though the ELC is mandated to exist and does receive both federal and state funds to oversee and provide quality early education programs, the coalition still requires local dollars (private donations from people like you and me) to fully function and meet local needs. Some of the Early Learning Coalition of Polk County’s current community partnerships include Disney, United Way of Central Florida, Walmart, Teachers’ Exchange, Citrus Center and Citrus Center Kiwanis, the Board of County Commissioners, Lakeshore Learning, Kaplan Early Learning, First Book, Winn Dixie, Nemours, TD

Rate of return to investment in human capital

general knowledge. Rising kindergarten students receive up to 540 hours (three hundred hours in the summer) of quality instruction from qualified early childhood professionals. Unlike many government programs, VPK has no eligibility requirements and is open to any child who is a Florida resident and who turns four by September 1. Last year, through the VPK program, the ELC of Polk County served nearly five thousand students at more than two hundred sites across the county, and disbursed more than $10,500,000 to make it happen. The School Readiness program provides childcare subsidies to economically needy families. Eligibility is determined by referrals from Heartland for Children, the Department of Children and Families, Career Source, or simply by meeting income eligibility requirements (at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty line). Last year, the Coalition contracted with 343 sites to serve 7,783 students, and invested 14.4 million dollars into quality childcare through the School Readiness Program. Committed to ameliorating the quality of childcare in Polk County, the ELC also provides the infrastructure in which these childcare programs operate. Quality Specialists visit each childcare site every four to six week to evaluate curriculum, health and safety, learning gains, classroom environment, language and literacy implementation, and the provision of age appropriate care. Quality specialists work with staff to improve efforts when needed, creating action plans with targeted goals and strategies as well as time frames for completion. Additionally, the Coalition provides training opportunities for early childhood practitioners, and contracts with the Polk County Health Department to provide vision and hearing screenings to

Charitable Foundation, Lakeland Electric, and Polk State College. The old adage, a penny saved is a penny earned, gets tipped on its head when it comes to early learning. In fact, in the case of early learning, a penny spent is a penny saved. Investing in early childhood education, allocating resources to programs for children from birth to six, is sure to save millions later. James Heckman, a Nobel laureate in economics and an expert in the economics of human development, urges communities to invest in early childhood development in order to bolster local economies and significantly reduce spending deficits. Combining the work of economists, psychologists, statisticians, and neuroscientists, Heckman concludes that, “Early childhood development directly influences economic, health, and social outcomes for individuals and society. Adverse environments create deficits in skills and abilities that drive down productivity and increase social costs — thereby adding to the financial deficits borne by the public” (Heckman, 2012). Heckman’s research proves that when dollars are invested in early childhood education, communities will likely see as much as a 7-10 percent return on investment due to reduced expenditures in remedial education, health services, and criminal justice. In a recent study, preschoolers in Chicago were less likely to have been held back in school, need remediation or to have been arrested by age twenty. Strong early childhood education programs that develop the whole child and focus on both cognitive and social skills early in a child’s life correlate to increased high school graduation rates, which in turn boost the economy. High school graduates earn an estimated $400,000 more over a lifetime than an individual who drops out of high school.

Programs targeted toward the earliest years

Preschool programs Schooling

Prenatal 0-3


School Heckman, James J. (2008) “Schools, Skills and Synapses,” Economic Inquiry, 46(3): 289-324


The six thousand children that are born in Polk County this year are filled with potential, spark, and creativity.


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The benefits are clear: Investing in early childhood education is a smart way for Polk County to build a strong foundation for our growing community. It’s no secret that kids like Avery Diane hold the future. Because of programs through the Early Learning Coalition, Avery is a happy, healthy four-year old, with big dreams and plans to explore the world. The ELC’s programs gave Avery the gift of childhood; a future full of friendships, exploration, and learning; and the tools to live a full life. The six thousand children that are born in Polk County this year are filled with potential, spark, and creativity. They are an integral part of the better future for which we all strive. It’s our responsibility to join organizations like the Early Learning Coalition to ensure their potential is realized because, after all, when children succeed, we all win. For a complete list of sources, please visit










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This 1985 photo shows Mayfaire coordinators Lynne Fargher (left) and Helen Ramsey (right). Affectionately referred to by Polk Museum staffers as “the Mayfairies,” both ladies served as coordinators for many years. Helen Ramsey has been a Mayfairie for twenty-five years and still volunteers every year.

MIDFLORIDA MAYFAIRE BY-THE-LAKE Mayfaire began as a small craft fair on the lawn of the Lakeland Public Library on Mother’s Day weekend in 1971. The first year, it was organized by Polk Museum volunteers and featured about a dozen artisans. By 1977, it had grown so much it was moved to the shores of Lake Morton and renamed “Mayfaire by-the-Lake.” The event quickly gained a statewide reputation because of the quality of art and crafts being exhibited thanks to being a juried show, which means a panel had to qualify applicants to be accepted. Still held on Mother’s Day weekend each year, MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire by-the-Lake is one of the largest and oldest outdoor art festivals in Central Florida and is on Sunshine Artist magazine’s “Best 200 Art Shows” list. Special thanks to Sandra Dimsdale Horan, Polk Museum of Art

By 1982, the Museum had started creating special, collectible posters every year for Mayfaire — a tradition that continues to this day.


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