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Buy a pair (or a mat), plant a tree: Tampa company seeks crowdfunding

Two new must-have meditation accessories for yogis are being developed in Tampa, Florida.

Gurus sandals, inspired by “an ancient wooden sandal” that Prem Thomas bought in India around 2011, have resonated among yogis online, Thomas says.

“Mainly on Instagram."

Thomas and his Gurus cofounder, Joe Choorapuzha, loved the sleek, simple design of the wooden sandals, their place in Indian history and the story that Mahatma Gandhi wore them.

The duo set out to build upon the minimal sandal and “make a product that is superior to flip-flops, but still retains the design of the original Indian version,” Thomas explains.

The result is a natural rubber sandal, sustainably sourced and hand-processed from rubber trees -- a practice that can continue for up to 25 years without harming the tree. 

The $30 sandal comes in a variety of colors, accompanied by a natural-fiber jute bag that features a Gandhi quote. Currently, Gurus sandals can be found online or at retailers such as surf shops, theme parks, salons, yoga studios and boutiques.

The cofounders place emphasis on producing and packaging products sustainably. The Guru sandal is biodegradable, making it a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional plastic or foam flip-flops and sandals. To help promote the pair’s commitment to sustainability, a tree is planted in the developing world each time a product is sold.

“At the end of the day, a lot of companies can make new products and sell thousands or millions of sandals,” Thomas says. “We think if we can plant thousands or millions of trees, that’s a little more special.”

A successfully funded Kickstarter campaign ($16,236 pledged) helped bring Gurus to life. After the success of the sandal, brand ambassadors for the company wondered whether the cofounders could develop a yoga mat using the same type of natural rubber.

Thomas and Choorapuzha developed a solution: natural rubber topped with a layer of cork. A Kickstarter campaign for the cork yoga mat ends on Friday, May 22, at 1 p.m.

Click here to back this project.

At prices that range from $80 to $115 (up to half off for pledge backers), the campaign slogan reads, “Experience a no-slip, natural yoga mat that costs less than your yoga pants!”

“The mat is pretty amazing,” Thomas says, “and will even work when it is drenched with water or sweat, allowing yoga practitioners to do hot bikram yoga without a towel.”

If the Kickstarter goal is met, backers can expect to receive their mats in August 2015.

Thomas and Choorapuzha are “pretty confident” that the Kickstarter goal of $20,000 for the Gurus cork yoga mat will be met. But even if the crowdfunding target is not met, “we will most likely end up producing it in some form,” Thomas says.

“We think it’s an amazing product, and there is a market need from consumers and studios.”

Thomas, who grew up in Tampa, has worked in finance in the Philippines and with a civic venture capital fund in New York City. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before working as an investment banker for Bank of America, where he met Choorapuzha.

Choorapuzha, an MBA student at the University of Pennsylvania, grew up in Pittsburgh, PA before attending Columbia University. Prior to cofounding Gurus, Choorapuzha worked with an investment fund in NYC.

Along with CEO Thomas and president Choorapuzha, Gurus employs six independent sales representatives and a distributor in Australia and Canada. The company plans to hire another employee in the field of marketing or design, and is seeking interns in Tampa beginning in summer 2015.

“As our company grows, it will be great to build a larger team locally to support that growth,” Thomas says.

Hillsborough teacher wins national award for student achievements

Last year Hillsborough County Public Schools piloted a new way to engage middle school students struggling with math through a dynamic intervention system designed by Scholastic called MATH 180™ -- complete with videos and computer lessons.

This school year, the program was available to eligible sixth graders throughout the county and is being used in all 50 states by 400 districts.  A Tampa educator using the program, Joel Leventhal of Webb Middle School, stood out nationally and was the sole winner of Scholastic’s Math 180 Educator Award for 2015.  

Margery Mayer, President of Scholastic Educational Technology and Services, says Leventhal won for “harnessing the power of the MATH 180 to rebuild his students confidence in math and accelerate them toward algebra-readiness,” and that he “empowers his students to take risks, embrace a growth mindset about their intelligence and guides them toward understanding, fluency and mastery.”

“I feel really fortunate,” says Leventhal who received $1,200 in prize money and will also be flown to Atlanta for Model Schools Conference in late June. “I tried to build a classroom where kids aren’t afraid to take risks and they really bought into it. I think the kids are really making me look good!”  He also credits his math coaches and Webb principal, Frank Diaz, who he says has been “extremely supportive.”

Leventhal says the curriculum provides intensive support and is geared toward kids who have struggled with math throughout elementary school. He is impressed with the Math 180 program and says it clearly illustrates through videos and other exercises “how math is important in their daily lives and real world scenarios.” He cites a video in the program that shows the example of a global soap delivery project for Africa -- “it showed division in real life,” said Leventhal. “How many boxes could fit in a package?” 

Half of the work is done on the computer, which Leventhal says provides “a lot of encouragement and positivity,” is something the kids enjoy, and allows them to work at their own pace. The rest is work in the classroom, together, supported by a workbook.

The students take benchmark and progress tests throughout the year. By midyear, Leventhal’s students had already achieved 70 percent of what they needed for the entire year -- well ahead of schedule. 

Leventhal has a degree in exceptional student education from the University of South Florida. This is Leventhal’s first year teaching math and first year at Webb, having taught science for the three years prior at Buchanan Middle School. In addition to regular math and PE classes, he teaches a total 90 Math 180 students, divided by four classes. You do the math.

