Hello, my name is Daniel Perez. I am currently studying as a mechanical engineering major at FIU. I was born and raised in the city of Miami, as the first generation born in the United States from a Cuban background. I was brought up in the land of sexy people, summer fun year-round, and everyone owning a Ferrari or something like that. So of course, I wanted to see even more of my home. This semester I decided to take part in the Miami in Miami class, a leadership class designed to act as a study abroad without being abroad. It focuses on the smaller and more intricate details of Miami. As a class, we each decided to investigate one neighborhood within the city of Miami. I chose to attempt to describe the incredibleness of one of my city’s neighborhoods; Kendale Lakes. I grew up spending a lot of my childhood in this neighborhood, either spending my time at the super popular Tropical Park, or at my grandparent’s house within the area. I even went to one of the elementary schools in the neighborhood.
Kendale Lakes used to be home to a large Miami Jewish population, where many prominent attorneys lived there during the mid to late 70s and was considered a bedroom community until the mid to late 80s. The portion of the neighborhood east of 142nd Avenue and between both Sunset Drive and North Kendall Drive was built by Janis Homes in 1970. While the portion of the neighborhood west of 142nd Avenue was built by the Caravel Homes company around the year 1973.
There is a plaza located at 14097 Southwest 88th Street, Miami, FL 33186. Here lies a walk-through outdoor mall with many mom and pop stores called the Kendale Lakes Mall. It was a destination for locals and had many specialty shops like Second Skin, Smatt Bootery, Sentry Drugs, Mightiest Mortals and restaurants like Fiesta Tacos, The Carvery, Cozzoli’s Pizza, Tiger Tea House, and Burns Bakery as well as a Roller-Skating Ring. Now the mall has more modern selections such as Marshalls, K-mart, El Dorado, and Hobby Lobby to name a few.
During the 1970’s at the southeast corner of 137th Avenue opened a bowling alley known as Don Carter’s Kendall Lanes, it closed in 2006. During its 30-year operation time the bowling place was infamous for keeping its “authentic” look. The bowling alley featured 72 lanes which were split into two sections of 35, as well as a bar for patrons, an arcade, and billiard tables. Though its patrons were loyal to the establishment, it faced fierce competition for the near standing Bird Bowl lanes. After its closing in 2006 the shopping center kept the name Carter Plaza but is now home to a Staples, Chipotle, Panera Bakery, and a Pei Wei.
The Kendale Lakes Country Club was bought by the Miccosukee tribe. It was originally an amenity offered to local homeowners but is now open completely to the public for membership and visits. It is still surrounded by tree lined streets with a canopy of trees and lush green lawns. Coral rocks trace the entirety of its circumference and the golf course is dotted within with small lakes. At one time there was a small sandy beach and picnic area and pier, which has been removed. There are still remnants of the old pier. There were two pools at the country club, one designated for adults and the other assigned for family enjoyment. One of these pools has now been converted into a volleyball court, while the other remained as an Olympic-sized pool where the country club holds swimming lessons during the summer and spring months.
Kendale Lakes is bounded 88th street to the South, Bird Road to the North, 147th Avenue to the West, 117th Avenue to the East. The neighborhood is located at 25°42′30″N 80°24′42″W (25.708464, -80.411610) to be precise. According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 8.6 square miles, of which, 8.2 square miles is land and 0.4 square miles of it is water.
Points of interest:
Gold Coast Railroad Museum
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum was founded in 1957 and officialized in 1984 as one of the three official Florida State Railroad Museums. The museum is dedicated to the preservation, exhibition, and operation of historic equipment. It holds over 40 rail cars and features the Presidential Rail Car named the Ferdinand Magellan. The area in which the museum is now located was once the Naval Air Station Richmond, which was the second largest airship base in the United States during World War 2. The area was most likely chosen as a result of the 2 miles of track that were once a part of the air base, making it the perfect place to put up a railroad museum. Along with its trains the museum also includes an exhibit based on the Naval Air Station Richmond, displays of rail equipment, Thomas the Tank Engine play tables, and a model train railroad room.
Zoo Miami stands as the oldest and largest zoo in the state of Florida and is ranked fifth largest within the United States. It is the only subtropical zoo in the country and as a result of Miami’s unique climate the institution can house and care for animals from Africa, Asia, Australia, North America, and South America. Allowing a huge variety of species, the likes of which cannot be found at any other zoo in the country. It is constantly being renovated and now features a new dinosaur exhibit allowing for patrons to not only learn about the animals of the present but also those of the distant past.
There are four major parks and fields within Kendale Lakes area.
Kendall Indian Hammocks Park
First off, we have Kendall Indian Hammocks Park located at 11395 SW 79 Street, Miami, FL. This park is a big hit for anyone that enjoys skate boarding, inline skating, and BMX thanks to the featured 14,000 square foot outdoor concrete plaza.
