Twenty-second visions of a better Miami

By | March 16th, 2012 | 7 Comments
'Making Miami' Pecha Kucha

Presenters at the "Making Miami" Pecha Kucha had 20 seconds to explain their vision for a better Miami.

Proposal: Line every street in Miami-Dade County with trees. Quick, you have only 20 seconds to explain how to do it. All you need is about $35 million, less than the average $40 million spent on one of Miami’s highway overpasses.

Scattering more than 1.2 million trees across the county was only one of 20 20-second presentations on how to make Miami’s urban communities more livable Thursday night at Wood Tavern in Wynwood. The format, started in Tokyo in 2003 by a pair of architects, is called Pecha Kucha — pronounce it as one word and let it roll off the tongue the way you would “buhdonkadonk.”

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Miami growing up green with new parks

By | March 12th, 2012 | 8 Comments
Grand Central Park

Grand Central Park after dark. -- photo by Derek Cole, GCP

In the last few years, during the precipitous decline of Miami’s real estate fortunes, small urban parks have been replacing unbuilt towers, filling in the gaps of the city’s downtown core. Although the city has a new-ish and moderately ambitious parks master plan inspired by the Miami 21 zoning code, most of these parks are the result of independent, grassroots activism or private interests.

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Ken Nedimyer, coral savior

By | March 5th, 2012 | 1 Comment

Ken Nedimyer, director of the Key Largo-based Coral Restoration Foundation, is a hero, says CNN. Nedimyer is working to stave off the collapse of South Florida’s population of elkhorn and staghorn coral, which have died off in catastrophic numbers over the last three decades due to disease, pollution, and climate change. “If coral reefs died completely, coastal communities would be bankrupt, tourism would be virtually gone, a billion people in the world will be impacted,” Nedimyer says in his CNN Heroes feature video. “I started thinking, how can we fix this problem?” To learn more about Nedimyer, his fight to revive coral reefs, and how you can get involved, watch the video below and read “Florida group rebuilds vital coral reefs”.

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Anti-Deep Dredge activists lead ‘Battle for Biscayne Bay’

By | February 29th, 2012 | 8 Comments

Last week the Florida House of Representatives passed an amended bill that, with Senate approval, would put the Port of Miami Deep Dredge project on the fast track to resumption after a state court put the project on hold for further review. “Environmentalists are furious,” wrote the New Times. “They argue that the amended bill is an attempt to steamroll over their objections and circumvent court hearings set for this summer.”

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Wynwood Green: A family-friendly outdoor fest

By | January 31st, 2012 | No Comments

-- photo from the I Am Your Villain Facebook page

These days, historic Puerto Rican enclave Wynwood may typically make headlines for the opening of a hip restaurant or bar, or perhaps the completion of a monumental graffiti mural. But there’s a new event in the burgeoning art gallery district where bringing the entire family — even your dog — is regarded as “cool”.

Sundays on the Green, a monthly festival that mixes environmentally friendly vendors, skateboarding, art, children’s educational activities, and music, kicked off on Sunday, Jan. 29. Celebrated in a 12,000-square-foot lot at 572 N.W. 23rd Street, just east of I-95, the project is the brainchild of a collective known as Wynwood Green. The group is lead by Daniel Wills, owner of recording studio Armory Studios, on whose lawn the event takes place. Also on board: WVUM, 305Green, the artists collective Ground Up Collective, and party supplier I Am Your Villain.

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Will a boat warehouse ruin Matheson Hammock Park?

By | January 24th, 2012 | 8 Comments

Despite an apparent conflict of interest, the chair of Coral Gables’ Historic Preservation Board is pushing for the construction of a new, 4,300-square-foot, 50-foot-tall building to store about 350 boats in Matheson Hammock Park, according to the Coral Gables Gazette. Opponents of the warehouse say it will be an eyesore, that it will increase noise pollution within Matheson Hammock and traffic on Old Cutler Road, and that it may harm the ecosystem of the park, which opened on Biscayne Bay in 1930 and features a man-made atoll pool. The group Save Our Matheson Park made the following video to raise awareness of the issue.

What do you think about the controversy? Will the boat warehouse ruin Matheson Hammock? Are the opponents of the warehouse exaggerating? Should the chair of a city’s Historic Preservation Board be lobbying on behalf of a project that may mar a public park? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Downtown Miami, squared

By | September 19th, 2011 | 6 Comments

Here’s a thought: We celebrate the fact that Downtown Miami abuts a beautiful body of water called Biscayne Bay by clearing space for a public park/square where we citizens can enjoy a respite from the gridlock and exhaust of urban life. I know, in a car-centric, casino-craving, condo-glutted metropolis like Miami, it is hard to imagine that we would ever gift ourselves such a place. Fortunately, someone has rendered the mirage for us.

The sketch appeared (attributed to no one, oddly) on Saturday in a Miami Herald opinion piece by District 7 commissioner Xavier L. Suarez. In the column, Suarez hails the park as an alternative to the casinos so many lobbyists — including School Board member Carlos Curbelo — want to proliferate downtown. He goes on to challenge the Genting Group, which recently bought the Herald building and intends to build a Dubai-worthy (i.e., embarrassingly gaudy) resort complex in its place, complete with a casino if possible.

