On Saturday, September 22, 2015 The Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce hosted their Annual Awards Dinner for 2015 “The Chamber’s Night of the Year,” at Isles Yacht Club in Punta Gorda. Presentations were made to the Chamber’s “Partners in Action 2014-15” as well as the “2015 Donna Heidenreich Business of the Year Award.”
Coming Up at the Renaissance Academy
Article by: Rick Ramos
The Renaissance Academy of FGCU offers lifelong learning classes to enrich life experiences at any age. The following sessions will be held at Herald Court Centre in downtown Punta Gorda.
Success Camp for Writers
1 – 2 p.m.
Wednesday, May 13, 20, 27; June 3
Fee: $30 per class
Instructor: James Abraham
Perhaps you’ve thought about it for years or the inspiration just hit you. Regardless, if you’ve resolved to finally put pen to paper, Success Camp for Writers is what you need. This course gives you the tools, encouragement, and support needed to finish your writing project. James Abraham, the editor and publisher of more than 300 books, leads a collegial, insightful series of classes designed to bring out the writer in you. The course’s modular design allows participants to pick from the most helpful modules or buy a five-class package for $135. Participants will get an added bonus (at no charge); a personal half hour weekly critiquing of their work in progress.
Intro to Microsoft Office: Word, PowerPoint
3 – 5 p.m.
Thursday, Word: May 14, 21; Power Point: May 28, June 4
Fee: $32 each
Instructor: James Nelson
MS Office is the standard used by individuals and business for creating your own professional-looking documents, standard forms, spreadsheets, and presentations customized for your life or work. Use MS Word to create letters, diaries, memoirs, business plans, fax covers, and reusable forms. Use Excel to make own customized spreadsheets yourself without costly software tools. Use Excel to monitor and analyze your important data such as a checkbook balance projector, a decision matrix, investments analyzer, sales comparison, and a scheduling manager, plus projecting future trends with chart graphing.
Was Dropping the A-Bomb Necessary?
10 a.m. – Noon
Thursday, May 14, 21
Instructor: Joseph Lanza
Was dropping the atomic bomb necessary and justified to end the war with Japan? We will simulate an investigation into the bombing utilizing film documentaries, current research and various written articles. Class members will critically examine and evaluate several options presented to President Truman and offer their conclusions.
Introduction to Windows 8.1
Noon – 2 p.m.
Thursday, May 21, 28; June 4, 11
Instructor: James Nelson
This course explores the all-new Windows 8.1, a fundamental change to earlier Windows versions and the only one available on new PCs. Beginners and experienced PC users can get comfortable navigating and managing the Tiles Start Screen, settings for Internet Wi-Fi, differences with Windows 7, and useful shortcuts, hints and tips presented in everyday language.
Open House: Adopt a Forever Friend
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Saturday, May 23
You are invited to adopt a forever friend at Florida Gulf Coast University’s Renaissance Academy in downtown Punta Gorda. The Animal Welfare League of Charlotte County, will have shelter animals, looking for their forever homes on hand for adoption. The Port Charlotte based AWL is a non-profit humane organization committed to animal protection and welfare. Human refreshments will be provided.
Android Phone for Beginners
4:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, June 9, 16
Instructor: Jeff Payne
If you’re eager to learn the ins and outs of your exciting, new Android phone, this course covers the basics of Android phones without the cumbersome technical jargon. Learn everything from getting started to making the most of your phone’s potential. You’ll learn to text, send and receive email, access the Internet, connect to social networking sites, use the camera for stills and video, download apps, watch videos, play games, oh, and make a phone call.
Basic Polymer Clay Creations
Wednesday, June 10, 17, 24; July 1, 8
Instructor: Estellita Rainwater-August
Join us in a fun summer project. Learn to how make beautiful and unique bead designs. In this five week course you will learn which types of clay work best to make funky and colorful necklaces, pendants and bracelets to wear when you go out to dinner or to wear on the beach. If you have a pasta machine at home that you no longer use, you may bring it to class to reduce air bubbles in the clay. The basic supplies can be purchased for $25, payable to the instructor.
Unless otherwise noted, classes (above) are held in the FGCU facility at Herald Court Centre, 117 Herald Court in downtown Punta Gorda. Parking is free in the adjacent parking garage. To register, call 941-505-0130 or visit https://registerra.fgcu.edu.
Article by: Rick Ramos
“Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet,” said Colette, the acclaimed French author of the novel “Gigi.”
Today, too many of “our perfect companions” are languishing in shelters throughout the United States. About 7.6 million companion animals enter shelters every year in the United States, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
“It’s difficult to understand why people don’t realize that pets are gifts to mankind,” said Linda Blair, actress and star of the 1973s horror classic “The Exorcist.”
To help reduce those numbers, the Animal Welfare League (AWL) of Charlotte County and Florida Gulf Coast University’s Punta Gorda Renaissance Academy are teaming up to host an “Open House: Adopt a Forever Friend.” The open house is slated for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday May 23, at the Renaissance Academy, 117 Herald Court Suite 211 in downtown Punta Gorda.
