Jeanine Prado: Miami as Text Spring 2023

Photo by Jeanine Prado / CC by 4.0

Hello, I’m Jeanine Prado. I am a sophomore attending the Honors College at FIU and majoring in Communications (PRAAC). I love meeting people and going out and experiencing life. I look forward to getting to know my classmates and my beautiful hometown, Miami.

Miami Encounter as Text

Photo by Jeanine Prado / CC by 4.0

“Encountering My Home”

By Jeanine Prado of FIU at Miami, January 29, 2022

Recently I had a guy from Chicago ask me what my favorite thing about Miami is. It took me a minute to answer, not because I do not like Miami but because there is so much, I love about it. I fully believe that I could not love a place more. I grew up here and have never gotten tired of Miami; there is always something new to learn about it.  

There are so many things to love; the people, the beaches, the history and so much more.  

From the Tequesta to the current inhibitors, Miami never stopped being beautiful and unique. It is a place that cannot be replicated or found anywhere else; it is one of a kind.  

Miami to many is famous for what the movies show: nightlife, Hispanics, and drugs but it is so much more than that. While those things were what put Miami on the map there is also the before and the after. The native tribes, Spaniards, migrations, and more formed Miami to a habitable and incredible place.  

Miami is currently now a diverse city with many cultures inhabiting it. It is very welcoming and gives a place for many to build a stable life. Everywhere you go there is a new person to talk to with a different background and a different story; no one here has the same story.  

The land itself is gorgeous with prime beaches, the Everglades, mangrove forests and more. I personally have always loved nature but especially the beach. This beach is probably the most popular thing Miami has always had to offer. People do not know there is an interesting story to how the beach came to be. Miami Beach was man made rather than being natural and the Tequesta inhabited it. It was a mangrove forest before Spaniard and colonists decided to cut them down and make it the ‘perfect’ vacation spot. Modernly, with the many tourists, it now has unique buildings (in art deco and nemo styles) that can never be found anywhere else. It is one of the most visited spots in the entire world. Everyone wants to see the funky buildings, party lifestyle and carefree attitudes of this trendy beach city.  

Oksana Baiul once said: “One of my favorite vacation places is Miami, because of the people, the water and the beach – of course – and the architecture on Miami Beach is so wonderful.” Miami, my home, is a beautiful city with so much to offer. From unique places like Vizcaya, Coconut Grove and downtown to beautiful beaches and amazing people, Miami is an ideal place to be. I love my home and am glad to learn about its history no matter how good or bad it is. Everything I learn about Miami is another reason to love it because it has grown from its past.  

From now on, I want to learn and educate about Miami to anyone who will listen because it is so interesting. Everything in its history is connected and is worth learning about.  

Everglades as Text

Photo by Jeanine Prado / CC by 4.0

“Appreciation of Old Land”

by Jeanine Prado of FIU at Everglades, January 11, 2022

Exactly 14 minutes from my dad’s job there is one of the greatest wonders of Florida, the Everglades.  

The Everglades is a unique mix of landscapes that is a habitat for loads of species, especially rare ones. Established in 1947, Everglades National Park is one of the favorite spots for conservationists, scientists, and advocates. Since its official date, the land has been conserved, protected, and bettered.  

Once getting to the Everglades, we first visited a hole which is not remarkably interesting until you learn about the land’s history. We were told that the piece of land around us had gone through many hands and had gotten worse and worse over time until the National Park got its hands on it and started to better the landscape. Now, even if it looks plain, you can see the obvious regeneration of the land and how little by little it is growing back into a habitable space for wild animals.  

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to go slough slogging through the Everglades. Like the Deering Estate Hike, this involved getting into water and going through a forest. Something about the whole experience was serene and enjoyable. My love for nature allowed me to really get excited to see all of what the Everglades offered; good and bad.  

The Cypress Dome was nothing short of a spectacular sight that would leave anyone speechless. The water, crystal clear, was cold enough to surprise you but still very inviting. The trees, close together but spaced out enough to walk through, made it seem like something out of Avatar or Star Wars. The subtle noises of nature completed the atmosphere and left me feeling complete. The sight was nothing short of gorgeous. 

Once close to the tree forest our guides gave us a minute to separate and take in the land. This was the perfect opportunity to study the environment around me. Once there, I understood what Marjory Stoneman Douglas meant when she wrote The Everglades: River of Grass.  

She said,  

“There are no other Everglades in the world. They are, they have always been, one of the unique regions of the earth, remote, never wholly known. Nothing anywhere else is like them; their vast glittering openness, wider than the enormous visible round of the horizon, the racing free saltness and sweetness of their massive winds, under the dazzling blue heights of space. They are unique also in the simplicity, the diversity, the related harmony of the forms of life they enclose. The miracle of the light pours over the green and brown expanse of saw grass and of water, shining and slow-moving below, the grass and water that is the meaning and the central fact of the Everglades of Florida.”  

No one could have described the beauty of the Everglades more perfectly than she did. You could feel the love and appreciation she had for the natural landscape. It bleeds into the reader, and they feel the same thing for it. Being there and reading an excerpt from her book has given me that feeling. No doubt I will be back there soon! 