$1.1M grant boosts employment services at Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women in Tampa

The Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women has championed employment service efforts in the Tampa community for nearly four decades. In May 2015, the Centre announced that a new $1.137 million grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity will help to substantially expand its Employment Services Program.

Grant funding will enable the Centre to broaden employment programs in Hillsborough County, and executive director Ann W. Madsen says that the Centre might provide future services in Pinellas County, as well.

The new grant will be dispersed to the nonprofit organization over a five-year period, and will help to fund training and placement programs for men and women the Centre identifies as displaced homemakers.

The programs at the Centre are distinct from more general training and job search programs, Madsen explains in a news release, because their primary goal is to “assist women and men in their efforts to achieve lasting economic self-sufficiency. The program helps them to focus on careers that can provide a realistic, livable income for families.”

The JobSync program provides displaced homemakers with one-on-one counseling to help individuals address emotional issues before seeking employment and to develop career plans. It also provides resources to help individuals learn to navigate job applications, computer training, interview techniques and other skills essential to transitioning into a new role -– and economic stability -- successfully.

JobSync aims to “help people, both men and women, to get connected to the right job,” says Madsen.

The original profile of a displaced homemaker when the Centre first began offering services in the late 1970s was “a woman in her mid-thirties or older who had lost her source of income due to divorce, separation, death, disability or unemployment,” explains Alice Thompson, director of the Centre’s Employment Services Program.

Today, Thompson says, “there are many types of individuals and situations that would qualify.”

Now, the displaced homemaker program provides services for both men and women, as long as they meet certain criteria: ages 35 or older; have relied on federal aid or unemployment; are not employed (to learn more about The Centre’s Displaced Homemakers Program and how to qualify, email Alice Thompson or call 813-251-8437.

“Helping displaced homemakers has been one of our core programs,” Madsen says. “Through the years, the Displaced Homemakers Program has provided the opportunity for hundreds of people in our community to lead financially independent lives and find careers that truly support their families.”

The Centre for Women provides many programs and services that help local women and men, including workforce development, entrepreneurial and employment strategies, individual and family counseling, substance abuse treatment and services for girls and senior citizens.

NEA grant enables USF CAM to bring musical village to Sulphur Springs

The University of South Florida’s Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) has just been awarded a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Arts to make music come alive in a series of unusual structures to be built in the Sulphur Springs neighborhood of Tampa next spring. 

Sarah Howard, curator of public art and social practice at USF CAM, likens the public art project to a musical village and that depicts the rich cultural heritage of Sulphur Springs. The setting on the Community Stepping Stones property at the Mann-Wagmon Memorial Park “is perfect for this,” she says.

According to Howard, the project, The Music Box: Tampa Bay, based on the original version by the arts cooperative New Orleans Airlift, will create “a wonderful, magical, inventive space that facilitates experimentation not only through the process of building it, but programming it.”  The installation will serve both as an open facility for performance art while the structures themselves will be hands-on and playable. 

In Tampa, the cast of Music Box collaborators will include installation and sculptors from New Orleans, USF art, architecture and music students, and the middle- and high-school children in the Community Stepping Stones program, among others from the community.  

Stepping Stones is an after-school program for underserved youth that seeks to improve lives through the arts. CAM has done other collaborative projects with the group and Howard notes it is important that the students “feel they have ownership and authorship. They become the ambassadors for this project, and it is important for them to see not just design and envisioning, but the process of coming out with a final project.”

Howard says there are currently a couple of structures on the Community Stepping Stones site that need to be torn down.  She plans to repurpose the remnants as building materials, in line with the New Orleans Airlift aesthetic, which she describes as “a little DIY – they use a lot of reclaimed materials. It’s intimate, but otherworldly. … It takes you back in time, not so slick and overdesigned. Real quality of the real deal.” 

Initial envisioning and design plans should begin next January, with the installation complete by the end of March 2016. 

Though still in its beginning stages and in need of additional funding, the project contemplates a month of musical programming with national and local musicians, visits for local schools, educational and history lectures (The Heritage Center is also located at Mann-Wagnon park), instrumentation workshops as well as plenty of time for unstructured play. The Music Box: Tampa Bay will then be moved to the USF campus for further exhibition, with at least one structure remaining permanently at the Community Stepping Stones site. 

Picture this: High fashion, high art intertwined at FMOPA

The works of three international fashion photographers will combine in one show for the first time at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts (FMoPA).

"High Fashion: Kristian Schuller, Billy & Hells, Taka Kobayashi,'' curated and hosted by FMoPA in downtown Tampa, opens May 1 and runs through June 22nd. It will kick off at FMoPA’s “First Friday” social hour, 6-8 p.m. on Friday. 

The exhibit, in large-form, brings to life the confluence of fashion and statement, the meeting of commercial and fine art. 

“Fashion photography is a natural bridging between fine art and documenting photography, “ says Zora Carrier, FMoPA’s Executive Director. “It is very much about aesthetic and conception, but also practical information.  This is a show commenting on the universal cosmopolitan of softness and femininity.”

While fashion is the common thread, each of the artists brings a distinct nuance to the table.  

Carrier describes Romanian-born Kristian Schuller, whose work is reminiscent of Daliesque surrealism, as “creating images out of this world,” with a “dreaminess and weirdness” that highlights the beauty of natural elements in stark contrast to the usual venues for high fashion. 