Kendale Lakes Park
This park is located on 7850 SW 142 Avenue, Miami, FL. It features lush green fields, various playgrounds for children to play with their parents or on their own, tennis and basketball courts, a recreational center, as well as offering visitors to rent out park shelters to host their own events.
Westwind Lakes Park
Finally, we have Westwind Lakes Park located at 6805 SW 152 Avenue, Miami, FL It is mostly popular amongst families with small children as the park features a water pad allowing for children and parents to have a fun day splashing around during the summer season. It also has a skate park which has two six foot quarter pipes, rails, launch and bank ramps, a wall ride, stairs and different sized hubbas(a ledge that angles down a set of stairs). This skate park was also the first stop of Tony Hawks 2011 tour. So, whether you are a skateboarding enthusiast or are looking for an interactive family day, you should visit Westwind Lakes Park.
Mr. and Mrs. Bun
A Peruvian deli and dessert shop. The locale is small but super personal and allows its patrons the time to sit down and enjoy their meals. Highly recommended are their sandwiches and honestly anything as all their food is made from scratch and positively delicious.
FINKA Table and Tap & Amelia’s 1931
Attached Video is a link to a short video depicting the creation story and explanation of what both FINKA Table and Tap and Amelia’s 1931 are and represent.
Jose Adrian Barboza:
Background: an immigrant from the country of Costa Rica, he has lived in the area for most of his adolescence and young adulthood. He has experienced both his high school and college years in this neighborhood and is currently enrolled in the Miami Dade Honors College.
Background: A mother of two girls and wife to Carlos Rodriguez, she grew up in the neighborhood and moved away during her early career and adulthood. Decided to come back to the area to start a family, has been living inside the neighborhood since the birth of her first daughter 3 years ago.
What is your favorite aspect about the city? The safety and proximity to essential stores.
What is your least favorite aspect about the city? How far west the neighborhood is from major locations and workplace in coral gables area.
Do you enjoy living here? Yes
If you could change anything about Kendale Lakes, what would it be? The traffic during rush hour, definitely to reduce that.
Has the area benefitted you in any way since you started your family? Well my home is conveniently close to drug stores for last minute, middle of the night necessities. Plus having top rated public schools nearby.
Oh, alright anything else? I know there are a few go to parks and even though we cannot really go out do you tend to make use of them. Yes! We take the girls to the park a lot and having two within walking distance is really great.
Overall, Kendale Lakes residence safe in this area and as a result feel more inclined to participate in outdoor activities. The neighborhood then can be described as a safe place for the family environment as a result of the top-class schools and parks as well as its accessibility to critical services. It has one minor flaw however, as a result of it being located so far west commuters that work in the metropolitan area have a negative experience due to the long traffic that prevents them from getting home in a timely manner.
As of the 2010 Census there were a total of 56,148 residences within the Kendale Lakes area along with 19,185 households, with 4.7% being vacant. There is a household average of 3.14 people and a family household average of 3.4. The 2019 estimates have a 4.6% in children under 5 years, an 18.1% in persons under 18 years, a 16.8% in persons 65 years and over, and a 52.7% in female persons. These percentages are based on the total population estimate. They also have an average household income of $56,017 in 2018 dollars, with 63.6% of residents working in the civilian labor force.
“HOME About Us.” (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from
For our service project this semester I chose to help with this year’s Deering Seafood Festival. The main idea was to create a presentation for our group of FIU students to inform the public of the pollution that washes up in the area, especially around the chicken key area. I myself participated in a total of 3 cleanups and had the honor of guiding the group during one of the cleanups, as well as aided in the development of both the presentation to be given at the festival and the creation of the sculpture piece. A large reason for my dedication to this project is due to my great respect for the outdoors and nature itself and I have my ideals in the preservation of that nature that I love and respect so dearly.
It was thanks to Nicole Patrick, a fellow FIU student and Miami in Miami classmate, that put together the logistics and grouped us all together towards the cleanups and set up of the Deering Seafood Festival.
The plan was to get together on most weekend mornings at the Deering Estate, where we were allowed to rent out the canoes on site and paddle together towards the island about a mile away. Nicole had usually organized us into four groups each assigned to a specific section of the key. This would allow the teams to more efficiently clean up the island.
The amount of trash during the first few visits was impressive and the items one would find tended to be stranger than usual. Off the top of my head I can say we found a small airplane, large pieces of bamboo, and even a ritualistic doll.
At the end of each cleanup day, the trash was packed up into those yellow sandbags as seen above. The general garbage was disposed of at the estate, while anything that was considered to be usable for our presentation at the Seafood Festival was kept to be put together in a sculpture to help inform and bring awareness to guests at the festival.
