Floriopolis: The Art of Community

by | Jan 19, 2018 | Art, Community, Local

Floriopolis and their journey to inspire the community through art.

Where there is art, there is culture. And where there is culture, there is a community. At Amavida, one of the fundamental reasons we love what we do is because of coffee’s ability to create a culture and bring people together. With that in mind, we want to shine a light on some of our St. Andrews neighbors, like Floriopolis, who share our same passion for creating a sense of identity and culture.

Coby on the bar

It’s easy to get mixed up in our own day-to-day lives. We get our coffee to-go in the mornings and cruise out the door without a thought in the world about our surroundings. While thinking about that to-do-list, we sometimes fail to see that the local coffee we just bought helped to support a local business that provides jobs within our town. This, in turn, allows those employees to spend more money locally, furthering contributing to the economy that sustains us all. It all starts with one cup of locally purchased coffee. And while you may not notice it at first, it has a huge impact on the community. That is localism.



The importance of localism and how we can inspire the community through art.

“If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.” –John F. Kennedy,

Heather at Floriopolis, shares in the importance of supporting the community. St. Andrews is where she lives and she believes it is her responsibility to help it grow. She has created Floriopolis as a community center that not only supports local artists but also creates an environment for people to spend time together, communicate, share ideas and network.

This is a place for you to get to know your neighbor through their art. Having a space like this helps to keep talent in the area, which in turn draws outsiders in to visit. It focuses on providing an experience and creating a culture, not sustaining tourism. You can spend a few hours and only $10 for a  studio day, and the supplies at Floriopolis are available to anyone who wants to use them. Most items being used to create art were donated at some point. Studio time embraces the age-old philosophy that it’s not about the destination, but the journey. The finished product isn’t nearly as important as the process of exploration.



Locals, Neighbors, and Volunteers

“Art is the only serious thing in the world. And the artist is the only person who is never serious.”

Oscar Wilde

If you have been to Historic St. Andrews then you know that it is salty indeed! It is a community with character, eclectic charm, millennial hangs, a working marina, oak trees – the makings of a perfect creative space for all walks of life. All of our customers that walk through the doors of our St. Andrews location are greeted by our artsy chalkboard with art provided by volunteers of  Floriopolis!

cleaning station


Located in a stretch of local restaurants and merchants, most people visiting Floriopolis are looking to shop. Over 90% of the artists featured in the gallery and market section of the art center are from Bay County. The gallery, which is located towards the front of the shop features a new theme and local artists’ work to coincide. To many shoppers surprise, most gallery pieces are not for sale. Heather takes the opportunity to display local art as a chance educate the public, emphasizing that not all art is created for profit. There is a creative process to understand and she enjoys when artists display items that are “failures as well as ones that push boundaries and creative limits”


Floriopolis is a non-profit/charitable operation with over 40 volunteers; with a core staff of twelve. This group is extremely passionate about community, culture, and the arts. They all bring so much to the table and that’s not just with their painting and drawing abilities, but with other awe-inspiring outlets such as theater, music, light installations, puppets, and gardening. The volunteers are there to guide you through the workplace and educate the community about creating art, while still providing lots of laughs and fun conversation.



How can I be a part of the localism movement in St. Andrews?

“The first step – especially for young people with energy and drive and talent, but not money – the first step to controlling your world is to control your culture. To model and demonstrate the kind of world you demand to live in. To write the books. Make the music. Shoot the films. Paint the art.”

Chuck Palahniuk

floriopolis lobby area

You can get involved in localism in so many different ways! You can donate your time, get involved with volunteering, or become a part of local groups in your neighborhood – no contribution is too small


It is important that we love where we live and to love it you must become a part of it, create in it, participate in it, and support one another. The Keep St. Andrews Salty movement, started by a group of people and organizations like Heather and Floriopolis, was formed to unify and spark positive change. This talented group of merchants works together for the betterment of the local community. Heather, along with so many others, has made waves within the community by working with the local government rather than fighting them. Together, they have managed to make positive changes in the area. They have established events that bring in annual revenue for local businesses while staying true to its “salty” form. They have created and maintained beautiful spaces (including the addition of soon to come murals) around town.


For those looking to contribute to Floriopolis, but are short on time, they offer pop-in volunteer opportunities. Anyone who has 20 minutes to spare in their day can come in and help out. This includes anything from watering plants and changing light bulbs, to cleaning up the bathroom or the studio. It’s a unique way to support localism and allows anyone living in the area or passing through, an opportunity to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves.

Heather giving constructive criticism

In Heather’s mind, one of the biggest foreseeable challenges is the passing of time. As the years continue on and the members of these non-profits and local groups age, the ability to continue on as before becomes impossible. We often take advantage of the culture around us without realizing we need fighters to help carry on the tradition. We love to consume and take advantage of great local events, charm, and character. We crave culture, but we don’t realize that these practices in our local community are mostly traditional and for the most part, started a long time ago. Our millennial spending habits are important for the community, but our ability to make a change, be involved and support local groups is needed now more than ever. Our generation has an ability to make strong impacts through social networks and causes. We have built communities online and should start thinking creatively to do the same where we live.


At some point into adulthood, some of us lose that creative spirit and are lucky if we rediscover it later on in life. We wrap ourselves in adulting – bills, careers, money, vacation days and so on. We forget that there is always time to express yourself, create something new, be different and to have a passion for our craft. In the Floriopolis studio, no matter what age you are, you can’t help but want to shove your hands into the bucket of beads or get your fingers dirty with paint! Creating is being involved. It’s participating, (communicating with your neighbors who volunteer at Floriopolis) supporting one another, and building relationships. Putting your community first allows yourself and others to express who they are, by showing how and where they want to live — like a salty St. Andrews.

You can donate through their facebook page by clicking on the donate button and they just recently started accepting bitcoin donations! You can donate art supplies of any kind to Floriopolis or any other normal items, snacks, paper towels and cleaning supplies you would use in your home. The best way to contribute to the community art center of Floriopolis is by setting up a monthly withdraw from your account. It means the most to them because they get to see this constant donation and really sends them love each time they see it.


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