In FMoPA’s exhibit, Taka Kobayashi, of Japan, is working with the classical theme of geisha and fashion, but in a modern context.  Billy & Hells, a German photography duo, portrays pretty, feminine fashions of high aesthetic, “but the faces of the models are sad, with pain and suffering,” says Carrier, creating “a kind of unusual tension.” 

The FMoPA has a back-to-back line up of exhibits through the rest of the year. This summer, visitors can experience Florida-themed large format projects by two Tampa photographers Jason Henthorne and Joseph Gamble. In September, the FMoPA is collaborating with the Florida Aquarium in an underwater photography exhibit, which Carrier says is a joint effort to pay “homage to this deep earth interest.” New York based photographer Richard Renaldi, famous for his “Touching Strangers” project, will exhibit his work on hotel rooms and the “comfort and quirkiness of that.” The exhibit is timed to coincide with Tampa’s LGBT festival. 

Carrier says she is working on positioning the FMoPA as a social venue, “a nice place to come after work, maybe take a photography class.” To this end, she instituted monthly “First Fridays” at the museum, which include an opening or artist’s talk, food and wine. 

In addition to opening the High Fashion exhibit, this week’s First Friday will feature an artist talk by American photographer Jim Reynolds whose CityScapes exhibit is concurrently on display.

Hillsborough Community College sacks recycling apathy

If you happened to step foot on the Ybor City campus of Hillsborough Community College (HCC) during the week leading up to Earth Day on April 22, perhaps you noticed some students were carrying around more than just their backpacks. Biology Professor Paul Rabaut gave some of his students a most unusual assignment. As an extra credit task, he asked them to carry a trash bag for a week, throwing their garbage into the bag. 

The goal? “I wanted them to be inconvenienced by their waste and realize the burden it creates in the community and on our planet,” says Rabaut. 

To ensure his students were staying on track with the project, under the heading of a sustainability initiative called HCCthinksgreen, he required them to check in via Twitter three times a day and post using the hashtag #TrashBag. Rabaut says 80 to 90 students participated in the event, with many even drawing faces or cartoons on their trash bags. 

“The bags really proved to be conversation starters with other students on campus,” he comments. “The idea was to make everyone feel comfortable about carrying around a trash bag on campus and encourage others to partake in the project.” 

Not only did the weeklong project, which started on April 16, catch on with several faculty and staff members, but some local businesses also took interest. “Fit2Run – The Runner’s Superstore, which operates a location at International Plaza, engaged with the initiative on Twitter and started following us.” He hopes the event, which was in its first year, will expand to the other HCC campuses throughout Hillsborough County. Rabaut, who masterminded the project and even runs his own composting maggot farm at his home, refers to the #TrashBag initiative as his “baby” and says he will certainly promote the event more heavily next year. 

HCC Marketing and Public Relations Manager Angela Walters says the event helped her realize how much trash she produces on a weekly basis. 

“It really made me stop and think about how much waste I created,” she remarks. “It’s quite interesting carrying around a bag of trash for a week.”

The #TrashBag event culminated on Earth Day at the HCC Ybor City campus, when the participants were to turn in their bags. Rabaut and Walters both said that around 20 students did so, but some had only a few items in their bags. 

“Throughout the duration of the project, students were encouraged to throw food waste into a compost pile and recyclable items such as plastic bottles and aluminum cans into appropriate receptacles, which we have around the campus,” says Rabaut. While there wasn’t a final tally on precisely how much trash was collected by all participants during the week, Rabaut believes the active engagement from the students was the greatest result of the project. “Many students spread the message to parents, friends, and others and helped get them involved, too.”

Walters adds, “This project shows that small steps can make a huge impact.”

Undergrad research recognized during UT celebration

The University of Tampa is broadening the notion that research is exclusive to faculty or graduate students by celebrating undergraduate student researchers with a week of recognition.

UT, a small private university located at 401 W. Kennedy Blvd. on the Hillsborough riverfront in the growing heart of downtown Tampa, serves over 7,500 students from all 50 states and 137 countries. During the Undergraduate Research Celebration (URC) April 23-27, UT will recognize undergraduate students who have developed a better understanding of their subjects of interest and deepened ties with professors through participation in research projects.

URC events “are opportunities for networking and discussion, and celebrate the accomplishments of UT's undergraduate scholars,“ says Dr. Eric Freundt, an assistant professor of biology in UT’s College of Natural and Health Sciences. “These events lead to cross-disciplinary collaboration and improve the intellectual exchange across campus.”

On Thursday, April 23, UT will kick off URC festivities by celebrating Honors Day, during which Honors Program undergraduate research fellows will receive recognition and give oral presentations on recently completed or current research projects.

The following day, Friday, April 24, the CNHS Undergraduate Research Symposium will take place. CNHS students will present research projects in Plant Hall's Fletcher Lounge from 3:00-5:00 pm. Sara McGrath, a research chemist at the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, will give a keynote presentation on the topic of seafood safety challenges at the FDA in Sykes College of Business, Room 131, at 2 pm.

Friday is also the Sykes CoB Student Research Day, during which students from the UT CoB will present research projects in the Cass Gym, from 3-5 pm.

Finally, the UT College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education Undergraduate Research Conference will take place on Wednesday, April 29. During the event in Plant Hall's Fletcher Lounge, CSSME students will present their original research from 4-6 pm.

Freundt explains that research helps undergraduate students develop critical-thinking skills and the ability to solve real-world problems. The focus of student presentations during the URC is the opportunity for students to share research results in a formal setting.