As the date of the Deering Seafood Festival loomed, a group of us decided to get together at the university and try to brainstorm what the general build of the sculpture would look like based on what we had brought in.
After some observation at our trash inventory we agreed to build a model turtle based on the garbage collected over our visits to the estate. We used a carboard cut out as the base and layed out the trash to fill in the space. Then we stuffed the turtle with crushed water bottles to give it a more life like appearance.
Surprisingly enough we were able to finish it within our first meeting and planned to further develop a backdrop and presentation to go along for us to share with guests at the Festival. Sadly, as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic the Deering Seafood Festival was postponed and then later on canceled. Regardless of the suspension of the event, I hope the ideals invested into this group remain strong and are shared with others so that importance of preserving nature are held to a high regard amongst the general public.
Hello, my name is Daniel Perez. I am currently studying as a mechanical engineering major at FIU. I was born and raised in the city of Miami, as the first generation born in the United States from a Cuban background. I was brought up in the land of sexy people, summer fun year-round, and everyone owning a Ferrari or something like that. So of course, I wanted to see even more of my home. This semester I decided to take part in the Miami in Miami class, a leadership class designed to act as a study abroad without being abroad. It focuses on the smaller and more intricate details of Miami. As a class, we each decided to investigate one neighborhood within the city of Miami. I chose to attempt to describe the incredibleness of one of my city’s neighborhoods; Olympia Heights. I grew up spending a lot of my childhood in this neighborhood, either spending my time at the super popular Tropical Park, or spending time with my friends that went to school at Pinecrest.
Location, Location, Location:
Olympia Heights is situated within
two main streets, Bird Road and 58th street, otherwise known as
Miller Drive. The neighborhood is approximately 3 square miles of which, 2.7
square miles of it is land and 0.3 square miles of it is water. It has three parks
and three lakes but has one major and notable green space; the jewel of Olympia
Heights; Tropical Park.
As of the United states Census of
2000 there were 13,488 people within the neighborhood of Olympia Heights. There
is an approximate population density of 5,0845 people every square mile. This
is distributed amongst the average housing density of 1,555 per square mile. A
fun fact is that there was a 64.4% population decline between the Censuses of
1990 and 2000 as a result of the creation of a nearby neighborhood region;
The racial make-up of Olympia heights consists of 96.6% white of which 8.7% were non-Hispanic White, 1.8% are African American,.6% Asian, and those of two or more races were .6% as of the 2010 United States Census.
A fun fact, that as of 2000, Olympia
Heights had the 6th highest percentage of Cuban residents in the US,
holding 57.85% of its population coming from Cuban decent, the neighborhood
also ranked in 77th in Colombian residencies and 25th in
More interesting though is the age
make up. The community has an elderly population. Considering that 20.3% of
those living within the neighborhood are 65 years of age or older. This appears
to hold up another of Miami’s, or well Florida’s stereotypes that it is a
popular location for retirement. The area also had a slightly smaller youth
population as only 15.4% are 18 years of age and younger, 7.7% from 18 to 24,
26.7% from 25 to 44, 26.1% from 45 to 64. There also appears to be a slight
inequality amongst the gender distribution as for every 100 females there were
Parks and Recreation:
Within Olympia Heights resides three green spaces. These are Blue Lakes Park, Miller Drive Park and the famous 257-acre urban park that is Tropical Park. The park is a major point of interest for those who both live and visit the neighborhood. It features a huge variety of landscapes and areas to enjoy Miami’s sunny weather. One could take a stroll or run or bike through the paved trails that take you throughout the park’s natural areas, its open fields, alongside the shores of its lakes and passed the grass fields. Its open lawns are one of its best features along with covered picnic shelters, which can be rented to host get-together and parties.
I also believe the park holds Miami’s highest land elevation point, there is a tall hill that is located past the 40th Street area of the park. Tropical Park’s Hill is the perfect place to stand and fly kites, you will find kids running up and down its slope and even a few daredevils riding down the slope on their bikes. The park also features an abundance of facilities for those of us who are more athletically inclined. Things like basketball courts, racquetball courts, tennis courts, and fields for just about every major sport like baseball and soccer. A full football field where local high school teams usually reserve to come together and compete. They even make use of the lakes on the park grounds, there visitors can use paddleboats and fish. Visitors also have access to a 2 – acre dog park, which is divided up depending on size of the dog to better prevent your furry friends from getting hurt during rough play.
Tropical Park also has a number of facilities such as boxing and fitness centers, which offer annual and daily memberships that include boxing classes, as well as bootcamps, conditioning, personal training and self- defense classes. Tropical Park also has the Ronald Reagan Equestrian Center. It hosts more than 36 horse shows a year. The center is huge, it contains 3 state of the art show arenas, two grass courses, seating for 1000 and one promenade. It even has recreational vehicle hookups and stands to sell concessions. You can also rent out the horse stalls during non-event dates.
