Recent Updates:

Weekend Best Bets: Jazz Guitar Edition

Legendary jazz guitarist Larry Coryell is playing two shows this weekend at the Arts Garage.

Legendary jazz guitarist Larry Coryell is playing two shows this weekend at the Arts Garage.

Legendary Guitarist Visits Arts Garage

Who: LARRY CORYELL

When: Fri, Sep 19 & Sat, Sep 20, 8:00PM 

 

Larry Coryell is a master jazz guitarist who has remained in the pantheon of great jazz guitarists for more than 30 years. He has recorded over 100 albums, performed with Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix and graced the front page of Rolling Stone magazine and the inside pages of many others including Guitar Player.

Visit www.artsgarage.org for  tickets. Hurry, they go fast.

Kids Safety & Wellness Day in Boca

When: September 20, from 10am-3pm

Where: Costco, 17800 N Congress Ave., Boca Raton

How much: Free

Please join Costco for their  annual Kid’s Safety & Wellness Day.

 They are pleased to present the PBSO Greyhounds Sonic and Missile, PBSO Child ID, PBFR Firefighters & Engine  (unless out on a call) and All for One Pet Rescue, Personal Ponies, Boca Raton Children’s Museum, Boca Regional Urgent Care, and i9 Sports.

Sounds like a full dance card.

The Green Artistry of Contemporary Eco Artist Del Foxton

When: September 19 from 7-9pm

Cost: Free

Where: The Arts Arena Gallery, 777 E Atlantic Ave (Atlantic Plaza).

Fox is an immensely talented and unique artist, come out and meet her. Visit www.delfoxton.com for more information.

 

 

All Aboard; Not So Fast

Passenger rail may come with a heavy price for some east coast cities.

Passenger rail may come with a heavy price for some east coast cities.

As an urbanist, I want to like All Aboard Florida.

I really do.

Florida needs passenger rail—especially rail that can serve our eastern downtowns– and I’m not averse to high speed rail either.

We need to find a safe, efficient, environmentally friendly way to transports people and give them options other than the car. So on a conceptual level I was ready to embrace All Aboard Florida.

But the devil—as they say—is in the details. it always is.

First, it’s hard to understand the politics, PR and marketing of All Aboard Florida.

If you live in Boca Raton or Delray Beach or anyplace other than West Palm Beach, Orlando or Miami –cities with stops and train stations –why would you support this effort? What’s in it for us, other than watching lots of trains zip by our communities.

In 2001, when Delray Beach embarked on its Downtown Master Plan, we anticipated passenger rail and incorporated a downtown train station into our plan.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to bring people to downtown Delray via rail? Not only would passenger rail have alleviated some traffic it would have been a boon to downtown businesses and might have made it easier for downtown residents to commute to jobs outside of town.

I remember attending meetings in Fort Lauderdale with mayors from Broward and Palm Beach in which we plotted strategy to make eastern passenger rail happen. At one meeting, frustrated by the seemingly endless process, one mayor suggested it would be quicker and cheaper to engineer a leveraged buyout of the railroad than it would to wait for the private sector actors to make it happen.

Fast forward a decade and it appears that high speed rail is on the way—but it seems that lots of cities, including Delray Beach will endure the inconvenience of high speed rail and none of the advantages.

Why?

Why would All Aboard Florida think they can steamroll cities with 30 plus trains a day without the benefit of any of them stopping here to pick up our residents and drop off others who can enjoy our city?

What’s in it for us is not a selfish question but rather an essential one.

Citizen groups, such as Florida Not All Aboard have outlined dozens of arguments against the plan ranging from financial concerns and noise issues to safety concerns and what they feel the real motivations are behind the plan.

Yet according to what’s been written it appears that this deal is going to be hard to derail.

The sad part is, it didn’t have to be this way.

Even the most passionate members of the opposition acknowledge that there is public support for reasonable passenger rail that would serve east coast cities. But this deal feels forced, not well thought out and cloaked in intrigue.

Regardless, this is not what was envisioned when several residents gathered and planned for the day when passenger rail might serve downtown Delray. We had the audacity to hope that the train would actually stop in our downtown.

We saw all sorts of benefits to that vision, but nobody stood up and said “gee I hope we see 32 trains speeding by.”

