Village of the Arts—reprinted from Retailing Insight

Posted December 20th, 2018 by anna and filed in "Real. Authentic. Florida.", Manatee County, FL, Mid-Town Manatee?
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Written for Retailing Insight’s January/February Issue.

COMMUNITY as Business Practice
Village of the Arts, Bradenton FL

Like a lot of people who have been involved with the Village of the Arts, I believed that Herbie Rose originated the concept of a creative community in the heart of Bradenton. A successful international watercolorist and art educator, his art studio was in a downtown neighborhood that was being overrun by drug dealers. It turns out that Bill Theroux, Executive Director of the Downtown Development Authority at the time, approached Herbie with the idea of an artist’s colony for countering the neighborhood’s deterioration. The rest is history. Herbie put the word out, and with the help of his artist wife Graciela Giles, he set in motion a project that is thriving two decades later. I am not alone in thinking that only Herbie could have accomplished this unique undertaking. With him at the helm, the idea of the Village of the Arts elicited excitement and support. Jo Ellen Gorris, recorded the beginning of it all in May 1999.

“…there was a meeting at the Bradenton Herald to see if there was interest in an Art Colony. There was an overflow crowd. Herbie Rose suggested we meet again the next night … The next night there was another oveflow crowd … it was decided to form an Artist’s Guild.”

Jo Ellen also recalls that Graciela sent out a letter to find those neighbors who were interested in selling and created a list of available properties for the Artist’s Guild. Soon Graciela bought a house behind Herbie’s studio. Then baker Bonnie Brown bought a property up the street. It was November 9, 1999 when Jo Ellen bought her house two blocks south of Graciela. Soon, the rundown properties in the neighborhood seemed to magically turn into colorful houses filled with unique creations. But it wasn’t magic. It was Herbie’s iron will.

Anna D’Aste remembers that when she was working to get the Grand Opening organized, the people that she contacted for help were often ready to hang up until she mentioned Herbie’s name; then the floodgates opened with whatever she needed. Linda Brokema told me that when she was restoring her house and trying to get her quilting business up and running, she often despaired. “I don’t think I would have made it if Herbie and Graciela hadn’t come by every week to cheer me on .”

I went to some of the early Guild meetings. I was always in awe of the quiet way Herbie managed to steer a group of freewheeling spirits on a steady course toward success. If the cross talk got too loud, Herbie would tap the end of his pen on the table a few times and suddenly there would be silence. He managed to stay above the inevitable bickering and laid a foundation of cooperation and attention to quality that turned a dying area into one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city. Elliott Falcione, Executive Director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau describes today’s Village of the Arts this way: “Visitors to the City of Bradenton are often blown away by the galleries, studios, cafes and fashion found within the vibrant and welcoming Village of the Arts. We are proud to be home to the state’s largest (and most unique) live/work art community and promote how significantly it contributes to the overall richness of our Arts and Culture scene. Thanks in large part to the Village of the Arts and those working towards its continued development, the Bradenton Area has emerged as one of the growing arts centers in the South, offering quality and diversity of opportunities, attracting thousands of visitors and generating millions of dollars in economic impact on an annual basis.”

Herbie died in 2017. Leadership of the Village had long since passed to others, many of them newcomers. There have been, and continue to be, growing pains. Conflict is inevitable in the midst of such a creative environment, but Herbie’s sense of community support continues to be the thread that weaves through the ever-changing fabric of the Village of the Arts.

After wrestling for months with how best to describe the sense of community in the Village of the Arts, I finally decided that the best way to communicate that is to let some of the Villagers speak for themselves. I have presented a small sampling of the Village businesses. What they all have in common is their commitment to the future of the Village and each other.

Jo Ellen Gorris is the unofficial matriarch of the Village. Her emotive clay people have found homes around the world. Anna D’Aste is not only a premiere clay artist, she is a leading art educator. She was instrumental is helping to get the Village up and running. Zoe von Akerkamp is the go-to place for authentic Florida folk art (like Missionary Mary Proctor and Hugo). She inaugurated the Village’s annual Night of the Skeletons celebration (which carefully adheres to the traditions of the Mexican Day of the Dead festival). Guy Cannata is the longest existing restaurateur in the Village. He parlayed his Sicilian background, his love of cooking, and a beautiful Old Florida house into a destination restaurant. Chris Turner, artist and art educator, supported her artist husband Gordon in creating a studio and gallery in the Village. Since his death, she has come into her own as a key purveyor of inventive works of art. Linda Brokema’s Bits and Pieces has blossomed from a small antique and quilting business into the area’s definitive quilting resource. Preston Whaley Jr.‘s Yoga Arts provides life-changing instruction, especially for people with serious physical limitations. Jean Farmer is relatively new to the Village. Her metal art works and intriguing bottle cap art, coupled with her enthusiasm, quickly made her a welcome addition.