The park also hosts a variety of events. For example, the Southwest
Community Farmers’ Market occurs every Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm all year
round. The market is set up just past its Bird Road entrance. They also host
seasonal events such as Santa’s Enchanted Forest during the winter months,
which is a type of county fair. The event sports a huge assortment of rides,
attractions, food, and drink.
Within the neighborhood’s area there are three memorials dedicated to law enforcement and to those that have given their lives in the line of duty to keep our community safe. They are located with the grounds of Tropical Park. These are the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, the Tribute to 9-1-1 memorial, and the Miami-Dade K-9 Memorial.
The Law Enforcement Officers Memorial was placed in 1980 to honor fallen officers from any department or agency. The granite structure was revealed in May of 1981, and the four black granite walls were put up in 2001, these have been engraved with the names of the men and women who gave their lives serving the citizens of the community. Today it has a total of 143 names etched into it.
The 9-1-1 Memorial stands as two five-foot towers that were placed in 2002 to commemorate the law enforcement that were killed when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. An annual ceremony is held to honor those who sacrificed themselves on the site of the attack.
The Miami-Dade K-9 Memorial was
dedicated on August 14, 2009 to honor all police canines that died in service
to the Miami-Dade community. Particularly those 8 that are memorialized on the
wall. These police canines are in fact the ones to serve man who serves
The People’s Thoughts:
I had the chance to talk to some
people about how they felt about living in Miami and then how they felt within
the neighborhood. I prepared a few stock questions pertaining to how and if
they interact with their neighborhoods, if they felt unsafe at any time in the
area, especially at night, if there are any events within the area, and how
they felt about their daily lives, along with some variance depending on how
the conversations went.
Typical answers to most of my
questions expressed that the neighborhood is predominantly occupied by an older
crowd. People feel like their neighbors are nice and can be helpful to deal
with problems in their area. One fellow neighbor expressed how they were helped
after a hurricane by the younger folks on their block. Generally, the residents
feel safe and at night they even take walks around their neighborhoods. They
rave about having a great park less than 5 minutes away from their homes, where
they can relax or workout on their own or with their friends and family.
There were a few negative aspects
to the area, but those were just general complaints about the city of Miami. Things
like humid weather and heavy traffic flow. However, commuters feel at ease as
residents live within two main streets; Bird Street and Miller Drive.
Overall, residence of the
neighborhood and those in area around like myself feel like Olympia heights is
a place that is safe and friendly, along with some minor inconveniences, but
allows for people to enjoy the outdoors and come together to enjoy events
hosted at Tropical Park.
House is a non-profit organization located in downtown Miami that provides
humanitarian aid to people in need throughout all Miami-Dade County in south Florida.
The organization was founded in 1960 and has grown to become more than an
overnight shelter, it is now a haven that allows people to better themselves
and surpass the situations in life that were in their way.
For my service project, a group of us students
decided to volunteer at Camillus house, and help them prepare for their gala at
the Hilton in Biscayne. Prior to the team of movers arriving we helped at their
main campus to set up the Christmas decorations within the main dining
hall and clear some areas where they had performers. Once the team of movers arrived,
we were designated to a theatre in which the auction items for the gala were
stored in a cellar like environment due to the lowered temperature inside that
We had the chance to learn about
Camillus House after we accomplished our first task, while we were waiting for
the movers to pass. Our community relations manager Alessandra Laricchira gave
us a tour of the main campus and went over a few of the things the organization
handled. I had always thought that all they did was house and feed homeless. I
was not aware of all the programs they had available to help those in need. The
charity holds a rehabilitation center, of which we had the chance to meet one
of the directors. They also provide access to the day center that allows for
people to come in for a warm meal, showers, as well as a change of clothes
depending on the day of the week and the gender of the person looking for
clothes. It gives the homeless a sense to shop around rather than just telling
them here this is what you must wear. They give out small samples of soap and
shampoos, things that seem insignificant to most of us but to them can mean the
Camillus also has programs for housing, regarding their main campus they have two programs. They are divided into emergency housing, which allows for people to stay anywhere between 30 to 60 days. In Miami approximately 10 beds open each day to allow for new people to be housed in the emergency housings. The other is permanent housing, which is qualified as affordable housing, being that we live in Miami affordable housing is a bit of a myth. This program charges a percentage of the persons income instead of a flat rate. I believe they charge 30% of the tenant’s income and the rest is covered by donation from their respective city or donor. I believe they charge 30% of their income. They stay in dormitory like apartments, where 3 to 4 people stay in each unit.
We loaded carts with the auction materials and moved them to the lower level to be placed onto the trucks from their warehouse. Once the materials were safely, we moved on to the Hilton where we went through the back to unload the carts. We boarded a huge elevator that allowed us to get everything to the presentation floor in one go, though because of other people using it to, we had to make multiple trips.
