‘It’s about unity’

Fu­sionFest cel­e­brates Or­lando’s di­ver­sity

Orlando Sentinel (Sunday) - - LOCAL & STATE - By Tess Sheets Or­lando Sen­tinel By Joe Mario Ped­er­sen Or­lando Sen­tinel jped­er­[email protected]­lan­dosen­tinel.com, 407-420-5268

A Chi­nese dragon burst­ing with color marched down Orange Av­enue on Satur­day. Nearby, girls in vel­vet green dresses prac­ticed a jig on the side­walk and Bol­ly­wood per­form­ers in shiny blue out­fits waited pa­tiently for their turn on stage.

Fu­sionFest, an event spear­headed by Orange County Arts and Cul­tural Af­fairs di­rec­tor Terry Ol­son, kicked off on the steps of City Hall about noon with a spec­ta­cle of flags from coun­tries all over the world.

A bevy of Cen­tral Florida vol­un­teers who hail from more than 150 coun­tries helped bring the event to life.

Dancers, mu­si­cians, films and food from dozens of re­gions around the world, in­clud­ing in Latin Amer­ica, Africa, the Caribbean, Asia and more, of­fered a glimpse of the rich di­ver­sity rep­re­sented in Cen­tral Florida.

Mona Ham­monds, who lives in the Pine Hills area, said see­ing the dis­play of flags at the start of the event brought tears to her eyes.

“It’s about unity, it’s about love and about car­ing,” Ham­monds said. “God put us all on this Earth. Not just one or two or three races. It’s a very, very big world and we all need to work to get along.”

She and her youngest daugh­ter, Jus­tine Cur­rie, were there to sup­port Ham­monds’ other daugh­ter and grand­son, who per­formed an African dance med­ley as part of a group from the Wayne Den­sch YMCA in Pine Hills.

Ev­ery 15 min­utes, a new per­for­mance took one of three stages set up around the Dr. Phillips Cen­ter Phillips Cen­ter. Bol­ly­wood dancers whirled on one stage as an­other be­came a cat­walk for fash­ion from around the world.

A sep­a­rate pav­il­ion pre­miered short films de­pict­ing in­di­vid­ual jour­neys of Cen­tral Florid­i­ans.

“The goal is for us to be proud of our com­mu­nity and to learn more about the dif­fer­ent peo­ple in our com­mu­nity,” Ol­son said be­fore the event Satur­day.

Fu­sionFest, which con­tin­ues to­day from noon to sun­down, was a pro­ject three years in the mak­ing, Ol­son said. Dur­ing that time, reg­u­lar meet­ings with vol­un­teers of myr­iad back­grounds was a high­light for him.

“I learned a lot in the few years,” Ol­son said.

“Not only do we work on the busi­ness of what this is go­ing past

A woman was shot and killed in­side an Ocala Wal­mart af­ter an ap­par­ent do­mes­tic dis­pute Satur­day af­ter­noon, and the man ar­rested in her slay­ing later shot him­self, Ocala po­lice said.

Carli Cronin, 30, of Ocala was shot in­side the store on Sil­ver Springs Boule­vard, po­lice said, and was pro­nounced dead at the scene. The shooter fled, but po­lice later took David John­son, 54, into cus­tody at the home he shared with Cronin.

John­son had a self-in­flicted gun­shot wound when po­lice found him. He was taken into cus­tody and trans­ported to a lo­cal hos­pi­tal, but is not ex­pected to sur­vive, the Ocala Po­lice Depart­ment said in a Twit­ter post.

The in­ci­dent be­gan as a do­mes­tic ar­gu­ment in the Wal­mart gar­den cen­ter area, po­lice said. Cronin came in­side the store and screamed for help, then Wal­mart em­ploy­ees called 911 and at­tempted to in­ter­vene. That’s when po­lice said John­son shot Cronin and left the store.

the she said.

In the re­port’s in­tro­duc­tion, the tran­si­tion team stressed it was not propos­ing so­lu­tions to Orange County’s thorni­est is­sues but sug­gest­ing a frame­work to tackle those prob­lems while keep­ing the fastest-grow­ing metropoli­tan area in the na­tion hum­ming along.

“We were not tasked, for in­stance, with ex­am­in­ing fund­ing needs for our re­gional tran­sit sys­tem, SunRail, or the de­bate over growth bound­aries,” the re­port notes. “The May­or­Elect was clear that he an­tic­i­pated many press­ing topics that would re­quire anal­y­sis and a great deal of pub­lic dis­cus­sion dur­ing his ten­ure, and he wanted to be very de­lib­er­ate and in­clu­sive in ad­dress­ing those is­sues.”

