MIM Fall 2020 Service project: Aimee Zuniga

                                          Student Bio

Aimee taking a mirror selfie. Photo taken by Aimee Zuniga.

My Name is Aimee Zuniga, and I am a junior studying organizational communications. I will be graduating in the fall of 2021. After graduating, I will continue my education at Florida International University and pursue my master’s. I will get my master’s in international business.  I was born and raised in Miami. Miami is full of beaches, as a high school student, I would constantly volunteer at beach cleanups. Those clean up made me appreciate different volunteering opportunities that one could find in Miami.

Who?

I did my service hours at three different locations. At chicken key in Deering Estate, the Bakehouse complex in Wynwood, and the FIU nature preserve.  Deering Estate provides people with various volunteering opportunities. Opportunities such as coastal clean-ups and event volunteering. I did not volunteer with the actual Deering estate preserve, but out in Chicken Key as a class. Professor Baily took us out to chicken key to pick up trash.  At the Bakehouse complex, I also volunteered there during Professor Bailly’s class. Lastly, the FIU nature preserve offers plenty of volunteer opportunities for students like gardening, weeding, planting, and picking up trash.

Why?

I volunteered at the nature preserve because It is one of my favorite spots on campus. I enjoy spending time in nature and being outdoors. The FIU nature preserve is the only nature on campus. I tend to spend most of my time out in the preserve so when I found out about this opportunity to volunteer there, I could not resist. I have volunteered before in other locations to clean up parks and beaches, but I have never volunteered to do anything in FIU. Living in FIU made me feel like I have somewhat of a responsibility to take care of my environment and make it worth living here. This change to volunteer does not necessarily apply to what I am studying at FIU, but it does have to do with my passion which is the outdoors and nature.

How?

-Chicken Key

As a class on October 14, 2020, we canoed to Chicken Key to collect trash that has drifted from the Miami bay area to the island. Professor Bailly and Deering estate provided us with canoes and trash bags. Since I have had experience with beach clean-ups, I connected with this volunteering task by actually enjoying and finding it to be sort of a meditative thing to do. The ride to the island where we collected trash was incredibly beautiful and the water was still. The reason why I enjoy cleaning trash is because it is very sad to see the way people treat the planet and litter without thinking about the consequences. At the end of the day it was satisfying to see everything that was collected, and it made me feel like a good citizen of Earth.

-Bakehouse Complex

As a class on October 28, 2020, we went to the Bakehouse Complex in Wynwood to help a local artist, Lauren Shapiro, with one of her projects. This volunteering opportunity was made possible because the Bakehouse Complex contacted Professor Bailey for us to come as a class to volunteer with the Future Pacific Project. I connected with this trip because we made clay molds of coral and put it on what was supposed to resemble a dead coral reef. Being that I care about the environment, protecting ecosystems, and the ocean, it resonated deeply with me. Just like the amount of trash that we saw in Chicken Key, seeing coral reefs go from the lively and colorful ecosystem to a bunch of dull dead sea life is incredibly sad.

-FIU Nature Preserve

           I found out about this opportunity through the FIU Go Green Instagram. Not only that but I always have peers that talk to me about the chances to volunteer at FIU. What I did that day was go out to one of the entrances of the trails and I picked weeds to make the entrances look nicer. This connected with me because I felt like I was helping out my community and I felt like a good person. FIU is my community, it is where I live and spend most of my time so why not make it look nice. I have had experience with being out in the sun and picking weeds ever since I was a little girl and I would go to my grandma’s house and help her pick the weeds out of her garden. When I picked the weeds in FIU it only felt natural.

Where and What?

-Chicken Key

            On October 14th at 10 AM, as a class, we met up at Deering Estate and gathered canoes, paddles, and life jackets. We got on them and paddled all together towards Chicken Key Island. Once we got to the island, we parked our canoes, took out our trash bags, and collected trash for about five to six hours. The island was absolutely trashed from things that you wouldn’t even expect to find there. Some of the most absurd things that I found were pairs of shoes and large bottles of liquor. My partner and I were able to collect about 4 bags of trash and took it with us on our canoe. As a class, we tried picking up as much trash as our bags can collect and once we were ready to go, we put the bags on board and canoed back to Deering Estate. Once there, we all put our garbage bags and put them all together in one pile.