Once everything was in the room, we began to organize and sort the auction items onto their displays. This was done according to a catalog that created by the gala organizer, Flora Sweet. Most of the items were wines and champagnes, along with pieces of art. Some of which were created by the those housed at Camillus during a therapeutic art session. Items also included were gift cards along with various sports memorabilia and cruise excursions. If all goes as planned the gala will have raised an estimate of 1.6 million to be used as funding, which is a slight increase from last year’s 1.4 million raised for the charity.
experience we had while volunteering was a rewarding one, knowing that what we
were doing would help bring funding towards helping those in need. It also gave
us awareness as to some of the realities that happen here in Miami every day.
Knowing that not everyone has a home is different than interacting with those
in need. It gave us a sense of urgency and a want to continue helping them. I cannot
speak for all of us, but I am sure that the other students that helped were
also impacted by the experience. To the extent of being eager to lend another
helping hand to the organization to further improve our community.
ALESSANDRA LARICCHIA | COMMUNITY RELATIONS MANAGER
Hey, my name is Daniel Perez, I’m 19 years old and I am currently a sophomore at FIU. I am majoring in Mechanical Engineering with hopes to continue onto the field of law as an IP attorney.
I am a Miamian born and raised. First generation born in the United States from a Cuban background. I was brought up in the land of sexy people, summer fun year round, and everyone owning a Ferrari or something like that. So of course I wanted to see even more of my home.
I decided to take this course because I’m a bit curious and adventurous. I love learning the ins and outs of things and what better thing to learn about than your own home. I’m hoping to learn about things I didn’t even think you could find here in Miami, and I’m looking forward to the adventures we’ll go on together.
Metro In Miami
The first off-campus meeting for the Miami in
Miami class began with us gathering at the Dadeland South Metro Station. Here
the class would be one of the few in Miami to purchase a day pass to be able to
get around the city via the metro. Public transportation is definitely not the
most popular means of transport for Miamians.
Professor Bailly pointed out an interesting
observation at our first stop. He talked about the size of the sidewalk, and
how here in Miami the sidewalks are generally smaller when compared to those of
other major cities and other countries. Considering I have had the chance to
travel and visit areas with more emphasis on public transportation, this simple
and seemingly minuscule detail about our standards here in Miami surprised me.
I had not taken the time to notice the size of our sidewalks because of that
reason. We simply don’t walk to our destinations on a regular basis. Miami
isn’t focused on its public transportation, and the areas that it does are
fairly closed off to people like me that live in the Kendall area. It took me
about an hour to reach the station by car, which was the closest stop to my home.
The thought of using public transportation instead of a personal vehicle is not
a bad idea at all, as a student it would make things easier honestly. I would
have one less expense to worry about and there are the ecological benefits to
think about. Less cars on the road means less emissions which generally mean a
greener lifestyle by having a smaller carbon footprint. I feel like Miami could
focus on that instead of its expansion on highway
Walk In Miami / Viscaya
On this meeting with the Miami in
Miami class our trip around downtown was sidetracked by a small gem found by
the professor in the form of Fort Dallas. A military base formed at the mouth
of the Miami river to safeguard during times of war against Native Americans.
The Fort has its own share of history. Much like Miami it was a place of change
and became what it needed to be throughout the years. The small building began
as a soldier’s barracks and then became a slave’s quarters. It then went on to
become a military barrack once again during the war against Native Americans, followed
by a courthouse and then as a meeting place for the Daughters of the Revolution.
We continued the day by going to Viscaya.
This time we had the chance to go through the individual rooms of the villa. To
say the least Deering was a very intricate man. He didn’t care about certain social
constraints. He cut a painting of the Saint Mary in half to be able to hide the
pipes of an organ. He held a mosaic of Islamic art depicting Spaniard noble arms
and placed a miniature replica of the Boy with Thorn and placed it next to a landline.
Was there a significant purpose to it? Aesthetic most likely considering the
type of man he was. Deering truly wanted to paint himself in an eccentric
light, he wanted to be at the top, to seem like he was extremely cultured with
a lineage. He was able to own the latest in technological advancements from refrigerators
to vacuums to telephones. Deering displayed his need to be perceived as cultured
from old European Deering portraits depicting people with no relation to him or
his family, as well as the cut-out book spines that he held in his library. He
painted that illusion in a very believable way, it took the form of his estate,
and it is one of grandeur and extravagance the likes of which were very rare in
Miami at the time.
