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For Good: Sarasota Hackathon seeks computer science mentors for teens

Keeping up with computer technology in the 21st century is no small task, even for the most tech-savvy teens. With the computer science industry growing at dizzying rates and creating an increased demand for coding and computing training, the race is on for today's high school computer whiz-kids to download the most competitive skills in tech, logic, critical thinking and design.

The Education Foundation of Sarasota County estimates that over the next 10 years, there will be 1-million more computing jobs than there are graduates to fill them -- an up to $500 billion loss in potential salaries -- and that 30 percent of jobs will require technology and coding skills. In an effort to address the critical need to introduce high school students to education and career opportunities in computer sciences, the Education Foundation will host the region's first #SRQHacks Student Hackathon, Oct. 14-16. 

Limited access to advanced computer science and technology training for students from low-income families is among the greatest challenges Sarasota County schools face in fostering future generations of computing professionals. Today 52 percent of the 43,000 students enrolled in Sarasota County schools qualify for the income restricted National School Lunch Program, and while public school classrooms offer basic computer science training, kids from lower-income families struggle to access learning opportunities beyond the classroom basics. 

The #SRQHacks Student Hackathon aims to reach students whose families may not have the resources for after-school clubs or technology-enrichment programs. Student participants will include Sarasota County students ages 13-18 recruited through Sarasota County Schools, the Education Foundation’s Digital Learning Lab partners and community organizations. 

The hackathon's three-day immersion experience pairs students with tech mentors to build a web or mobile app that positively impacts the community. Prior to the event, Sarasota and Manatee County communities will select area-specific issues, which the student-mentor teams will be tasked to provide app-based solutions for by applying computer science skills and outside-the-box thinking. 

"Our partners and sponsors recognize that an intense immersion coding experience like this has the potential to grab the interest of a student and set him or her on a career path they might not have considered attainable,” says Jennifer Vigne, Executive Director of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. 

Supporting partners include the City of Sarasota Police Department, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, New College of Florida and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

“It is part of our mission to create a culture where all students aspire to some type of post-secondary education, whether that means community college, technical school, or a university. This hackathon is a unique way to expose students to coding and match them with mentors who can inspire their interest in pursuing a technology-based career," Vigne says.

The hackathon is currently seeking three types of volunteer mentors to work with students in October: Developers (programmers, engineers and computer science college students or graduates), designers (front-end developers and graphic designers), and innovators (educators and entrepreneurs), as well as event sponsors.

MOSI collaboration aims to enrich experience for those on autism spectrum

MOSI is making changes to its museum for visitors on the Autism spectrum.

The Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) has developed a partnership with Behavioral Consulting of Tampa Bay (BCOTB). Working under the motto “partnering toward a more autism accessible experience,” the duo hopes to offer families and children in the autistic community more opportunities to participate, without overstimulating.

“Accessibility and inclusiveness is at the heart of what we are all about,” says Grayson Kamm of MOSI. “So as we look at ways to eliminate any barriers to accessibility that we have unintentionally created, it's a perfect fit to have a partnership that helps us understand the best ways to serve families who have members with Autism Spectrum Disorder.”

Some of these barriers include revising maps and signs so families will know what kind of sensory exposure they will experience (lights, sounds, etc) and rearranging some exhibits allowing families to bypass sections that may be cause over stimulation. MOSI is also incorporating these changes on its new website, set to launch in September.

“Our families are always searching for places where they can spend time together that will be supportive of their needs and won’t overwhelm them,” BCOTB President and Founder Kelley Prince  stated in a press release. We’re excited to help MOSI take that to the next level.”

BCOTB works one-on-one with families on the spectrum, with programs customized for each child's needs. The company has been honored with an Autism Impact Award from the International Center for Autism Research and Education, as well as named Most Valuable Resource by Autism Speaks Tampa Bay.

Grayson says the some of the changes BCOTB has recommended will come quickly, while others will take some time, however the community can aid in this process.

“Things like maps and signage can be upgraded without any major delay,” he says. “Larger projects, like rearranging exhibits to group them in a more sensory-friendly way, depends on available funding and planned maintenance schedules; donations or a dedicated funding source would allow us to speed up this process.”

To find out how you can help, click here.

Save the dates for upcoming Tampa Bay Area tech events

Want to get plugged into the Tampa Bay technology community? In the coming months, there are a plenty  of meetups, gatherings and events focused on technology and innovation.

83 Degrees has the scoop on where these tech-centric events are taking place and when, so get ready to mark your calendars because there is a lot happening in the Tampa Bay region.

Friday, June 24: HomeBrew Hillsborough
Tampa Bay WaVE-4th Floor
8:30 a.m.
500 East Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa
 
Homebrew Hillsborough is a monthly collaborative coffee networking group for techies and entrepreneurs. The group meets at different locations throughout Hillsborough County. In June, the group will have its monthly meeting at Tampa Bay WaVE. Known for helping startups, Tampa Bay WaVE, is an incubator accelerator that helps turn ideas into growing tech businesses.
 
