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Sarasota Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021 3 months ago

Sarasota locals find new hobbies in pandemic

Everyone found something new to do in 2020 — here's how Sarasotans managed the pandemic with new activities.
by: Harry Sayer Staff Writer

If your life wasn't interrupted by the pandemic, you're probably not totally truthful. 2020 brought all sorts of new schedules and practices, and several of our usual hobbies and activities were changed or outright canceled. Sarasota locals had to find new ways to occupy their time — here are a few. 

Alex Teicheira

Will Luera, Maria Schaedler-Luera, Jason Cannon, Rebecca Harp, Alex Teicheira and Meg Gilbert run together with the Run SRQ group.

The freelance actor, who often performed with the Florida Studio Theatre, was a few short days away from performing in a Gainesville production when everything shut down. With his freelance work dried up, the actor was faced with plenty of time and not much to do.  

Teicheira started to run. It’s a hobby he’s had since he was young — he has been a running coach for some time — but he kicked it up a notch in 2020 by starting the Run SRQ running group. He and his members meets every Sunday to run across Sarasota.

“Sunday has become a ritual for us,” Teicheira said. “It’s become such a respite from the work week and all the stress of what’s going on.”

The group started with just Teicheira, Meg Gilbert, and two others. Another couple were interested in joining, and four became six. Soon, Teicheira’s Run SRQ group had reached 14 members. He’s reluctant to have his group’s number go higher. 

Much of the point of the group was to provide camaraderie is a pandemic-appropriate way with members. Having too large of a group, in Teicheira’s eyes, defeats the purpose.

He makes it a priority to map out running routes across Sarasota to show his members areas they’re not as familiar with. That has included neighborhoods in Newtown, Bayou Oaks, parts of Lido Key and more. He feels in a pandemic time where people are more isolated than ever, finding a way to get outside and see their community in a new light is incredibly beneficial. 

“I’ve always been about getting to a new place and learning about it by taking a run,” he said. “I’d do a ‘Hansel and Gretel’ style breadcrumbs run where I’d just run in a direction, turn around and come back. That’s how I’d learn about any city I’ve lived in.”

Gabriela Berríos

It took Gabriela Berríos some time to figure out how to construct a wooden box, but she's proud of the finished result. Courtesy photo.

Sarasota resident Gabriela Berríos and her fiance have kept to quarantine rules and stayed home the  best they can, month in and month out. That kind of monotony can tire a person out, though, and Berríos said she needed something to make the year easier.

She discovered a kind of excitement and joy through creating digital art. Her designs have been sold and printed on t-shirts, coffee mugs, posters, and many other types of material. 

It’s been a soothing, exciting experience for the digital artist. In many ways, she says making art has saved her during the pandemic. 

“I'm satisfied and happy when other people are happy because of something that I've done,” Berríos said. “That's kind of what my focus has been with my art.”

Beyond her digital creations, Berríos was approached by clients in recent months with a slightly different request — they wanted  her to construct wooden boxes to store their dice when playing Dungeons and Dragons games. 

 Berríos, 32, had never constructed a physical product like a wooden box before, and says she doesn’t always know where she’s getting into when she starts something. But that never stops her from trying, and she quickly set about learning how to construct special boxes for her new clients. 

“Everything I do is very spontaneous,” she said. “...I start start playing with it and if it works, it works and if it doesn't, it doesn't.” 

She says she spent a month of trial and error ordering different plans and assembling them, trying to get the right fit. It was a different pace than her digital art, where if she made a mistake it could be erased. With a tangible product like wood, she would have to wait for the glue to dry before she could go back and fix something. 

When the box was actually constructed, she etched in special designs for each box — they were specific to the clients’ individual characters — using a  laser cutter and cricut maker. When the product was good and finished, she felt proud of her work and excited for her clients to enjoy her handiwork. 

“It brings me a lot of joy to make art, it's always my happy place,” Berríos said. “... It’s been great for me in the pandemic.”

Maike Foster

Maike Foster has found peace working on her edible garden for much of 2020.

If Maike Foster wasn’t going stir-crazy having to work from home at the start of the pandemic, she was close to it. 

Foster, a wealth management associate with Merrill Lynch, missed the normal rhythm of an office and meeting up after with friends. She said she found herself feeling cooped up.

She found peace in gardening, specifically edible gardening where Foster has carefully cultivated fruit, vegetables and herbs that she and her family can enjoy.

“I look around and I see so many things that I've created or grown and it absolutely has changed me,” Foster said. 

It started when her husband installed a planting bed in their backyard as a wedding gift, which she has used nearly every day since. What started as a garden bed with three varieties of roses has blossomed into a varied ecosystem with 11 rose varieties, lettuce, bananas, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and more. The various shades of flowers she’s grown now rest as decorations around her house. 

Foster gathered much of her knowledge by exploring websites and Youtube videos. She’s enjoyed learning the sheer number of sage and lavender species that can be found, or the best ways to grow squash without bugs reaching them. She’s looking into growing more exotic items, and is trying to convince her husband to have a fig tree in the backyard. 

As it stands, Foster feels she’s acquired a large amount of botanical knowledge in 2020, and plans to start sharing that knowledge somehow with others in 20201. 


Harry Sayer is the Black Tie Reporter for the Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and previously worked the Black Tie beat for the Observer newspaper in Winter Park and Maitland. You can catch him at one of Sarasota's fundraisers and shindigs. 

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