Amaranta Bailly: Service Project 2021

Bio

This image was taken by Amaranta Bailly of Florida International University on 6 October 2021//CC by 4.0

My name is Amaranta Mattie Bailly and I am a proud Cuban-French-Floridian. I have grown up in Miami for the Majority of my life but have had the privilege to travel much of the world at a very young age. My education, passions, upbringing and goals drive me to constantly learn more about the world that I live in and how I can better it. I consistently find myself fascinated with various forms of artistic expression, as well as the environment and understanding its intricacies. Comprehending the profound history and facets of my hometown Miami will undoubtedly provide more clarity regarding where I hope my life, as well as hard work, will take me.

Mother Nature; The Peaceful and Powerful

This image was taken by Amaranta Bailly of Florida International University on 6 October 2021//CC by 4.0

WHO

Through this course, not only have the Miami in Miami class and I been exponentially educated regarding the history of Miami, but we have grown to understand the value of caring for the land we inhabit today. Being immersed in the thick vegetation surrounding the Deering Estate as well as Chicken key awoke my inner child. As a youth, I homeschooled and later taught at the Deering Estate, so I have previously felt a strong connection to the protected area. Although, to be reunited with Chicken Key and the Deering Estate was not less enjoyable simply because I have explored the area at length beforehand. 

WHY

This image was taken by Amaranta Bailly of Florida International University on 6 October 2021//CC by 4.0

When we arrived on Chicken Key I aided everyone in tying up their canoes, and quickly got to work. Somehow everything began to feel a bit dimmer. Our mission for the day was to clean up as much trash off the island and bring it back to the mainland. When we arrived, it was explained to us by our professor that Chicken Key had been consistently maintained by employees of the Deering Estate but because of a lack of transportation, they were not able to set aside time often to make the voyage. I didn’t realize until I actually got to picking up pieces of debris, how quickly garbage is piled up. At first I was with my classmates and began to lightly chat over unusual objects we would find. Over a short period of time I once again became isolated, this time in the winding mangroves. My frustrations began to grow the farther apart I grew from my peers the more engulfed they became in the mangroves. With each step I took I found more objects that needed to be discarded. Another golf ball, bottle cap, shoe, plastic bag, hair tie, article of clothing, beer bottle, rope, and other miscellaneous objects that would reappear a week after I’d leave. How could people be so careless? How could anyone consistently make the same reckless mistake, recognize the consequences of their actions, and not take responsibility? Each object I picked up became another person I hold resentment for. Through this project I grew to recognize the value of the natural world I have the privilege of caring for, but I have also developed a newfound anger for those who make a choice every day to destroy the same world through their carelessness.

How

Through professional and business-related connections, Professor John William Bailly was able to set up this beach cleanup and organize our day around benefiting Chicken Key to the best of our abilities. We borrowed boats from the Deering Estate employees and packed them to the brim with garbage to return to the mainland. We then had the assistance of many Deering Estate park rangers in properly discarding of the garbage we collected and cleaning our reusable trash bags.

This image was taken by Amaranta Bailly of Florida International University on 6 October 2021//CC by 4.0

When

This image was taken by Amaranta Bailly of Florida International University//CC by 4.0

Summary

This image was taken by Amaranta Bailly of Florida International University on 6 October 2021//CC by 4.0

After a few hours of cleaning out Chicken Key, we had filled a copious amount of the trash bags we brought along with us and no longer had room on our rafts. We departed around three in the afternoon and made our way back to the Deering Estate. The ride back was swift and calming, I thought my anger shifted into a logical viewpoint that I could use to protect the wildlife I am around. The water glistened below me and the seaweed danced for me as I paddled by. Occasionally, I would even pause to run my hands and feet through the current so that I could feel the cool pressure against my palms. I wasn’t just trying to go home, I was attempting to enjoy my journey and be one with the wildlife I’m more a part of than I’d ever thought before. 

This image was taken by Amaranta Bailly of Florida International University on 6 October 2021//CC by 4.0

I’ll continue to incorporate the care in anger I felt in the state into my future. I will not forget or take for granted the gifts that mother nature has bestowed to the surface of the Earth. Floating through the waters of the Atlantic brought me an unparalleled sense of peace and cleaning of Chicken Key brought me a strong sense of pride. I will continue to care for the world I live in, and prove it through my continuous actions to conserve it.

