Gianmarco Agostinone is currently a senior finishing his undergraduate portion of his combined bachelors and masters degree in computer science. Over the course of his time in college, he has traveled on two study abroads with professor Bailly, France and Italy, and wants to culminate his travel experience by finally learning about the area he has lived in his whole life, Miami. After college, he hopes to continue his newfound lifestyle of traveling and photography and eventually make his way throughout the rest of Europe.
Metro As Text
Miami: A Home That Doesn’t Feel Like Home By Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in Miami on September 11, 2019
Is it strange to say I know the streets of Rome and Paris better than I know those of Miami? I can direct you to the colosseum like it’s the back of my hand but if you ask me how to get to South Beach, I’m lost without Google Maps. I know Florence’s hidden gems. Little known places to watch the sunset over the city’s skyline. I know where to go to get the best macchiato or the world’s best gelato. But I can’t tell you where you can find a decent cup of coffee in a five-mile radius of FIU that’s not a Starbucks. I call Miami home, but I know nothing of her.
This really hit me on the day of the metro. Countless times I have driven to the places that the metro connected, and never did I once realize it was even there. A big reason why I’ve always justified my lack of knowledge and traveling throughout Miami is the inconvenience it is to get anywhere. With its crazy drivers and the sheer distance away everything is, you must make a whole day out of going anywhere and I just never have that time to commit. It was not like in Paris, where its extensive metro system can take you anywhere you desired and quickly too, that having lunch by the Eiffel Tower was not something you had to plan your day around. But finding out that Miami has a system like that too was an eye-opener. Now it is nowhere near as extensive as many modern areas but it’s a start and already has allowed me to visit more places and see more things than I ever have here before and that’s just the beginning. For now, I plan on using the metro whenever I can and hopefully, one day the system will expand enough that you won’t need a car to go anywhere in Miami.
Vizcaya As Text
Cultural Appropriation By Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in Vizcaya on September 25, 2019
An issue that many people have with Vizcaya, along with many other places and people, is that they took items and ideas from other cultures, which is considered cultural appropriation. They received backlash due to Deering buying these famous artworks and uprooting them from their homes to make them a part of his and using foreign architectural designs that had no origin in Miami. Some believe that by doing this he is making an artificial landscape that has meaningless foundations and contents. But I do not agree. We are living in an ever-increasing globalized world where ideas and cultures spread faster than ever, and trends can travel from one place to the another nearly overnight. Integrating these other cultures beliefs and ideas should not be considered wrong and is even vital for the progression of our society.
Anybody should be able to appreciate aspects of other cultures and not be judged for it. Even with Deering, he bought artwork from all over with only the intention of making his house look pretty, but that doesn’t make it wrong. He still was able to spread this beauty to an area that lacked it and did no harm in doing so. Spreading and adopting aspects of other cultures, whether it be the way you dress, act, talk, or things you own should never be seen as wrong as long as you don’t do it to mock those cultures and rather do it because you sincerely respect them.
Deering As Text
Tequesta: A Lost Nation By Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in Deering Estate on October 13, 2019
Who were the Tequesta?
Little is known.
They thrived for over two-thousand years in the Biscayne Bay.
All to just be wiped out from the face of the Earth.
All to be murdered and taken from their lands by the hands of the Spaniards.
Who were the Tequesta?
They were hunters and gatherers.
Living off the abundant resources their home provided.
They crafted tools from shells, making knives, screws, hammers, and more.
They were a resourceful people, who knew their land and how to use it to its fullest.
Who were the Tequesta?
They were a friendly nation.
Who welcomed the Spaniards with open arms.
But were not welcomed back.
The Spaniards forced them to convert to Christianity.
Forced them to leave their homes.
Forced them into slavery.
Forced them to their death.
So, who were the Tequesta?
We know where they lived.
We know how they survived.
We know how they died.
But we will never know, who they were.
Chicken Key As Text
Unnecessary By Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in Chicken Key on October 23, 2019
Fourteen billion pounds of trash are dumped into the ocean every year. That’s fourteen billion pieces of garbage that fish might mistake for food. Fourteen billion pieces of garbage that might get stuck around a bird’s neck. Fourteen billion pieces of garbage that can trap a helpless manatee. These pieces of garbage are not just things we can discard without consequences. What we consider harmless trash can be another animals killer.
Canoeing over to chicken key was all fun and games until you set foot on the island. Where it was too dangerous to go barefoot on the land or off in the surrounding water due to all the broken glass. Where you couldn’t go a step in any direction without finding a piece of trash. Ropes tied around the mangroves, glass bottles everywhere, missing sandals, plastic waste, and an endless amount of bottle caps. You don’t realize how wasteful and unnecessary plastic water bottles are until you find a hundred of them in the span of a few hours.
