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Talking Points to kick off with gun safety advocate

By BIG ARTS - | Jan 21, 2021

PHOTO PROVIDED Fred Guttenberg

Perhaps the worst nightmare for any parent is to learn their child has been shot in school. Fred Guttenberg’s nightmare started on Valentine’s Day 2018 when his 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was shot and killed at Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School in Parkland.

On Jan. 28 at 4 p.m., BIG ARTS Talking Points will launch its 2021 season with a virtual conversation with Guttenberg. It will be the first in a six-week series of topical engaging talks.

Guttenberg will describe his journey as a grieving parent searching for ways to give meaning to Jaime’s senseless death, to advocate to make schools safer and to fight for gun safety, and to author a book, “Find the Helpers: What 9/11 and Parkland Taught Me About Recovery, Purpose, and Hope.”

During his talk, Guttenberg will offer practical advice for parents and school officials to reduce the risk of gun violence impacting children and explain how he overcame his grief through the humanity of others.

Guttenberg’s professional life includes over a decade of experience in sales and management with Johnson & Johnson, followed by almost 15 years as an entrepreneur, having built a business of 19 Dunkin Donuts, which he sold in 2016. Guttenberg was hoping to take time to relax before figuring out his next endeavor. Then the first tragedy struck.

His brother Michael, one of the original first responders during 9/11 at the World Trade Center with a team of doctors, got trapped in the WTC as it collapsed. Amazingly, his brother and the team survived and spent 16 days at Ground Zero caring for others. Tragically, as a result of the Ground Zero exposure, his brother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died in 2017.

While Guttenberg was mourning the death of his brother, tragedy struck again in 2018 when Jaime was one of 17 victims murdered in the Parkland school shooting.

“From that day forward, my life was forever changed,” he said.

While grieving, Guttenberg found himself unable to stand still. The day after the murder, he attended a vigil and was asked to speak.

“That was the start of my new life as an advocate for public safety,” he said.

Guttenberg now spends time urging elected officials to do more to prevent gun violence. He is a regular on TV news programs and is interviewed regularly by the online and print media.

But perhaps his greatest achievement is helping others learn how to cope with grief. Guttenberg will focus on the lessons of healing, which include the importance of helping others move forward. A limited number of his book have been donated to MacIntosh Books & Paper, at 2330 Palm Ridge Road, Suite 6, Sanibel. Ticket holders are eligible to receive a complimentary copy while supplies last by showing the receipt for their ticket.

Beginning Jan. 28, the Talking Points sessions will take place on Thursdays at 4 p.m. and offer a range of topics including school and gun safety, how to detect fake news, Internet privacy, race relations in Southwest Florida, reducing one’s “carbon footprint,” and cooking at home. They can be accessed online for the same per-session charge as in-person attendance.

Due to COVID-19 precautions, most of this season’s speakers (with the exception of Kinfay Moroti on Feb. 25) will make virtual appearances and not be physically present. Attendees can live stream the sessions from home. During or following the talk, they will be able to text questions and comments to the speaker.

The rest of the series schedule is as follows:

– Feb. 4: “Fake News: How To Tell Fact From Fiction” with Lyn Millner, professor of journalism at Florida Gulf Coast University

Millner studies misinformation, filter bubbles, cults and conspiracy theories. She will discuss the phenomenon of fake news: what it is, where it originates and how to be an intelligent current-events consumer.

– Feb. 11: “Is Internet Privacy Even Possible?” with Ian Sherr, editor-at-large for CNET News, a division of CBS

The Internet has made privacy a thing of the past. Companies like Google and Facebook create profiles of everything from our shopping habits to voting preferences. After a series of high-profile privacy breaches, efforts are underway to reform the industry. Sherr will discuss what changes are being made and ways the public may be able to stay under the Big Brother radar.

– Feb. 25: “Race Relations In Southwest Florida: A Photographic Study” with Kinfay Moroti, documentary journalist and photographer with The News-Press

Experience the images and storytelling of Moroti. His stunning and powerful photographs capture the richness and complexity of both black and white lives in Southwest Florida. His work showcases the triumphs and struggles of a community working toward racial equality.

– March 4: “How To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint” with Katharine Hayhoe, atmospheric scientist and professor at Texas Tech University

Hayhoe, climate expert and co-director of Texas Tech University’s Climate Center, has been named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People and Fortune’s 50 Greatest Leaders. She will provide the latest research on global warming, as well as steps the public can all take to reduce its carbon footprint and help protect the environment for future generations.

– March 11: “You Don’t Need A Recipe: Cooking During COVID” with Sam Sifton, of the New York Times

Sifton is an assistant managing editor of the New York Times, responsible for culture and lifestyle coverage, and the founding editor of NYT Cooking, its digital recipe collection. Formerly the Times’ food editor, national news editor, chief restaurant critic and culture news editor, he is also the author of “See You on Sunday: A Cookbook for Family and Friends” and “Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well.” Sifton will talk about the joys and frustrations of cooking for ourselves and others in the midst of a global pandemic and about his new book, “No-Recipe Recipes.”

Login and participation instructions will be sent one week in advance of each session.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call the box office at 239-395-0900.