“Undergraduate research and creative inquiry allows students to work closely with a faculty member to conduct a high-quality, original research project,” he says. “As we often learn best through teaching, students who present must communicate the motivation behind their project, methodology, results and conclusions to a diverse audience. “Each student presentation therefore leads to a deeper understanding of their own research, sharpens their communication skills, and completes an important aspect of scholarship.”

Undergraduate Research Celebration week events are open to the local community.

“We hope that community members who attend these events can discover opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration with our faculty and students,” Freundt says.

Results from a CNHS’s 2014 symposium, as provided by Freundt:
  • Eighty percent of participants surveyed indicated that it was their first time giving a scientific presentation. 
  • All respondents (100%) reported feeling more confident in giving a scientific presentation after participating in the symposium. 
  • Seventy-seven percent of participants surveyed indicated that they spoke with students outside of their discipline. 
  • One hundred percent of participants surveyed learned by visiting other posters. 
  • Ninety-six percent of participants surveyed received helpful, personal instruction from a faculty member while preparing their poster. 
  • Ninety-six percent of participants surveyed learned more about their research topic. 
  • All respondents indicated that participation in the Symposium enhanced their overall educational experience at The University of Tampa. 
Participating in undergraduate research gives future job seekers an advantage, Freundt says, because “employers are looking for college graduates with the ability to solve complex, real-world problems and who possess excellent critical thinking and communication skills. 

“UT’s commitment to learning through student inquiry projects, and celebrating these students through the Undergraduate Research Celebration week, leads to UT grads who are prepared to make an impact in the local community and benefits the economy,” he says. 

Spring/Summer startup events guide: Tampa Bay

Technology and innovation enthusiasts in the Tampa Bay area can look forward to an array of upcoming events for meeting like-minded peers and mingling with successful serial entrepreneurs in the coming spring and summer months. From recurring meetups such as Startup Grind and Homebrew Hillsborough to annual adventures like the Startup Bus Florida (launching from Tampa on June 4), 83 Degrees has the details on upcoming spring and summer 2015 technology, networking and startup-centric events.
 
StartUp Xchange
April 23, 5 pm
Green Bench Brewing Co.
1133 Baum Ave. N. St. Petersburg

Hosted by the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, StartUp Xchange is a monthly gathering that brings TBIC mentors together with local entrepreneurs and innovators. Small business owners have the opportunity to network with other local leaders or aspiring entrepreneurs, and to discuss business-related questions or concerns with mentors.

April 2015 Startup XChange mentors include Chris Paradies, an Intellectual Property Attorney at Paradies Law PA; Kellye Dash, a social media and virtual assistant expert who founded her own company The Busy Buddy; and JJ Roberts, Client Service Manager for TBIC.

The event will take place at Green Bench Brewing, a local business named for the iconic colored benches that once resided on DTSP's Central Ave. To register for April's Startup XChange, visit the event’s Meetup page or the TBIC website for more information.
 
Homebrew Hillsborough
April 24, 8:30 am
Krazy Kup
101 East J. Arden Mays Blvd. Plant City

Join your local area network of small business owners at monthly Homebrew Hillsborough coffee shop meetups. As part of Hillsborough County’s economic development initiatives, Homebrew Hillsborough brings local leaders in the county’s Economic Development Department together with small business owners from Seminole Heights to Plant City. Each month, the meetup is hosted in a different neighborhood of Hillsborough County.

Along with the April 24 meetup at Krazy Kup in Plant City, upcoming Homebrew Hillsborough events will take place on May 29 at Kahwa Café in Westchase; June 26 at Tu Sabor Café in Town n Country; and July 31 at the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa.
 

DRINKandCONNECT
April 30, 5:30 pm
The Patio
421 South MacDill Ave. Tampa

During the free networking event on April 30, entrepreneurs and techies are invited to come out to the The Patio’s large indoor/outdoor courtyard and mingle with Cigar City Brewing VP Justin Clark and Angry Chair Brewing co-founder Ryan Dowdle. Enjoy a cold local brew as Cigar City & Angry Chair “takeover” the taps for the night.

Along with the tap takeovers and networking, the event will host raffles to benefit the Tampa Police Department's Honor Guard. Raffle items include spa gift certificates, a custom skateboard, and Cigar City or Angry Chair baskets.

To register, visit the event Meetup page.

Plum Alley's Jan Mercer Dahms at Startup Grind
May 6, 6:30 pm
CoWork Ybor/The Blind Tiger Café
1901 E. 7th Ave. Ybor City

Each month, Joy Randels and the Tampa Bay chapter of Startup Grind host fireside chats and intimate gatherings, where entrepreneurs share the secrets of their successes – and failures – with attendees, who range from small business owners to students to serial entrepreneurs. Startup Grind Tampa Bay will host Jan Mercer Dahms, managing director of Plum Alley, at Ybor City's mixed use cafe and coworking space, The Blind Tiger Cafe/CoWork Ybor, on May 6. Entry fee is $10.

Plum Alley is “the premier crowdfunding platform for women in the world,” Randels say. During May’s Startup Grind, guests from across the state will discuss their products and how Plum Alley can help them. To learn more about Plum Alley and the campaigns it supports, visit the company website. 