To attend this event, complete with coffee and light bites provided by The Attic, click here.
 
Tuesday, June 28: StartUp Xchange
 
St. Pete Brewing Company
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
544 1st Avenue North, St. Petersburg
 
Presented by the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, this monthly networking event helps entrepreneurs, innovators and mentors connect.
 
For more information on this event, click here.
 
June 30: Ignite Tampa
 
The Cuban Club
6 p.m.-9 p.m.
2010 North Avenue Republica De Cuba, Ybor City
 
This annual event best known for its fast, entertaining pitches, allows speakers the opportunity to share 20 slides in five minutes or less. The object is to tech, enlighten or inspire the crowd with your presentation.
 
Ignite is a production of Technova Florida Inc., a Tampa nonprofit, which is dedicated to creating inclusive tech communities that empower positive change. This all volunteer organization also produces the popular, Barcamp in Tampa Bay.

For tickets to this event, click here
 
Wednesday, July 13: Build Your Own Mobile App
 
USF Connect-Oak View Room
3 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
 3802 Spectrum Boulevard, Tampa
 
Ever wanted to build your own app? Here is your chance. The event is presented by Chris Tanner, a patent and trademark attorney, as well as an entrepreneur himself. Using iBuildApp.com, this interactive seminar will help attendees learn how to create an app from scratch.
 
If attending, you must bring a device to build your app on and visit iBuildApp.com before the event to become familiar with the content. Knowledge of HTML is not required.  
 
To register for this free event, click here.
 
Wednesday, September 7: Tampa Bay Technology Forum
 
Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront
8 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
333 1st Street South, St. Petersburg
 
This half-day event connects Tampa Bay’s best and brightest in the tech arena. The day features a morning of discussions on the region’s top technologies and its impact on the world by Tampa Bay’s top technology thought leaders and innovators. There will also be a lunch panel moderated by Ryan Dorrell, Chief Solutions Officer at AgileThought, and plenty of networking opportunities.
 
To get your tickets to this event, click here.
 
Are you, or an organization you know, hosting a tech-oriented event in the Tampa Bay area in 2016? Email us to have your activity included in a future 83 Degrees newsletter. 

Seeking new employment? Here's a roundup of summer job fairs in the Tampa Bay Area

Summer is upon us, and for job seekers that means sprucing up that resume and heading out to job fairs. For those looking for employment, job fairs offer the opportunity to learn more about which companies are seeking candidates for part- and full-time positions.

Job seekers pull up your calendars, and get ready to mark down these upcoming job fairs for summer 2016:

Thursday, June 23: Tampa Talent Career Fair
8:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.
Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore
700 N. Westshore Boulevard, Tampa
 
Talent Career Fairs is a national company that hosts hiring events in cities around the country. According to their site, some of the positions they are looking to fill include Director of Sales, Detention Deputy, Software Developer, Human Resource Manager and more.
 
The event is free, to register click here.
 
Saturday, June 25: G4S Youth Services
9 a.m.-3 p.m.
G4S
9508 E. Columbus Drive, Tampa
 
Have a desire to work with youth? G4S Youth Services provides safe, secure and effective treatment to at-risk youth. Children who find themselves in the juvenile justice system after committing crimes get help through the treatment, monitoring and educational services provided by the organization.
 
With over 50 positions open including the need for RNs, Mental Health Therapists, Case Managers and Youth Works, G4S is the third largest private employer in the world.
 
For more information, click here.
 
Thursday, June 30: Jobertising Job Fair
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
DoubleTree by Hilton Tampa Airport-Westshore
4500 W. Cypress St., Tampa
 
This job fair, known for bringing out diversity in both job seekers and companies, proactively seeks out employers who are diversity-minded. Since 2006, jobertising has been hosting hiring events around the country; employers expected in attendance include State Farm, LaSalle Learning Center and CyraCom.
 
To register for this free event, click here.
 
 Wednesday, July 27: Tampa Career Fair
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Airport-Westshore
4500 W. Cypress St., Tampa
 
This live job fair in Tampa is hosted by National Career Fairs. The event is free and open to the public.

To register, click here.
 
Thursday, July 21: Tampa Veterans Job Fair
11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Amalie Arena
401 Channelside Drive, Tampa
 
RecruitMilitary, a national military recruiting firm established in 1998, in collaboration with DAV, a major veteran service organization established in 1920, are hosting a job fair for veterans of all eras.
 
Anyone who has served on active duty, for the National Guard or in the reserves, as well as their spouses, is invited to attend this free event.,
 
For a list of companies in attendance to the fair, as well as to register click here.
 
Tuesday, August 23: Job News Job Fair
10 a.m.-2 p.m.
George M. Steinbrenner Field
One Steinbrenner Drive, Tampa
 
Since 2006, Job News Job Fairs have been connecting jobseekers and employers. Past employer attendees include Target, GC Services, HSS Security and Express Scripts. A list of employers attending the event will be posted on the Job News website on August 19.
 