All this waste made we realize how unnecessary it all is. The amount of times people buy in excess of what they need and end up just dumping it is unreal. The amount of companies that make products which are designed to fail or be one time uses so that they can sell more when they are fully capable of making more environmentally friendly products. This should be illegal, yet it is just more rampant then ever
As a society we need to do more than just beach cleanups, as that is not solving the problem, but just merely delaying the effects. We need to unite to fight against those who are contributing to these mass pollutions. We need government action to save this world before it is too late.
Wynnwood As Text
Modern Art By Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in Wynnwood on November 6, 2019
Modern art has always been a form of art that was difficult for me to understand and enjoy. To me, most of it always seemed like an excuse to make an “art piece” with little skill or work involved. And that to me seemed like an insult to the art community and everyone who enjoys art.
The idea of painting an entire canvas a single color of blue and then calling it a masterpiece and selling it for millions was crazy to me. And it still is a little bit. But after hearing from the Margulies and De La Cruz families, it opened my mind to the idea of modern art. They went into detail about the symbolism and beautiful ideas that went into the art. They explained how these art works are about more than the visual aspects, saying that the visual appeal has little to no importance to them. Whether the work was to show the importance of negative space, whether it was to remind the creator of the last days he spent with his lover or dad, they all have a meaning that goes past the initial observation.
Not having to focus on rigid rules and practices allows them to create whatever they want in any form they want. Unleashing unlimited possibilities that can’t be done in any other forms of art. So modern art may not be the most visually appealing art style but it is one of the most liberating ones.
History Miami As Text
A History of Maimi’s People By Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in History Miami Museum on November 20, 2019
One man’s home, another’s conquest.
One man’s safe heaven, another’s prison.
A place with such rich and conflicting history.
There were those who lived here before us.
Those who can truly call Miami home.
The natives such as the Tequesta’s and Seminoles, who wanted nothing but peace and a place to live.
These people were conquered by generations of Europeans.
All wanting nothing but to expand their grasp, expand their power.
They killed and kidnapped until the natives had no fight left and the land was theirs.
Then they started bringing in their prisoners.
People they ripped away from their homes 1,000s of miles away.
They sailed them over the sea to put them to work at their homes, on their farms, and in their factories.
These slaves did not see Florida as a home, but as a prison with water on three sides and the vast unknown above.
But over the years things changed.
And Miami was seen in a new light.
It was seen as a place that gave freedom and protection to its visitors.
Protection from the oppression some faced in their home countries.
Thousands of Cubans fled their homes to have another chance at life here in the US.
It was no easy journey, but to them it was their only chance.
Miami has been many things over the years.
Territories ripe for conquest.
Prisons for those forced here from their homes.
Sanctuaries for those seeking a fresh start.
But for me, it is my home.
Miami Art As Text
Change By Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in Untitled, Art Miami Beach on December 4, 2019
Ice caps melting, sea levels rising, temperatures increasing.
It is real, it is here, and it is dangerous.
To believe otherwise is not only ignorant but detrimental.
Something must be done.
Our greed and shortsightedness must be stopped.
Every decade we wait, 10% of our planet’s sea ice vanishes.
Every decade we wait, our planet’s sea level rise.
We are getting to a point of no return, yet no one bats an eye.
Why, you may ask?
Why does no one act?
It is because people don’t see it as their problem, whether it be a generational disconnect or a locational one.
They may understand the consequences of not acting, but not care as they won’t be around to see it.
This is a mindset I will never understand.
Do you not want your kids, your grandkids, and every generation after them to live better lives?
Lives where they don’t have to worry about the Earth falling apart before their very eyes.
And then there are those who can make a difference.
Those who have the money or power to make things right.
But they still don’t.
They let their greed get the better of them.
They believe that regardless of what’s coming, their individual goals of expanding their wealth or power comes first.
This must change.
Everglades As Text
Everglades By Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in Everglades National Park on January 22, 2020
It amazes me that something with such cultural and geographical significance goes almost unnoticed to the people of South Florida. That many people spend their whole lives without ever entering it, without ever even giving it a second thought. I can’t even complain as the Everglades is less than 100ft from my back yard and I’ve never even wondered close to it. But after this, all I wonder is when I will be going back?
The Everglades is an ecological cornucopia. It is home to 9 different habitats housing hundreds of unique species. It is even the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles coexist. Unfortunately, species that call the Everglades their homes, are in danger. Foreign predators are being released into these lands and killing the rightful owners; and only we are to blame. We have not done enough to protect these lands. We not only release invasive species into these lands, but we also took much of the land for ourselves. Human greed has attempted to destroy these lands for decades and it needs to not only stop but be reverted.
People do not understand that in the end we are only hurting ourselves. Destroying the natural order of things will only come back to bite us in the end. It can ruin the food chain, devastate the lands, destroy our water supplies. Yet people only see the short-term gains of having more space for a bigger back yard and access to more land for possible oil. If this short sidedness does not end soon then I’m afraid we may be too late.
