Best South Florida Export (2013)

Aaron Jackson

Florida, also known as Floriduh and Floriderp, doesn't exactly have a reputation for stand-up citizenry. We elect fraudsters like Rick Scott and find bizarre entertainment value in Filomena Tobias, the Palm Beach woman who became an internet sensation when she flipped off Chicago Bulls player Joakim Noah at a Heat game — but was accused by her internet psychic in 2008 of murdering her hedge-fund husband. There's Jack Abramoff's link to unexplained deaths and explained bank fraud, and Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh live here. They're all part of our nutty cultural landscape, and if something weird happens in the rest of the country, you can bet there's some link to our Sunshine State. (On the positive side, we've got some great orange juice. Woo!) So when people like Aaron Jackson, founder of the South Florida-based nonprofit Planting Peace, come along, we almost dismiss. Not only did he live a life of asceticism, selling all his possessions and sleeping on the floor of a homeless shelter during the mid-aughts, to found orphanages in Haiti; he also led a major effort to clean up oil after the BP spill and has expanded Planting Peace's outreach to India, where 11 million children live on the street. Alas, he recently moved to Kansas, where he bought a house directly across the street from the Westboro Baptist "I hate fags" Church, painted it bright rainbow colors, and christened it Equality House. It'll be a resource center for LGBTQ-rights activists and antibullying campaigns, and Jackson will live there to promote a hopeful symbol of love against the church's message of hate. For that, we say he's at least as good as Florida orange juice.


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