James Deering purchased the Richmond inn and renovated it in 1916, 6 years later the estate was completed with the addition of the Stone House, is home to several archeological records. The area holds thousands of years of interactions between humans and their natural environment. Native American groups such as the Tequesta and the Seminole resided in the area. Some fossils found even depict Paleo Indian and mega fauna dating back to the Pleistocene era. Within the estate one can also visit the archeological sites where bones and fossils can be found from ancient wildlife that once roamed the area, such as mammoths. The estate also held on to the ancient tools made of shells that the Native Americans used to survive in the natural world.
The Estate is still home to a variety of endangered wildlife as a result of freshwater areas found alongside the Native American trail. This population concentration of animals caused the area to be nicknamed the “Hunting Grounds” by the Seminole tribes that once occupied the area.
When learning about the estate I thought to myself about the importance of areas such as this, how they connect our past to our present and as a result can be preserved for our future. That it is important to keep these places alive to prevent wildlife from becoming extinct, resulting in their study and observation to be strictly available in the form of books or skeletons.
Daniel Perez 10/27/19
Chicken key is located
roughly one mile out from the coast of the Deering Estate on Cutler road. In
order to get on the island, we had to travel on canoes provided from the estate
and paddle across the bay. The bay had generally calm waters with a max depth
of four to five feet, allowing for even inexperienced paddlers to make the trip
in about forty minutes.
Though we did not travel
to the estate again to just merely site see, this time around we came with the
goal to try and clean as much of the marine trash that washes onto the key over
time. The amount and types of garbage we collected was quite astonishing.
Things from glass bottles to parts of shoes, even an inflatable was picked up.
Upon arrival to the
key we found places to dock along the shore and tied down the canoes to the
mangroves surrounding the area. Once disembarked we quickly found piles of
bottles, both glass and plastic to sort through, ropes and strings that were
discarded from passing boats, plenty of plastic bags, and even what I think
could have once been the border to a window. We began by organizing the trash to
a central point, which would later become a picnic area for us, where it was
then taken to the canoes parked on the outskirts of the island. This would all then
be paddled back to the estate for final pickup.
I have always been a person to appreciate nature, especially that found in the water. It was both astonishing and a shame to see how nature had overcome its struggles with pollution. The mangroves were able to grow around and through some of the trash that was found on the island, animals that were living on and around the key found ways to make homes out of the pollution. It makes me very sad that people are so inconsiderate of the things they interact with, they dump and discard what was used, and this results in the poisoning and harm that comes to these natural areas. Something that can be simply avoided if we picked up after ourselves.
This time around we decided to travel to the Wynwood region of Miami. We viewed not the famous walls but pieces of art that were less well known in Miami. It surprised me to know just how many modern art collections we had here in Miami. As a resident of the city I felt ashamed at how unaware I was about the culture held within my city. I have always been a fan of the arts, but I was completely oblivious to the collections, we were told about different principles of art, and how this thing known as conceptual art started, a type of art that did not necessarily have to visually appealing but a stimulation of the mind, a message, an experience, something all sorts of people could look at and not have the same thought on.
Our second destination was not far from the Wynwood I didn’t even know about the design district during that region. It was a definite wakeup call and a bit of a call to action, regarding getting the word across about Miami being a center for the appreciators of art. To take it past the yearly event of art Basel here in Miami. To think about people considering Miami to be not only a place to party and have fun, one that is filled with sexy people, but a place where art can flourish and be displayed with a population of cultured people and not just party animals, but cultured party animals.
Miami History Museum
This Wednesday we met at the HistoryMiami Museum. Here we were met by our HistoryMiami Educator, Maria Moreno. With whom we toured the museum the remainder of our visit. She did a phenomenal job giving us both informational and interesting facts about the artifacts and exhibits that were showcased, a special thank you to her.
During the tour a few things did stand out to me, particularly the ancient maps used by the first colonizers of Florida. These maps astonish me due to their high accuracy considering the lack of access to aerial view of the coast. Just trying to imagine how these ancient cartographers achieved feats such as these is dumbfounding.
The other exhibit that held my attention was that of the refurbished trolley cart. Now this highlighted two things about Miami’s history, one being its vibrant and touristic past, which is still held to this day. But also showed a darker past, one of segregation and racism. This being depicted by the state law at the top of the window “STATE LAW, WHITE PASSENGERS SEAT FROM THE FRONT”. To think that a colored passenger would have to get up and go to the back of the trolley because the trolley reached the end of its track and had to turn back is ridiculous. Thankfully this type of segregation is a thing of the past in public spaces, though I feel it is important to keep reminders such as this trolley, so that we do not forget about our history, to prevent us as a society from repeating mistakes in the future.
