With the increasing number and volume of complaints about Wynwood’s Second Saturday Art Walk and its rowdy atmosphere, a Little Haiti-based coalition is inviting the culturally curious to explore a different Miami neighborhood. Spearheaded by Yo Miami with the support of Sweat Records, the Little Haiti Cultural Center, and other neighborhood anchors, the first Little Haiti Sunday Stroll will take place from noon to 6 p.m. on March 3.
“With newly renovated storefronts, extensive bike lanes, and ample parking, the neighborhood is a region ripe for exploration throughout the day,” according to the LHSS press release, which says that the event will feature specific “hotspots” within Little Haiti (bound roughly by N.W. 54th Street to the south, N.W. 62nd Street to the north, N.E. Fourth Avenue to the east, and N.E. Second Avenue to the west).
To learn more about the Little Haiti Sunday Stroll, I emailed a few questions to Yo Miami founder Yuval Ofir.
In your press release, you say Sunday Stroll will allow Little Haiti to “reintroduce” itself as a “region ripe for exploration” — how does the neighborhood differ from the average Miamian’s conception of the place?
Yuval Ofir: I don’t know that Miamian’s even have a conception of the place generally. It seems to me like more people are just peripherally aware of it as a dangerous area to drive through quickly and maybe notice the pastel colored shops in passing. In reality though, there’s a whole group of small businesses and organizations who see potential in the neighborhood and have put their time and money into establishing themselves there (for example, Churchill’s Pub, Sweat Records, Moksha Family Artist Collective, Yo Space, Little Haiti Cultural Center, Little Haiti Community Garden, Metro1, and many more).
What activities/events can we expect at the first Little Haiti Sunday Stroll?
YO: The idea behind the Stroll is for it to be more focused on culture in general (with special emphasis on Haitian/Carribean culture) rather than strictly sticking to art. While there will be galleries such as Yo Space and Moksha featuring art, there’s also book stores, restaurants, a record shop, and a whole variety of venues that will have their own elements to bring to the table.
Why did you choose to make this a day-time event? Was the safety of the neighborhood a factor?
YO: As with any neighborhood that’s halfway-gentrified (e.g., Wynwood), there’s always an element of safety to consider. Mostly though it was to set our event apart from the block party that Wynwood “Art Walk” has become. We felt it would be more conducive to families walking around or bikers getting from place to place for it to be during the day rather than at night. Personally I’ve always found the architecture and aesthetic of the area to be easier to appreciate during the day because of the less than stellar street lighting at night as well. It also comes back to the fact that there’s a variety of different businesses involved and that not all of them are “nightlife” type venues.
What steps are you taking to avoid the kind of traffic disaster that accompanies many Miami street fairs?
YO: The good thing about an area that’s still developing is that there’s plenty of free street parking. While we want to avoid a situation where it becomes a hassle for the residents of the area to deal with traffic and cars parking on their lawns, for now there is ample street parking available on the many side streets and main thoroughfares. We’re also going to be reaching out to organizations like Emerge Miami, Critical Mass, and ArtCycle to make sure we have a lot of options for cyclists, which ideally will help lessen the load traffic bears on the region.
What’s your response to those who might be thinking: “We already have Wynwood’s Second Saturday Art Walk — why do we need the Little Haiti Sunday Stroll?”
YO: I’d say the Sunday Stroll is more for people who want to appreciate art and other cultural activities for their own sake at a leisurely pace. Second Saturday Art Walk is more for people who want to go out and party and happen to see some art in passing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great experience taken for what it is, I just don’t think it’s the best way for average people to enjoyably appreciate art that is accessible to them.
What is your long-term goal for this event?
YO: I’d like to see it evolve organically … step by step in the direction of expanding its reach without losing sight of the motivation behind its origin. I want it to become people’s go-to source for discovering something new, whether it be an artist whose work they fall in love with and can actually afford, or a little shop they never knew existed and becomes their new favorite spot to find gifts or exotic groceries.
To learn more about the Little Haiti Sunday Stroll, visit the event page for Yo Miami’s Average Joe Art Sale, one of the Stroll’s hotspots.