Trash collected at Chicken Key. Photo was taken by Aimee Zuniga.

-Bakehouse Complex

            On October 28th at around 11 AM, I met with my class to assist a local artist by the name of Lauren Shapiro. She explained to us what she had in mind with her project and what she needed help with. She explained to it with a clear passion for the environment and art. She then explained the instructions as to how we are to use the clay mold in order to use them for the project. For about three hours we made clay molds in the shape of coral and put them on the model.

Future Pacific Project at the Bakehouse complex. The photo was taken by Aimee Zuniga.

-FIU Nature Preserve

            On November 19th at 1 PM, I arrived at FIU’s Nature Preserve where I met up with two FIU Go Green Employees who were in charge of taking care of the area. They gave me an explanation of what I was going to be doing. What they told me to do was to go to a certain section of the nature preserve and told me that I was going to be taking out weeds. They gave me instructions as to how to pull the weeds and which specific weed I was going to pick. One vivid thing I remember was the smell of the weed. It was so strong that it would normally stick to my hands but fortunately, I was wearing gloves. For two hours I was on my knees under the hot sun picking weeds. Even though it was very hot, it was something I enjoyed doing because I like to help my community and I had experience doing so with my grandma.

When

Summary

            After the many times, I have volunteered all over my city, every time I have a sense of a newfound appreciation for my community. Every single volunteering opportunity worked because I enjoyed every minute of it. One of the biggest accomplishments of them all were when we went to Chicken Key. Seeing the amount of trash that was there when we got to the Island compared to when we collected all the trash was absolutely accomplishing. Every single time we volunteered for something it went smoothly and was a good time.

MIM Ineffable Miami Fall 2020: Wynwood by Aimee Zuniga

                                              

Aimee Zuniga taking a mirror selfie. Photo taken by Aimee Zuniga

                    Student Bio

 My name is Aimee Zuniga , I am a junior hoping to graduate by fall 2021. I am an organizational communications student. I will be continuing my education and getting a masters in International Business after I graduate.  I was born and raised in Miami , so picking between all the different neighborhoods was difficult. Before the pandemic, I was going to shows every week capturing and fully immersing myself in the local music scene of Miami. Most of these shows took place in Wynwood or near Wynwood . So I wanted to do this project on a part of Miami that I trully miss spending my time at. 

Geography

Wynwood is a pretty urban place that has ranked as one of the most famous art districts across the globe. However, besides the artistic side of it, little do most people know that there are many residents living within the Wynwood district. The residential area and art district are divided with most of the business and art on the south side of NW 29th St. Once crossed, it becomes more of a residential area. One of the biggest differences with the residents is the huge wealth disparity between the low-income housing and the luxury apartment buildings that lie within the bakeries, shops, and graffiti covered walls. Much of the houses within the district look old, dirty, and simply run-down. Alongside the streets which now consist of over-priced shops and food are some of these low-income houses which unfortunately seem to be occupied by a rather large African American presence. One thing that is very noticeable is that a lot of the long-time residents are being pushed out of the now thriving neighborhood in order to make room for the apartment complexes that can only be afforded by wealthier individuals. 
            As for the art district side of Wynwood, almost every single wall of every building is covered by a mural. It is the most colorful side of Miami and offers lots of things to do to spend an afternoon. Some things include graffiti museums and various eateries. From the Tacos at Coyo’s Tacos, to the donuts from The Salty Donut, there’s lots of food options for everyone. Wynwood is also very famous for the various music venues that are scattered through the district.

Gentrification in Wynwood. Photo by Aimee Zuniga
Gentrification in Wynwood. Photo taken by Aimee Zuniga

HISTORY

What is now an urban industrialized area full of warehouses on every corner, was originally bought as farmland in the early days of Miami. In the 1920s, the Miami business industry experienced a boom in the economy and the city began to see a transformation from rural to a more populated and industrialized area. One man who was in part responsible for this transformation and founding of Wynwood was Hugh Anderson. During the 1920’s large corporations like Coca Cola built a plant in Wynwood which attracted new residents from the working class. However, after WWII much of the population began to leave the area of Wynwood and that was when a large population of Puerto Rican immigrants arrived in the area. Much of the buildings and parks were renamed to fit Puerto Rican figures. Unfortunately, it did not stop there and around the 1970’s, Wynwood was home to mostly Hispanics and Blacks pertaining to the lower middle class. It wasn’t until a man by the name of Tony Goldman arrived to the local scene that the once industrial area was turned in to one of the biggest art districts. Goldman was largely responsible for bringing the district to life with art on every wall and small shops and boutiques. In 2009, he commissioned artists from around the world and created what is now known as the Wynwood Walls. Since its inception, the Wynwood Walls has become a staple in things to do when visiting the downtown area.