Amaranta Bailly: Princeton 2021

Bio

This image was taken by Michael Hibbert of Florida International University on 23 October 2021

My name is Amaranta Mattie Bailly and I am a proud Cuban-French-Floridian. I have grown up in Miami for the Majority of my life but have had the privilege to travel much of the world at a very young age. My education, passions, upbringing and goals drive me to constantly learn more about the world that I live in and how I can better it. I consistently find myself fascinated with various forms of artistic expression, as well as the environment and understanding its intricacies. Comprehending the profound history and facets of my hometown Miami will undoubtedly provide more clarity regarding where I hope my life, as well as hard work, will take me.

Relations

Much of my time as a child was spent in Princeton because I have a large amount of my family living in this area, and I have not failed to recognize the disheartening disparity between this community and others that I have had the pleasure of spending time in. I refuse to review and explore a portion of Miami that is constantly being visited, photographed and admired while ignoring the communities that are a part of Miami and that do not receive recognition because they are not as aestetically pleasing or saturated with weath. A lack of attention on these areas lead to a disgusting pattern of oppression and disadvantage for the residents.

Geography

This image was found on a public platform

Princeton is located on the west side of Ronald Reagan Turnpike and does not surpass SW. 147th Ave., meaning that both US1 and Goulds Canal Drive are within Princeton’s border’s. Princeton is a community that has had a unique and slower development, but is currently being populated at a rapid pace. The amount of inhabitants in this area has increased by 118% in the past decade. The 7.3 mi.² that make up Princeton is becoming absolutely packed with people and therefore much of the area is not under construction in order to build compact community homes. Not only does the increase in population bring much construction, but it also eradicates the vegetation that is a tranquil aspect of Princeton.

History

Gastron Drake named Princeton in the early 1900s and he began to grow this community by starting a lumber company that fueled the growth of Miami. This company grew in size over the 1910s and the keys as well as Cuba also received material from the Princeton lumber Company. This company existed until 1923, but many people remained in Princeton and homes began to be built in the area because the ground was now mostly flat land. Small parks remained, large plant nurseries exist in and around Princeton and a few mall stripsWere installed to convenience the growing population. Princeton is currently considered an unincorporated community, meaning that Princeton is not governed by its own corporation but is actually part of a CDP. A CDP, or census designated place, is a closely settled community that is not governed by a corporation but whose orders are identifiable for statistical purposes. It is safe to say that the Princeton community is not very strong because there is not a strong political or economic focus on improving the well-being of the area. The history of Princeton implies this land was originally used to fuel the foundation of other cities, therefore, it has not been a focus of development for the majority of its existence.

Demographics

This image was found on a public platform

The Princeton community has a population of 32,000 people, which is 118.4% increase within the last decade. 71.8% of Princeton inhabitants are Hispanic, 18.7% are black and 6.4% or white. The remainder of the inhabitants are Asian or of mixed race. Princetons average per cabinet income is $23,893 meaning that the average income made in Princeton in the single given year is just about $11,000 above the poverty line. Princeton is in the 24th percentile for safety, meaning 76% of cities are safer than Princeton. The US average for violent crime is 22.7%, but in Princeton the average is 51.1%. The average property crime rate in the US is 35.4% and in Princeton the average is 59.2%.

Interview Preface:

Christopher Landress and I met freshman year of highschool at TERRA Environmental Research Institute, we remained good companions for years but lost touch after we graduated due to the COVID 19 pandemic. We recently got back in touch and have formed a massive bond over just a few months. This interview took place in his home in Princeton, Florida.

Interview with Christopher Landress

This image was taken by Amaranta Bailly of Florida International University on 6 December 2021//CC by 4.o

 Amaranta: So Chris, do you mind introducing yourself for the recording? 

Chris: Yeah, hey, I’m Chris, I’m 20 years old, I live in Princeton but work in Florida City. 

Amaranta: OK, and you’ve lived in Princeton your whole life?

Chris: Yes, yeah, most of my family lives in Princeton. I live with my parents. 

Amaranta: Do you enjoy living in Princeton? 

Chris: It’s OK, most of our friends live up north, and that’s where everything fun to do actually is, I can always take out my four wheeler’s here or go to the keys. There’s just not much around.

Amaranta: What is your favorite part of living in Princeton? 

Chris: Again, Probably the space, there’s a lot of open fields so I can always go outside. Plus, my dad and I are trying to fix the motorcycles I was telling you about so we could always take those out too. 

Amaranta: That sounds like you have a place to bond with your dad. Do you see yourself moving out of Princeton soon? 

Chris: I am, yeah, definitely. Why? I just don’t trust a lot of people around here. All my friends live up north or like in Miami. Also, I’ve always felt uncomfortable since the Andrea thing. 