So much of our work downtown was meant to slow things down and promote walkability vs. automobiles.

Whether it was encouraging downtown housing and a better mix of uses or slowing down speeding traffic on US 1—it was all done in service to building a vibrant, walkable, sustainable urban core.

Passenger rail, trolleys, bikes and even golf carts fit that vision.

What’s being offered by Florida All Aboard challenges that vision, if  it doesn’t kill it.

It’s too bad really, because if they worked with coastal cities and residents they might find more support and a more sustainable model.

But it appears that train has left the station.  What a missed opportunity.

 

 

FAU Celebrates $3.5 Million Grant: Will Produce Computer Science & Engineering Grads

 

FAU seeks to align graduates with business needs

FAU seeks to align graduates with business needs

 

FAU recently hosted a celebration of the rollout of the Florida Board of Governors’ Targeted Educational Attainment (TEAm) grant program.

The Board of Governors awarded FAU, Broward College (BC) and Palm Beach State College (PBSC) a $3.5 million state grant through the TEAm program — an ambitious effort to align university and college degrees with the state’s future workforce needs — to create an accelerated pipeline for students in the economically important fields of computer science and computer engineering.

FAU, BC and PBSC created the Computer Accelerated Pipeline to Unlock Regional Excellence (CAPTURE) program to address the need for computer-related workforce development in South Florida, providing superior learning and professional development opportunities for more than 400 anticipated new students. The three institutions are collaborating on developing a hybrid curriculum to address workforce needs.

“We expect this program to significantly increase the number of well-qualified computer professionals available for employment in a wide variety of local businesses,” said FAU President John Kelly. “We hope to be able to replicate this approach in other fields of study that have an escalating need for highly skilled employees.”

The proposed curriculum is innovative and includes new and existing courses offered by the three institutions, taught by faculty who are leaders in the computer technology field. The number of bachelor degrees in computer science and computer engineering will be increased by the FAU College of Engineering and Computer Science, and graduates of the state colleges will be offered seamless admission to FAU. Students will be drawn into the pipeline from the three institutions’ existing student bodies, employees of major corporations and graduating high school students in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

“The program stresses breadth, depth and flexibility,” said Palm Beach State College President Dennis Gallon. “Although all students will be required to satisfy core requirements, they will have the ability to choose tracks and electives in accordance with their needs and interests.”

Practical training will be provided through internships in industry and government agencies, providing early exposure to the computer technology sector.

“One of the most helpful features of the program is the system of shared advising, which will keep students on track,” said Broward College President J. David Armstrong Jr. “Students will be able to take courses at the colleges and FAU simultaneously to hasten their progress toward graduation.”

The TEAm grant awards follow more than 18 months of work by The Commission on Florida Higher Education Access and Attainment, a coalition of education, business and legislative leaders that identified the largest gaps between bachelor’s degree production and job needs. The effort marks an unprecedented level of collaboration between elected leaders, universities, state colleges and the business community. The project is supported by the Florida Board of Governors.

Weekend Best Bets: Catch A Rising Star Edition

A can't miss talent

Polly Gibbons: A special talent

 

Catch a Rising Star

Polly Gibbons is one of the most respected and talked about young singer/songwriters of her generation.

Luckily, she is making her North American debut at Arts Garage, Friday, Sept. 12 at 8 p.m.

Being nominated for a BBC Jazz Award back in 2006 with no album release to her name was a clear indication of just how special a singer and performer Polly is. With warm, rich, soulful vocals and an innate blues sensibility, Polly has been likened to many of the jazz and soul greats, while bringing her own storytelling and earnest depth alongside unique humor and fun to performances. Having developed her craft over the past decade, Polly has performed at all the leading UK jazz clubs, international festivals and is a regular at Ronnie Scott’s performing with the All Stars.

With an innate vocal versatility, Polly is a much sought-after session talent, working on various projects including: a track with hip hop group Vinyl Dialect, on Wall of Sound’s Bad Magic label, and co-writing and performing a song on the British Soul compilation album, ‘Diggz Presents Random Soul on Random Records. Polly was featured alongside such jazz luminaries as Ian Shaw, Jacqui Dankworth and Gwyneth Herbert on an album entitled The Music of BB Cooper, and has spent many occasions recording and performing with renowned artist and producer Ian Shaw.