At the “Adopt a Forever Friend” open house, the AWL will have adoptable pets on hand. In addition, author Don Landy will discuss the loss of a beloved pet, grief and grieving. There will also be human refreshments available.
Since the FGCU’s Renaissance Academy’s 2010 opening in Punta Gorda, Program Director Nancy Staub has promoted a number of community oriented events, like the “Adopt a Forever Friend” open house.
“I have a big place in my heart for animals that need a forever home,” Staub said. “My intent is to increase the chances of adoption for as many shelter dogs as possible.”
The AWL is a non-profit organization founded in 1963 that “provides temporary homes, medical services and caring attention” for dogs, cats and other animals. Annually, the AWL takes in about 5,000 animals from Charlotte County residents and Animal Control.
Existing solely on the contributions of Charlotte County residents like you, the AWL will also be accepting donations of pet food and supplies, office supplies and facility maintenance supplies, as well as cash donations. To view the AWL’s detailed “Wish List” visit www.awlshelter.org/wish-list.php.
Landy has penned two books on the subjects of the death of a beloved pet, grief and grieving. He also works with Proctor and Gamble’s Pet Group and was a guest author at their 14th AKC/Eukanuba National Champion Dog Show in Orlando last December.
Landy’s first book, “Unconditional Love: On Loan from God” is the story of Landy’s and his wife’s decision to “add a baby to the family…a nine and a half week old German Shepherd named Sabrina.” His other book “A Letter to Tia” chronicles the Landy’s lives as adoptive parents to cats and dogs and the pain accompanying their loss in “…a first person look at grief and grieving in a way that may surprise you.”
The “Open House: Adopt a Forever Friend” is a chance to see the dogs available for adoption from the AWL, discuss animal adoption with Landy, a noted author on the subject pets and enjoy some refreshments.
According to Staub, “The May 23 event is family friendly. Bring the kids, have fun, win some prizes and best of all pet a dog on the head. You just might fall in love.”
For more information about the “Open House: Adopt a Forever Friend” call 941-505-0130.
Article by: Carol Bruyere
It’s been said that photography is a lot like shooting pool – if you take the shots that no one else can see, you will be the best.
Obviously, Port Charlotte photographer Spencer Pullen is one of the best. His colorful photograph, titled “Fruit Loops,” has been selected as one of the top fifty greatest photographs in the juried Camera USA 2015 National Photography competition.
Pullen said at first he brushed off the idea of entering contests, but several people urged him to get involved and show off his exceptional talents. He decided this could be the perfect chance to be chosen as one of the top photographers in a national competition.
Along with only one photograph, and a nominal fee, Pullen said, competitors submit an “artists statement” explaining who they are, why they were “shooting what they shoot”, and what they were thinking when they shot it.
“It took me a few months to figure out the execution of my idea,” Pullen added. “When I got the parts and pieces together, it took six hours, and probably approximately three hundred images, to get the perfect one.”
Finalists were selected by a group of award winning and professional photographers, professors, and museum curators from around the country.
All fifty photographs will be on display at The von Liebig Art Center’s Frederick O. Watson Gallery, in Naples, Florida, from June 15 to July 17. The first place winner will be announced at a preview reception and presentation June 12th.
This isn’t Pullen’s only photographic success story. He recently was awarded first place for his black and white image “The Old Model T”, entered in a competition at the Manatee Art Center in Sarasota.
Though Pullen took his first photos when he was only seven years old, he wasn’t always a professional photographer. His college studies focused on graphic design and interactive media—radio, television, websites, commercials, and 3D modeling. His work for the local Sun Coast Media group got him involved in commercial printing, and encouraged his transition from graphic designer to commercial photographer.
“After twenty years of deadlines and stress, I got tired, and decided it was time for a change,” Pullen stated.
That change has included becoming a photography class instructor, primarily at FGCU’s Renaissance Academy’s Herald Court Campus in Punta Gorda.
“The big thing I found is that a majority of my students are age 60-90. They wanted something to do – something to get them out and keep them active,” Pullen said. “I realized I could fill the void.”
“I got started in photography just at the dawn of the digital age,” Pullen mentioned. As it’s progressed, he added, he’s had the opportunity to learn all the aspects, and is now sharing his knowledge in a popular series of classes that include: Digital Camera Basics, Intro to Point & Shoot Cameras, Intro to DSLR Photography, Digital Photography Exposed, Digital Camera Exposed, HDR for Digital Photographers, Digital Photographer’s Toolbox, Lighting for Digital Photographers.
Additional classes teach how to process and edit digital photos, or, as Pullen says “Dress ‘em up and make ‘em look nice.” These include Mac Basics, Photoshop CS for Digital Photographers, Photoshop Elements for Digital Photographers, and How to Photograph for Online Sales.
While the classroom is where equipment and techniques are explained, students are also given the opportunity to practice methods on guided field trips with the instructor. Pullen laughed when he said “I can talk ‘til I’m blue in the face, but they won’t get it until I take them on a walk around town.” Students may also go to parks and historical sites for inspiration and instruction.