Amaranta: Can you explain what happened with Andrea? For the interview? 

Chris: Well, you already know what happened, she got robbed, she was shot. 

Amaranta: And she didn’t make it. I remember.

Chris: Yeah. 

Amaranta: Thanks for letting me interview you, I really appreciate it. 

Chris: Anytime.

Interview Postface

I understand some of the dialogue between Christopher and I may be challenging to follow because of our personal relationship. I have slightly paraphrased so that our conversation can be better understood to individuals who do not know us personally. Andrea Camps-Lacayo was Chris’s good friend in highschool, and was my lab partner junior year. Later, I considered her a good acquaintance and always enjoyed her company. Andrea and her boyfriend were robbed at gunpoint in Princeton, Florida by two young men on April 7th, 2020. This altercation occurred because Andrea’s boyfriend was attempting to sell a pair of Yeezy shoes to the gentleman who robbed them. Andrea was reportedly shot in the abdomen, and shortly after died. 

Andrea died at the young age of 18 years old, not even two months before she was supposed to graduate highschool alongside her boyfriend, her friends, as well as Chris and I. This tragic death deeply saddened the community, her classmates, her friends, but mostly her family. I clearly couldn’t possibly imagine the torturous pain of loosing a child, and I will not waste time attempting to explain the level of grief that I saw pouring out of her mother at her funeral.

I felt shocked that someone I had spent such a large amount of time with studying with and speaking to, even if we weren’t very close, could just be gone from one moment to the next. I felt and now feel great concern for my grandmother, tio’s, tia, cousins, and now Chris, who live in Princeton. 

Location Study Preface

Princeton is an underfunded community that does not have a form of government to advocate for a massive population. I think that when people do not receive the help they need, they become desperate and make bad choices. This should be mentioned because Princeton has earned a foul reputation in comparison to the rest of Miami and the continued lack of attention that it has received continues to contribute to a more challenged society. A large portion of aiding communities in need should be admiring them for exactly what they are, and I have to say that despite the fact that Princeton is unsafe and underfunded, it is a strong and authentic part of Miami. Princeton plays a vital role in maintaining more desirable parts of the city and should receive more credit than it has previously. A deeper dive into the workings of Princeton will shed light onto just how hard this community works to thrive. 

Location Study

FOOD

This image was taken by Amaranta Bailly of Florida International University on 15 November 2021//CC by 4.o

Puerto Vallarta is a tranquil eatery located off US one in Princeton Homestead and is incredibly popular with the locals because of The casual vibes. This place offers Mexican cuisine and much of the menu contains seafood although there are vegetarian options. I find it pleasing to know but this place is in fact woman owned and seems to be very family oriented. Puerto Vallarta is a singular building that actually slightly resembles Mexican architecture because of the small height and colors that are incorporated into the exterior, although I would consider Puerto Vallarta to also have a modern aspect. I felt very welcome speaking to the staff and I made an effort to speak in both English and Spanish to practice for myself and my family. I unfortunately am not 21 so I could not order any drinks off the menu, although they looked delicious. I did order the chips and salsa that they had available which seemed incredibly fresh and was made just before serving. I have much personal connection to Princeton but I had never been to this restaurant before and I was pleased to discover such a welcoming and clean atmosphere. I highly recommend visiting Puerto Vallarta to anyone in the area.

WORSHIP

Church of the Nazarene is a Christian church located in Princeton Homestead and is a lovely place for worship. I am not able to speak more than briefly on the experience of worshiping at the church because I do not consider myself to be religious. I can say that this church seemed incredibly well kept, welcoming to newcomers and powerful. The exterior as well as the interior has an incredibly gentle appearance and seems to be incredibly popular with the locals. Unfortunately I was not able to enter Church of the Nazarene for an extended period of time because their morning mass begins at 10:45, But what I did see in my short time present was pride in having faith amongst the people present. A proud community and a strong community stand their tallest when they work together to empower themselves. RegardlessOf whether or not I am able to comprehend the complexities of their faith, my respect for their unity has grown exponentially.