DEMOGRAPHICS

            The total population of Wynwood is approximately 7,353 people according to point2homes.com. There are an estimated 2,298 households within the district with a lot of those houses being outdated. According to point2homes.com, only 143 new households were constructed from 2010 to present day. The graph presented on the websites shows that the largest construction period of households took place between 1950 to 1959, making a total of 540 houses. For most of its existence, Wynwood has been occupied by people of Hispanic or African American descent. After WWII, it was mainly occupied by Puerto Ricans which is the reason why many buildings are named after famous Puerto Ricans such as the middle school named after Jose de Diego, which is considered “The Father of the Puerto Rican Independence Movement”. According to Niche.com, there is currently a larger population of Hispanics, with an estimated of 62% of the population, compared to Blacks with an estimated population of 21% and whites at 14%. The majority of Wynwood’s residents are within the ages of 25-34 years with an estimated 19% followed by 35-44 year-olds at 17%. The smallest group of individuals by age bracket is 65+ year olds with a total of 6% of the population. As stated before, the residential area of Wynwood, and even its artistic area is pretty polluted and occupied by low income housing and less fortunate individuals. The median household income for residents of Wynwood is $37,175, which is drastically lower than the national income at $55,322.

LANDMARKS

Wynwood walls entrance. Photo: courtesy of Goldman Properties

             The Wynwood Walls

The most popular landmark in all of the district is definitely the Wynwood Walls. These walls were created in 2009 and were a result of the boom that was experienced in the 1980s. One of the reasons why it is so popular is because 12 out of its 40 murals change once a year, making a new experience every time; also make for great Instagram pictures!

Musuem of Graffiti

Museum of Graffiti. Photo by Douglas Markowitz.

There are numerous museums laid out across Wynwood but one of the most interesting ones is the Museum of Graffiti. This museum is the world’s first museum that is purely about the evolution of graffiti. It contains exhibits showcasing street art from artists from all over the world. It’s pretty cool that there is a museum full of street art in a district full of street art.

Lock and Load Miami

Lock and Load Miami. Photo taken by Aimee Zuniga

The Lock and load museum is free of charge. This museum showcases firearms of the past, and present and the future. They showcase firearms from the Civil war , both world wars and the Vietnam war. Lock and Load Miami educates visitors about the history and safety of firearms.

GREEN

           Wynwood is an urban landscape with not much nature around. In the art district the closest thing to green would be the Wynwood Walls which has a little patio looking area. When you move farther north you will eventually reach the residential side and there you can find one of the two parks in Wynwood called Robert E Lee Park. In reality, it is more of a block or two of grass that seems to be connected to a school. Even farther north you can find a park named Roberto Clemente Park.

Wynwood Walls

Wynwood Walls Park. Photo by Phillip Pessar.

Although already spoken about in the landmarks section , the Wynwood walls is an outdoor park with murals ,grass and trees. There aren’t much green spaces in Wynwood but I consider this to be a green space.

Robert E Lee park.

Robert E Lee Park. Photo by Tim Elfrink.

Robert E. Lee park is a small park with a ball field. It is located next to Jose de Diego Middle school. The park is named after a civil war confederate states general.

Roberto Clemente Park

Roberto Clemente Park. Photo taken by Kevin Torres.

Roberto Clemente park is a community park in Wynwood. It contains a baseball field , playground and basketball courts. This park was named after a Puerto Rican baseball player.