The dynamic story of the Village of the Arts is just beginning. Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston sums it all up this way: “Arts and culture are critical pieces of Bradenton’s DNA. The Village of the Arts is our showcase, and has been for more than a decade. Herbie Rose’s legacy lives.”

Anna Jedrziewski is a new consciousness author and consultant, as well as founder and director of Spirit Connection New York , Inc. (SpiritConnectionNewYork.org). Photos © 2018 Inannaworks

Ministerial Muses—4.28.2018—Santa Muerte


“They shouldn’t be disrespectful to Santa Muerte,” she heard a voice say. She had come out with her morning coffee and discovered that the totem to the saint which she had created, with a metal cross, roses, acorns and skulls, had been bent sideways during the night. She knew it wasn’t the wind. The pole it was attached to was too slender to offer much resistance.

“No,” she thought, “it was the young dealers across the street.” They had a habit of vandalizing her property in small ways. (Killing a plant with transmission fluid. Breaking a window in a shed. Leaving an old tire in her driveway.) The bend in the pole looked like it had been made by somebody grabbing it and hanging off it. “Santa Muerte shouldn’t be messed with,” she heard.

There were times when she could see an image of “Grandpa”, the father to the young dealers, laughing at her. She always knew when she saw it that they were targeting her again. This time they had targeted the totem she had created to request Santa Muerte’s energy of protection for her property. (A raised middle finger to the folk saint if there ever was one.)

She shouldn’t have been surprised that they were willing to challenge the Saint of the Abyss. The drug culture had come to believe that Santa Muerte worked for them, no spirituality involved. They “worshipped” her with the same violence that they used in business. And their wrath was swift when she disappointed them. They thought themselves to be the purveyors of destruction. They considered Santa Muerte to be their handmaiden.

The truth is that energy is not negative unless human thinking perceives it that way. Death was walled off when society began embracing the fear of women. Women gave birth, so it must somehow be their fault that people die. And dying is a bad thing, right? We are only now beginning to question the validity of that line of thought. Crops must die in the fall and return their unused nutrients to the soil to prepare for a new crop in the spring. Santa Muerte of the Abyss brings rejuvenation and prosperity. But sacrifice is required. For every step forward, something must be left behind. We must dance with death in order to truly embrace life.

When a new step up in awareness is approached, there will be a loss. Something valued by the aspirant will be taken away, a favorite piece of jewelry, a favorite scarf, a treasured skill, even a desired person. The aspirant must then choose. Either keep looking to the horizon for what is about to emerge, or turn back and focus on resentment for what is gone. It sounds simple enough but it is the difference between moving forward and having to go back to the beginnning in the next life and try again.

The bent pole bothered her but she didn’t seem to be able to make herself deal with the task of straightening it. There was an energy around it that pushed back. “Let them see what they did.”

She wasn’t home when “it” happened — and it was weeks before she even found out that “it” had happened. But suddenly she was overcome with the need to straighten out the pole that Santa Muerte”s totem was attached to. There was a sense of relief when it was finally righted. She expected it to be vandalized again, but oddly it was left alone, upright and intact.

Then she approached a neighbor one afternoon for a favor and found out that one of the young dealers had been badly injured riding his motorcycle (just before she had straightened out Santa Muerte’s pole). His stepson was following behind on a scooter. He turned to see where the child was. It was on a curve, a curve that the dealers had parked full to purposely create a traffic hazard for law-abiding neighbors. The car, who probably didn’t see him coming because of the mess on the right-of-way, hit him. It happened at the end of her driveway. The driveway that she had to back out of knowing that she couldn’t see cars/trucks approaching and they couldn’t see her because of the constant mess the dealers had in the right-of-way.

The people that she talked to didn’t know whether or not the young dealer survived, but the crash pad that he and other dealers inhabited up the block was vacated by all of them the next day. Was there an inter-cartel war going on? Did one of the neighbors finally reach the end of their rope with the constant abuse and take matters into their own hands? (Someone had driven into the young dealers’ yard awhile back to run over a vicious dachshund they let run loose terrorizing the neighborhood.)

