February News

Matanzas Voices

February 2018


Friends,

Spring is springing, and it's springing fast! It's one of my favorite times of year on the river, as we shrug off the cold, gray dormancy and transition to blooms, warmth, and activity.

It's also one of my favorite times of year in St. Augustine, as festival season starts up. I've got two events in particular on my radar this Spring: the Minorcan Heritage Celebration, which takes place this Saturday, 3/3, and the Saint Ambrose Catholic Church Fair, on Sunday, 3/18 (tip: come early for the chowder). Both offer unique glimpses into old St. Augustine, and the communities who have helped sustain it.

Spring is a time of new beginnings, so it's only appropriate that Matanzas Voices is cookin' up a new initiative. For the first time ever, Voices is commissioning two filmmakers to bring their story ideas about the Matanzas River to the screen. Read on for details!

Sometimes, though, what we start doesn't always end how we think it will. That's the lesson we learn from Hugh Mercer, who is this month's Voices Spotlight. "Dealing directly with nature is a very chancy proposition," Mercer says. "She's a sort of a jealous thing."

And finally, we're pleased to invite you to the Friends of Matanzas annual meeting at Genung's Fish Camp on Saturday, March 17th. Join us to learn about ways you can help protect the Matanzas River watershed. We hope to see you there!

Kind regards from our Matanzas,

Anna

Anna Hamilton
Project Director
Matanzas Voices
www.MatanzasVoices.com

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Tell your story: accepting film pitches


Today is the FINAL DAY for submitting your ideas for our first-ever film competition! We are commissioning two filmmakers to bring stories about the Matanzas River to the screen. Be sure to send your pitches tomatanzasvoices@gmail.com by 5pm this afternoon!

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Voices Spotlight: Hugh Mercer

Originally from Sayville, New York, Hugh Mercer comes from an "aquaculturally-bent" family. He followed in his father's footsteps working for the renowned Bluepoints Company, a northern purveyor of shellfish, before answering a 1967 ad in a fish journal about a pompano project in St. Augustine.

The plan did not go as expected.

"We started Holmer Farms, which was a fish farming proposition. And we dug what the then superintendent of the [Fort Matanzas National Monument], a man named [George F.] Schesventer, called 'unsightly ditches in the marsh.'"

That was just the beginning of his troubles. Read one to hear more from Hugh Mercer.

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On the hunt: historic eateries

We always look forward to your feedback, and welcome ideas and suggestions for project themes, events, and interviews. This month, we're particularly interested in your suggestions about historic/bygone eateries. Which restaurants do you miss? Which were central to St. Augustine and her communities but are no longer here? Drop us a note any time at matanzasvoices@gmail.com.

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Protecting the river: Friends of Matanzas meeting 3/17


Interested in protecting the Matanzas River watershed? Please join us for the Friends of Matanzas annual meeting on Saturday, March 17th, to learn about ways you can get involved. The event is a potluck at Genung's Fish Camp from 4-7pm.

Friends of Matanzas is a citizen-supported advocate for the Matanzas, and is the umbrella organization overseeing both Matanzas Voices and the Matanzas Riverkeeper.

We hope to see you there!

January News

Matanzas Voices

January 2018


Friends,

This month, our newsletter is curated a little more thematically than usual.

For one, it's a new year. As we salute 2017 and greet 2018 with new ambitions, hopes, and resolutions, we're taking some time to reflect on what we've accomplished in the past year and to set our intentions for the year ahead.

Secondly, it's Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Today the nation remembers and honors the indescribably hard work and commitment of those who stood up against inequality and injustice—especially when it wasn't the easy or popular thing to do.

...which is why, throughout January, we're thinking about the weight of our particular history and asking ourselves questions about representation and belonging along the Matanzas: To whom does this space belong? Whose history is well represented, and whose isn't? How can we do better?

Those are all questions Gordie Wilson grapples with every day, as Superintendent of the Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas National Monuments. He's this month's Voice's Spotlight

Bygone historical sites like the Monson Motor Lodge are at the front of our minds this month as St. Augustine recognizes the power of its local civil rights movement. Though the Monson was the site of a well-photographed swim-in in the 1960s, the lodge was demolished. The Monson is a reminder to think about what histories might be hidden or invisible in our landscapes.