Coconut Grove as Text

Photo by Jeanine Prado / CC by 4.0

“Cocoanut Grove: A Self Discovery”

by Jeanine Prado of FIU at Coconut Grove, January 11, 2022

Back when my parents were in high school / college, Coconut Grove was not much but Coco Walk and when I was in high school ‘the Grove’ was primarily to visit an expensive restaurant. I know better than anyone that if Professor Bailly finds the location important enough to include in Miami in Miami then there must be more to see than just a few restaurants and a mini shopping center. I, of course, was correct and a whole new part of Miami history was presented to me.  

I was shown an incredible part of Miami and it ended up being one of my favorite class visits.  

As the old oldest black neighborhood in Miami, Coconut Grove has a lot of hidden history especially from the Bahamian settlers that moved up from the Keys. Just off main avenue there are small wonders like the Mariah Brown house and a Bahamian cemetery.  

The Mariah Brown house history is a one of the first and most important for the respect of POC woman in Miami. Mariah Brown, a new inspiration of mine, was a Bahamian worker who was a single parent to three kids. She always wanted to do better for herself and her kids, so she made one risky decision after another. Thanks to her dedication dan love, she left the keys, got a job at the Peacock hotel, bought a house, and still had time to be a mother. Her house is a reminder of the resilience and arduous work Miami was built upon and how women are the cornerstone of it. 

The Barnacle was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. As it has been referred to “the best backyard in Miami” is a small hidden gem in Miami. Ralph Munroe, a boat enthusiast, one day decided that his life was no longer in New York but in South Florida; specifically, Biscayne Bay. There he built a home out of old boat parts and lived happily for the rest of his life. He built an incredible house, even adding a second first floor, and it has survived over 100 years. I was left impressed and inspired by the house and its story.  

Plymouth Congregational Church impacted me, it truly did. I am Catholic to a certain extent; I do not actively practice it like I should. MY whole life was dictated by the religion as I went to Catholic school from the ages 2-18. I gained some respect from my religion but also doubt since it is so broad and there is never for sure answer. To all the churches I have been with this class and in part Professor Bailly, each one has been beautiful and represents something wonderful, but this church was different. Plymouth Congregational Church is an “open and affirming congregation” that welcomes anybody and everybody to celebrate their faith. One their website they highlight this: “we don’t all look or think alike, we all worship together.” To me this is what truly impacted me, Christianity and reaching to Catholicism, is about unity and being all one in God and hearing someone speak so honestly about the mission of the church and how it aligns with my views was very impactful. I was mesmerized by the place and even asked for a minute in there alone.  

I learned a lot about Miami and Coconut Grove but especially about myself. Even being the same person I was before, I know within myself some things shifted and I hope I can expand on that as time goes on and I discover more.

Coral Gables as Text

“Views from Childhood”

by Jeanine Prado of FIU at Coral Gables, February 8, 2022

Growing up Coral Gables was a place I often went to. It never failed to amaze me. The Mediterranean influence and spectacular buildings were my favorite things to look at once passing the ‘Welcome to Coral Gables’ entrance. Before, to me, Coral Gables was more of a place to go to do something businessy but now I really take notice of it; I see the wide sidewalks, the open air spaces (especially good to study), the great pieces of history and purposeful pieces of nature.  

Thankfully, they have kept Coral Gables almost completely the same, not taking away from its originality and beauty. Miami is a gorgeous city, that’s undeniable. Each little piece of Miami is separately beautiful. Coral Gables is no exception to that; it arguably might be the most beautiful part of Miami.  

The city beautiful project was basically designed for Coral Gables. George Merrick, controversial in lots many ways, sold the idea of making a ‘city beautiful’ to people very easily. He was quoted in saying “what you are really selling is romance, the stars, the moon, the tropics, the wind off the blue water and the perfume of flowers that never grew in northern climes.” His inspiration was Spain and their lands and how its unfamiliar beauty could be welcomed in a new place. He had never traveled to Spain but got inspired from the Spain derived lands like Cuba and Mexico and from the tutoring he received.  

Walking around the area, it is very obvious that the architecture is almost a direct copy of the buildings and home in Spain. Every detail is almost the same, even the ones with Moorish influences; like the ones that have open spaces. Merrick believed the natural nature would be harmonized well with typical Spanish builds rather than Western builds that were taking over most of the United States.   

Coral Gables might be the closest thing to living in Europe that you can get in Miami and while it is basically picture perfect, it is far from it. There are things to be fixed, environment to be saved and issues to be resolved. For example, Merrick was a man with racist ideals and while Bahamian workers built him his image, he wanted to push them farther away from him and “his” completed projected; yet this man has a statue of his that places him in the likeness of Michealangelo’s ‘The David’. While his name should not be completely ignored, the statue seems unnecessary and completely ignorant to those who actually built Coral Gables.  

Like the rest of Miami, the history is a little iffy and uncomfortable, but it still makes the Coral Gables of today. What is best to do now is defend those who built it and continue to keep the beauty of it alive. I want the next generation of Miamians to be able to have the same wonder and amazement of Coral Gables as I did but I want them to know more than me; I want them to appreciate the history and the influences. Coral Gables remains as one of my favorite spots in the whole world and I hope that it will continue to be forever.  

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