Don’t believe us, trust the experts:

“A truly exceptional, once in a generation talent, possessing a voice of such sizzling intensity and raw emotion you could fry an egg on it.” Peter Quinn, Jazzwise Magazine

“They don’t come along very often, but this one’s a star.” Johnny Mandel.

Visit www.artsgarage.org for tickets.

Volleyball returns to Delray Beach

Professional and amateur volleyball players will compete in the Extreme Volleyball Professionals (EVP) Pro, Amateur and Juniors Southeast Championships on Saturday, September 13, at Delray’s Municipal Beach. This is the fourth consecutive year that our City has been selected as the site for the EVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour, which is being co-sponsored by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.

World-class athletes will display their exceptional talent and physical abilities on the sand courts from 8:00 am until 6:00 pm as they battle for the coveted 1st prize.  The EVP ProSeries National Championship is a free spectator event and the public is invited to spend the day experiencing the excitement of this team sport.

For more information, including event schedule, visit www.evptour.com.

Bodybuilding and Bikini Competition

For those of you who appreciate natural bodybuilders and not those enhanced by steroids, you’ll want to check out the ANBF South Florida Natural Bodybuilding and Bikini Competition Saturday, Sept. 13 from 5 to 9 p.m.

The event will take place at 2880 NW Boca  Raton Blvd. #2.

Tell them Dave sent you.

 

Nuance: There’s Always A Bigger Picture

Asset or albatross? Who cares, it's there. Let's make the most of it.

Asset or albatross? Who cares, it’s there. Let’s make the most of it.

It’s a great week to talk tennis.

We just witnessed another fabulous U.S. Open with a very strong Delray Beach subtext.

The men’s finals pitted Marin Cilic against Kei Nishikori, two former Delray Open Champions. Both Cilic—the defending champion—and Nishikori, the 2008 winner are expected back at Delray’s ATP tournament this winter.

The Bryan brothers, the U.S. Open Doubles champions, are also expected back. Playing the Delray stop on the tour has become a tradition for the most successful doubles team of all time.

Women’s champion Serena Williams also has Delray connections which include playing two Fed Cup ties at the Delray stadium.

Whether you’re a fan or not, tennis looms large in the Delray story; in 2010, City Commissioners renamed the city “Tennis Beach” for a week in honor of the United States Tennis Association recognizing Delray as one of America’s top tennis towns.

In 1991, former Mayor Tom Lynch and the city commission made a decision to rebuild the tennis center and add a tennis stadium downtown, a decision Mr. Lynch has always cited as one of the key building blocks to rehabbing downtown and the city’s brand.

A few weeks ago, I had a chance to have breakfast with Mayor Lynch. He still believes that the downtown stadium changed the dynamics in Delray by bringing people downtown and getting them to think differently about the city. That bold decision came at a time when Delray’s image was in need of repair and when the city longed for the day when parking and traffic might be an issue.

After leaving breakfast, I filmed a tribute video for Tom who is receiving a lifetime achievement award from the Chamber of Commerce next month. The young couple supervising the shoot cited the Delray Stadium and the chance to see world class tennis on the same street that they live on as a compelling reason why they love Delray and chose to buy a home here. Of course, there are other factors, but the allure seemed to be a small town, with big city amenities, including festivals, art, culture, restaurants and yes tennis.

I bring this up because there seems to be some angst regarding the cost of the stadium and the tournaments which also include some national junior events and a Champions Tour event which brings  legends like McEnroe and Lendl to town.

As the city grapples with the budget, $2 million items stand out. There is a price to pay to host these events, a real cost that becomes acute when there are other needs including paying for cops, firefighters, public works employees, pension costs etc. etc. The list goes on; I get it, having worked on seven budgets during my time in public office. Unlike the federal government, local government budgets have to balance and expenditures needs to be weighed carefully against city goals and visions. Hopefully, those goals and visions mesh with the community’s needs and aspirations and derive from extensive community input. That’s been the Delray way.

So what about the big expense associated with the stadium and the ATP event?