Startup Weekend Youth Tampa Bay
May 15-17, 5:00 pm
Trinity School For Children
2402 W Osbourne Ave, Tampa

Students, do you dream of starting the next Facebook or Snapchat? Startup Weekend is back with a special youth edition, open to aspiring designers, developers, business leaders or entrepreneurs! The 54-hour event has been a staple in Tampa Bay for several years, and in 2015, the event will include coaches and mentors from across the Tampa Bay area, including Todd Broyles, David Harris, Gregg Hilferding and founder and host Angela Ardolino.

Step into the shoes of an entrepreneur during Startup Weekend Youth Tampa Bay at Trinity School for Children. The three-day startup crash course includes pitching your ideas, forming teams, building a tangible product (including coding and creating a business model), and launching (I.e., presenting your case to the event judges, local entrepreneurial leaders).
 
#Collabtb (Q2 Tech & Entrepreneur Peer Networking Event)
June 4, 5 pm
1930 Grande Room
1930 East 7th Ave. Ybor City

Collaborative Technologies of Tampa Bay hosts quarterly networking events for tech-savvy designers, developers, programmers and other entrepreneurs who want to interact with peers without hearing sales pitches from recruiters. Students, job seekers, entrepreneurs and tech professionals are encouraged to attend the June event at Ybor City's event space and unique venue, the 1930 Grande Room.

#Collabtb events are free, but registration is required. Entrance into the event includes a free T-shirt for the first 100 attendees, a free drink ticket for the first 200 and light appetizers. Click here to register for the #Collabtb Q2 networking event.
 
StartupBus Florida
June 4-8, Tampa-Nashville

For the sixth straight year, StartupBus participants across North America will join together on buses and work to pitch and develop a startup idea. The 72-hour competition ends in Nashville in June 2015, with buses originating from six different regions competing. The Southeast region bus will leave from Tampa on June 4. One catch: you’re on your own for the return trip.

“Hackers, hustlers, and hipsters” are encouraged to apply for a seat on the bus. To pre-apply for the 2015 Startup Bus Florida, visit the Startup Bus website
 
Startup Surge
June 5, 10 am
Tampa Bay WaVE
400 N. Ashley Dr., St. 200. Tampa

Hosted by Tampa Bay WaVE at the Sykes building in the heart of downtown Tampa, Startup Surge is a one-day opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs and students to meet and hear from more than 50 mentors from around the region. Attendees will be matched up with mentors, all of whom are successful entrepreneurs, before participating in coaching sessions and workshops. Learn about building a successful startup (from identifying a target market to crowdfunding and early stage marketing); the launch process (development, updates, and analytics); and growing your company (fundraising, bring on a Board of Directors, and more).

Click here to register for Startup Surge; to learn more about event mentors, visit the Tampa Bay WaVE website.
 
Startup Weekend Design Edition, Tampa Bay
June 5-7, 6:30 pm

For the first time in Tampa, creative entrepreneurs and artists will have the chance to come together for a Startup Weekend event! Startup Weekend Design Edition will follow the traditional 54-hour format and aims to bring together Tampa Bay designers, developers, entrepreneurs and experts from all domains. Fashion entrepreneurs, interior designers, architects, graphic artists and other creatives are invited to take part in the collaborative event.

Meet peers, network with creative industry leaders, and design or develop ideas to help solve real-world problems faced by those in creative industries. Pitch your ideas and form a team (or join another -- popular vote wins out), develop a product and business model, and then present the final version to local entrepreneurial leaders in creative or design industries.

To register, visit the Startup Weekend Design Edition, Tampa Bay website. Use code "83D'' for $25 off. 

TEDx Tampa Riverwalk
August 29, 1 pm
John F. Germany Library Auditorium
900 N. Ashley Dr. Tampa

TEDx events are independently organized meetups of thinkers and innovators based on the popular TED talks that focus on the slogan of “ideas worth spreading.” The theme for the 2015 TEDx Tampa Riverwalk session is “Going Places!” TEDx presenters should consider the theme and how it applies scientifically, socially, economically, geographically, artistically and philosophically.

Nominations for speakers and presenters will be accepted through June 2015. Click here to apply or to nominate a speaker for the August event at downtown Tampa's John F Germany public library. Learn more at the TEDx Tampa Riverwalk website.

Temple Terrace hosts new craft beer festival, food trucks

Tampa Bay, grab your growlers: there's a new craft beer fest in town.

The inaugural Temple Terrace Craft BrewFest will take place May 9 in Woodmont Park, a 20-minute drive from downtown Tampa. The beer festival, hosted by the City of Temple Terrace in partnership with the Rotary Club of Temple Terrace, will feature more than 30 craft brews, including varieties from:

3 Daughters BrewingBayshore Beer Co., Big Storm Brewing Co., Big Top Brewing Co.Bold City BreweryBrew Hub, Brooklyn BreweryCigar City BrewingCoppertail Brewing Co., Florida Avenue Brewing Co.GolfBeer Brewing Co.Harpoon Brewery, Oskar Blues BreweryTampa Bay Brewing Company, Tenth and Blake Beer Co.Two Henrys Brewing, and more.

If all that beer sipping stirs up an appetite, guests can enjoy food from a variety of local Tampa Bay area food trucks and on-site vendors, including Doogie Dogs a GogoMichelle Faedo’s On the GoNapolitanos Wood Fired Pizza & Calzones, PaniniRifficPop-N-Good Kettle Corn, and Smokin’ Aces BBQ.

Live music will be provided by local band jazz fusion band Jurika.

Cheri Donohue, one of the event’s organizers, anticipates more than 1,000 attendees at the one-day event. Donohue, a member of both the Temple Terrace City Council and the Rotary Club, calls the BrewFest “a thrilling new event for the city.”