On today’s excursion we visited the Untitled Art Fair at South Beach, Miami as well as the Art Miami Fair at Biscayne Bay. This artistic viewing gave us different insight into the art world. It was not just another collection viewing, this time we were looking at the business aspect of the art world. This type of business is interesting and holds its own set of regulations and rules. It is an unregulated market where an artist’s reputation is just about the most important thing they can have when it comes to becoming a successful artist.
two types of markets, primary and secondary markets, the difference is simply
where the art is being bought from. Primary markets are places where you would
buy directly from the artist or a representative of that artist. Secondary markets
refer to buying from a separate owner, this type of market is usually where you
find older art pieces from retired and deceased artists, such as Picasso for
Untitled Art Fair we witnessed a primary market, in which the space was filled
by newer contemporary artists and their works. Here artists from all over the world
came together in Miami to express their artistic few points. We even got to
take part in an interactive piece called “Skyline to Shoreline”, which had us
think about the future as a result of global warming and rising sea tides. It brought
out a deeper thought process as to the effect we are having on our planet and
what the consequences of those actions could entail.
We then visited the Art Miami Fair, which showed us a mostly secondary market. By my surprise there were some artist present at the fair. This is where my viewpoint of the art world changed, where it became a business rather than a message. I stayed behind after one of the artist finished speaking to us to which I asked if a certain two piece work was meant to be kept together and they had said, “yes, but if you’d like to buy just one half I would sell it to you”. Now realize this isn’t a blanket statement, but it opened my eyes that the message of an art piece is not always worth more than the sale of that art piece.
Everglades As Text
This week the Miami in Miami class
met at the Everglades National Park. The class meeting had us slugging through
the river of grass. For those that may not know, Slugging literally is to walk
through the knee to waste deep mud into areas of the national park with a sort
of walking stick to test for potholes in the path in front of you. We began the
tour alongside our four ranger guides. They were well versed and extremely
informative when it came to describe the flora and fauna that we encountered
along the walk. Along the trail we mostly saw a large amount of vegetation
mostly blooming bromeliads and cypress. Considering our destination was within
that of one of the Everglade’s Cypress domes it was not a surprise at what we
What was interesting was the amount
of gar and fish species that we came across the path, as well as a much
smaller, much harder to notice animal. This took the form of the Apple Snail, of
which we found a large amount of eggs and empty shells. Now there are two types
of Apple Snail within the ecosystem, one which is considered domestic and the
other which is invasive, there are a few differences between them however and
those are their shell shape, their main diets, and their breeding behaviors.
The indigenous Apple Snail has a 90-degree angle at the entrance of the shell
and their diet mainly consists of bacteria that grows on the rim of a sponge
like plant known as periphyton. The invasive species of Apple Snail, however, has
a more rounded entrance to their shells, and are also much larger, their diet consists
of devouring the entire periphyton, and have a much more excessive breeding
behavior, that of 1 indigenous egg to 1000 invasive eggs.
These details brought up a few
questions and valid points of discussion regarding preservation and maintaining
a current ecosystem. About the Invasive Apple snail which devours a type plant
completely and as a result competes with the native species, it also aids in
the population of other animal species by offering them an abundant food supply.
This bring in to question their removal. When it comes to an invasive species
the natural response is to try to remove it immediately before it can settle much
like the python issues Florida has been having which has a caused a decline in mammal
populations. However, that might not be the case when it comes to this species
of snail, will considering a decrease in plant population to aid the growth of other
species be allowable? I say yes if it is doing the overall good, let nature
take its course.
Overall the Florida Everglades is a
vast and exotic place, filled with a variety of plant and animal life the likes
of which is not seen anywhere else in the world. It is a phenomenal place of
study and discovery and is more than worth protecting. This visit gave us a
taste and hopefully it will cause repeated visits to learn and experience more
about the amazing place we Floridians have.
South Beach as Text
During this class time we met at the Jewish Museum of Florida. I had arrived on sight earlier than what was planned so I had the chance to go and observe a part of the museum and review some information the museum staff had to share with me pertaining the beginning of the building and the establishment of the Jewish community in the Miami area. Our main intention with meeting however was to observe the Art Deco District of Miami Beach that holds a series of buildings with a unique architectural style otherwise not found anywhere else in the world.
Noted above are a few of these buildings, notice their flat roofs, use of both round and square windows, as well as their appearance to ships. These styles pertaining to nautical and even space exploration themes. The buildings were also built around a set of codes calling for the maximum of three stories as to not require an elevator. This allowed for cheap building and a recently created middle class to spend a week’s vacation in the area.
The art on the building also held a major significance to the style and message the architects wanted to leave. Note the art depicting water-like and fountain structures, meant to symbolize an abundance of water and a sense of relaxation as a result.
It is areas such as this that should be preserved as to retain not only originality of a location but also to preserve the history of architecture in this case. I believe more places should do what the Art Deco district has done, and cities should try and protect districts that are unique to them and in that way, cities can preserve their own sense of identity.