Should the city sell the stadium? Should the city get rid of the tournament? Or should the city further invest in the facility which is now starting to show its age (I’m not sure the seats were meant to recline, just saying)?

This is a healthy debate to have, but if you are going to have it, you need to look beyond the balance sheet, which while very important, is only one piece of the puzzle–albeit a big piece.

Decisions of this magnitude require careful analysis of a wide range of factors. There’s a lot of nuance involved beyond numbers on a spreadsheet.

There is no doubt that the ATP event attracts people who spend money in local restaurants, retail shops and hotels. Does the city see that money? Not directly, but a healthy local economy certainly helps pay the bills. And the junior events, held in the so-called “off season” puts heads in beds as kids typically are accompanied by coaches, parents, siblings and others who hope to see the next generation of stars.

Further, tennis has done a lot for the city’s image and brand, as Mayor Lynch envisioned. I think we may be the smallest city in the world with an ATP event and the coverage that event receives is worldwide via press, TV and even commercial spots done expressly to exhibit Delray Beach to the world. I did one of those spots a few years back, produced pro bono by local resident Jim Sclafani of Multi Image Group. We received inquiries about visits and real estate for months after the spots ran.

It wasn’t my face or voice over that did the trick (after all, I have a face for radio) but shots of the ocean, the vibrant downtown and quaint neighborhoods that compelled more than a few people seek us out.

I recently read an article about Apple’s $3 billion plus purchase of Beats, a trendy headphone company. Did Apple overpay for a fad? Maybe. Did Apple need the headphones to survive? Hardly.

But Apple saw a need to remain relevant with a demographic it deems important for its future. Cities also have to remain cognizant of their appeal as places to live, work, learn and play. In that context, the ATP event and stadium has a cool factor attached to it. I think it’s an asset. It sets us apart, it gives our downtown gravitas and it signals that this is a different kind of place.

Of course, Delray doesn’t have Apple’s war chest, few nations, never mind cities do. So how about forming a public private task force that could look at ways to stop some of the bleeding and perhaps find some additional revenue streams?
There are some very bright entrepreneurial minds in the community who I am certain would be interested in delving into the issue.

Rather than dismiss and label a facility a losing proposition, why not engage people and find some solutions?

Why not find a way to make this long ago investment work now and in the future? Or at least try.

 

 

Back from Vacation: Random Thoughts From the Road

Charming, vibrant and walkable.

Charming, vibrant and walkable.

We’re back!

Thanks for indulging us during a vacation and the Labor Day holiday. We hope you had a great few weeks. We missed you.

Random thoughts…

We had a chance to visit Maine last week (Dave went to college at Bowdoin) and came away suitably impressed.

The coastline is gorgeous, the lobster and chowder is ubiquitous and the people are New England friendly.

We hit Portland, Boothbay Harbor, Rockland and Camden and got out on the waters of Casco Bay.

When you’re a recovering journalist, the first things you seek out in a new town are local publications. Newspapers and websites can give you a flavor for a place (much like we hope YourDelrayBoca.com does for our hometowns) and also give you some ideas for restaurants, day trips and shopping excursions. It’s always fun to see the issues that other communities are debating and read about local businesses, artists and people.

When we grabbed a copy of Portland Magazine and opened the page to the editor’s notes we were pleased and surprised to see a picture of Delray’s historic Colony Hotel and a column about how dishes and glassware from Delray often winds up at a sister hotel also called the Colony in Kennebunkport. The article talked a lot about Del Ray (spelled that way, with the space) and described us in kind terms. Colony owner Jestena Boughton would have been proud. We clipped the piece and will send it to her.

We also read a local alternative paper called The Bollard and read about Delray’s Ocean Properties in one of the stories. Ocean Properties, owner of the Delray Marriott and bunches of other hotels, is also a major player in Maine and New Hampshire. It’s indeed a small world and Delray’s tentacles extend Downeast as well.

Another great way to get a feel for a new locale is to walk the city’s streets, not just the main drag but the nooks and crannies. Portland is a great city for doing just such a thing, with cobblestone alleyways, charming old brick buildings and beautiful Victorian homes mixed in with newer development.

Armed with advice from some friends, we tried to avoid the touristy places and sought out local hang outs and live music.

