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Monroe County environmental update, Miami Book Fair preview, and Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

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Miami Herald
The street fair is back in-person on Nov. 19 at the Miami Book Fair.

We have an update on Monroe County’s environment and iguana invasion with Commissioner Holly Raschein. We get a preview of this year’s Miami Book Fair. Plus, our conversation with celebrity astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson.

On this Wednesday, Nov. 10, edition of Sundial:

Monroe County environmental update

The Florida Keys needs money for its environmental endeavors and protection. Also, there’s been a problem with the growing iguana population.

These are just some of the most prominent issues for Monroe County Commissioner Holly Raschein. She joined the commission to replace former Commissioner Mike Forster, who died of complications from COVID-19 in September.

Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Raschein — who previously represented Monroe County as a Republican state representative — in September to finish the remainder of Forster’s term, which expires in November 2022.

“Commissioner Mike Forster was such a good friend and such an amazing public servant, so filling his shoes is going to be a quest,” said Raschein. “But of course, I'm willing to step up to the plate.”

Raschein helped pass Senate Bill 602 during her time as a state representative. She said it was her crowning achievement in the Legislature.

“We have a dedicated source for Everglades restoration, and now this bill states that we will have a dedicated funding source for the Florida Keys Stewardship Act,” Raschein said.

As far as the invasive iguana population is concerned, the commissioner said it’s been one of her top agenda items to find a humane solution to this growing problem.

“[Iguanas] spread disease and they are a mess,” said Raschein. “I'm looking out the window right now at my office and there are some dinosaurs out there. They're not really afraid of people, and I want to see what our options are.”

Monroe County environmental update

Miami Book Fair preview

The Miami Book Fair is back and, after more than a year of virtual-only programs, the streets of downtown Miami will be filled with curious readers browsing through tons of books.

This year will be a hybrid of in-person and live-streamed events. Visitors are encouraged to wear masks, especially at indoor events like author presentations. There will be plenty of happenings going on outside like food vendors and activities for kids, according to the fair’s director of programs Lissette Mendez.

Mitchell Kaplan is the co-founder of the Miami Book Fair and owner of Books & Books. Even though the fair isn’t completely back to normal, Kaplan is still eager to see people enjoying the festivities.

“I am most excited about the fact that we’re going to have that big tent open again,” said Kaplan. “Being among other book lovers and seeing Miami-Dade College come alive all due to a love of literature.”

The in-person street fair is from Friday, Nov. 19 to Nov. 21, but streaming events will begin on Sunday, Nov. 14. You can purchase tickets and check out the fair’s schedule here.

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Marsha Halper
Miami Herald
Street vendors will return to this year's Miami Book Fair.

Miami Book Fair preview

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

Astrophysicist and author Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson will host "The Cosmic Perspective,"an event at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, on Tuesday, Nov. 16. He joined Sundial to discuss his critiques on science education in public schools and why some people deny the science around vaccines and climate change.

Tyson mentioned that science denial has always been around, but he attributes the recent science denial to social media. Some people have found others who share their same skepticisms.

“This gives sort of affirmation to what they think is true because somebody else thinks it's true,” Tyson said.

The United States ranked 18th in the world in science, according to the Program for International Student Assessment in 2018. Its mathematics ranking was even worse.

“As an educator, I want to take the blame for what we do in schools because we teach science as a satchel of facts, not as a method of inquiry, and no one knows what's going on in the frontier,” Tyson said.

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

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Amber Amortegui is a senior studying journalism at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Born and raised in Davie, Fla., Amber is a native South Floridian who embraces one of America’s most diverse regions.