Archive Follow-Up

Archive Follow-Up

Words by Rain Henderson & Kerry Speckman

In 1995, Folio spoke with Cindy Mosling, co-founder of B.E.A.K.S. (Bird Emergency Aid and Kare Sanctuary) on Big Talbot Island, about pelicans.

“Here we go again,” Mosling said about reports from concerned local workers in Mayport regarding pelicans dying in the St. Johns River. But something was different this time. Instead of being caused by an oil spill, Mosling insisted, a massive petroleum fire occurring two years prior was the culprit. After she learned 600,000 gallons of fire retardant, known as Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), were dumped in the St. Johns River, she started asking questions of the state officials, who, in turn, cut funding to B.E.A.K.S. leaving Mosling and volunteers struggling to care for the dying birds. She filed a lawsuit and optimistically awaited answers.

Earlier this year, B.E.A.K.S. closed after 40 years. That’s the bad news. The good news is the military announced plans to phase out the use of PFAS (perfluoroalkyl substances), like those found in AFFF, by 2024. A little birdie also told us the organization’s phone number is still in service and Mosley continues to assist with injured birds and baby birds.

While the EPA knows the chemicals cause harm to living things, they don’t understand how much, how to manage or dispose of the chemicals, which do not naturally degrade, or how to detect them in our environment. According to the most recent State of the River Report for the Lower St. Johns River Basin, it is “highly likely” these chemicals are still present in our river. The way the chemicals are bonded also enables them to pass through water filtration systems.

Though you cannot avoid drinking water, you can stay away from certain products that contain PFAS such as:

• paper packaging, like microwave popcorn bags and takeout packaging

• stain-resistant carpets, rugs, and furniture

• sprayable stain protectors

• non-stick cookware

• outdoor gear with a “durable water repellent” coating

Archive Follow-Up

Words by Vincent Dalessio

Back in 2003, Holly Bass wrote about a turning point in the trajectory of the Cummer Museum, speaking with then-museum director Maarten van de Guchte about an exhibit looking to extend an olive branch to the Black communities of Jacksonville: “African American Masters.”

Prior to this exhibit, the Cummer was synonymous with fine art tailored mostly toward the financial elite. A majority of work on view came from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, produced by privileged bloodlines.

This exhibit marked the time when van de Guchte and his team made a conscious effort to make the museum more inclusive. He was even quoted as saying, “When the show closes, if there are people in Black communities who have not heard of this exhibit, then we would have failed to achieve our outreach goals.”

Since then, the museum has made great strides toward inclusivity with the main indicator being Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, taking the helm as museum director, the first Black woman to hold the position. The Cummer has since hosted a multitude of Black History Month and LGBTQ+ events, a plethora of Black artists and integrated days where admission is free to further expand upon accessibility to the museum.

One quote from this story that really stood out to me was by van de Guchte: “Visiting the museum should be as normal as visiting a park or going to the grocery store.” I believe this has come to fruition, as The Cummer is not only one of the most visited art museums in the city but one of its most visited attractions.