Portland, like Delray, is a vibrant and walkable town. We highly recommend a visit.

 All Hail Barbecue

We were pleased to come back to learn that our friend Scott Kennedy of Union Delray fame, was transforming his popular place into a world class BBQ restaurant he’s calling Smoke.

Pitmaster Bryan Terrell has been hired and he comes with incredible credentials. Terrell hails from Kansas City where he was the original smokehouse manager of the world famous Oklahoma Joe’s.

Anthony Bourdain named that place “one of the 13 places to eat before you die”.

Terrell has also achieved success in the world series of bbq. Now he’s coming to 8 East Atlantic Avenue.

Atlantic’s dining scene can use great barbecue. Smoke is set to debut this month. Stay tuned.

 Food Scene Adds Player

Trader Joe’s opened in Delray last Friday and it’s a welcome addition to the local grocery scene.

As we’ve remarked before, competition is a good thing and with Whole Foods, Publix, Trader Joe’s, Winn Dixie, Wal Mart Neighborhood Grocery, The Boy’s and Fresh Market competing in Boca/Delray we expect to see high quality stores vying for local market share.

P.S. We can still use a public market.

 

Speaking of food…

Finally had a chance to have lunch at The Farmer’s Table in Boca.

This is a must see establishment with a wide array of healthy and natural food choices.

A shout out to FAU’s Kim Gramm of the Tech Runway for ensuring we went there.

 

 

Water Cooler Wednesday: The Big 5-0

It's the new 40 right?

It’s the new 40 right?

Yesterday, I turned 50.

These milestone birthdays are really just another number, but they are powerful forces as well, helping you focus.

50 is a big number, it means that there is more in the rearview mirror than there is in front of you, but it’s still young enough to want to scale a few more mountains.

50 feels very different than 30 and 40, the other milestone birthdays you hit once you reach adulthood.

At 30 and 40, I found myself in a restless state, wanting to be more, achieve more, do more, earn more, have more. It was exhausting because you do push, or at least I did.

But 50 is different, I find myself looking back more, trying to enjoy the present by being present and also trying to schedule the future because you realize more than ever that the future is finite.

So in many ways, this milestone birthday is more enjoyable because for some reason I’m feeling reflective and when I look back I like what I see. I like the friends I’ve made. I’m pleased with the difference I’ve tried to make and I’m proud, very proud of my family.

I’m also enjoying this time in my life: really interesting work with good people, seeing the kids grow into amazing adults and enjoying my family, friends, interests and passions. I have a lot of love in my life, a great wife, health,  wonderful family and friends, a nice home and an interesting career.

And yet, while the past gives me pride and the present gives me joy, I do have a very strong desire for the future. At 50, I still aspire.

A friend and I recently met for a long talk and a beer at Brule’ in Pineapple Grove and we shared what makes us tick.

For me, it has always been leadership, entrepreneurship and community. Those are the topics that turn me on, make me want to learn more, read more, do more and understand more.

And so…

Those words inform who I am and what I want to be.

With a finite amount of time in front of me, I know now that I have to choose my activities carefully.

Leadership: Why Morgan Russell and I co-founded Dare 2 Be Great, so we could identify, help, mentor, support and learn from a new generation of leaders that we also hope to return to Delray Beach.

Entrepreneurship: Why I am excited to be involved with Tabanero, a Boca Raton based hot sauce company. We have a great, all natural product and a dedicated passionate team who works hard every day to sell, market and promote our product. The challenge is building a brand in a crowded marketplace, something that excites the entrepreneur in me and others. We are also very heavily invested in Celsius, a fitness drink that I have served in various capacities over the years. After years of struggle and hard work, the brand is beginning to really take off both domestically and internationally. Getting it over the goal line is the kind of challenge that charges you up.

Restoring the Gulfstream Hotel is another project that gets your heart pumping. It’s a jewel in need of TLC, much like Lake Worth itself.

And there’s this blog, which Dave Reeves and I started with a vision that is still sorting itself out, like a lot of entrepreneurial ventures. We have seen it grow and we welcome  and appreciate your comments.

Community: Long my passion and it continues to be. I see so much potential in Boca and Delray. Together, we can be a mini-region that can be a haven for entrepreneurs, artists, sports, health care, education, technology, education, food & beverage and so much more.

