JJ’s Beloved Gator Nation Makes NYT for Education, Culture, History

7 03 2009


Now THAT’S what I call a C-H-O-M-P! 😀

American Journeys | Gainesville, Fla.
Butterflies Among the Gators in Florida

We’ve been reading travel pieces because Favorite Daughter is off for Europe this summer, not on a group tour and not even with the help of a travel agent. She and a friend are doing it all themselves, learning about trains and planes, pickpockets and hostels, visas and VATs, as they go.

So I was reading this wonderful NYT piece about train travel for peaceful, non-commercial and educational green tourism — through America on Amtrak as it happens, but still it’s helping us picture what riding the Eurails might be like — when I stumbled across travel power of story about my very own home town.

Gainesville is where I learned to love libraries, and journalism, and challenging ideas. To think for myself and damn the torpedoes.

And the arts. The performing arts center was first proposed when I was lobbying for education, right before I moved here permanently. I remember it as the “Miracle on 34th Street” because Jon Mills amazingly got it funded despite the dominance of south Florida legislators (and because it’s on 34th Street, duh.) Because I moved, I never got to see it finished, much less see shows there.

I haven’t lived in Gainesville for 20 years so the recommended restaurants are unknown to me now, but I’ve been to all the museums mentioned and I practically grew up on that glorious campus, dripping with history and heritage AND chomping at the bit for change and progress.

It’s true that Education (which encompasses academic and intellectual virtues like culture and history and literature) is the heart of Gainesville, pumping lifeblood through everything. It sets the rhythm and tone indoors and out, for the whole community, and literally Read the rest of this entry »