BUISNESS

This image was taken by Amaranta Bailly of Florida International University on 15 November 2021//CC by 4.o

I found the business aspect of Princeton to be fascinating because of the history behind why the Princeton community came to be. Before Princeton was a community, as I previously discussed, these acres of land were used as area for a lumber company. athe business today is still heavily focused on agriculture aside from ordinary stores that sell basic amenities. Farm Inc. is an incredible example of what Princeton and the area around Princeton seems to be profiting from. Farm Inc. is both a wholesale and retail establishment that provides landscaping materials and plans to both individuals and companies in need. They are incredibly successful with approximately 2 acres of property that is filled to the brim with A large variety of plant life. I currently am employed at Galloway Farm nursery on Sunset st. and we do receive a large portion of our plants from areas in both Princeton and Homestead as a whole. The massive amount of effort it takes to cultivate and sell such a large amount of plant life on the scale is unparalleled in other parts of Miami, and the more tourist friendly areas of Miami rely heavily on their landscape to draw attention to the establishment present. As I expected, the staff at Farm Inc. were incredibly friendly and explained in a short amount of time what they are doing in their day to maintain their business. I was shocked when I realized that in comparison to my own job, which also includes a large amount of manual labor, I was doing near nothing in comparison to the employees who are maintaining Farm Inc. . This location is not tourist friendly although the individuals who are involved in the buisness are very kind. This is not a place where a tourist should come to take their family and spend a cospious amount of time in, this is a buisness whose focus is to make money off the areas surrounding Princeton, not to appeal to visitors who cannot do much to contribute to their profit. 

TRANSPORTATION

This image was taken by Amaranta Bailly of Florida International University on 15 November 2021//CC by 4.o

Transportation is a vital aspect in regards to the lives as well as businesses of the citizens who reside in Princeton. There are various bus lines that stop at Princeton in order to transport the large amount of people who cannot afford vehicles to and from their workplace or their personal endeavors. It is beyond challenging to live in Princeton without a vehicle because the majority of the bus stops rest on the corner of US1 or on Goulds Drive. Princeton is not an area often visited by tourists, and was originally built to be a company as opposed to a community, therefore there are no tour buses or metros that pass through this area. In Princeton you often find businesses that operate out of vehicles like pictured in the image above. I attempted to find La Carnidad Flowers and expected to see a building, and instead I found this vehicle parked outside of the owner’s home. On the side of the street you will often find vendors who work outside of stands or trucks that sell fruit, wildlife, or even small trinkets. This progressive form of business relies on easy transportation of materials to an area that is bound to be noticed. The mobility and the amount of space located in Princeton because of a lack of actual buildings has contributed to an incredibly intuitive form of buisness that many have had to resort to in order to make enough money to support themselves.

Summary

This image was taken by Amaranta Bailly of Florida International University on 15 November 2021//CC by 4.o

I am honored that I have a personal connection to Princeton, Florida and was able to complete such a personal project in the area. The image I have included above is of Princetonian and Park, which I played in various times as a child. I so often visited my grandmother and family in Princeton, but as I grew older I began to recognize the large discrepancies between Princeton and other neighborhoods in Miami. Regardless of the reputation in has received, Princeton cannot go overlooked when exploring Miami because there is a charm to be found amidst the challenges this community faces. Ineffable Miami gave me the privilege of bringing attention to a community that I adore and I am incredibly attached to, in a way that will be able to aid the people. I often fear that this community is unsafe for my family that still resides there, but it has not stopped me from seeing the authenticity and magnificence that Princeton has to offer. I hope that overtime this community continues to be developed and receives more attention in order to benefit the generations that will come after this one. Understanding Miami as a whole is not simply studying the parts of Miami that are aesthetically pleasing, but taking into account the portion of this city that does not fit Miami’s modern, bright, and wealthy image. Princeton plays a vital role in maintaining the beauty that the rest of Miami is so heavily valued for, and it deserves more recognition than it gets. I chose Princeton as my focus because my hopes are that in doing so, I have contributed to said recognition, and I have felt a great sense of pride come from my hard work. 

Citations

This image was taken by Amaranta Bailly of Florida International University on 15 November 2021//CC by 4.o

Princeton, Florida. Princeton, Florida (FL 33032) profile: population, maps, real estate, averages, homes, statistics, relocation, travel, jobs, hospitals, schools, crime, moving, houses, news, sex offenders. (n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2021, https://www.city-data.com/city/Princeton-Florida.html

Trusten Polk captured in Ark Gaston Princeton etc. (n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.drakeconstructionservices.com/uploads/fckeditor/file/PDFs/Trusten%20Polk%20captured%20in%20Ark_Gaston_Princeton_etc.pdf. 

City of Princeton, Florida. USA City Guide to entertainment, restaurants, events, hotels, movies, businesses, schools, libraries, weather, and more. (n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2021, from http://www.eachtown.com/Florida/City/Princeton;6362/. 