The re­port takes no­tice of the county’s boom­ing tourism in­dus­try, its emerg­ing tech sec­tor and low job­less rate but also rec­og­nizes 43 per­cent of house­holds live at or be­low the fed­eral poverty level, an af­ford­able-hous­ing shortage that has forced strug­gling fam­i­lies to live week-to-week in mo­tels, a deadly opi­oid cri­sis and a decade-long fail­ure to add to con­ser­va­tion land. job will re­quire,”

“There are plenty of chal­lenges ahead,” Chapin said.

Dem­ings said the re­port will help guide him as he chooses key as­sis­tants.

Ajit Lalchan­dani, 66, who has served as county ad­min­is­tra­tor since 1999 un­der Repub­li­can may­ors Mel Martinez, Rich Crotty and Teresa Ja­cobs, is stay­ing on through the first few weeks of the tran­si­tion but will exit around the first of the year. Ja­cobs’ fi­nal day as mayor was Mon­day. In Au­gust, vot­ers chose her to be­come Orange County School Board chair.

The tran­si­tion team rec­om­mended Dem­ings cre­ate three new po­si­tions — a chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer, a chief sus­tain­abil­ity of­fi­cer and a chief com­mu­nity and op­por­tu­nity of­fi­cer, the last of which would fo­cus on en­sur­ing “the un­der-served in our com­mu­nity may be in­cluded in the eco­nomic growth of the re­gion.”

Here are a few other ideas sug­gested by each group.

Tech­nol­ogy and In­no­va­tion Task Force, chaired by Univer­sity of Cen­tral Florida vice-pres­i­dent Fred Kit­tinger.

■ Con­tinue the prac­tice of Orange County, the Or­lando Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship, UCF and oth­ers serv­ing as host to com­pa­nies look­ing to ex­pand or re­lo­cate to the rewhat gion.

■ In­te­grate multi-cul­tural re­sources across county op­er­a­tions with a spe­cial ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the grow­ing num­ber of Span­ish-speak­ing en­trepreneurs and cit­i­zens.

■ Fo­cus on “grow­ing our own” in­no­va­tion econ­omy and find new ways to in­cen­tivize start-up busi­nesses and sec­ond-stage com­pa­nies.

■ Cre­ate a cap­i­tal fund of $100 mil­lion-plus to pro­vide seed money for promis­ing Orange County ven­tures.

Cus­tomer ser­vice and Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Task Force, chaired by for­mer Comp­trol­ler Martha Haynie.

■ Iden­tify a po­si­tion in the mayor’s of­fice who can hear and dis­cuss de­vel­op­ment-re­lated is­sues from res­i­dents as well as de­vel­op­ers.

■ Cre­ate sim­ple “how to con­duct busi­ness” man­u­als within ser­vice di­vi­sions and make them avail­able on­line.

■ Con­sol­i­date de­vel­op­ment-re­lated de­part­ments in one lo­ca­tion un­der the su­per­vi­sion of one deputy county ad­min­is­tra­tor.

■ Em­power staff to “think out­side the box” and prob­lem solve.

Sus­tain­abil­ity and Smart Growth Task Force, chaired by Ken LaRoe, founder of First Green Bank, which re­cently merged with Sea­coast Bank.

■ En­cour­age roof-top agri­cul­ture by de­vel­op­ing an or­di­nance al­low­ing build­ing own­ers to lease roof space to farm­ers.

■ Ex­pand so­lar en­ergy ca­pac­ity to off­set 25 per­cent of county build­ing en­ergy needs by 2026

■ Re­quire Florida-friendly land­scap­ing and ef­fi­cient ir­ri­ga­tion for new de­vel­op­ments and en­cour­age retrofitting in ex­ist­ing ones.

■ En­cour­age em­ploy­ees to bi­cy­cle to work by pro­vid­ing bike stor­age ar­eas in all build­ings.

Build­ing a Com­mu­nity That Works For Ev­ery­one Task Force, chaired by Mike Grif­fin, vice pres­i­dent Ad­ven­tist Health Sys­tem

■ De­mand state law­mak­ers stop raid­ing trust fund for af­ford­able hous­ing that has cost Orange County $14.4 mil­lion in fund­ing.

■ Keep fund­ing mo­bile cri­sis units rec­om­mended by the Youth Men­tal Health Com­mis­sion.

■ Ex­pand “em­ploy­a­bil­ity” pro­grams for in­mates at the Orange County Jail.

■ An­a­lyze crash data to fix the county’s most dan­ger­ous roads and cross­walks.


A dragon is dis­played dur­ing Fu­sionFest on Satur­day in front of the Dr. Or­lando. Fu­sionFest is a two-day cel­e­bra­tion of cul­tural in­clu­sion. in down­town

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