To register for this free event, click here.
 
Employers, are you hosting an upcoming career fair in the Tampa Bay area? Put potential future employees on the right path by sharing the details of your upcoming job or career fair in Tampa Bay with 83 Degrees. Reach out over on Twitter (@83degreesmedia) if our job listings put you on the path to success. Also, follow Florida Jobs - 83 Degrees Media on Facebook.

University of Florida prepares to launch Innovation Station in Sarasota County

The “Gulf Coast,’’ the “Suncoast’’ and the “Creative Coast’’ are just a few of the monikers for Sarasota and the surrounding cities along the west-central Florida coastline. Now, the region is gearing up to earn a new reputation as Florida’s “High-Tech Coast’’ with the launch of the first University of Florida “Innovation Station’’ in Sarasota County.

The University of Florida Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering will open the first physical extension of the college’s Florida Engineering EXperiment Station (FLEXStation) in Sarasota County later this year, bringing cutting-edge applied research, students and faculty, workforce talent and intellectual property to the Gulf Coast region.

“The purpose of the extension arm is to nurture high-tech industry -- and the one thing high-tech industry needs most is talent. We want to nurture the students who want to create businesses and hook them up with regions of the state where they can thrive. We also want to open up our researchers to companies: if they have issues that need to be addressed, or if they need access to experts in a certain field, we have a tremendous wealth of talent available to them,” says Cammy Abernathy, Dean of UF’s Wertheim College of Engineering.  

Abernathy cites the long-term success of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ (IFAS) partnerships with Florida’s agricultural industry as a model for the Innovation Station. As Florida’s Land-Grant School, Abernathy says UF has a special responsibility to help the state develop and strengthen its tech industry.

“We wanted to find a place with a nascent hi-tech economy and community; a place with expertise we can tap into, and a high quality of life. The arts community is one of the things that makes Sarasota a great place to live and attractive to young professionals. We also wanted to go to a place that we felt was underserved, and we felt that what Sarasota was missing was what we could bring in. We can fill a niche that Sarasota identified a long time ago as being crucial to future development. It looked like a perfect match,” Abernathy says.

A public-private partnership between the University of Florida, the Sarasota County government, the EDC of Sarasota County, the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation makes the development of the UF Innovation Station in Sarasota possible. A University of Florida investment of $1 million was met with a five-year, $980,000 grant from the Barancik Foundation and a $63,000 one-year grant from GCCF. A performance-based grant was also unanimously approved by the Sarasota County Commission to help launch the Innovation Station.

“One of the things [the University of Florida] was highly interested in learning about our community was about the existing infrastructural stakeholders -- Sarasota’s businesses and educational institutions -- in regards to whether they were willing and welcoming to having something like this in our community. ... The purpose on their part combined with the talent in our community made for a perfect match,” says Jeff Maultsby, Director of the Sarasota County Office of Business and Economic Development.

The Innovation Station will launch later this year in Sarasota County-leased office space, with a staff of 3-5 employees from UF, including a director and program coordinators focused on workforce development, industry and educational collaborations. 

The Innovation Station will partner with State College of Florida (SCF) so that students may begin course studies in computer engineering before physically matriculating as fulltime students at UF, a program Abernathy says is currently being piloted at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, with about 60 students enrolling annually. 

“I think one element of this project is to help to bring high tech type engineering personnel back to our community through a number of avenues -- one avenue being a matriculation through SCF, and then back into our community through internships and project-type work,” Maultsby says.

Abernathy adds that UF’s long-term goals include forming interdisciplinary partnerships with Sarasota schools such as New College and Ringling College of Art + Design, as well as reaching local K-12 schools in the Sarasota County School District to encourage STEM-stimulating programs.

“We’re interested in strengthening high-tech education across the board in this region, and hoping that we can help educate more people in the Sarasota area to keep skills up-to-date so they can continue to be competitive in today’s high tech world. … Once you get a critical mass of tech talent -- that’s how you sustain the tech engine,” says Abernathy. 

App created by Tampa developer plans to change the way you shop, share favorite brands

A new app created by a developer in Tampa could be a consumer choice game-changer.

MeSpoke, a social media app that gives power to the consumers, is set to launch this summer. The app allows members, known as "Speakers'' the opportunity to express themselves, while promoting their favorite brands and retailers. In turn, it offers brands and retailers an opportunity to follow a more cost-effective business model.

“MeSpoke really shifts all of the power from the business to the consumer,” says Sid Khurrum Hasan, co-founder of MeSpoke.

Hasan goes on to say that he has observed that while business to business commerce is down; consumer to consumer business is on the rise.

“If you’ve ever been out and see someone with a fantastic purse, or a beautiful bracelet, chances are you may ask where they got it from,” he says. "MeSpoke allows its Speakers to basically do the same, but take it a step further. It allows members to post an image and then whatever content is uploaded can be tagged, and other consumers can not only click on the content to see where the shirt is from, but take the consumer directly to the brand or retailer’s site to purchase.”