TRANSPORTATION

            One of the most prominent forms of transportation is the Miami Trolley which is a free trolley that circulates around the Allapattah, Edgewater, Wynwood, and Town Square. The Miami Trolley circulates around most of the downtown area of Miami but there are different color-coded routes that it goes through. One of those routes being the cities listed above. Around the art and design district however, most people just walk around because it’s very scenic to see all the different paintings and murals. A lot of people avoid driving into Wynwood and instead take Ubers because one thing about the area is that it is hard to find parking. That is why there is a new parking garage that was built to accommodate for the increase in visitors to the area. A new method of transportation that has been increasingly seen in most areas including Wynwood, are the rental scooters such as Bird and Wheels. Not only is it safer for the environment but it is fun too.

Miami Trolley Stop in Wynwood. Photo taken by Aimee Zuniga

FOOD

Coyo Taco

Coyo Taco Photo Taken by Aimee Zuniga

One restaurant I was able to visit is called Coyo Taco which is a Mexican restaurant with an upbeat vibe. It is considered one of the best taco places in all of the Wynwood area. One of the best dishes in my opinion are the carne Asada tacos. Something cool about this taco place is that there is a secret bar hidden inside at the back of the restaurant .


The Salty Donut Photo taken by Aimee Zuniga

Another place to get a delicious treat is The Salty Donut which has a coffee bar as well. Their donuts are a bit on the pricier side compared to the average Dunkin Donut but for a good reason. Their donuts are gourmet and have interesting, colorful, and creative flavors. It has a reputation as one of the best donut shops in all of Miami. I recommend the Maple bacon donut.

Kush

Inside Kush in Wynwood. Photo by Gill Bitton.

A really good burger place to visit is called Kush. Located at the edge of Wynwood, this has a variety of food palates such as vegetarian burgers, gourmet burgers, chicken and waffles, and much more. This burger joint also has a bar inside and provides a very low-key, comforting, and welcoming place to eat. I recommend the chicken and waffle sandwich.

BUSINESS

Walt and Grace

Walt and Grace Vintage cars and guitars in Wynwood. Photo by Matt Grondin

Small businesses are very much the big thing in all of Wynwood. It is almost impossible to find large corporate chains and stores in all of the art district as it is mostly maintained and occupied by local business owners. One interesting store to check out is called Walt and Grace Vintage Cars and Guitars. This is not only a store but also has a coffee bar and a museum of vintage European sports cars such as Ferraris, Corvettes, and Porches

Gramps

Gramps Venue in Wynwood. Photo by Maria Xochilt Perez

Gramps is a very popular venue and hosts local bands as well as international ones. It is a music venue, bar, and restaurant. Various indie and punk bands from today have played at Gramps. Artist like Surf Curse , Jacuzzi Boys , Gauage Away and more. Not only is it a venue but also a bar with craft beer and a restaurant that serves some of the best NY style pizza in Miami.

Centro Wynwood

Inside Centro nightclub . Photo by Riste S.

Centro Wynwood is one of the most visited clubs in Miami at the moment. It is a vibrant nightclub that plays various music but it mostly plays Reggaeton music. It is known for being very lively and loud , when walking around Wynwood at night the music can be heard blocks away from the nightclub.

SUMMARY

            All in all, Wynwood is a nice place to visit if you’re feeling a little artsy and want to spend an afternoon. Although most things are pricey, most places are worth it. One of the biggest things that decreases the attractiveness of the city however, is the fact that there are lots of low income housing even within the art district. Walking around the area is nice and relatively safe but there are areas where you turn only to find run-down houses and sketchy people. As controversial as it may sound, gentrification can have some positive effects to a neighborhood. One of the positive effects of this happening in Wynwood is that it would clean up the streets making it more appealing and safe.

A mural in Wynwood . Photo taken by Aimee Zuniga.

Works Cited

https://www.point2homes.com

https://www.tripsavvy.com/the-complete-guide-to-wynwood-miami-4174451

https://www.niche.com/places-to-live/n/wynwood-miami-fl/residents/

https://miami-history.com/history-of-wynwood-miami/

Aimee Zuniga: Miami as Text

Aimee taking a mirror selfie. Photo taken by Aimee Zuniga

Hello peers, My name is Aimee Zuniga . I am a junior hoping to graduate by spring 2021 or summer 2021. I am an organizational communications student. Once I get my bachelors in communications I plan on continuing my education and getting a masters in International Business. My hobbies consist of film photography, music, and nature. I shoot 35 mm film, develop, and scan my own photos at home. My favorite thing to capture is the local music scene of Miami. Before the pandemic, I was going to shows every week capturing and fully immersing myself in the local music scene. Another one of my favorite things to capture are nature spots. I love nature and I try to spend most of my time outdoors. That is one reason I chose this class. I also chose this class because I was born and raised in Miami and I want to learn about the real culture and history of my city.

