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Rep. Hardy On Challenging Florida’s Status Quo, Apps Encouraging Civic Engagement, And O Cinema

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Courtesy of O Cinema
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O Cinema’s monthly series titled “Welcome to Our World” will feature curated short films inside of a virtual reality environment.

A local lawmaker is challenging Tallahassee on criminal justice, voting rights and equitable vaccine distribution. Do you want to be more civically engaged? There an app for that. Plus, O Cinema celebrates 10 years in business.

On this Monday, April 26, episode of Sundial:

Rep. Hardy On Challenging Florida’s Status Quo

Palm Beach County State Rep. Omari Hardy has consistently challenged Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Republicans on criminal justice, voting rights and equitable vaccine distribution.

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He’s amassed hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram and Twitter and has been compared to New York Democratic U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in Congress for his unwavering commitment to progressive ideals.

Criminal justice has been a priority for him both when he was a city council member in Lake Worth Beach and now in Tallahassee. Last week’s guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd has put that work into context.

“The back half of the criminal justice system worked, but the front half — and that's the part of the criminal justice system that Derek Chauvin participated in when he was a police officer — that didn't work. That's why we were there," he said.

Hardy’s name has been floated around as a possible candidate to succeed the late Congressman Alcee Hastings, following his death earlier this month.

“I am strongly considering running for Congress," Hardy told Sundial. "I have not made a decision yet but I believe that we need progressive voices in Congress. I believe that we need people in Congress who will challenge the status quo.”

Rep. Hardy On Challenging Florida’s Status Quo
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Becoming More Civically Engaged

Americans are increasingly becoming more interested in civics.

This past year saw a big jump in the number of people who could name all three branches of government and what’s included in the First Amendment, according to a USC Annenberg Constitution Survey.

But civics education, particularly on a local level, remains a struggle.

“I had dreamed up an idea of simplifying the democratic process by putting everything within the palm of your hand and in an app or on your web browser where you could get information about how your government affects you,” said Cesar Melgoza, the founder of Moxy, a politics app that teaches you about your local, state and federal representatives.

The app includes news, podcasts, ways to communicate with local elected officials and people can also find their local jurisdiction’s map.

Another new civic engagement app is CityGrader, which allows residents in Hialeah and Miami to grade city employees.

“Basically a Yelp for local government," is what app developer Tony Newell calls it. He is the founder of Resourcity, an app that gives users points for taking part in city council meetings and volunteer efforts.

Disclosure: Moxy is a financial supporter of WLRN. The company's support has no impact on WLRN News editorial decisions.

Becoming More Civically Engaged
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O Cinema

It was a strange night at the Academy Awards last night. It reflected what might be the oddest year for Hollywood and movies in general.

Box office revenues are down 80% and more films than ever before have completely bypassed theaters and gone straight to streaming.

Independent theaters and films have also been forced to adapt. Here in South Florida, one of those places is O Cinema.

“Arts and culture remain really important to the people in Miami-Dade County and having it be affordable and accessible became like our guiding light,” said Vivian Marthell, the co-director of O Cinema.

The independent cinema is celebrating its 10th anniversary and offering a new fleet of Virtual Reality films.

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Leslie Ovalle produces WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.