Miami in Miami: Juliana Pereira

Hi! I’m Juliana Pereira. I am an accountant-to-be from Florida International University’s College of Business. My passion is arts & crafts and event planning. I am the brain, heart, and hands behind Juliana’s Papercrafts & Planning. When I am not drowning in homework, I am making party decorations, invitations, gifts, shirts, you name it! (Shameless advertisement: follow me on instagram @julianaspapercrafts) Daughter of Brazilian immigrants. Born and raised in Miami — #305tilidie except when there’s a hurricane. In the past 19 years I have “lived” in Miami, but truthfully I haven’t lived in Miami. Never used public transportation (unless Uber counts), never heard of 90% of the towns Professor Bailly has mentioned, never kayaked in these waters, never visited Vizcaya, and who the heck is Mr. Deering? I am beyond thrilled to burst out of this bubble and explore the true essence of Miami.

Miami as Text: Metro Day

The City That Adopts and Adapts
Miami, home to a plethora of races and cultures. A big momma who embraces every child looking for a place to flourish. The city of nearly three million smiles, each unique with a fascinating story.
Upon entering James Deering’s famous home, we are greeted with a hovering statue of Dionysus; the god of wine, ecstasy, and fertility. The essence of Miami descended from this symbol. Miami is known for its luxury, beaches, entertainment, art, greenery, and weather.
During our Metro Day trip, we encountered three different cultures that have greatly impacted our city. As part of The MetroRail Underline beautification project, a classic Cuban symbol was cleverly incorporated. Much like Cuban immigrants that have shaped this city, domino columns serve as the base holding up the metro rail. At Vizcaya we see the arrival of wealthy white Europeans who started civilization off the waters of Biscayne. The architecture is jaw-dropping fascinating. Unfortunately, with much beauty came the horror of enslavement. Africans and Bahamians were brought overseas to work the land and at white homes. Nevertheless, the African American community persevered, and today we see their legacies at the lively community of Historic Overtown. Miami isn’t Miami without the history and culture adoption from these three groups of people.
Since the 18th century, Miami has continually improved its architecture and infrastructure. While trying to preserve its history, Miami has made some interesting adaptations. Designers and engineers have quite literally “worked around” significant buildings. At Vizcaya, the modern traffic light pole fit unbelievably perfectly through the antique street light fixture. Similarly, in Overtown, the Palmetto highway basically grazes by the walls of the Historic Baptist Church. Many political factors drove these intriguing decisions, but that is a very complicated topic for another day. Nevertheless, Miami and its people know how to manage change without forgetting our roots.

Downtown as Text

One Building, One Story
Today I went back to 1836. My steps retracing those of leaders, slaves, founders. Our people. Us. This room, a place to hide, a place to sleep, a place to meet, a place to make decisions. Fort Dallas was built to shelter army troops during the Seminole Wars. The Tequesta has already been disseminated, now the Seminoles were being killed and displaced. But with great sorrow came the birth of a thriving city. The area along the Miami River prospered. The land was fertile, the perfect incentive for populating plantations. Fort Dallas sheltered over 100 slaves within its strong walls. I stood there in shock, starting to feel claustrophobic. Unable to imagine how all those slaves managed to accommodate. Once again, the army took over the fort during the Third and final Seminole War. As the village of Miami grew, Fort Dallas became headquarters to Union groups, a post office, a gambling establishment, and served as the first courthouse of Dade County. The Daughters of the American Revolutions held their meetings at Fort Dallas. Rules and decisions for Miami were made in there. The mother of Miami, Julia Tuttle purchased the property in 1891. Upon her death, her son ran a gambling club in Fort Dallas. The historic building was relocated when the land was bought for an apartment building project. Fortunately, there is sits at Lummus Park for all to see. The building that was here through it all. Leaders and decision makers brushed by those very walls I touched. Slaves looked up at the same ceiling I looked at. Soldiers rushed through the same doors I passed through. One building, many purposes, many people, one story.

Deering as Text

My first time at the Deering Estate, I got an exclusive tour of the grounds! Walking through the archealogical sites of the Deering Estate felt like time traveling back all 10,000 years of history that lay beneath our feet. There are 120 acres of preserved pine rocklands in the Deering Estate. This area is one of the few that remain in Florida. The beautiful terrain flourishes with undiscovered species of animals and plants. As we stopped to wait for the class to catch up, I stared at the beautiful landscape before me. It seemed to be straight out of a movie or painting. The pine trees stood tall and proud overlooking our footsteps, as they did of the Paleo-Indians, Tequestas, Seminoles, and all who followed after.