Deering as text

By Aimee Zuniga of FIU at Deering Estate , 2 September 2020

Aimee Holding Tequesta tools at Deering Estate. Photo taken by Aimee Zuniga

The hike at Deering Estate was a journey through the past. The area where Deering Estate is located was the land of the Tequesta’s which were a group of Native Americans that lived in the area that we know as Miami. I was astonished while hiking because I was walking through the land the Tequestas once roamed.  While walking through the trail I was picturing the life of the Tequesta’s. The history and the story of the Tequestas was my favorite thing about this Deering estate trip. Finding tools left behind by the Tequestas blew my mind, I never thought I would come across tools left behind by my geographical ancestors. When I picked up the tools from the ground I couldn’t believe what I was doing. Professor Bailly showed us how a specific tool was used, it was very interesting. We also came across Tequesta burial grounds that were surrounded by the tree of life. The tree was large and beautiful.  This was a spiritual experience for me. Professor Bailey told us the stories of the burials while I was mesmerized by the beauty of the tree. It felt like I was being fully immersed into the life of the Tequestas. I chose this photo because holding those tools made me feel like I was holding a piece of real Miami and this was an experience I am truly grateful for. 

South Beach as Text

By Aimee Zuniga of FIU at South Beach , 16 September 2020

Art Deco building on South Beach. Photo taken by Aimee Zuniga

South Beach is one of the most visited places in the world. People from all over the world come and visit South Beach for the culture. There is a lot history and culture in South Beach. What really interested me about our class at South beach was the architecture. The architecture of South Beach has always interested me, but I learned so much about it during this class. I learned that there are three forms of architecture in the buildings you see on South Beach. Neo Mediterranean, Art Deco and Mimo. My favorite of the three is art deco. Art deco consist of pastel colors that blend into the environment, rounded corners, and neon lights at night.  It is my favorite because the pastel colors have always caught my attention ever since I was a little kid.  I find the pastel art deco buildings of South beach aesthetically pleasing. During our South Beach walk we passed by the building where one of the most famous Miami movies was filmed, Scarface. The building where the chainsaw massacre scene takes place was shot on Ocean Drive. The building is located next to the Colony hotel and it is now a CVS. This was a very cool aspect of the class because Scarface is one of my favorite movies. The entire time during our walk I was in awe of the beauty on South Beach , I’m grateful I got to see and learn about the culture of this part of Miami. 

Downtown Miami as text

By Aimee Zuniga of FIU at Downtown Miami , 30 September 2020

Piece of the Berlin Wall. Photo taken by Aimee Zuniga
Photo taken by Aimee Zuniga

Downtown Miami is full of so much culture and history. Before our class in Downtown I wasn’t aware of all the history that is in Downtown. I have been coming to Downtown my entire life and I wasn’t aware of any of the history I learned during class. I learned about Fort Dallas and the plantation slave quarters, Major Dade, Henry Flagler, The Tequestas , the Brickells and the freedom tower.  There is so much history behind Miami, all the information that I learned in this class blew my mind. Something that really stuck with me was the Miami Circle. While standing on the circle I felt the same feelings I felt while at Deering estate. I felt the same spiritual feeling I felt at the burial grounds at Deering estate. While standing on the Miami circle and looking out to the water I felt myself being immersed into the life of the Tequestas once again. 

Another real cool aspect of the class at downtown was looking at a piece of the Berlin wall. The history of the Berlin wall and Ronald Reagan’s presidency has always been one of my favorite things to learn about. I had no idea there was a piece of it here in my city, when I saw the piece, I felt the urge to touch it (but I didn’t)because I was in awe of the history I was looking at. 

