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Posts Tagged ‘community’

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One of the true pleasures of living in Laurel Park is the independence from cars that it offers. In Laurel Park we can walk. We can bike. We can hop the bus. And we can get pretty much anywhere we need to be without the hassle  and expense of driving, and with the joy of activating our muscles in the fresh air. But more than just the freedom of movement and the improved health—personal benefits—there is a sense of community in Laurel Park that is difficult, if not impossible to find, in more car-dependent neighborhoods.

We know each other here because we see each other. We pass each other’s houses and apartments, wave or nod at a neighbor on a porch, let our dogs introduce themselves and us in turn. And we talk. We tell each other of exhibitions at art galleries or of a morning stroll on the beach. We argue about politics, local and national. We complain about roads and we propose that a little common sense could solve all the problems of the world. We build community.

The article excerpted below is about people choosing to live car-free in Los Angeles. It made us smile, because this is already how we live in Laurel Park.

Los Angeles once showed the world that the car equaled freedom. Our vast parking lots and spacious two-car garages offered the utmost convenience. Even our roads were named after the idea—freeways—that automobiles provided this feeling of independence as a personal transportation experience. It worked for awhile. That is, until those painted lanes choked with Sigalerts and gas nosed towards $5.00 per gallon.

“The freeways are not so nice!” howls Eddie Solis, [a musician and part of] the small but growing group of Angelenos who are choosing not to drive a car, and swearing that their lives are better for it.

Solis ditched his car for financial reasons but quickly started to see that living car-free offered a new creative outlet for his music. “Just through sitting on the bus or subway, I’d see the city from a new perspective, that of a bus rider, as a public transportation advocate. I was seeing different walks of life come on and off [the buses], and I would go through neighborhoods that I didn’t think had anything I was interested in, and I started getting inspired.” His most recent album, The New Los Angeles, is all about that idea of freedom that he started to feel. “For the people I hear who have to commute by car, it’s always a chore,” he says. “And I’m just freely moving back and forth, seven days a week. I’m very happy about it, and it’s a huge inspiration to me.”

I wasn’t able to find any definitive studies on how many Angelenos are choosing to live car-free…[but] anecdotally, I can say that I’m hearing a lot more stories like that of Peter Zellner, a Venice-based architect, who  swapped his two vintage diesel Mercedes Benzes earlier this year for a 1974 Schwinn beach cruiser and a single-speed racing bike. He says not driving is a better fit for his personality. “I have become a cycling fanatic,” says Zellner. “I love my bike, it’s like an extension of me, maybe more so than a car ever was.”

The effects have been more than just the financial boost that comes with shedding a problematic vehicle—Zellner has seen serious health benefits. “In short order I stopped driving, stopped smoking and then stopped drinking!” he says. “I have lost 15 pounds since I started cycling everywhere, I have more time to read and think when I am on the bus and I am never stressed out by traffic.” keep reading at GOOD.is

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Sure, Laurel Park is a historic neighborhood known for its restored Arts & Crafts and Florida Cracker cottages and its proximity to Main Street and downtown Sarasota—not to mention Burns Square and the Sarasota Bayfront. And sure, as the epicenter of Florida’s cultural coast Sarasota is well known for its fine arts. But did you know that Laurel Park also boasts one of the best comics and gaming shops you’ll ever find? The Dark Side, located at 408 S. Washington Boulevard (in a small plaza alongside a yoga studio and barber shop, among several others) is both a comic book shop and the home of Sarasota’s biggest gaming community.

Creative Loafing recently tabbed The Dark Side the Best Gaming/Hobby Location on the Suncoast. Here’s what they had to say:

Looking for a great gaming and hobby destination that has something for everyone? Well, it is time to crossover to the Dark Side, Sarasota’s premier comic book and family gaming location. Visit the state of the art gaming center and play Heroclix, Magic the Gathering, Warhammer, Xbox 360, Star Wars, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Dungeons & Dragons, World of Warcraft, or anything your gaming heart desires. You’ll also find a huge selection of back issues, graphic novels, games and collectibles of all flavors.