He explains that he wants MeSpoke Speakers to be brand ambassadors in the same way that sports figures and celebrities are today.

The developer on this innovative concept is Steve Tingiris of Dabble Lab who is also located in Tampa.

“We interviewed 24 development companies, but hands down Dabble Lab was the best decision,” Hasan says.

For more information, visit the company’s website

New roastery in NoHo Tampa helps you create your own coffee blend

Tired of your usual cup of joe?

There is a new coffee shop that can help with that, but The Lab in Tampa's North Hyde Park neighborhood is much more than your average coffeehouse. For one, co-founder Roberto Torres, calls his establishment a coffee bar and roastery. In other words, you can buy one of the rotating rare brews Torres and his team has brewed, or you can make your own. You can create your own coffee here.

“There are less than five facilities in the world like The Lab,” Torres says.

Torres says he got the idea after becoming familiar with the craft beer scene in Tampa. He saw the growing popularity with individuals wanting to brew their own beer, even distribute it and sell it. He figured why not coffee?

The Lab at 1703 W. State St. is a “collaborative community,” according to Torres, where anyone can try their hand at roasting.

“What I love about this concept is that it can serve so many purposes,” Torres says. “For example, a bride and groom can come in and make a blend that they can use as party favors at their wedding, or a boutique hotel in the Tampa Bay area can create a private label and put it in their rooms.”

Different coffee beans are rotated all the time and rare microbatches are served at the coffee bar, for those looking to just taste and not brew.  

Torres who also owns Blind Tiger Café in Ybor and Seminole Heights has been a successful entrepreneur in the Tampa Bay area for a few years. So what is it about the Tampa Bay area that is so attractive for innovators like himself?

“Tampa is in an expansion mode,” he says. “We are competing with other cities like Atlanta, Charlotte and Austin, but what we have going on in Tampa is exciting and I am looking forward to how we can continue to contribute to this expansion.”

Who is hiring in Tampa Bay? May job news roundup

Jobs with some of the most well-known companies in the Tampa Bay area are yours for the taking if you can convince them you are the right candidate for the position. Read on to see who is hiring in May's job hiring roundup from 83 Degrees.

The Florida Holocaust Museum is looking for a Raiser’s Edge Development Specialist. This individual will report to the Director of Advancement. A bachelor’s degree is required for this position, along with two to three years of experience managing the Raiser’s Edge fund-raising database.

For more information on this job listing, click here

Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) is seeking a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to be a steward of its finances. The ideal candidate has a minimum of five years of related experience and previous supervisory experience. The CFO will be responsible for all aspects of the business, finance, accounting and payroll of the organization.

MOSI is also seeking a Director of Accounting. This person will be responsible for the oversight and supervision of all daily accounting functions. A bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance, along with three years of experience in bookkeeping or financial record-keeping is required. For more information on both of these positions, go to the museum’s website.

AAA, also known as The Auto Club Group (ACG), which provides travel, insurance, financial service and memberships to approximately nine million members and customers, is filling several critical roles in its Tampa office in the Westshore area.

One of these positions is a Social Media Marketing Specialist. A bachelor’s degree in marketing, advertising, business administration or computer science is required. Online digital marketing experience is also required, preferably in the social media environment.

Another opening at AAA is for an Accountant/Financial Analyst. This position requires a bachelor's degree in accounting, business or finance as well as experience preparing financial reports and analyzing data.

Other opportunities at AAA include various sales roles, support staff, travel agent and a customer service position. To view these opportunities, visit the AAA career website.

Airgas a distributor of industrial, medical and specialty gasses and hard goods in Tampa, is also hiring. Airgas is looking for a Safety Sales Specialist. The ideal candidate will have a bachelor's degree and 1-2 years of experience in business-to-business sales.

Other career opportunities at Airgas include a re-test technician, Director of HR, and a customer service position. To view these opportunities, click here.

Allegro, the senior independent living company, is seeking compassionate job seekers for positions at both of their Bay area locations.

At their St. Petersburg location, Allegro is seeking an Assistant Director of Nursing. A minimum of an associate degree in nursing is required, bachelor's degree preferred. Must have two years experience in long-term care, including at least one year supervisory experience.

In Tampa, Allegro is seeking a Senior Living Advisor. This person is responsible for building and maintaining high occupancy levels. Bachelor's degree preferred, and a minimum of one year experience in sales, geriatrics and/or other related background with a proven successful sales record.

To apply for these positions, or see all career opportunities with Allegro, click here.

Insight Global, an IT firm in Tampa, is actively seeking college graduates to work as an Recruiter/Account Manager with their company. In this role, the candidate will be expected to source, interview and place technical consultants and contractor candidates with clients, among other tasks. The Recruiter/Account Manager will be expected to entertain clients over lunch, dinner, concerts and sports events. Training will be provided, including training classes at the company's professional development center in Atlanta, GA. This is an entry-level position so no experience is required, other than the educational requirement of a bachelor's degree. To apply, click here.