After hiking without any notion of direction and distance, we found home. The Cutler Fossil Site, home to hundreds of discovered fossils. These fossils belong to animals all the way back in the Paleo Era — direwolves and mammoths, also human fossils from those who inhabited the cave. We could see their “bunkbeds” embedded in the walls of the hole. We were home! The foundation of Miami was all inside that very hole in the ground. The future of this beautiful city literally stood inside the past. I felt an energy while holding those artifacts in my bare hands. It was a privilege and it seemed to pass on to me a responsibility. The knowledge, memory, and respect towards our story will carry on through my peers, me, and those who we share it with.

Chicken Key as Text

An absolutely incredible day at Chicken Key! Our class took canoes from the Deering Estate 1 mile to the small island. After 45 minutes of rowing through crystal clear waters (with no cool creatures in sight unfortunately) my partner Nicole Patrick and I arrived. At first glance all we saw were the beautiful mangroves which created what seemed to be a floating island. But as we got closer we noticed unusual spots colors wrapped around the roots.

Chicken Key isn’t visited often, but loads of trash washes up with the current. Boxes, bottles, flip-flops, glasses, hats, buckets, trays, plastic bags, straws, the list goes on and on. Some seemed to have made landfall recently, others were stuck in the ground for way too long. All the cute little hermit crabs struggled to move along the island with so many pesky obstacles in their way. Nicole and I started collecting trash along the coast while circling around in the canoe. Our first find of the day was a huge cardboard box that sat over the roots of the mangroves. We got several ropes that were tangled on the branches. If I had a dollar for every bottle cap I collected, I would probably be able to get another sub for lunch.

When I thought I had seen enough and done my good deed of the day, Nicole incentivised me to keep going. I am so glad I did! We followed Jose Ernesto further and further along the coast. The more we walked, the bigger items he would find. Nicole and I used a larger wooden plank to transport all the trash back into the canoe. There was so much trash everywhere. It is nearly impossible to get it all, but we truly tried our best and cleared up the area pretty well. After filling up the canoe completely, we headed back.

Earlier in the morning I could not fathom the amount of trash that there could be in the small island, much less how much I would be collecting. It was a life-changing experience. My mind opened up. I witnessed first hand the pollution in our oceans. After a couple hours of doing the grunt work, I genuinely appreciate all the work that people have been putting in for years to clean up our beaches. It was my first cleanup, but definitely will not be my last!

Wynwood as Text

Miami is best known for it’s beautiful beaches and lively night-life. For such a diverse city, we lack interest in culture. Fortunately, we have an on-growing art hub in the heart of Miami. Wynwood was an abandoned industrial area that has been developed over the last two decades. Artists established their studios, collectors put their collections on display, chefs opened up shops, art and culture flourished.

This class we visited two incredible collectors’ gallaries: The Margulies Collection and The De la Cruz collection. Not many people know these places exist, especially Miamians. Both collections vast with the works of renowned artists, such as Felix Gonzalez-Torres. At The De la Cruz Collection we saw several of his works. My favorite being the candy pile piece. The piece represented his late father; 175 pounds of his favorite candy — mints. The mints are to be taken and consumed by those who see it. When I picked up a mint I felt as if I was learning a lesson from his father. Carrying on the thought of a person I never met, but that I could compare to my own father.

On our very special tours with the Martin Marguelis and Daniel Clapp at De la Cruz I was most intrigued by their enthusiasm. Both collections are open to the public, with a small to no cost admission fee. They want to share these art pieces that are important to our history and our sense of culture. It was an honor to hear first hand from the collectors themselves about their pride, passion, and art-collecting journey.

HistoryMiami as Text

Where our skyscrapers stand today, 12,000 years ago elephants roamed this flat terrain. Far before the thought of Miami was ever conceived, palm trees flourished, and the underdog never went too far. Similarly, today palm trees are well-known symbols of Miami, and the underdog still never goes too far.

Throughout an exquisite tour at History Miami Museum, our guide and History Miami Educator Maria Moreno, thoughtfully pointed out how often our history is told while excluding crucial information about Native Americans and African Americans. The museum’s main exhibits were installed in the 1980s, when interest in these “forgotten” stories was pretty much zero to none. Thankfully, more and more historians are being able to uncover and share the truth about our past. Recently, the names of 12 slaves who built the Flagler Railroad were discovered! Sure, Henry Flagler had the idea and the funds, but those 12 men shed sweat and blood to turn the network into reality. They are the true Pioneers of Miami.