The Lotus House
The next and unknowingly the final class visit for the Miami in Miami students took place at the Lotus House Center for Women. The Lotus House is an organization geared towards women and their children in an attempt to end child and family homelessness in the U.S. They are advocates for the dignity and human rights of every family and child to a home, and equate that to the importance of food, education and healthcare for their wellbeing.
Our goal was to arrive and assist in the sanitation of the organization in places of operation such as loading bays, restrooms and kitchen. Upon arrival we were introduced to the women leading the Lotus House and signed some consent forms that held guidelines for our day of service. Once that was all done, we split off into two groups. One of which would go off to sanitize the area, while the other went to the loading dock to move materials for their warehouse store onto trucks to be shipped over. I fell into the group that stayed behind to pack up. Once those items were moved onto the truck, a shipment of new mattresses arrived for us to replace some of the older, more used mattresses from within the Lotus House.
Once that job was done one of the organization leads had requested that two of the volunteers go into the kitchen to help prepare for lunch. I was on of the volunteers that went into the kitchen, while the other volunteers stayed and helped sanitize the other areas of the shelter. In the kitchen I was tasked with cleaning and preparing the utensils and dishes that would be used during lunch and dinner for that day. I then helped set up the lunch line from where we would be serving the people that visited the shelter as well as the volunteers for that day.
After the lunch rush we all got together and cleaned up the cafeteria area and put the finishing touches on the shelter. Some of us stayed a little more time and aided in the food preparation for dinner. It was interesting to see an entire kitchen staff switch while we were there. I was tasked with preparing salads and soups. After that had been done the other volunteers that had decided to stay, and professor said our goodbyes and gave thanks for allowing us to help. It is the principle of community service that is its most important aspect I feel. That we must help those that are in need, that do not have the same resources that one might take for granted. It is this aid and this impact that really makes a difference in people’s lives.
Deering as Text
The Deering Estate is located at 16701 SW 72nd Ave, Miami, FL 33157. The estate was built during the 1890’s as the Richmond Inn and was purchased in the 1920’s by Charles Deering. He also renovated the estate by adding a stone house by a designer named Phineas Paist, he was also the architect credited for the design of the Old United States Courthouse and Venetian Pools. The stone house was used by Deering as a place to hold his art collection as well as cellar for his spirits and wines during the era of prohibition in the United States. It was here where Deering spent the rest of his days.
The estate is surrounded by a large amount of greenery, along with being on the coast of the Biscayne Bay. As a result, the estate offers free access to the water as well as nature walks into its forests. Within its forests the estate holds a few sites of high interest. Those being the Miami Rock Ridge, which serves as a natural border line between the bay and the basin of South Florida. There is also the Tequesta Midden which is an area that holds ancient Tequesta Indian tools and fossils, another location relevant to the Tequesta lies in the burial mound, which is said to hold within it 12-14 buried people in the shape of a wheel or circle. The area also holds watering holes for local wildlife and acts as a place for life to thrive and develop.
Deering Estate holds and acts as a place of history and preservation. It holds a part of Miami’s more segregated history and explores ways to preserve nature for ourselves and for future generations. It is for reasons such as this that the Deering Estate and places like it should remain in the public eye. So they can share the information that has been collected and help to create a better future for us all by learning from the developments of the past.
Quarantine as Text
Quarantine while in the Miami in Miami class did put a hamper on things. Since grouping together was out of the question our excursions were moved to digital walking tours. Like this we could still learn about influential areas within the city of Miami. Areas such as the Deering Estate, the Everglades, and the South Beach Art Deco district. They were informative but do not compare to experiencing the areas firsthand. Especially since I tend to prefer firsthand experience as my way of learning. The class did meet once over a Zoom call, it served as a check in to see how we were doing and to ask how we were to continue the class.
Professor Bailly was able to inform us by updates via group chat and gave us opportunity to join in virtual tours held by places like Viscaya and gave us the opportunity to take part in a wildlife observation project held by the Deering Estate. Both were a change from the normal readings and were quite enjoyable to complete.
Other than that, the days under quarantine have been filled learning how to cope with the restrictions, taking care of my cat, and watching people handle high levels of disparity. Recently I have had concerns as to when our university will open and when life can return to normal. I have been hoping for the state to reopen and thankfully Florida is planning to begin opening around mid-May. With this people should try to get back on their feet and feel less stressed about making ends meet.
Though I cannot say the lock-in is a complete negative. I think it has allowed for families to get the chance to spend more time together and as a result bond. During this time, I have also seen people’s attempts to bring some joy and normality back into to their lives, while still adhering to the recommended guidelines under the quarantine. People still try to come together and celebrate the little things. Just the other day I saw people get together in their cars and form a parade for a girl’s birthday party. It showed that though we are in a time of crisis, something that has not really been seen in the last 60 years. That we as people can still come together and try to make each other feel happy and enjoy the time we have together.