Hiring in the Tampa Bay region? Send a note to tips@83degreesmedia.com. Hired? Reach out on Twitter @83degreesmedia if our job listings put you on the path to success.

Gasparilla Film Festival features big names, diverse films

The 2016 Suncoast Credit Union Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF) opens with a gala at Tampa Theatre on Wednesday, March 30th, and then will showcase over several days more than 100 new films.  

The festival culminates in an awards ceremony and closing night film  "Everybody Wants Some'' directed by Richard Linklater -- the highly anticipated sequel to "Dazed and Confused'' -- at the Ritz Ybor on Sunday, April 3rd, 2016. 

The Suncoast Credit Union Family Fun Day, free to the public, will also take place on the last day of the festival at Ybor City’s Centennial Park complete with movies for kids and other activities.

It’s the festival’s 10th anniversary and this year’s organizers have informally dubbed it "The Year of the Director.''  Nearly 100 percent of the screenings this year will host the film’s corresponding director and much of the talent as well, says Festival Executive Director Monica Varner.

For example, she notes, director Gavin Hood of  "Eye in the Sky'' -- the modern warfare thriller staring Helen Mirren -- will be in attendance at the Opening Night event, where the film debuts in Tampa. "It's a big deal and sets the tone for whole festival,'' says Varner. Some other big names coming to town next week: Actress and Singer Rita Moreno, who will be awarded GIFF's Lifetime Achievement Award, and Actress and Choreographer Rosie Perez. 

The Cuban connection

The Cuban-Tampa connection has been in the news a lot lately and will continue right through next week when three Cuban-themed films will be debuted at the festival as well.

Film Director Ron Chapman says that the Tampa Film Festival, though "young'' on the circuit of festivals, is "creating a reputation for itself among filmmakers and the film community'' due to the skill demonstrated, the skill in curating the festival, and the Tampa Bay region's curious and engaged audiences. 

"The festival itself [also] has great leadership in the way they treat the films and the filmmakers -- it makes you feel happy,'' comments Chapman who says this is not always the case. 

Chapman should feel happy -- last year he chose Tampa's festival for the world premier of his film "The Poet of Havana'' about Cuban singer and songwriter Carlos Varela, which was bought by HBO Latino as a result of the screening. The film also won the Audience Choice award for Best Documentary. This year, audiences will see his new documentary "The Forbidden Shore,'' which highlights dozens of Cuban musicians and some of the 30+ unique genres of music the island has to offer. "Craving Cuba'' and "Havana Motor Club'' are the other Cuban documentaries to be shown at the festival.  

"Cuban films are a big deal,'' says Varner. 

Varner encourages everyone to attend, though she realizes "it can be a bit intimidating because there is so much to pick and choose from.''  

If curious about the lineup, download the full program guide from the GIFF website. Tickets are reasonable -- most are $12 -- and there is a question and answer session after every screening.  

"Having an opportunity to talk with the directors and actors, having that interactive experience,'' is special, says Varner.  

Sarasota Whiskey Obsession Festival at Michael’s on East features local distilleries

Whiskey enthusiasts in southwest Florida have a reason to raise their glasses -- snifters, for those in the know -- as the date approaches for the fourth annual Whiskey Obsession Festival, taking place March 30 - April 1 in Sarasota, FL. 

Held at the Michael’s on East Restaurant and Wine Cellar, the Whiskey Obsession Festival is one of the largest whiskey festivals in the United States. Dozens of master distillers and professional ambassadors descend on Sarasota to share their knowledge and to sample and sell their finest whiskeys at the annual festival. The main tasting event on April 1 will feature master classes, cigar pairing, exclusive on-site package sales and VIP pours.

The Whiskey Obsession Festival features more than 250 whiskies from around the world, including fine spirits from Scotland, Ireland, France, Japan, Canada and the United States. This year, the festival will also feature several independent distillers representing the growing craft spirits scene in the greater Tampa Bay area. 

The makers of Wild Buck American Rye Whiskey, husband and wife distilling duo Kevin and Natalie Goff, are based out of Weeki Wachee. Wild Buck Rye is made using only local, non-GMO 401 black rye -- a grain varietal specially adapted for the Florida climate. The Goffs grow 401 black rye on their own farm in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Reserve and receive harvests from the Melton Family farms in Dade City.

“There’s such a big movement for crafts spirits right now -- but it has to be quality… Most people get rye out of places like Minnesota or Colorado, but the problem is that when you grind it, it can smell stale or moldy. That wasn’t acceptable to us. We wanted it as fresh as possible,” says Natalie Goff. 

Natalie adds that she and her husband distill their whiskey, and sanitize, polish, fill and cork each bottle by hand.

“We don’t have any automation. … It’s really a quality measure. It’s a labor of love,” she says.