With this in mind, Matanzas Voices wants to amplify new voices and perspectives with our first-ever short film competition! Two filmmakers will be awarded $1,000 to bring their ideas to the screen. Read on for details.

Lastly, we want to say THANK YOU for all of the support we received during our year-end fundraising campaign. We're so humbled. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. We can't do this without you.

Happy New Year, and happy Martin Luther King Day!

Kind regards from the Matanzas,

Anna

Anna Hamilton
Project Director
Matanzas Voices
www.MatanzasVoices.com

Voices Spotlight: "Gordie" Wilson

"I can't believe I get paid to do this some days," says Gordie Wilson of his job as Superintendent of the Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas National Monuments.

Stewards of our historical sites face some of the most difficult challenges: fairly and accurately interpreting history, ensuring sites and artifacts are properly preserved, managing tourism, among many other charges.

Read on to hear what this balance is like from someone on the inside.

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Reckoning with the past

To many St. Augustinians, this is a familiar image—and one they'd rather forget.

In it, James Brock, the owner the St. Augustine bayfront Monson Motor Lodge, pours acid into a pool of civil rights activists integrating a whites-only pool. The photo of this swim-in garnered national attention and was, along with other events in the St. Augustine Movement, instrumental in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

Nineteen years ago, the Monson was the embroiled in controversial demolition plans; a Hilton Hotel sits in its place today. The removal of this historical site left many historians with questions of whether or not—and how—communities should distinguish "good" and "bad" history.

For a first-hand account of the Monson swim-in, listen to a moving StoryCorps recollection from two of the protestors.

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Calling all local filmmakers! Matanzas Voices is accepting proposals for short films about life on the Matanzas River. We're looking for under-the-radar stories, be they portraits of shrimpers, deep dives into the river's changing ecology, profiles of educational initiatives, or anything else that sheds light on our unique region! Two applicants will be awarded $1,000 apiece to bring their ideas to film. Send your brief (one paragraph) pitch, resume, and example of your work to matanzasvoices@gmail.com by February 28th.

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Thankful for YOU!

We are humbled and buoyed by the support we received during our year-end fundraising campaign. We are so grateful for your generosity! Now, let's put those donations to work,

shall we? Be on the lookout for more voices, more events, and more stories from the Matanzas River soon. 

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We want to hear from you!

We always look forward to your feedback, and welcome ideas and suggestions for project themes, events, and interviews. Drop us a note any time atmatanzasvoices@gmail.com.

December News

Matanzas Voices

December 2017


Friends,

Suffice to say, it's been quite a year for Matanzas Voices.

First: we’re officially official! After collecting our first five interviews by way of the Matanzas Riverkeeper and a seed grant from the Florida Humanities Council, we got the green light to develop as our own project under the Friends of Matanzas, Inc. Friends of Matanzas is a community-organized advocate for the Matanzas River, and we can’t think of a better sponsor for Voices, whose mission is to document life and work along our river. Drop us a line if you'd like to learn more about Friends of Matanzas and how you can get involved.

We made our debut last spring at an event at the Council on Aging. Attendees gave us lots of great feedback, insight and ideas, for which we’re humbled and grateful. The responses I got from folks speak to a strong sense of place: "Our environment is now changing very quickly," one attendee told me. "It's nice to hear the past so we know how we must protect it into the future." I couldn't agree more.

This year also brought us a tremendous opportunity to grow Matanzas Voices. A generous donor has pledged to match every dollar you give up to $25,000. That means for every $50 you gift, we receive $100, every $100 = $200, and so on. We have big plans for the year ahead and are grateful to everyone who has chipped in so far. But we still need your help in meeting our fundraising goal.

It’s also been a sobering year. With two hurricanes in eleven months, our communities are thinking hard about the climate’s “new normal,” adaptation, and the precariousness of living along Florida’s rapidly developing coast. Nothing illustrated this more for us than the loss of the Matanzas Innlet Restaurant, a beloved icon in Summer Haven. Only a few months after we interviewed Marian Kimrey—whose parents built the eatery in the 1950s—Hurricane Matthew stomped in and crippled the restaurant. It was bulldozed in July.