Much like the Native Americans that eventually formed civilizations and tamed the beasts that ruled these lands, all those who deserve recognition for their part in the foundation of Miami are slowly and steadily making their way into history museums and books where they righteously belong; breaking the white (European) glorification. History Miami Museum has one small frame, right next to the bathroom may I add, on African American Leaders who shaped Miami. Most of the information about these leaders were iterated by Maria, as she determinedly took on the responsibility to make the public aware of such excluded information.

It is time for us to look past what our 8th grade textbooks say. Dive in deeper than the white-washed version of our history and seek the truth. It’s time to pay attention and recognize everyone that is doing something for this city, regardless of race, gender, social status, immigratory status. We cannot let any story be buried and forgotten. It may be difficult to uncover the past, but we can most definitely take care of our future.

Miami Art as Text

This was my first experience at an art fair. As a business student, I was excited to learn about this popular market. As a creator, I was eager for inspiration.

There is no formula to determine the value of art. Who is to say what is good or not? The art market is unbelievably unregulated. Heck, a banana duct-taped to the wall sold for $120,000 twice. It is both amazing and ridiculous. Art is so abstract and preception-sensitive that it is impossible to create rules and guidelines for pricing pieces. As always, there’s the other hand. Just because you are able to charge a gazillion dollars for a paint blotch on a piece of paper do not mean you should. The market is heartless and cold. One wrong move and it is completely over. Once you are all the way up, there’s only one way to go.

Upon entering the ginormous UNTITLED, ART tent I was pleased with the simplicity of the layout. An open concept with clean white walls, which allowed for the artwork to pop. All the vendors looking sharp, and sharply looking at each person that walks in to their booth. Who has the intent and potential to buy? The good vendors know how to make the most money. While great vendors know how to increase awareness. Although the main goal is to sell as many pieces for the best price possible, as Jessie J once said, “It’s not about the money, money, money.” Artists create with a purpose. Whether it is to convey a feeling or share a message, that is the ultimate objective. Several vendors took some time to talk to us (non-potential-customers) about the artworks and projects at their booths. To my luck, Gallery 1957 from Accra, Ghana had just what I needed: inspiration.

Joana Choumali, photographer and mixed media artist, has admirable persistence and determination. While bedridden and physically unable to go photographing as she did, Joana needed to keep busy. She taught herself how to sew so that she could continue making art. Gallery 1957 brought her embroidered photographs nearly 9,000 kilometers. The price of her work was not displayed, but I am sure that Joana would appreciate the 40 students who admired her work and now know her story. I learned that no matter the obstacle, when we have determination to do something, we just have to adapt until we succeed.

South Beach as Text

In my 19 years of life here in Miami, I went to South Beach a handful of times with my family for some ice cream during the day. I was always told South Beach is not a family friendly setting. Taken over by bars, clubs, luxury hotels, South Beach became the destination for tourists and locals looking for that Miami fun! Unfortunately, all this exuberance has drastically masked the real South Beach. The South Beach that was once endless acres of coconut, mango, banana, alligator pears (aka avocados) plantations. Where the Jewish found a home to grow their families, faith, and businesses. The place that went through new architecture designs like a girl changes clothes.

From the outside, one cannot fathom the immersive experience they are about to walk in to. Relying on word of mouth, The Jewish Museum of Florida in South Beach is not advertised much. With both permanent and temporary installations, the museum is thriving with Jewish history and art. We had the great pleasure to have Volunteer Tour Guide Mark Gordon share with us the history of how South Beach became the third largest Jewish settlement in the nation. The Jewish Museum was an amazing visit! I never knew about it nor expected to learn so much there. I wish more locals were aware of this place and experience. Knowing about the people who built our home-city from the bottom up instills a new kind of respect for this land and a different perception of our community.

The Art Deco District, in plain and simple words: beautiful. One hundred years later, we have several historical buildings standing strong and functional. Thanks to Barbara Baer Capitman who established the Miami Design Preservation League in 1976. Her effort prevented Miami Beach’s history and charming character from being completely wiped out by big luxury estate firms. Breakwaters, zigarettes, port holes, neon, eyebrows, flat roofs, faux balconies, — all still here. Still today, the City of Miami Beach officials are rigorous on property regulations. Historical buildings are actively functioning as hotels, restaurants, bars, stores. Owners may renovate the buildings, but they must maintain the original facade design. One interesting rule is that the original signage of the building must remain, even though the current business within may have a different name. Such as, The Hotel building that has a very impressive TIFFANY sign. Several people have a hard time finding The Hotel when looking for it’s exceptionally discrete sign. Nonetheless, South Beach would be a sea of plain condos and towering resorts hadn’t these measures been taken.