Lots more to do…50 and just getting started in so many ways.

Editor’s Note: We are taking a break until Sept. 8 for some rest and relaxation. We will be back soon. Have a great Labor Day!

FAU Football Honors Founder of Program

Homage to Howard

Homage to Howard

Howard Schnellenberger built his legendary coaching career and was the driving force that helped Florida Atlantic University build a football stadium. Now, the field on which the Owls play their home games will bear the name of one of college football’s most accomplished program-builders.

 The field at FAU Stadium on the University’s Boca Raton campus will be named Howard Schnellenberger Field, honoring the man who coached the Owls during their first 11 seasons and retired after the 2011 campaign with 158 victories during 27 years as a head coach at four Football Bowl Subdivision institutions.

 FAU’s Board of Trustees approved the new field name during a conference call on Wednesday, Aug. 20.

 “I am humbled beyond belief that the University would bestow this great honor on the Schnellenberger family, and me personally,” said Schnellenberger. “This is probably the highlight of my coaching career. Thanks to the FAU Board of Trustees, the University, the fans, the players and the coaches that were an integral part of this.”

 A ceremony to honor Schnellenberger will be held prior to the Owls’ first home game of the season at FAU Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 13. FAU President John Kelly also will make a special presentation at halftime. FAU hosts Tulsa, with the kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. It will be the fourth season for the Owls in the 29,419-seat on-campus stadium.

 “Coach Schnellenberger is a legend – a true visionary who always will be synonymous with FAU football,” said FAU President John Kelly. “The University, the community, and fans of college football everywhere look to Coach as the consummate leader, and are thankful for all he has done for the sport. I know FAU will always remember this as we cheer our team on the beautiful field that will forever bear his name.”

 Schnellenberger welcomed the idea of bringing football to FAU in 1998. During his tenure as FAU’s coach, the Owls garnered two bowl victories and one Sun Belt Conference championship. Twenty of his FAU players have signed professional contracts, with five drafted by the National Football League.

 An assistant coach on the Miami Dolphins’ 1972 undefeated Super Bowl championship team, Schnellenberger made his greatest mark in the collegiate ranks. His career has been highly chronicled throughout the years, from winning the first national championship as coach at the University of Miami in 1983 to ushering the University of Louisville program from near obscurity to a top 20 national ranking. Schnellenberger went 6-0 as a head coach in bowl games, the most bowl victories for a coach with a perfect record.

 After reaching the goal of bringing football to FAU – the Owls played its inaugural season in 1999 – Schnellenberger embarked on the challenge of getting a stadium built in order to move the program to the next level. FAU Stadium opened on Oct. 15, 2011, with the Owls hosting Western Kentucky. The open-air stadium features 6,000 premium seats, including 24 suites, 26 loge boxes, 1,000 premier club seats and 4,000 priority club seats.

 “ We are thankful we have the opportunity to honor Coach Schnellenberger with the naming of our football field,” said Pat Chun, FAU’s vice president and director of athletics. “As our first football coach, he forever changed Florida Atlantic University. To permanently honor Coach Schnellenberger will serve as a great reminder to all who enter our stadium of his vision, impact and legacy.”

 Schnellenberger played for Paul “Bear” Bryant at the University of Kentucky and served as an assistant to Bryant at the University of Alabama. He was an assistant to NFL Hall of Fame coaches George Allen (Los Angeles Rams) and Don Shula (Dolphins), and served as head coach of the Baltimore Colts during the 1973 season and of three games in 1974.

 Schnellenberger was hired as FAU’s director of football operations on May 1, 1998. He coached FAU’s inaugural game on Sept. 1, 2001, against Slippery Rock at Pro Player Stadium in Miami. Under Schnellenberger’s leadership, the Owls won the New Orleans Bowl in 2007, marking the quickest a program had advanced to a bowl game after moving to Division I-A, which was later renamed the Football Bowl Subdivision. FAU also won the Motor City Bowl the following season.

 

 

Weekend Best Bets: Weekend Starts Tonight

Plaid Blazer (Dave owns a few) will rock the Elizabeth Wesley Pavilion tonight.