In the year ahead, we’ll dive deeper into the people, places, and histories that make our region unique. Stay tuned for updates on projects, events, and exhibits we have in the works...we’re so excited we can hardly stand it.

Happy holidays! 

Kind regards from the Matanzas,

Anna Hamilton
Project Director
Matanzas Voices
www.matanzasvoices.com

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Fundraising Alert!

A generous donor has pledged tomatch every dollar we can raise up to $25,000 until December 31st. If you like what we're doing, consider chipping in to help us meet our goal!

You can make a tax-deductible donation online, via snail mail,  or make a monthly pledge via Patreon(which also gets you behind the scenes exclusives). Get to know your river and support Matanzas Voices!

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In memoriam: Matanzas Innlet Restaurant

Hurricane Matthew crippled Summer Haven's iconic Matanzas Innlet Restaurant in October 2016. It was demolished in July 2017. 

Marian Kimrey's parents built and operated the beloved eatery in the 1950s. Check out her interview to learn more about this icon's vibrant past. "If I had a nickel for every shrimp I ever cleaned or breaded," Marian says, "I'd be the most wealthy person."

Read more...

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Your Voice on: Food

We're still on the hunt for your ideas about food traditions of the Matanzas. Whether they're oyster roasts, Minorcan clam chowder or takeout on your porch, we're all ears! MatanzasVoices@gmail.com

November News

Matanzas Voices

November 2017

Friends,

When I started Matanzas Voices, I didn't know what the future would hold. I didn't know if it would work, if anyone would like it, or if it would be sustainable.

What I did know is that it was an important project, that our Matanzas River's story is unique and deserves to be told.

So here we are, on the ground documenting the stories of people whose lives and work have shaped our northeast Florida coastal communities. In just the past month, I've recorded stories of floods and buried treasure, Florida Cracker cattle, shrimp boats, and artesian springs. I'm so looking forward to breathing life into our local history—and sharing it with you.

On our radar this November: we're growing Matanzas Voices, and hope you'll consider supporting the project! A generous donor is willing to match every dollar you give (up to $25,000) from now through December 31st. Read on to learn more!

We're also rolling out some new material, which I invite you to explore. Today we're unveiling our "Storms" feature, which serves as a memory bank of residents' experiences in major storm events. This month, boat captain Adam Morley comes face to face with Hurricane Matthew. Words to the wise: don't try this at home.

We're happy to have you with us.

Kind regards from the Matanzas,

Anna Hamilton
Project Director
Matanzas Voices
www.MatanzasVoices.com

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Fundraising Alert!

A generous donor has pledged tomatch every dollar we can raise up to $25,000 from today through December 31st. We need your help! If you like what we're doing, consider chipping in to help us meet our goal.

You can make a tax-deductible donation online, via snail mail,  or make a monthly pledge via Patreon(which also gets you behind the scenes exclusives). Get to know your river and support Matanzas Voices!

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New Feature: "Storms"

Floridians are still reeling from hurricane damage, first from Matthew in October 2016 and Irma in September 2017—which is why we're unveiling a "Storms" feature to document the fallout from major storm events as they impact our region.

In our first installment, Adam Morley does everything you're not supposed to do: kayaks straight into Hurricane Matthew. 

"It was definitely one of those 'don't try this at home' stories," Adam says. "But I'd never listen to those warnings." 

Read more...

Voices Spotlight: Frankie Pacetti

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New to Voices? Dive into our archives to explore our interviews—like this one, with Frankie Pacetti. Frankie is a Minorcan descendent with deep connections to St. Johns County. She spent many weekends at her family's fish camp on Pellicer Creek, where she now lives full time.

"Everybody would come down on the weekends and go fishing and everybody would get together as a group," Frankie says. "When you're a kid you don't appreciate what you've got.”

Read more...

Your Voice On: Food

Each month, we want to hear from you about specific themes and topics. We'll incorporate your ideas as we move forward!

This month: what are some of your food traditions?

Let us know:
MatanzasVoices@gmail.com