Lots of people, Pullen said, would enjoy photography, but they may be intimidated by the high cost of some equipment. “You don’t have to spend thousands to get a good photograph. It’s not the expensive camera, or the fancy lens, it’s the person behind the camera,” Pullen explained. He even knows of a photographer who used a cell phone camera to take a photo that was eventually published in National Geographic.
Pullen said many of his students ask “What makes a professional photographer?” He tells them “It’s taking more images, maybe thousands, of the same thing. You may stop, get up or down, look at the subject from a different angle, use different lighting, or give yourself other options to get that perfect shot.”
Pullen wants to encourage his students to follow his footsteps and enter photography contests. “You don’t have to be Ansel Adams,” he tells them, “just take rejection with a grain of salt. You may re-submit in another contest and win.” He also wants them to know that photography is supposed to be fun. “If not, it’s time to do something else!”
FGCU Program Director, Nancy Staub, said that Pullen’s students have a varying degree of ability but he treats each student equally, and provides one-on-one instruction for them.
“When I met with Spencer the first time, I realized his extreme passion would lead him to help people learn their cameras and photography techniques.”
“Every class, every time, in Spencer’s evaluation from his students, they give him the highest rank for knowledge, delivery, and patience”, Staub said. “We couldn’t be happier than to have him as our photography instructor.”
“Was I surprised at the contest results? No! I’ve seen his work!” Staub said.
While Pullen hopes to eventually travel the county and “focus” on shooting memorable black and white photos of “Americana” (people, nature, old buildings and vehicles), he plans to continue teaching.
“This is a blast!” Pullen exclaimed. “It’s lots of fun. I enjoy working with people. That’s where the pay-off is – to see students engaged, and understanding the material, and knowing they can take the information and continue on their photographic journey.”
Want to “travel” with award-winning photographer Spencer Pullen? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or check his website, images, and blog at http://spencerpullen.com . FGCU class schedules and information can be found at www.fgcu.edu/hcc or visit the campus at 117 Herald Court #211, Punta Gorda.
Article written by: Rick Ramos
The Atomic Age dawned Aug. 6, 1945, when the United States exploded an atomic bomb over the Japanese city Hiroshima. Three days later, on Aug. 9, the U.S. exploded a second atomic bomb over the city of Nagasaki. These are the only two atomic bombs ever exploded.
It’s estimated the immediate blast and heat effects from the U.S. bombs killed 70,000 to 130,000 at Hiroshima and 60,000 to 70,000 at Nagasaki. An estimated 70,000 were wounded at Hiroshima, with thousands more dying years later from delayed radiation effects.
In light of those effects, Joseph Lanza, who taught 20th century history and economics for 38 years, explores the question “Was Dropping the A-Bomb Necessary?” The short course is slated for 10 a.m. to noon May 14 and 21 at Florida Gulf University’s Renaissance Academy in downtown Punta Gorda.
Using film, primary sources and current research documents, Lanza will guide participants in a critical examination of the evidence and an evaluation of the options available to U.S. President Harry S. Truman at the time.
“We’ll view a film from the World at War Series, “The Atomic Bomb,” which examines the dropping of the atomic bomb from both the Japanese and American points of view,” Lanza said. “Using primary source material, the class will explore three possible options: whether to push ahead to victory by dropping the bomb; understand this is a new era with atomic weapons and drop one on a deserted island as a demonstration of its power; or not use the bomb at all.”
The bombings have sparked ongoing ethical, legal and military controversies as well as debates between supporters and opponents of the bombings. J. Samuel Walker, an American historian and author most notable for his research and writing on the nuclear age, wrote “…the controversy over the use of the bomb seems certain to continue.”
Supporters argue the bombings were preferable to invading Japan, would end the war quickly and save Japanese civilian lives, were a part of total war and were necessary because Japan’s political and military leaders had refused to surrender.
Opponents counter by pointing out the bombings were fundamentally immoral, militarily unnecessary, were war crimes, constituted state terrorism, were the result of an ongoing racist and war-long effort to dehumanize the Japanese people and were a continuation of an earlier American decision to fire bomb Japan.
“What were the decision-making processes, the factors involved in the decision, what factors did Truman consider and what factors influenced his decision making at the time?” Lanza said. “We’ll consider whether this was a crusade versus evil, to end the war with unconditional surrender and eliminate the militarism and fanaticism in Germany and Japan. Or was the real target of the bombs the Soviet Union in an act of atomic diplomacy? Finally, what was the moral responsibility for using the bomb?”
The question “Was Dropping the A-Bomb Necessary?” will lead to a discussion of nuclear proliferation in the modern world, according to Lanza.
“We’ll consider Iran and efforts to restrict its nuclear development, whether we want it [nuclear proliferation] to continue and what the world community is going to do about it, and nuclear disarmament and limitations. Are there enough countries that have nuclear weapons?” Lanza said. “The development of the atomic bomb has prevented world wars over the last 70 years, although more limited wars have proliferated.”
For more information about this course offered in Punta Gorda “Was Dropping the A-Bomb Necessary?” or to register, call (941) 505-0130. You can also register online at https://registerra.fgcu.edu; enter the search term “A-Bomb.”