There is so much more to South Beach than partying and fine dining. There is sweat and tears of those who could only dream of this extraordinary city back in the early 20th century. Today people walk those streets without a clue of how that island is still afloat. Miami, your story needs to be told.

Deering as Text

Prior to this class, I had never heard of The Deering Estate, despite being born and raised in Miami. It is upsetting that local history is not embedded in our primary and secondary educational curriculum. Now at 20 years old in college is when I am learning about and exploring my hometown. The Deering Estate itself is a jackpot of Miami history, culture, fauna and flora. I wish I had known about it earlier, nonetheless I was able to appreciate and understand this experience better now as a knowledge-seeking mature adult.

The Deering Estate is very in touch with our community. The estate is open to public visitation. They provide several guided tours, classes, programs and events. The Deering Estate is not only focused on science and history, they are huge supporters of the arts. From poetry readings, to festivals, to even an artist-in-residence program, The Deering Estate is always providing artists opportunities to share their work. The estate has two sites with spectacular views that are open to the public for free: The People’s Dock and Deering Point. Now I know where to go spend a beautiful afternoon with my family!

Luckily for me, Miami in Miami had the opportunity to hike through The Deering Estate Nature Preserve. There is no better way to explore the area than with the estate director herself, Jennifer Tisthammer. Of the sites we visited the Tequesta Midden and the Burial Mound were the most impactful. The Tequesta were the natives that lived here way before Miami was even a thought. It is unfortunate that much of their story has been lost throughout the years. Nevertheless, The Deering Estate has dedicated to preserving these ancient sites and piecing together history based on their archeological findings.

Lotus as Text

The Lotus House is a non-profit homeless shelter housing over 250 women and children in the heart of Miami. The foundation does not only provide physical shelter for those in need, but also a safe and loving home to those in need. Services available to the tenants include, but are not limited to, medical care, counseling, artistic activities, educational programs for both children and women. The Lotus House is dedicated to supporting families regain their balance so that they may continue their walk of life.

The Miami in Miami class had the pleasure of spending a day volunteering at the shelter. We were tasked with cleaning rooms and common areas, helping meal prep, and organizing donations. At first my team and I cleared the docking station that was overcrowded with former tenants’ belongings. We then sanitized the area. By doing so, the shelter was able to receive and store incoming shipments of readiness supplies for the COVID-19 pandemic that was on the way. I then helped organize new donations in the children’s toys closet. The shelter is committed to providing a pleasurable life to these families; therefore, they give gifts to celebrate birthdays, holidays, milestones, and achievements. My team and I also sanitized the family room and common area on every floor of the building. We met a few tenants while we navigated, all of whom were appreciative of our service.

During lunchtime, we ate in the cafeteria among the tenants. They all had bright faces and were extremely thankful for our help. It is very gratifying to know that a simple task as cleaning is, can go a long way. It means a lot to them that we were there, that we care. Whether directly or indirectly, we helped them through another day.

Quarantine as Text

I remember back in January seeing endless memes about the “beer virus” in China, and bursting out in laughter. Now in April, I still laugh, but it’s not the same. My heart is heavy, my mind is worried, and my throat is sore. What we thought was going to be Winter Break 2.0 became a nightmare.

Two days after my birthday, everything started shutting down. Schools transitioned into remote learning. My job closed office, and began figuring out how everyone could work from home. My dad — a flight attendant — was called to fly the last international flight out to Brasil, returning to Miami with zero passengers. My mom’s catering orders were being cancelled. My sister couldn’t really work front desk of a trampoline park via Zoom.

Not even a day into this so-called quarantine… cough attacks, fevers, and fatigue. My dad and my sister go to Baptist Hospital to test for the beer virus. Three days later, my mom goes to Baptist Hospital to test for the corona virus. Four days after that, both my parents are rushed to Baptist Hospital Emergency Room to be treated for the COVID-19 virus. Except there’s no treatment, there’s no vaccine, there’s no study, there’s nothing but hope and faith. The next ten days were the scariest of my life, but also the most important.

My sister and I have always been close, but those days brought us closer. We would eat together, clean together, cry together, pray together, everything always together. In our regular routine, our schedules did not give us the availability for these bonding moments. Our entire family needed this time to communicate, reflect, and be in sync. Once our parents came back home, there was a role reversal, they depended on us to take care of them. It was an emotional experience and a life lesson.

Our COVID-19 journey was no joke. It is still not over. We need to get retested until we have two negative results. This virus is still not tamed, it is unpredictable. We are living day by day, following the news, hoping that soon this will all be over.

Leave a Reply