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.
There are 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 example.
At the 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 saw.
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.