South Beach As Text
Preservation vs Innovation By Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in South Beach on February 19, 2020
Home to Miami’s famous Art Deco historic district, South Beach is a beautiful sight of colorful and iconic architectural styles. This architectural style originated in the 1920s to 1930s, making its first debut in Paris in 1925. It is characterized by its use of bright colors such as its pastel blues, pinks, oranges, yellows, greens and more. This style is what truly defines Miami.
Many actions have been issued to save the district’s unique look. One, was the action of making many of the buildings historic sights, thus limiting the ability of making changes to these buildings exterior and interior. The idea of preserving these buildings and preserving the identity of this neighborhood and many other neighborhoods like this is an idea that is constantly debated. There is always someone wanting to demolish what already stands in order to build new structures for various purposes.
The real issue that comes from this is how do you decide what is better for a neighborhood? On one side preserving a neighborhood and keeping its buildings is a way to preserve the neighborhood’s identity, without it, nothing will differ one neighborhood from another. Not only that, many times these construction companies come in to build things that make them money and benefit outsiders, but provide little benefit to those who currently live there. Examples like this are the gentrification of places like Wynwood and the design district.
While I completely understand the idea behind preserving a city’s historic buildings, there is a strong argument for the opposite. Holding onto one’s past prevents a city from progressing into the future. Modernization is not always a bad thing. It brings in new styles, new functionalities, and new ideas. These can increase the value of a city and the happiness of its people if done right. Not only that but sometimes, a cities historic architecture is just not worth preserving and is only loved for its age rather than artistic beauty or functionality.
Imposing strict codes can seriously hinder growth and in excess goes against the idea that people should have the right to do what they want to their property as long as it abides by the law. So at the end of the day, the most important thing is finding a balance between preservation and innovation.
Lotus As Text
Lotus House By Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU at Lotus House on March 11, 2020
In 2018, there were almost 30,000 homeless people in Florida alone. Now even though women and children consist of only a fraction of that number, they have distinct needs that many normal shelters do not provide. The Lotus House is an organization dedicated to improving the lives of homeless women, youth and children. They do this by not only providing free housing and meals to its hundreds of residents, but by giving them the tools and support they need to eventually be able to thrive on their own as well.
While volunteering there I was able to witness this support system firsthand. One of the staff members held a workshop for the women there that would educate them in proper food safety and cleanliness to certify them for working in the food industry. The staff member closely worked with the women so that all of them would leave with a full grasp of the material. These are just one of many workshops that the shelter provides to help these women find work and the meticulous teaching makes sure that none of them are left behind.
Volunteering there was eye opening to me. Coming from a city where there is really no homelessness, unfortunately due to the city forcing them out, you aren’t able to put yourself in their shoes. But during my time at the Lotus House, I was able to see how just how much work was needed to keep the shelter working properly, and how much a few of us can do in just a few hours to improve these peoples lives. The problem is that one person alone will have a hard time making a difference, but if everyone could give up just a fraction of their time, they can collectively help not only these people, but everyone and everything in this world. People need to stop being selfish and start volunteering and donating to causes like this so that we can make a difference.
Deering Estate As Text
Keep Out By Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU at Lotus House on April 15, 2020
The Deering Estate is a place I have grown to love. Having not even known of its existence prior to John Bailly’s classes, it is a shame that more people do not know of this unique and amazing place. The Deering Estate is one of the few untouched areas of nature left in Miami and unfortunately there aren’t many more places like it left here in Miami. When people first started developing Miami into the city, we know it as today, they cared very little about the impact on the land’s natural habitat and ecosystem. The beaches you know and love, used to be the home to thousands of mangroves and were just carved away and replaced with imported sand. The Everglades used to span over most of South Florida, but was drenched and replaced with the homes we now live in.
Now this damage is done and, in many cases, irreversible. We cannot bring back the Everglades to its former size and glory, but we can protect what’s left. Places like the Deering Estate are the past, the present, and the future. If we do not continue this preservation of it and other places like the Deering Estate, we will not only be losing our past but destroying our future, all for the short-sighted benefits of the present.
Quarantine As Text
Recluse By Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU at His Home on April 25, 2020
Stuck inside, walls closing in.
Feeling as if I’m pinned.
Months have passed since life was normal.
This unsettling atmosphere makes us feel so mortal.
Every day we hope for news.
But instead, we are stuck paying our dues.
Lack of preparedness, lack of action.
Is what caused this chain reaction.
Now we are forced to wait, stuck in our homes.
But others take different tones.
Marching outside putting the world endanger.
We may just be a group of strangers.
But their incompetence is no excuse.
To not act like a recluse.
We must join together, whatever the cost.
And fight this biological holocaust.