Sometimes an accident is just an accident. But her legs had gone weak under her when her neighbor showed her a picture of the young dealer lying at the end of her driveway with paramedics on either side of him. She had asked to be protected from the negativity. She was careful not to ask that it be sent back from whence it came. She had left “how” up to Santa Muerte.

Excerpted from The Fairie Encounters © 2018 Anna Jedrziewski and InannaWorks

Ministerial Muses—4.8.2018—Arts&Eats

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Arts and Eats is closing.

I’m desolate to be losing one of my favorite restaurants, but I’m so glad that Jim and Donna are going to scale back on the stressful pursuit of business advancement and begin adding personal enjoyment time to their lives (like a trip to the Galapagos in September).


Star Chef Jim Copening (941-243-1492) will be available for private engagements.


Artist/entrepreneur Donna Slawsky hasn’t let on to what she will be up to but I’m sure it will be something exciting.

Arts and Eats’ grand finale will be their special Mother’s Day spread. They are booking up quickly for their last month. If you haven’t experienced Jim’s down-to-earth gourmet creations, I suggest you make a reservation soon. The Village of the Arts will miss them, but those of us who have been regular customers will be looking forward to the next chapter.

This husband and wife team represent the entrepreneurial best of what Bradenton has attracted the past few decades. I hope the developer overlay that is sweeping over Manatee County now has left some room for motivated, high-level talent like theirs to find a foothold here going forward.

© 2018 Anna Jedrziewski and Spirit Connection New York, Inc.

Ministerial Muses.2.11.18

Posted February 10th, 2018 by anna and filed in "Real. Authentic. Florida.", Manatee County, FL, Mid-Town Manatee?, Ministerial Muses
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Changes in a changing neighborhood

Much to my relief, Jeff Wallace is back next door running our historic neighborhood auto repair business. Legally, it’s Jeff’s Auto Repair now, but it will always be Jack’s Auto Repair to those of us who have lived here for decades.

Jack Wilson founded the business back when my grandparents were living here. He still comes back from West Virginia every winter to help out next door. Jack hired Charles Godshall and sold him the business when he retired. Charlie hired Jeff and sold him the business when he retired. Jeff added the Tuesday Night Book Club, a funky lot who meet once a week and make the neighborhood a safer place after dark. Once the unlicensed junk auto businesses started rolling over the neighborhood a decade ago, making things as unsightly and unlivable as they could for pre-existing homeowners and small businesses, Jeff finally decided it was time to move to Georgia. But the ties to Old Florida aren’t easily broken and in a few years he was back. A year ago he was able to move back to the original Jack’s Auto property, next door to me. The Tuesday Night Book Club is meeting next door again!

Jeff’s renewed presence is such a gift to me. He doesn’t sell drugs or stolen auto parts (no gang members dropping by). He’s a terrific mechanic who’s always busy with legitimate work. He runs a licensed business, subject to inspection, and he pays taxes, lots of taxes. His employees don’t wear electronic ankle bracelets or drive vehicles with window-rattling stereos and expired license plates smeared with mud. He doesn’t park heavy commercial vehicles on the public right-of-way nights and weekends and leave the engines running for hours making noise and gas fumes. He doesn’t let old, noisy industrial compressors run outdoors for hours and hours. He doesn’t pour toxic waste products along my property line after dark. He doesn’t abuse his guard dogs to make them vicious and then let them run loose in the neighborhood to poop in other people’s yards so he doesn’t have to clean up after them.

But it wasn’t any the above things that prompted me to write this Musing. It was, rather, another historic event. A few months ago, Jeff hired the first woman mechanic in this “good old boy” neighborhood.

He hired Abbie right out of school and is training her. And—I admit much to my feminist surprise—so is the original “good old boy” Jack Wilson. She’s already starting to pull her own weight, with high praise from both her mentors. I happened to be there last week when she finally got a car with a difficult problem started. Jeff said, “I’d tell you ‘you’re the MAN’ except I can’t”. Abbie and I quickly agreed that we both had enough ego-strength to accept being called “the MAN” if it was meant as praise. To which Jeff replied, “Grab the other end of this while I tighten it, Abbie …”

©2018 Anna Jedrziewski and Spirit Connection New York, Inc.