The Genting principals have indicated that they want their hotels to be casinos. They have also said that they will build their project regardless of whether gaming is approved. I say we hold them to their word, and offer them the alternative of being connected to the world’s most enticing urban public space, with cultural, recreational and artistic facilities congregated into one contiguous venue.

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Goodbye Everglades, Hello Everglades Apartments

By | May 23rd, 2011 | 6 Comments

In today’s Herald, Andres Viglucci provides grim analysis of what will happen to South Florida if — when — Governor Rick Scott signs measures that would mortally wound the department in charge of keeping suburban sprawl from gobbling up the Everglades. An excerpt:

Measures approved by the Florida Legislature with little scrutiny or debate in the waning moments of this year’s session would dismantle the state oversight that has acted as the principal brake on repeated efforts by the county commission to breach the line for new development.

The measures, almost sure to be signed by business-friendly Gov. Rick Scott, would significantly water down the state’s 25-year-old growth-management system, giving counties and municipalities far greater freedom to amend the local comprehensive development plans that are meant to control suburban sprawl.

“In time,” Viglucci continues, opponents of the measure fear “Miami-Dade will look like Broward County — fully paved from the Atlantic Ocean to the Everglades dike, with no remaining agricultural land.”

In blatant disregard of Florida’s millions of vacant dwellings and hundreds of millions of unused commercial square footage, Gov. Scott will likely approve the measures in the name of jobs, jobs, jobs. The ramifications are ominous for the fragile Everglades, itself the unsung and underutilized economic engine of the Sunshine State. (A recent study suggests restoring the national park could net Florida more than $100 billion.)

Indeed, there is a lot at stake in a battle that already seems to be lost. As Viglucci writes at the end of the article, “Former Democratic Florida governor and U.S. senator Bob Graham, in a joint letter with Nathaniel Pryor Reed, a Republican who served as assistant Secretary of the Interior under Presidents Nixon and Ford, called on Scott to veto the measures, calling them a ‘massive assault’ on 30 years of mostly effective growth management, and a potentially pivotal moment in state history.”

Pivotal, yes, but turning the wrong way.


Read Viglucci’s article in full on

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Publix, Winn-Dixie fail Greenpeace sustainable seafood study

By | April 12th, 2011 | 3 Comments

The CATO report ranked Miami grocers Publix and Winn-Dixie in the bottom five for seafood sustainability.

This morning, Greenpeace released its fifth “Carting Away the Oceans” report, a periodic snapshot of seafood sustainability in the US grocery sector. The CATO report gave two Florida-based supermarkets — Publix and Winn-Dixie — a failing grade while applauding Costco for making positive change to its seafood policy. Out of 20 large retailers, Publix ranked 17th and Winn-Dixie 19th in seafood sustainability, ahead of only Meijer, a Michigan-based chain.

The CATO report criticized Publix and Winn Dixie, which have approximately 1,500 locations in the Southeastern United States combined, for selling various items on Greenpeace’s “Red List”, including Atlantic salmon, orange roughy, Chilean Sea Bass (aka Antarctic toothfish), and shark. The supermarkets have resisted calls to implement sustainable seafood policies and do “not sufficiently label seafood products so that consumers can avoid purchasing destructively fished species,” according to the report.

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City yanks Roots in the City farmers’ market

By | March 30th, 2011 | 10 Comments

City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado (center) soaked up the good will at the Roots in the City ribbon-cutting ceremony. Where is he now?

Back in December, I wrote about the launch of the Roots in the City farmers’ market in Overtown. Run by local farmers and backed by Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, the market offered cheap, healthy produce to a community marooned in the middle of a food desert. (It also offered the sight of ubercute goat, Marguerite.)

I’m writing in the past tense today because the City of Miami, in its boundless stupidity, has reportedly forced the market out of business. Quoth the New Times:

[A] citation was issued to South Florida Smart Growth Land Trust, the owner of the land on the corner of N.W. Second Avenue and 10th Street where the market operates, for “illegal sale of fruits and merchandise from open stands and vacant lots” and for “failure to obtain a Class I special permit.”

This is not the first market the city has shut down. Last month, it shut down the Liberty City Farmers Market at the Belafonte Tacolcy Center for not having proper permits. The market was forced to relocate a few blocks away to the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, which is on county land.

The permit farmers markets need to obtain is the same type of permit the city said food trucks needed to hold their round-ups. Obtaining the permit costs $153.50 per event and organizations can only apply for two a year.

$153.50! The market probably didn’t net much more than that on an average day, especially since it accepted food stamps and even doubled their value. That fact alone should hammer home that the Roots in the City market was a sincere initiative meant to give a poor neighborhood access to healthful ingredients its residents can’t get in any other (remotely convenient) way. That the city would shut it down over a legal technicality is condemnable and further proof that Miami remains woefully far from joining the ranks of the world’s great cities, all of which accommodate, cultivate, and celebrate outdoor markets. Not Miami though. No, Miami brings down the hammer just a month before the market was to close for the season.

Supporters of the market scheduled a protest on the corner of N.W. Second Avenue and 10th Street in Overtown today at noon. Join ‘em if you can. Give a cheer if you pass by. All they want to do is feed people.