Rotary Club members worked with City Council members to develop the BrewFest. Community leaders “immediately saw it as a good way to show off our lovely city,” Donohue says. 

Sponsors include local businesses such as Ward Seaford Attorneys at LawGaspar’s Patio Bar & Grille and Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club.

As an event sponsor, local company Brewmasters Club “takes pride in contributing to any effort to re-vitalize” the Temple Terrace area," founder Donnie Gallagher says. “The goal is to really get the community of Temple Terrace involved. I expect a great turnout.”

By hosting the craft beer festival, the Rotary Club hopes to attract “young movers and shakers to see what a ‘service’ club can do,” Donohue explains. “Our motto, ‘service above self,’ is one we take seriously, but our meetings are fun and invigorating. Even though we were established in 1925, we think creatively and are working to invite people to live, work and play in Temple Terrace." 

Event proceeds will benefit charities supported by the Rotary Club of Temple Terrace including CAIRFlight, the Bridge Healthcare Clinic at USF and Rotary's Camp Florida

Tickets bought before May 8 cost $30 ($35 after) and include unlimited tastings of more than 30 craft brews, two of which are custom Temple Terrace beers brewed exclusively for BrewFest. 

For more information about the event, or to purchase tickets, visit the Temple Terrace Craft BrewFest website.

SoHo businesses to host April block party in South Tampa

Local businesses and nonprofits in the growing Courier City neighborhood of South Tampa are coming together in April to host SoHo's first “block party” of 2015.

Austin’s Board Shop, Fruitwood Standup Market, Surf Outfitter and onbikes will co-host the block party on April 18 at 2205 W. Swann Ave. (near the corner of Swann and Howard Avenues). The block party will be 5-8pm that Saturday, with live music by Morgan Davis.

“We’re going to try to do one every couple of months, rotate it around and get more people involved,” Austin’s Board Shop Owner Michelle Marcum explains. “We just want to get the whole neighborhood interested.”

Austin’s Board Shop, located at 301 S. Melville, usually carries around 60 boards in stock, which can range from $100-200 to more than $500 for custom boards and upgrades. The shop has created custom boards for Gorrie Elementary and Berkeley Prep to auction in fundraisers. Marcum and her son, co-owner Austin Anderson, will be raffling off a longboard during the block party to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Florida. 

“It’s very important to both of us that we are very connected to the community,” Marcum says.

Other items will be raffled at the April 18 block party, including a GoPro; along with RMHC, proceeds will benefit Surfrider Foundation, a grassroots environmentally focused nonprofit, and a fundraising group for ALS awareness, Pray for Jay.

In 2013, Justin Clark opened Fruitwood Standup Market at 2203 W. Swann Ave. next door to the Smoothie King he owns in SoHo. Marcum recommends the apple lemonade and flatbreads at the casual, fresh concept space where salvaged brick and wood decorate the space and light bulbs hang in mason jars.

Marcum has known Clark since her father coached the Tampa Bay Storm years ago. They reconnected and, in turn, she was connected with Charlie Schiller of Schiller's Architectural and Design Salvage in Seminole Heights, who supplied wood for the Fruitwood space and later worked with Marcum and Anderson on the design concept for Austin’s Board Shop.

Surf Outfitter, located at 1413 S. Howard Ave., Suite 104, sells a range of “lifestyle” apparel, accessories and equipment that is handpicked by staff members. The Tampa-based small business counts contributing to nonprofits and charity, along with supporting the environment, as a primary part of their mission.

Florida Bike Association chose onbikes as the 2014 Program of the Year because of the group’s efforts to help make bicycling safe and accessible. Onbikes Executive Director Julias Tobin called the recognition an “unbelievable honor” on social media sharing service Instagram.

As the Courier City area grows into a South Howard foodie paradise and welcomes bicyclists or foot traffic to a more pedestrian-friendly Platt Street, the Neighborhood Association has been actively developing a community presence by hosting social meetups at The Hyde Out and MacDinton’s Irish Pub in recent weeks. Meanwhile, a new boutique, The Paper Seahorse, hosted a Maker’s Market in Feb 2015, bringing together local vendors.

Now, the upcoming block party’s hosts aim to continue the momentum of a neighborhood on the move.

“We knew this neighborhood was the most ‘walkable’ in Tampa, and we just love it – it’s perfect,” Marcum explains. "This whole group (the Neighborhood Association) is so excited that we’re here, that Mr. Penguin’s here – that it’s not another just bar.” 

Who's hiring? Brew Bus, Tampa Musuem of Art, and more

Did you know? 83 Degrees Media searches for growing companies to bring you exciting job opportunities in the Tampa Bay area. Reach out over on Twitter @83degreesmedia if our job listings put you on the path to success!

On the search for a job in advertising? Two high-profile Tampa ad agencies are currently hiring.

Schifino Lee 

Hyde Park-based advertising agency Schifino Lee seeks an experienced Media Buyer. The successful candidate will plan and buy for a variety of B2C and B2B accounts. Job requirements include superior negotiation skills, attention to detail, the ability to work directly with clients, and a familiarity with new media opportunities and digital strategies. 

Required Education: Bachelors Degree or related experience. Send a resume and work samples via e-mail to jobs@schifinolee.com.

Walker Brands

Full-service Tampa branding agency Walker Brands seeks a Brand Manager and a Part-Time, In-House Graphic Designer in Tampa. To apply for either position, submit a resume and work samples via email to careers@walkerbrands.com.