Chicken Key as Text

By Aimee Zuniga of FIU at Chicken Key , 14 October 2020

Photo of trash collected , taken by Aimee Zuniga

Chicken Key is an island a mile from Deering estate. We canoed a mile over there on a beautiful sunny Florida day. We paddled all the way to this island to clean up trash on the Island. Doing beach clean ups has always been one of my favorite things to do. It upsets me to see trash in nature. Cleaning up trash at chicken key was my favorite thing we did as a class. It feels good to clean up trash and it feels good to help your environment. I ended up collecting three whole bags worth of trash. While picking up trash, it made me sad to look at all the trash that was scattered on the island. I saw and collected things like shoes, glass bottles, plastic spoons, plastic bottles and much more. Most of it was plastic.  This overall experience will stay in my brain forever, it was such a perfect day. While canoeing to the island the view was spectacular, I couldn’t get over the beauty of our view.  Paddling to and from the island was a great workout, I was sore the next day. I’m very grateful I had the opportunity to see this side of Miami. I never would have thought I’d ever canoe to an island to pick up trash, but this class made that possible. I chose the photo of all the trash we collected because it is something we accomplished after a whole day of hard work and fun. Seeing the pile of trash at the end of the day put a smile on my face. 

Bakehouse As Text

By Aimee Zuniga of FIU at Bakehouse Art Complex , 28 October 2020

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Photo taken by Aimee Zuniga at Bakehouse

My first experience at the Bakehouse art complex in Wynwood was spectacular. I had a great time contributing to my community by helping out a local artist with an important project. Lauren Shapiro, a local artist whom I met at the Bakehouse art complex is working on a project called Future pacific. The project is about coral reefs and how they are dying. Lauren uses clay and lets it air dry instead of cooking it inside a kiln. The purpose of this is so that the clay deteriorates and represents how our coral reefs are dying.  I walked into this art complex not knowing what exactly I will be working on but when I was told about Lauren’s project, I was amazed and fell in love with it. An environmental project like this one has the potential to impact the community which is why this is an important project; it addresses a very important environmental issue. This project can teach the community about this environmental issue through art, this aspect made me fall in love with it.  

 Lauren Shapiro’s project made me want to start volunteering at these workshops to help out local artist. Art projects like hers are a great way to spread awareness about an issue that affects our oceans while at the same time enjoying the art culture. I look forward to seeing the finished project and I will be back to the Bakehouse to see the exhibit once it is finished. Thanks to this experience I will now look for more similar opportunities to volunteer in the art community as well as being more aware of what is happening in our oceans. 

Rubell As Text

By Aimee Zuniga of FIU at Rubell Museum , 18 November 2020

Photo of Infinity mirrored room taken by Aimee Zuniga
Photo of Keith Haring Painting taken by Aimee Zuniga

The class at the Rubell Museum really took me by surprise. Prior to this class I did not do any research on the Rubell Museum . So I showed up to class not knowing what to expect. This class was full of surprises for me. First thing we saw as a class was the Infinity Mirrored room by Japanese Artist Yahoo Kusama. This room was absolutely beautiful . It was a room full of mirrors and mirrored balls. Before walking in I didn’t know what I was about to walk into , once I did I was mind blown. This room was my favorite thing about the the Rubell Museum. I have never seen anything like that room and the memory I have of being in there will stay with me forever. As we kept walking as a class , we walked into a Keith Haring exhibit. This is something else I was not expecting. Keith Haring is one of my favorite artist and has been since I was in high school. I have never seen his artwork in person before so this was very cool. I have shirts and books of his art but to see an exhibit with his art here in my hometown of Miami blew my mind. This exhibit made me incredibly happy , looking at Haring’s art in person put a smile on my face. After class , I went back to the exhibit alone to fully immerse myself into his art. After these overwhelming surprises , I thought that was it but it wasn’t . We also came across a piece by Jean Michell Basquiat , another one of my favorite artist. It was very crazy to me that I saw art from two very important artist of the 1980s in one day here in Miami. I left the museum feeling very refreshed , that is what this class always makes me feel. You never know what you are going to experience in a Miami in Miami class. That is what I love about this class, it is full of surprises and full of learning.