Plaid Blazer (Dave owns a few) will rock the Elizabeth Wesley Pavilion tonight.

On the Ave “Back to Cool”

Date: August 21

What: “On The Ave”

When: 6-10pm

Cost: Free

Where: SW 5th Ave & W Atlantic Ave

On the Ave welcomes you “Back to Cool” by bringing the ever popular event to West Atlantic this time. The August 21st event will feature entertainment that is both Old School and New Cool. The event will bring back classic childhood games such a duck-duck-goose, tug-of-war and musical chairs. There will be a Kid’s Corner, Splash Zone and a backpack giveaway from Florida Kid Care. Bands on two stages will take you “back to cool” with songs from a mix of artists such as James Brown, Whitney Houston, The Roots and more.

Art School Open House

For all of you aspiring artists, you won’t want to miss the upcoming Open House at the Boca Raton Museum of Art – The Art School.

This free annual event will be held Saturday, August 23, from 1-4 p.m. at the school located at 801 West Palmetto Park Road, one mile east of 1-95.

Visitors will be able to view the faculty exhibit and meet  the artists/teachers in the art studios and discuss their classes.

“We have, perhaps, the finest faculty in South Florida,” said Walter O’Neill, director. “Potential students will be able to visit with these teachers to get a preview of the classes and to see some of the outstanding artwork being produced by the faculty.”

The Art School offers a wide range of classes in virtually every medium and discipline for beginners to experienced artists. Classes are offered in portraiture, still life and landscape painting, as well as photography, pottery, collage, jewelry making and sculpture, among many others.   Award-winning teachers lead classes in oil, watercolor, acrylic, and drawing, to name just a few.

“This is a perfect time to meet the teachers and learn more about the adult art classes,” added O’Neill. “Visitors will be able to visit the studios and see short demonstrations on making pottery, stone carving, print making, and other techniques.”

There will be a free raffle to win $100 discount on an art course. Each person who signs up for a class during Open House receives a one-day pass for two at the Boca Raton Museum of Art.

For more information call 561-392-2503

 Visit www.bocamuseum.org/theartschool for information about upcoming art classes.

 Facebook: www.facebook.com/bocaschool

Water Cooler Wednesday: Ferguson & Delray

Ferguson, Missouri.

Ferguson, Missouri.

The disturbing images from Ferguson, Missouri have been dominating the news for over a week now.

My friends from outside of Delray Beach have reacted with a mixture of reactions; most of them have tuned it out and turned the channel to preseason football.

But for those of us who lived in Delray Beach in February 2005, the reaction is quite different and can be summed up with this phrase: “this could have happened here.”

Yes, it could have.

And I have been asked repeatedly in the past week why it didn’t.

The short answer is: I don’t know for sure. But I do know some things that I think helped.

For those unaware, on a February night in 2005, a rookie police officer shot and killed 15-year-old Jerrod Miller outside a school dance at the Delray Full Service Center.

The officer was white. Jerrod was African American.

Jerrod was shot after he was stopped by the officer outside the dance while driving his uncle’s car. He did not have a license. In a split second–that would forever alter this community and several lives–Jerrod made the decision to hit the gas and pull away from the officer.  The officer fired and….

So Ferguson is different for those of us who were in Delray in February ‘O5. It feels closer, it rekindles memories, it triggers anxieties and it touches nerves we thought were long ago soothed.

It turns out they weren’t. Sure, life goes on. It always does, but we were altered by the experience.

And Ferguson brings it back.

So did Trayvon Martin, which happened exactly five years to the day after Jerrod Miller.

The Miller shooting was big news in 2005. We had protests and demonstrations. Delray felt tense and emotions were very, very high. But we did not have violence. The community did not break apart.

A local journalist called me this week and asked about Jerrod and why Delray did not spiral out of control like Ferguson. A former head of our Clergy Association who is now the Episcopal Bishop in New Jersey also reached out to share a sermon he plans to deliver this Sunday. Several friends and former colleagues emailed, texted and called just to talk about Ferguson and our experience in Delray.