The brand manager role requires 8+ years in branding, marketing or advertising, with a preference for agency experience as well as real estate branding and marketing experience. The position will require leading several client accounts, and the ideal candidate will combine creativity and innovation with logic and business aptitude. Required Education: Bachelors Degree in a related field.

The part-time graphic designer position requires 2 years of related professional experience in file packaging for both online and print vendors. Advanced proficiency in Creative Suite (including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat) is preferred. Mac proficiency is required.

Tampa Museum of Art

Card-carrying museum-goers, read on: the Tampa Museum of Art seeks a Development Officer for Sponsorship and Corporate Programs.

The Development Officer's primary responsibilities include securing corporate support and meeting event sponsorship goals for the Museum; stewarding funders and collaborating with board trustees, volunteers, long-time supporters, and other staff; and engaging with the region’s business community. The successful candidate will have fundraising or sales experience, with marketing and donor database experience preferred. An education that includes art history or a related field is a bonus. A Bachelor’s Degree and minimum of 2-4 years of related experience is also necessary.

Brew Bus

Hop aboard the Brew Bus, which takes patrons on tours of Tampa Bay craft beer breweries, bars, and restaurants, is hiring for two part-time positions: “Beertender” and Brew Bus Vehicle Operator

The Beertender position requires familiarity with the craft beer industry (particularly local breweries); basic service industry knowledge; strong social skills; and the ability to lift up to 50 lbs. A high school diploma or equivalent GED is required. Safe Serve certification and Cicerone beer certification are a bonus. 

The Vehicle Operator role requires a clean driving record and CDL with P endorsement, with previous experience. Brew Bus Vehicle Operators transport clients or “riders” throughout the area and possibly throughout the state. Qualified Brew Bus Vehicle Operators will possess a high school diploma or equivalent GED, the ability to lift up to 50 lbs, and a CDL Medical Card. 

Employers, if you have a career opportunity you would like to promote, please email innovationnews@83degreesmedia.com with "Hiring" in the subject line. 

Hannah's Shoebox provides stylish shoes to preteen girls

Tampa mother Colette Glover-Hannah has had a difficult time finding age-appropriate shoes for her preteen daughter since she was only six years old and in the first grade. By the time her daughter reached fifth grade and age 11, she was also wearing a size 11 women’s shoe.
 
Many parents of preteen and “tween”-aged girls know first-hand the challenge of finding affordable, suitable yet stylish footwear that is outgrown long before it’s used out. For young girls with larger shoe sizes, it can be even more challenging to find age-appropriate shoes, especially for special occasions or formal events.
 
Most women’s shoes for special occasions either have high heels or an overall aesthetic that is too mature for a young girl, Glover-Hannah says. And after talking with other parents in the Tampa area, she realized that she wasn’t the only person with that predicament.
 
“Many girls enter women's shoe sizes while in elementary school,” she says, “so I decided to open an online shoe store to address this challenge.” 
 
Glover-Hannah founded Hannah’s Shoebox, a new online retailer for age-appropriate shoes for preteen or “tween” girls who wear women’s shoe sizes 5-13, in 2014.
 
The online store carries a range of fashion footwear, from boots to flats to dressy and casual sandals, as well as special occasion shoes. The criteria for shoes that make the Hannah’s Shoebox cut? All heels are below two inches.
 
The company has no immediate plans to move into areas beyond specialty shoes, but will continue to expand services in the Tampa area.
 
“Tampa is where the core of my customers are and it's where I am developing and growing my business,” Glover-Hannah says.

Hannah’s Shoebox ships to all 50 states in the U.S. and to the District of Columbia. For additional information or to place large or custom shoe orders, email Hannah’s Shoebox.
 
The online startup store was recently selected to be part of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce 2015 Startup Scholars class, along with:
 
No Mo Nausea, a wristband that combines mint and pressure to relieve feelings of nausea;
Arcturus Creative, a creative marketing team that builds custom visual brand strategies;
LilyPad, an activity management platform for professional workforces; and
PikMyKid, a simple but streamlined mobile app that allows public schools in the U.S. to organize and manage the after-school dismissal process.
 
“I am looking to the Startup Scholars program to help me develop a solid foundation for building a sustainable business,” Glover-Hannah says. “I simply want Hannah’s Shoebox to become synonymous with age-appropriate, larger size shoes for preteen and tween girls.”

HCC awarded $100,000 to create Tampa jobs for low-income residents

Hillsborough Community College was recently awarded $100,000 to help promote job creation for lower-income residents of the city of Tampa.

As part of regional and local efforts to create a wide spectrum of jobs in tech and innovation, HCC’s Institute for Corporate and Continuing Education (ICCE) was granted the $100,000 through the Community Development Block Grant by the City of Tampa’s Housing and Development Division.

These funds will aid the creation and development of a Workforce Development and Training Initiative (WDTI) at HCC, which aims to promote job creation for low-income residents who reside within a specific target region in the city of Tampa’s borders.

That area, defined as a “Green Tech Corridor area" or the Tampa Industrial Park/ USF Research Park, falls along East Fowler Avenue, between 30th Street and 50th Street. The neighborhood is along the edges of the innovation district of the University of South Florida, which represents a critical mass of education, science, medicine and research including the Moffitt Cancer Center, Florida Hospital, and USF.

