My name is Amaranta Mattie Bailly and I am an Honors College student at Florida International University. I am currently in the midst of studying Art History and hope that I may one day become a curator based in Miami, associated with out of the country, working with artists to bring their successes to America. I am currently invested in my studies, as well as studying the unique habitat Miami has to offer. I have been working at Galloway Farm Nursery for the past two years, and have discovered that on top of a fair income, it has given me a lovely opportunity to learn more about the world of business, as well as wildlife that thrives around me everyday.
I participated in two community service projects taking place just a week apart, the first being in Bill Baggs State Park, and the second taking place in The Deering Estate. Bill Baggs Paker is in Key Biscayne, and the beach east flanking the park is voted one of the best on the planet. For everyone involved, it was a privilege to maintain one of the most admired and visited places for tourists in Miami. The Deering Estate cleanup took place after the Bill Baggs restoration, and involved a bigger group, meaning both Miami in Miami classes attented and participated. Originally, our plan was to kayak to Chicken Key and replicate our previous cleanup, meaning that we would load trash on our boats and sail back after some time. The wind was unfortunately at an all time high, andd we remained on Miami’s mainland instead and completed a mangrove cleanup. Our brilliant professor, John William Bailly, and various park rangers were also involved in the success of our projects.
Both community service projects were in fact a requirement for the Miami in Miami course, and maintaining the quality of unique and valuable locations around our city is instilled in us students to remind us of hown they came to be originally. Without hard work, Miami would not exist, without our har dwork an dothers like us, it would descend into an irreversible state of uninspired landscape. Aside from the importance of these locations, I personally found a drive to maintain and clean up both these places because of my personal value of nature. South Florida is home to ecosystems unique and set apart from the rest of the world. It is a great privilege of mine to be raised in such a beautiful environment, through my years in Miami I have honed a talent for caring and nourishing plant life. Through my job at Galloway Farm Nursery as well as my personal explorations with family and friends, a part of my heart has grown attached to the Magnificent Miami and every Sea Grape, Gumbo Limbo and Palm Tree the graces the ground I walk on. Although community service was a requirement for the completion of this course, I didn’t at all feel pressure to participate or a desire to be elsewhere. I continuously found myself immersed in mother nature’s landscape gorgeously carved before me, and only felt strong desires to endlessly explore as I was cleaning.
Each student and participant was tasked with the responsibility of arriving appropriately and on time for each of our excursions, in order to be best efficient, coordination before, during and after our tasks were absolute necessities. In the Bill Baggs State Park, my class and I were tasked with re-mulching the walkway to the Cape Lighthouse as well as other small areas surrounding the area. The fortune was almost comedic, as my time at the nursery has gifted me with the knowledge to know precisely exactly in what way to lay mulch. We were working with Cypress Mulch, which although it is a rich golden-brown, is very natural compared to other dyed and chemically treated mulch. I was pleased with the parks selection as I knew it would maximize the aesthetic appearance of the walkway as well as protect from erosion and keep the ground moist. We first moved the Cypress Mulch to different areas along the walkway and dropped the bags a respective distance away from each other. Then, we began to open the bags and spread them approximately a foot and a half from the walkway. It might have seemed like tedious work to do alone, but I did not feel challenged and struck up conversation with circulating classmates. It didn’t take us long through our hard work together to re-mulch the entire walkway, and it looked quite fantastic.
The Deering Estate was equally as important but a different monster entirely. Because our original plan had been thwarted by the heavy winds, we instead completed a mangrove cleanup off the shore of the Deering Estate. We were sent to a walkway that extended approximately a mile through a thick, tangled web of roots and branches. The walkway, however, had been completely obliterated by Hurricane Irma, which hit Miami approximately a half decade ago, and the Deering Estate never pooled the finances to replace the damages. Fast forward to today, we were faced with a smashed pathway, leaving an array of wood and oxidized nails all over the place. Some portions of the walkway were gone entirely, leaving steep drops into the water. Others were turned completely diagonally, and the majority had various pieces of wood missing. The walkway was not only unusable, but it left a challenging obstacle for us to dominate in order to clean to the best of our abilities. Little by little we worked our way through, wandering off into small groups and helping each other through various spider webs, random sinkholes in the knee high water, and dangerous wood blocking our path. The few women in my group continued to fall although they stayed motivated throughout our quest. We attempted to pick up the smaller pieces of trash because they’re more catastrophic to the health of the organisms that inhabit the Deering Estate. We ended up taking longer than originally anticipated, because of the obstacles, our curiosity, and carrying the trash out of the mangroves and to the dumpster.
The significance of maintaining both the Bill Baggs state park as well as the Deering Estate is monumental and integral to the health of Miami. Both Bill Baggs Park and the Deering Estate have rich hisgtories, and the Miami in Miami course is geared toward educating us about those histories and their value. It would only make sense that a portion of the Miami in Miami course is contributed to maintaining these historic sites, as one is challenged when attempting to learn of the past without a place to do so. Bill Baggs State Park has a rich history of becoming a massive hub and escape route for many enslaved African Americans and Bahamians, which gives the area a heightened level of importance. The park is home to the Cape Lighthouse that has existed since the 1820’s and has become a historical landmark, although it put an end to the escape route altogether. The Deering Estate was constructed in 1922 and was built as a winter home for Charles and Marion Deering, who were an incredibly wealthy couple at the time. In the hundred years since its building, it has become a stunning homestead that curated incredible Miami artists, and reveal deep truth about the socioeconomic state of Miami in the past century.
Both cleaning the mangrove forest and maintaining Bill Baggs Park are integral to the Miami and Miami course because it emphasized the fact that if we want to continue appreciating our beautiful city, we need to do the work collectively to ensure our city remains beautiful. Every single individual in our class, and every single individual inhabiting Miami has a responsibility to care for the land we use to live our best lives. I hope that through our hard work, we have and will continue to pay our respects to the hard workers that came before us, and set an example for those who come after. After each cleanup, I felt nothing but re-energized, happy, and grateful to be alive and well enough to contribute to Miami, my home.