I’d like to think that the strength of our community kept things in check. We did have protests. We did have anger. We experienced lots of emotion, but we didn’t become Ferguson or Sanford. Maybe, we were lucky; or maybe 15 years plus of community policing and decent leadership helped to keep things from getting violent and destructive. I do know that our elders stood up for keeping the peace. So did our clergy, elected officials, city staff, police officers, non-profit leaders, educators and everyday stakeholders. I think all of that and some things I don’t know about helped.

When I was first elected way back in 2000, I was a young man with lots of dreams, drive and ambition. I was also a tad naïve—especially about politics. Sometimes being naïve can be a good thing—you don’t know your limits so you strive. And sometimes it can bite you. But I was also very coachable and eager to learn from those who came before me.

As a rookie commissioner I went to visit our then Police Chief Rick Overman. Rick was older than I was. He had already had a career in Orlando before coming to Delray where he transformed our department. By the time I was elected he had been in Delray for almost a decade. As a newspaper reporter, I had gotten to know him and I was a student of his reform strategies and his leadership style. I saw him as a visionary and a highly effective leader. Arguably the best I’ve seen, up close and personal.

So I was all ears when I went to talk to him in my new role as a commissioner. I told Chief Overman that I wanted to heal some community divisions and invest in some neighborhoods that I felt had been neglected. I wanted to build on some of the relationships and successes he had made possible as a result of community policing.

Rick looked me in the eye and said the following: “In my line of work, and now yours, it’s not a matter of if something is going to happen, but when. That’s why every day I look for opportunities to build up a reservoir of good will, because I know someday I will be forced to draw down on that reservoir and when I do I need to know there is something to draw down on.”

Those words resonated with me and with many others that Rick influenced during his tenure in Delray.

There is no playbook when tragedy strikes. But it helps to have a reservoir. It helps to have relationships.

I am reading lots of stories about promises to change Ferguson. “If only people would get off the streets and go home, we will do x, y and z.  These are after the fact attempts at reform. Reactive not proactive.

Truth is, we were busy community building in Delray long, long before that sad night in 2005. I think that helped us. We drew down on the reservoir, but we at least we had one.

I hope and pray we still do.

Because you don’t just fill a reservoir and forget about it. Like a garden, a city and the relationships within the city, need to be tended to or weeds start to grow.

If problems aren’t addressed they don’t magically disappear, they fester and tend to get worse.

I think Delray’s history of working together, Delray’s track record of engagement and community policing helped us in the wake of Jerrod’s shooting. We had leaders we could turn too, successes we could point too and most important of all, we recognized we had a lot more work we had to do and that was acknowledged.  We also acknowledged that this community has had a long and troubled history with race relations. We were attempting to discuss and address some of those issues prior to the shooting.

We also had earned some trust, which isn’t built overnight (although it can be lost in an instant) and we knew that trust is always fragile and that relationships require a lot of dedication and more listening than talking.

There is a lot of anger in society today.  There is desperation, dysfunction, crime, abuse of all sorts and economic despair. We can point fingers, we can cast blame and we do. But that doesn’t change the facts on the ground.

We were fortunate not to have the unrest we are witnessing in Ferguson. But we ignore the signals at our own peril.

In cities, issues are always interconnected and memories are long.

I used to get frustrated when slights from years ago were laid at my feet as if I had been responsible. Until I realized I was responsible, for at least trying to understand, listen and solve problems. When you step into a leadership position, you inherit it all, the good, the bad and the ugly and there’s plenty of all three. It’s your responsibility. Not to take it all on your own, a common mistake that “hero” leaders often make. But to lead a discussion and challenge others to work together to leave things better than before.

But the key piece to remember is that the moving parts all relate: you may not want development, but someone in the community needs a construction job or may work at a store, restaurant or office that you don’t want to see built. We may want to get tough with our cops on pensions, wages and benefits (and all are legitimate and important concerns to have) but you better realize that we need good officers to protect and serve a very complex community and that they deal with very dangerous situations multiple times a shift in this city. That costs money. Real money.

We may want to cut support to a library, a non-profit, an arts center or an afterschool program but you have to realize there’s a kid and a parent that find those services and programs important.

Filling the reservoir is always complicated. But it begins with constant conversation between leaders and they people they serve. They don’t serve you, you serve them.

You can’t serve if you don’t listen. And if you don’t listen…well turn on the TV and tune into Ferguson.