The Goffs will return to the Whiskey Obsession Festival for the second year following a successful, sold-out launch of their Wild Buck Rye at last year’s festival.

Also in attendance at this year’s festival will be the St. Petersburg Distillery, founded in 2014 in the midtown area of St. Pete, just south of Central Avenue and west of downtown. St. Petersburg Distillery’s “Old St. Pete” line features locally inspired spirits including Sweet Corn Whiskey, locally sourced from Okeechobee and distilled in vintage copper pots from the 1930s, and Tippler’s Orange Liqueur, made from natural Florida Temple oranges -- peels and all.

St. Petersburg Distillery PR Manager Hanna Marcus says that the distillery is excited to serve its WSWA award-winning “St. Pete Sour” cocktail at the Whiskey Obsession Festival, featuring the distillery’s Sweet Corn Whiskey, Tippler’s Orange Liqueur and American Royal Mead. 

Although the Whiskey Obsession Festival focuses primarily on whiskeys -- including scotch, bourbon, rye, single malt, blend, Irish and Japanese whiskeys -- the festival will also feature a selection of cocktails, rums, cognacs, and even barrel-aged beer. Tampa’s own Coppertail Brewing will feature a barrel-aged brew at this year’s festival. 

The Whiskey Obsession Festival kicks off on March 30 with the “Dram Dance” party at downtown Sarasota’s historic Gator Club, featuring Brooklyn-based electronic music artist, Brothertiger. The festival’s Panel of Whiskey Experts Interactive Tasting and Discussion takes place on Thursday, March 31. The main event’s Grand Tasting and Master Classes start at 6:30 p.m. for VIP ticketholders and at 7:30 p.m. for general admission on April 1 at Michael’s on East. 

For a full event schedule and to purchase tickets, visit the Whiskey Obsession website.

Real-time art of every flavor: St. Pete Synesthesia event

In a rolling metamorphosis of creativity not before seen in the area, a day of local artists inspiring art real time – like a collaborative domino effect -- will take place at The Studio@620 Saturday, March 26, 2016. 

The day long event, entitled “Synesthesia,” plays on the medical term to describe a condition in which one sense, for instance: hearing, is perceived also as another sense, such as sight or taste.  

The day will start with a story written by 5th grader Lilly McDole to be performed by actor Becca McCoy to a group of dancers and sound artist Matt Cowley, who will then create dance and sound inspired by the story.  The day cascades from there – Sculptor James Oleson will watch the dance to gain inspiration and create a sculpture, which then will serve as the next piece of the puzzle, handing the torch to songwriter Jonathan Cho, etc.

“People only see just what’s in front of them,” says Playwright and Radio Producer Sheila Cowley, who organized the event based on something similar she’d seen in New York’s Electric Pear Productions and Athena Theatre. “Actors put together something based on the song, then a piece of art, then a poem, then a song to be taught to the audience. …” 

The day-long Synesthesia event, involving more than a dozen artists, will incorporate storytelling, dance and sound art, visual art, music, devised theatre, poetry, group harmony and movement, and photography. 

“There are so many great artists in St. Petersburg, who all support each other’s work and are interested in each other’s work,” continues Cowley.  The concept is to leverage that, allowing artists to “see what kind of spark that creates for their own art, drawing inspiration from places they don’t usually use, and then passing that on.” 

At 8 p.m. that evening, the art will be performed and experienced in order at Studio@620 in front of an audience. For ticket information, click here.

The Music Box: Tampa Bay launches in Sulphur Springs neighborhood

A free, experiential and pioneering “musical architecture” project constructed on the grounds of  the Community Stepping Stones (CSS) in Sulphur Springs will be open to the public for a month starting March 25, 2016.  

“The Music Box: Tampa Bay” is an interactive public artwork and performance space that allows visitors to participate in creating sound and music through a temporary village of musical structures. 

“The project is about inspiring and building community,” says Sarah Howard, Curator of Public Art and Social Practice at the The University of South Florida’s Contemporary Art Museum (CAM), who is leading the project. “Anyone can access it: It’s music, it’s architecture, and a there’s a little magical realism that goes along with it.”

The Music Box village is situated on the Mann-Wagon Park along the Hillsborough River and will celebrate not only local artists and musicians, but also the history of Sulphur Springs. 

Concerts by local musicians are planned for Friday and Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. Cultural programs will occur on Thursday evenings, including a presentation of storied Sulphur Springs history by Historians Rodney Kite-Powell and Hermann Trappman. The history discussions will cover geographical details to Sulphur Springs’ role through time from serving as a Native American destination for healing waters to becoming a tourist destination to its modern day purpose.

The music village will be open for exploration and play on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from noon-6 p.m. 

Howard says many layers of collaboration and community engagement are already taking place on the grounds. She notes that neighbors have stopped by out of curiosity and then become volunteers on the project. Other collaborators include more than 20 USF students of architecture, history, music and studio art students and students from the host organization, Community Stepping Stones, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting underserved youth through after-school programs in the arts. 