Garden e-Diary—2.19.17

Posted February 19th, 2017 by anna and filed in "Real. Authentic. Florida.", Garden e-Diary, Manatee County, FL, Mid-Town Manatee?
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It’s been a long time since I updated you about the Goddess Garden and its surrounding plant beds. My life has been complicated for awhile  and the Garden e-Diary is one of the things that fell by the wayside. I’m in the process of reorganizing now and trying to get back on track with some of the things I have neglected.

The bougainvillea I planted in the center of the front bed is thriving and blooming happily. The oleander that I divided and replanted in the hexagonal beds on either side of the bougainvillea is doing well also.

In addition to being winter, we’ve had mostly dry conditions in Bradenton for the past few months. Some of my plants are struggling BUT, of course, the weeds are proliferating. The Mango Bed at the west end of the front bed is a good example. I weeded it throughly before I left town on Thanksgiving. It was overgrown again when I returned.

I managed to make time to weed it again before I left town, carefully pulling weeds around the ornamental peanut vines that are meant to be ground cover. The peanut vine has thinned considerable with the drought conditions, but is spreading at the same time. I’m hoping for it to really take over this next growing season. I also trimmed the tips off the little mango tree to encourage it to bush rather than sprawl. I added additional mulch in between the plants I’m trying to encourage (after I took the photo below).

I got the weeds back under basic control before I left town. I will be spending more time at the Florida center this spring and hope to really get things shaped up. I will keep you posted!

Garden e-Diary–5.8.16

I planted a small Blue Daze at the front of Goddess Garden about a year ago. When I got back to town this time, it was almost a goner. I started watering it every morning and slowly it began producing new leaves. This morning it surprised me with SIX little blue flowers!

Six is the number of serenity. Blue flowers are said to be miraculous. I’ve been feeling a lot of stress since I’ve been back because it seems like there is more that needs done can I can manage, and I’ve been telling the guides and the faeries that I need a miracle. It looks like one is on the way. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Garden e-Diary–Cinco de Mayo

The birds in the cage attached to my back fence seem to have survived the horrific deluge that we had last night.

Someone suggested that they are fighting cocks being raised for that awful, illegal enterprise. Meanwhile, it looked like whoever had added wood to the top of the cage to shelter them from the rain.

But a closer look suggests that they were just dumping more waste. Did I mention that this is the utility easement?

Garden e-Diary—5.1.16

When I got back to Florida, I was greeted by the faeries and Mr. Beyer’s bright pink lilies. It was a nice welcome home.

There were also lots of the little bushes of white flowers that the butterflies and honey bees love. I call them  wildflowers. Most Floridians refer to them as weeds. I’ve been pulling them out of the flower beds and yard since I got here, leaving a few clusters here and there for the bees.

I planted five little palm tree sprouts when I was here last time and they seemed to be off to a good start. Only two of them survived the dry spell without me, however. Fortunately, there are plenty of new sprouts around the yard thanks to our industrious squirrel population. I’ve transplanted three new ones so far.

I also divided the old oleander in the front bed and planted half of it in the spot where the newer one used to be. That one was killed by the drug dealers with transmission fluid, you remember. We’ll hope they leave this one alone.

The original oleander is thirty years old, but I trimmed it up and we’ll see if it has a few more years left in it. It’s an original old Florida version, the kind that makes seed pods, not a newer hybrid. I’m hoping I can salvage both chunks of it.

On Friday, I realized that the dead foliage on the Sabal Palm at the back of the property was a fire hazard with everything so dry. I headed back to clean it up and discovered that someone had attached a chicken coop to my back fence.

And they bent the fence rail to do it.

I knew the faeries were a bit out of sorts when I arrived but I was too tired and busy to think about why. Now I know what they are upset about. Aside from the vandalism to my fence, and the obvious health hazards, these poor birds are out in that cage in 90° heat!!! I cleared the tinder from my palm tree and went back to pulling weeds in the front bed. Gardening is supposed to be relaxing, isn’t it?

Ministerial Muses—10.18.15

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After spending late spring and early summer up north working and problem solving, she returned to the Goddess Garden exhausted, confused, and disheartened. The faeries seemed to barely notice her return. She could feel their busy hum throughout the yard but they were submerged in the energies from the other realms.