The Dark Side provides parking in a rear lot accessed via Julia Place. Of course, if you are fortunate enough to live in or near Laurel Park you can always reach them on foot or bike. Their phone number is 941-363-0840, and you can find The Dark Side online at darksidecomics.com. If you, your kids, or your grandkids are comic book or gaming enthusiasts, The Dark Side is not to be missed.

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The Box Social, Main Street Sarasota

Sarasota is many things to many people: a retirement community, an arts town, home to some of the best beaches anywhere. But a local movement is afoot that might just put Sarasota on the map as, of all things, a college town. New College of Florida is regularly ranked one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Ringling College of Art + Design has renowned animation and graphic design programs. East-West College trains students to become doctors of Eastern medicine. State College of Florida, formerly Manatee Community College, offers a vast array of affordable courses and programs that round out the local educational menu. Oh, and the Asolo Performing Arts Center is also home to Florida State University’s graduate theater arts program. This extraordinary post-secondary diversity has been gradually coalescing, and while I’m not sure any studies have been done to verify this, one gets the sense that more and more high school and college students and recent grads are deciding to stay in sunny Sarasota and put their stamp on the place.

Case in point: twentysomethings Rachel Withers and Ryan Baucom opened The Box Social on Main Street this winter, and have proven “the voice” from Field of Dreams prescient. They built a place for the young, the hip, and the socially inclined to call their own, and indeed they have come. Here’s an excerpt from an article on 83degreesmedia.com:

Anyone who has ever said, “There’s nothing going on in this town tonight,” has probably never been to The Box Social, a new gourmet pub and café conveniently located right in the heart of downtown Sarasota.

The Box, as it’s called by local patrons, hosts a variety of attractions that consistently draw large crowds, making it one of the most interesting and entertaining hot spots in Sarasota Mondays through Saturdays, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Part coffee shop, part bar, part music venue, part art gallery, The Box stands as a beacon in the city, offering a cozy, yet bustling locale for members of the city’s unique creative community to gather, interact and exchange ideas and inspiration on a nightly basis.

But more than that, The Box is just one of Sarasota’s cool, independent establishments on a mission to unite, catalyze, reinvigorate and transform  a downtown core once best known for shuffleboard and bingo into a burgeoning urban landscape full of energy and diversity.

What’s really exciting is that The Box isn’t an isolated effort, nor the only local success story of its kind. Back in February, the Cock & Bull Pub hosted the Noise Ordinance CD Release Party. Here’s what the Sarasota Herald-Tribune had to say:

It was billed as the “Woodstock” of Sarasota. And it delivered.

If you missed Saturday’s “Noise Ordinance CD Release Party” then you missed an opportunity to catch the area’s hottest bands, and mingle with Sarasota’s glitterati.

Spanning more than 12 hours and featuring nearly 40 bands, the concert not only shined a bright light on area bands but was a rallying cry for the local music lovers.

The thing is, there’s no reason Sarasota can’t cater to retirees and youths alike, as well as everyone in between. Laurel Park Management is proud to support all facets of local culture, and we encourage college students and other young adults to come live downtown. Variety is the spice of life, as they say. And there really is an awful lot going on around here, most of which can be reached on foot or by bike from any of Laurel Park Management’s apartments. There’s music in the air and perhaps a bit of magic as well…come be a part of it!

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Do you love Downtown Sarasota? You’re not alone. Started by local residents Rich Swier and Matt Orr, “I Love Downtown Sarasota” is a grass-roots movement to bring together Sarasotans of all stripes in a continuing effort to make Downtown Sarasota as great as it can possibly be. According the website:

We all love downtown Sarasota. But sometimes we need to be reminded of why we love our city so much. Our goal is to remind locals of the small wonders that brought us here to live in the first place. We want people to shop, dine and play downtown every day. The “I Love Downtown” initiative will leverage the strengths of each and every merchant and bring us together as a community to make this next season the best yet.

The “I Love Downtown Sarasota” website features a weekly list of things to do, places to eat, and places to shop that support local businesses. An increasing number of store windows are adorned with the group’s sticker, and its facebook page already has over 5000 fans.

visit ilovedowntownsrq.com

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