“They are getting the value of working with professional artists and seeing a project through from planning to execution to public presentation,” says Howard referring to the students’ participation. 

Howard notes that many jobs have been created as well and that the professional artists and musicians involved are paid. She hopes and expects that the events will attract visitors to local businesses and restaurants. 

The Tampa installation is modeled after the New Orleans Airlift (NOA) initiative, which sought to restore artist communities after Hurricane Katrina. The NOA has provided guidance and collaboration with local Artists Jan Awai, Devon Brady and Michael Lemieux from Livework Studios and community-based land Artist Tory Tepp in designing and constructing the village. The project was funded by grants and donations from the National Endowment of the Arts, the University of South Florida, the Frank E. Duckwall Foundation and several local organizations. 

The Music Box is fun and family-friendly, Howard says, and “gives you the sense of awe and wonder that unites people. That’s the goal.”

All programming is free but tickets are recommended for evening events because space is limited. For more information on scheduling and ticketing, click here.

Local event to help boomers create a roadmap to meaningful work

A nationally recognized expert in career transitions and retirement will be the keynote speaker at a special event to help Tampa Bay Area baby boomers navigate a successful path to a new job, entrepreneurship or volunteering.

The “Encore Connect: Your Roadmap to What’s Next” presentation and expo will take place from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, March 16th, at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) Student Center in downtown St. Pete. 

The event is hosted by Encore Tampa Bay, a nonprofit organization focused on creating a network of community and business resources to help those over 50 explore, retool and connect to opportunities for an encore career. Commonly defined as a second or third act in life that typically takes place after age 50, encore careers often combine personal meaning, social impact and continued income. 

“Today, many boomers are trying to figure out how to leverage their skills and strengths in new ways that meet their needs,” says Bevan Rogel, Founder and President of Encore Tampa Bay. “Our event can help you go from thinking about how you want to redefine your next chapter to actually doing something about it.”

Kerry Hannon, Author of 10 books on careers, money and retirement, will address “What’s Next? Your Guide to a Working Retirement: Finding Your Passion and Your Dream Job.” Her presentation will cover finding encore careers, starting a business, nonprofit work and how to “fall in love with your job again.” All event participants will also receive a free copy of Hannon’s 2015 book, “Getting the Job You Want After 50.” 

“Living longer, healthier lives is revolutionizing the way we navigate what was once considered our retirement years – and our retirement savings strategies,” says Hannon, AARP’s Jobs Expert and a regular contributor to The New York Times, Money and Forbes.  “We must re-think the value of longevity and focus on the money-wise reasons to stay in the workforce as long as possible.”

An interactive expo after the presentation will feature local resources where participants can connect to career experts, coaches, businesses and nonprofits to develop individualized action plans.

According to AARP research, there are more than 500,000 adults over 50 in the Tampa Bay area, and 70 percent of adults in this age group have decided to work beyond 65 in some capacity.  

To learn more about Encore Connect and to register, visit Encore Tampa Bay. Event registration is $50.

Spring job fairs in Tampa Bay

Spring 2016 job fairs offer job seekers the chance to start a career with a Tampa Bay area company. Learn more about which companies are seeking candidates for part- and full-time positions in spring 2016 at upcoming local career fairs.

Career fairs in Tampa Bay can connect job seekers in the Tampa and St. Petersburg areas with the industry leaders and resources that help open the door for new hires. Job seekers, mark your calendars for these upcoming job fairs in spring 2016:

Saturday, March 5: Community Job Fair
9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Robert W. Saunders, Sr. Library
1505 N. Nebraska Ave., Tampa

The Tampa Bay Community Advocacy Committee (TBCAC), in partnership with Austin Commercial, LP and Ariel Business Group, Inc., is hosting this Community Job Fair to facilitate employment opportunities in skilled or unskilled jobs in construction at the Tampa International Airport (TIA). The event will feature construction and construction-related companies currently working on TIA improvement projects, including Skanska, Kimmins, Mitsubishi, West Tampa Glass, and more.
 
For more information about the TBCAC Community Job Fair, call 813-812-JOBZ or 813-812-5629, or visit TBCAC's website.


Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront
333 1st St. S., St. Petersburg

The Live Hiring job fair in St. Petersburg is hosted by National Career Fairs. To register for the free career fair, click here.

Tuesday, April 5: Tampa Career Fair 
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport
4500 West Cypress St., Tampa

Monday, April 11: Tampa Bay Job and Career Fair presented by the Tampa Bay Times
10 a.m.-3 p.m.
The Coliseum
535 4th Ave. N., St. Petersburg

More than 50 local employers from institutes of higher education and vocational/technical schools will be in attendance. Professional business attire required. Bring at least 20 copies of your resume.

Wednesday, April 13: CareerSource Tampa Bay Career Fair
TPepin's Hospitality Centre
4121 N. 50th St, Tampa

Open to the general public. Veterans will receive priority of service. A CareerSource Tampa Bay recruiter will be present to offer resume assistance and job search techniques. 