Everglades as Text

By Aimee Zuniga of FIU at Everglades National Park, 20 January 2021

Photo of Alligator hole taken by Aimee Zuniga

“Slogging through the swamp”

I like to say I was raised in the swamp and I joke to my friends explaining to them that I live that “swamp life”. Being born and raised in Dade – county, I grew up going to the Everglades. I spend a lot of my free time exploring the Everglades whether it’d be kayaking Hell’s bay, fishing in Tamiami Trail, biking 15 miles in Shark Valley or my favorite Everglades activity driving down loop road. I consider the Everglades my backyard, because of this class I was able to experience slough slogging. An activity I never saw myself doing, but this class made that possible. Slogging through the Everglades with my class and a very kind park ranger was a one of a kind life experience.  I learned so much about the living organisms in this ecosystem. The photo I chose is of an alligator hole. An alligator hole is a hole formed by alligators by digging substrate and vegetation. During our slough slogging adventure, we came across alligator holes. When I took this photo, I was with our professor and some of my peers, we went out to look for the alligator hole and some gators. Although we didn’t find any gators on that little adventure, it was very memorable. I was terrified of being attacked by a gator but the peaceful environment and the people I was surrounded by allowed me to stay brave. I am very grateful I got to experience this side of the Everglades while having half my body underwater. This was truly an experience, the information gathered, and the memories made will stay with me forever. 

Wynwood As Text

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Photo of Swing with gold flakes taken by Aimee Zuniga of FIU

“A Day Full of Gold”

By Aimee Zuniga of FIU at Locust Projects, 3 February 2021

 At Locust projects an instillation piece by Danish artist Mette Tommerup made me feel like I was in a different world. As I walked into her instillation, I see gold flakes on the floor that make my eyes glow with excitement. I continue walking and I see swings across the room. I come across this swing with gold flakes as shown in the photo above and I smile. The gold flakes and the swinging made me forget about the external world and its problem.  There was something about swinging from side to side while being surrounded by gold and paintings that makes you feel as though everything will be alright. When Mette Tommerup spoke about where her idea came from, she mentioned how she wanted people to come into her installation and feel a sense of hope after everything we as individuals have been through with the pandemic. Being in her instillation definitely gives you a sense of hope. As a class, we had the opportunity to be covered in gold flakes. This experience was definitely the highlight of my experience in Tommerup’s instillation. There were two other rooms in the space at Locust that were showcasing two different pieces. One of them showcased a video of a man covered in honey tumbling in circles. It was supposed to represent motion in utero. The other room showcased two videos, one showcased a confederate stature coming down and the other showcased an artist dancing on top of where the stature had been. Both rooms had powerful pieces of art. While being in Locust Projects you are engaging yourself with the local art community, an act that is very heartwarming and educational. 

Bill Baggs As Text

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Photo of Bill Baggs Lighthouse taken by Aimee Zuniga

“The Lighthouse” 

By Aimee Zuniga of FIU at Bill Baggs State Park

            Bill Baggs State Park is a staple in any Miami native’s memories coming to be known as the beach with “el farito”. Although my family and I have been coming to this beach since before I can even remember, never was I aware of the rich history surrounding the park and its lighthouse. Although I was aware of the history of slavery in Florida, I did not know that here in Cape Florida runaway slaves would be transported to the Bahamas to escape from their masters. While walking around anywhere rich in history, I like to meditate on my surroundings and entertain the idea of being where our ancestors were and what it must’ve been like at the time. While being in the park I could not help but think about the fear and tragedy of what happened here hundreds of years ago and how it became what it is today. Slaves were not the only ones to come onto this Island but also the Tequestas and Seminoles. Before Key Biscayne was even taken by the Spaniards, it was inhabited by early natives that were eventually driven out of the area. Fast forward a couple hundred years and it is now one of many of Florida’s State Parks which host’s thousands of people a year for its beautiful water, soft sand, and beautiful landscapes. 

Aside from learning the history of the park and lighthouse, another thing we did during the class was assist park rangers with shoveling sand and coquina. Coquina is a sedimentary rock which is made up of mostly sand and shells which if not attended to, can become a danger with the high tide. 

The trip to Bill Baggs State Park ended up being another fun experience to be shared with my class as it ended with us being able to stay for the rest of the day and soak up the sun and some ocean water. The information provided to us was not only interesting, but it helped to see the park in a new light and appreciate its beauty more.