The up-and-coming neighborhood is part of an innovative district whose revitalization is under the leadership of Mark Sharpe, a former county commissioner working to revitalize the USF neighborhood from a “Suitcase City” into a vibrant and sustainable area.

The Tampa Innovation Alliance plans to create to “live, work, play” atmosphere in the USF and Busch Gardens area of north Tampa.

Meanwhile, ICCE expects the implementation of the WDTI to serve as a catalyst for improving employment opportunities for residents and businesses within the target area.

“With this funding, HCC will be able to provide free, career-driven training programs that will effectively increase the competencies of individuals seeking professional development in preparation for the workforce,” said Yolanda Levell-Williams, HCC’s executive director, in a press release.

HCC’s Institute for Corporate and Continuing Education promotes short-term educational programs and services which lead to economic growth and advancement in the community, including continuing education, professional development, and personal enrichment programs and services. 

Other efforts the county has taken to promote economic development include the support of many local startup events, pitch contests, and the economic development innovation initiative. The next round of EDI2 funding for Tampa area startups closes on Monday, March 2, 2015.

Nationally acclaimed works bring dialogue on race and identity to USF

International tour ensemble, Progress Theatre, is performing “The Burning’’ in Tampa at 3 pm Saturday afternoon, Feb. 21, 2015 at USF. The program will be followed by an interactive dialogue and reception with the artists and audience.  

An original work inspired by two horrific real-life African-American nightclub tragedies, decades and miles apart, is written in the innovative “neo-spiritual” aesthetic of Progress Theatre Founder, Director and Playwright Cristal Chanelle Truscott. 

Truscott’s development of neo-spiritualism – the term she uses for “work that engages African-American performance and tradition – from negro spirituals through blues, jazz, spoken word to the present” -- earned her the prestigious Doris Duke Impact Award last year. “The Burning’’ is an a’capella musical of original song, movement and dialogue rooted in African-American tradition.

“The Burning’’ imagines the social and political dynamics surrounding each of the tragic scenarios -- the Rhythm Night Club Fire of Natchez, MI (1940) and the E2 Club Stampede of Chicago, IL (2003) -- and how race, class, gender and generation play out in different ways. Truscott says she wanted to examine “the way we understand identity and community when it’s a matter of life and death.” 

Truscott, an African-American woman and Muslim, was invited to bring the performance to USF as part of USF and Art2Action’s THIS Bridge project. The project hosts national and international performance artists and events with the aim of enhancing understanding of Arab, Middle Eastern and Muslim cultures and identities, over the course of two years. 

“Truscott is an artist who can talk about those identities and the history of African-American Muslims in the country,” notes Arts2Action Founder Andrea Assaf.

This performance also bridges Black History Month with February’s lesser known celebration, Islam Awareness month. Assaf and Truscott both note that the date of the performance is also the 50th Anniversary of assassination of Malcolm X.

Truscott and the Progress Theatre will also participate in the USF Institute on Black Life "Race & Place" conference Friday, February 20th, which is free and open to the public. 

New Hyde Park paper boutique in South Tampa hosts Valentine's Day makers market

Paper Seahorse, a new artisanal paper goods and crafts store in Hyde Park, is the fulfillment of founder Tona Bell’s longtime desire to create a space centered on writing, paper and presentation.

The Paper Seahorse will host a free pop-up inspired retail event, the Makers Market, from 10 am-6 pm on Saturday, Feb. 14. The market’s carefully curated selection of crafts and wares from local artisans will be open to the public.

A unique mix of makers, materials and mediums include: letterpress, leather, girl’s dresses, jewelry, sweets, men’s accessories, and fresh floral and body products. Tampa Makers Market vendors include:
  • Ella Bing: bow ties, accessories, and all things Southern
  • Fortenberry: leather wallets, bags, and other accessories made locally in Ybor City
  • Lellow: girls' clothing remade from recycled materials
  • Strands of Sunshine: ladies' jewelry
  • Tampa Type: vintage typewriters
  • A South Tampa teen who creates confections using homemade recipes and fondant frosting.
Makers markets are the latest iteration of a national and international trend concerning makers, says style consultant Alex English: “Specifically, people who want to use their hands to create products or consumables in small quantities, using the best materials for superior products.”

English, who runs local blog Remarqed, is Bell’s partner in staging the upcoming event. 

English recently worked with Christopher Devitt of Fortenberry on the launch of the Blind Tiger Café and CoWork Ybor. Bell and English are longtime friends who share a “keen appreciation for quality, handmade goods,” English explains. “We love local, and love shopping.”

With the Maker’s Market, Bell and English hope to build awareness of local makers and to help increase their business.

“We all make choices about which brands and people to support with our dollars. Goods with a story, made from the highest quality materials, should at least be an everyday option, rather than the exception,” Bell says. “These makers are, after all, our neighbors and friends.”

St. Pete “does a tremendous job in their community,” says Bell, who hopes to see Tampa shine a similar spotlight on makers. “I think Tampa can do better.  We have found some folks who are indeed motivated by this and hope the momentum continues.“

The Paper Seahorse boutique, located at 211 S. Howard Ave., brings a unique touch of charm to the Hyde Park neighborhood.
Upcoming Paper Seahorse classes set for spring include collage, 'zine making, paper crafts, card making, and lettering. More classes will be added in coming months. Later in 2015, Paper Seahorse will be available to host parties for wedding showers, baby showers and children’s birthdays.

“We aim to have a community creative space where like-minded folks can have a place in Tampa to meet,” Bell says.
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