Thursday, May 12: Florida Statewide Job Fair
10 a.m.-3 p.m.
CFE Arena (formerly UCF Arena)
University of Central Florida campus
12777 Gemini Blvd. N., Orlando

The Florida Career Centers will host the annual Statewide Job Fair in May 2016 as an effort to recruit graduates and alumni from Florida’s state universities. Typically, more than 150 employers and 1,500 students and alumni seeking full-time career opportunities attend the annual event.

Click here for directions to the CFE Arena on the UCF campus. 

Employers, are you hosting an upcoming career fair in the Tampa Bay area? Put potential future employees on the right path by sharing the details of your upcoming job or career fair in Tampa Bay with 83 Degrees. Reach out over on Twitter (@83degreesmedia) if our job listings put you on the path to success. Follow Florida Jobs - 83 Degrees Media on Facebook.

Gasparilla Festival of the Arts promises fun, activities for all ages

Art is in the air -- the open air -- in downtown Tampa, and everyone is welcome.

The 46th annual Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts (GFA) kicks off March -- the month of culture under Tampa’s iconic Gasparilla umbrella. Pulling top local and national talent, the festival is one of most prestigious and selective of open air arts festivals in the country, according to organizers, and runs March 5-6 at Curtis Hixon Park and Kiley Gardens. Admission is free of charge.

“Tampa Bay has a lot going on by way of the arts,”  says Jodie Orozco, the GFA’s Marketing Chair. “There is an arts renaissance going on in Tampa, St. Pete, Sarasota. We are exposing the entire area to that.”

With over 100,000 visitors anticipated and hundreds of exhibitors, the festival could seem overwhelming to newcomers. Here are some key highlights to guide your experience.

Families and kids

Outdoor festivals, especially ones with a top-notch park on-premise and plenty of room to run around, are generally a good bet for families. But the GFA has a unique program parents rave about: The Art Collectors in Training Program. There are also opportunities for kids to make art. 

The Art Collectors in Training Program is located at a dedicated tent in Kiley Garden. Children ages 6 to 14 are invited to browse a “kids-only” shopping zone, a collection donated by festival artists. Kids get to select their own artworks, some priced between $5 and $10, and are encouraged to find the artists of their purchased pieces in the festival. Last year, more than 130 artists donated 750 pieces, and raised $4,800.  Proceeds go to the Children’s Cancer Center. 

“Our program gives children the opportunity to choose a piece of art without the help of their parents,” says Brenda Gregory who leads this initiative. “We provide children with the freedom to see art as something that can have personal meaning to them.”

The Festival partners with the Tampa Museum of Art, which runs The Children Activity Area, allowing kids to create art during their visit, too.  

Kids have the opportunity to learn techniques from featured artists, color, paint and draw. Currently showing at the Museum is the Spanish sculptor “Jaume Plensa: Human Landscape” exhibit.  Orozco says the children's activities will leverage that theme. 

The Art Collector in Training program and the Children’s Area are open both days 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. respectively.

Chalk Walk and Art Car Extravaganza 

Also fun for families, is the Chalk Walk that will take place “under the eaves of the Tampa Museum of Art” where 10 commissioned Chalk Artists will bring their large form chalk drawings to life in an interactive experience in front of your eyes.

On display in Kiley Gardens, visitors can see the Carmada fleet of a dozen art cars and vote on their favorites. Three cars will be painted live by a team of local muralists -- including a vintage VW bus -- while DJs spin throughout the afternoon. Adults and kids can get their hands dirty here, too, exploring the Nomad art bus and contributing to its collaborative mural.

The Art – emergent and established

The art on display is diverse – from woodwork to jewelry to printmaking to oil, etc.  Because it is a juried festival, the organizers are able to cull the best from the hundreds of applications they receive. The exposure and  $75,000 in prizes, is a big draw. In addition, “we help our artists to sell a lot of work,” says Orozco. Though she notes there is no pressure to buy. You can preview some of of the works on the GFA web gallery. 

The Festival promotes and invests in up-and-coming artists who have never before displayed art in a juried festival. The Emerging Artists Program, which provides the artists with the booth and cash for its display infrastructure, was created to “recognize and showcase the artwork of these artists who wish to pursue a career in the visual arts career.” Fifteen emerging artists were chosen from 120 applicants to participate. Their tents are displayed in Kiley Garden and the artists are eligible for a $1,500 Emerging Artist Award. 

For those who want to rub shoulders with the best of the show and its creators, there is a galaRE VIP reception on Saturday night, which brings together patrons and the juried festival award winners, with a backdrop of live bossa nova music and Capital Grill catering. Tickets for this event can be purchased through the website. 

There appears to be something for everyone.  

“Enjoy the festival as you would a museum. Interact with artists,” suggests Orozco. “There is a great variety of art to choose form whether your preference is glass art or painting or ceramics there is always something to choose from.”
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