She sat inside the screen porch next to the house the first night surveying the mess that had been waiting for her. The yard was in the worse shape it ever had been in. Because the local drug dealers had started letting their pitbulls run loose in the neighborhood again (as part of their latest harassment escalation), she was afraid of being sued if someone was bitten on her property and had stopped having the grass cut. She was replacing the lawn with an extensive landscape project. Raised flower beds would curve around the property and a tree-lined “country lane” would wind across the whole yard next to a dry river bed that would provide extra drainage in heavy rains. It was an ambitious plan and there had been much left to be done when she last left town. She had sprayed an herbicide on the areas of grass that hadn’t been dug up to kill it while she was away. Unfortunately, it hadn’t worked, at least not for long.

Early the next morning, she put on work clothes and went to work with shovel, rake, and clippers. The temperature was in the high 90’s with humidity to match. She took frequent breaks but managed to put in at least five hours almost every day, digging, pulling weeds, and pruning. Then a lengthy spell of heavy rain moved in. The yard was underwater for days at a time. Still, she would wade out to high ground and pull weeds furiously.

She was so consumed by the arduous work that she almost forgot about the faeries. Then one day she noticed that pink flowers had started to bloom all over the yard. The pink-tinged bougainvillea around the outer wall of the Goddess Garden seemed to blossom overnight. The little wild lily she had found in the yard and replanted next to the screen porch was suddenly full of little pink star-like blooms. Next the large pink lilies she had planted across the front of the yard began to bloom again. They had bloomed full force when she was there in the spring and should have been done for the year, but one after another they kept sending up stalks which opened into bright pink trumpets. Finally it dawned on her that the fey folk were letting her know that they were there with her, helping as best they could. Her burden lightened as she began to feel them beside her when she worked.

Then one afternoon she began weeding a large elevated bed where she had planted three jacaranda trees with rows of small cuttings in between them. The trees were thriving but the cuttings had been eaten up by the weeds that took over while she was away—or so she thought. As she yanked the overgrowth out of the bed she suddenly realized that a lot of the cuttings were alive and well under the weeds. As she carefully pulled the weeds away uncovering more and more of the cuttings, she began to hear the small faeries clapping cheerfully. “We told them you’d be back to save them,” they sang. “We told them not to give up.”

That night she sat on the front patio with a glass of wine, despite the noise from the drug related businesses (working well past the hour when they were supposed to stop) and despite the glare from the rows of bright fluorescent lights which now lit up the building next door and flooded the stars out of the night sky. She let her weariness (and the wine) overtake her as she thought about where she would begin her work in the morning.

She was sinking into the weight of her tired body and the heavy fog that had begun to fill her brain when she became aware of a large figure moving slowly in her direction. She focused on the figure and began to see the blurry image of a women dressed in a flowing white dress. The Lady in White was clearly there for her, but made no direct contact as she moved gracefully around the the patio. The flowing movement filled the area with a powerful energy as she moved. There was something important happening but the Lady in White gave no clue as to what it was. Eventually the Lady in White faded away without communicating anything but her presence.

A special blessing had settled over the garden and its creator. The moon rose majestically as if to confirm the power of the occurrence. The scent of flowers wafted through the yard.

Then the sound of car engines and noisy tools came back into her consciousness. Still, something was different. But what?

©2015 Anna Jedrziewski and InannaWorks

Reprinted from Let the Spirit Guide You!
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MESSAGE FROM THE GUIDES
This week begins a new cycle of growth and prosperity. Let go of limitations and expect abundance. Be generous. Be grateful. What you focus on will be magnified and multiplied. Don’t waste this time on revenge. Your dream life is waiting if you seize the opportunity to move forward.

Garden e-Diary 10.15.15

Posted October 15th, 2015 by anna and filed in "Real. Authentic. Florida.", Garden e-Diary, Manatee County, FL, Mid-Town Manatee?
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I’ve been struggling to get my life reorganized since I got back to New York. I finally, just his morning, finished my next column for Retailing Insight and emailed it to my editor. Now I’m returning to my personal websites. Over the next week, I’ll try and recap my progress in the Goddess Garden during the last few months for you.

Let’s ease into it with the latest on the Mango Bed. After a thorough weeding, it didn’t take the weeds long to reestablish themselves. This is what it looked like on September 20, 2015.

I was working five to eight hours a day trying to get my yard shaped up. The Mango Bed was way down the list of priorities. Still it was gnawing at me, probably because it was the one small space that I thought I had gotten under control. I managed to divert enough time to it that by September 22 it was back in decent shape again.

By the time I left town, the weeds were making their presence known, but it was too late to do anything more about it. I’m hoping they won’t completely takeover again while I’m out of town.

To Be Continued…