Naranja and Princeton, Historic South Dade. Historic South Dade. (n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://hsdade.com/article-index/princeton/. 

Amaranta Bailly: Miami as Text 2021-2022

This image was taken by Natalia Garcia-Lee/CC by 4.0

My name is Amaranta Mattie Bailly and I am a proud Cuban-French-Floridian. I have grown up in Miami for the Majority of my life but have had the privilege to travel much of the world at a very young age. My education, passions, upbringing and goals drive me to constantly learn more about the world that I live in and how I can better it. I consistently find myself fascinated with various forms of artistic expression, as well as the environment and understanding its intricacies. Comprehending the profound history and facets of my hometown Miami will undoubtedly provide more clarity regarding where I hope my life, as well as hard work, will take me.

Downtown as Text

This image of “Dropped Bowl with Scattered Slices and Peels” by artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen is taken by Amaranta Bailly/CC by 4.0

The Origin Story”

by Amaranta Bailly of Florida International University at Downtown Miami, 1 September 2021

For 19 years I have lived on these streets, going to the beach with family, grabbing food with friends, and exploring with anyone willing to join me. It was both riveting and shocking to learn that I didn’t understand how my city came to be the undeniable wonder it is today, and that I had been denying myself the privilege of truly understanding what lay just below my feet. It was disheartening to realize I hadn’t seen this statue before class. Not only did I experience Miami in a different light on an educational level, but observing the physical landmarks I had passed by for so long was a wake up call. I quickly recognized that I need to become more aware of my surroundings.

Throughout the day I absorbed what seemed like an endless amount of information that revealed or involved the development of Miami economically, socially, politically and environmentally. Somehow, Oldenburg and Bruggen were able to narrow these incredible and at times heartbreaking stories down into a single sculpture, that somehow sits at the near center of our city. This piece was developed to display how Miami grew as a city; explosive, stunning and through chaos. On top of how unique to our state and city it is, seeing as how the Orange has been a Florida staple for decades, the shattering glass properly reflects the literal groundbreaking work that was required to build from the ground up.

This Image of the Plantation Slave Quarters in City Park was taken by Amaranta Bailly/CC by 4.0

The Fort Dallas and William F. English Plantation Slave Quarters in City park display a perfect parallel between the darker and lighter parts of history. The stone unit, although it was relocated, emanated a physical and evil energy that will never leave those walls. It was built approximately 200 years ago by slaves themselves, and holds tales of horror that are incomprehensible when compared with the Miami that surrounds the structure today. The quarters were passed down through generations as well as the plantation until 1849, when the Army claimed the land and used it as a base during the Seminole Wars. I was standing in front of a building that had been used as an aid to commit mass genocide as well as strip the humanity from individuals, individuals who were treated as less than mules, I felt and still feel disgusted. Professor Bailly recommended that we become physical with the structure but I almost couldn’t bring myself to move so close. I felt nothing but repelled by the mass before me. He then had gone on to elaborate regarding his request, and stated that he felt connected to the slaves building this quarter, and not the stories that had occurred within them. I then proceeded to hold the same rock a slave had held 200 years before, and the sensation of the grainy material beneath my hand brought about feelings of extreme sadness and sympathy. I began to ponder how exactly a city can host such tragedy a mere 200 years ago, and morph the diverse and cultured beaut it is today.

This image of William and Evelyns old home was taken by Amaranta Bailly/CC by 4.0

The answer I had quickly begun to search for was found earlier than expected in the neighboring building. Not more then 20 feet from the slave quarters stood a home from the same time period, but told a strong opposing story when looked at from a moral perspective. William Vagner was a German man who had immigrated to the United States in the earlier 1800s and met a woman named Evelyn Emair. They had fallen in love but unfortunately were forced into keeping their relationship a secret because interracial marriages were not legal at the time. They lived a beautiful life together and had 15 children. It stunned me that even during this dark time period, there were tolerant people who looked past societal standard to find happiness. Professor Bailly then went on to discuss a seemingly frightening encounter with a Group of 17 seminoles. William had come across the unit with his wife and daughter Rose, and seeing as how the political situation at the time was rough to say the least, its natural to feel a certain level of fear when the intentions of others are unknown. Instead of insighting violence or being verbally aggressive in order to protect his family, William invited the Seminoles to his home for dinner. Together, 17 seminoles, an interracial couple and several biracial children were more than capable of sitting at a table and have a meal together despite the judgement and war raging on the outside world. William formed an alliance with the seminoles, and attempted to bring peace between peoples throughout his life. My admiration and respect for William grew to unimaginable proportions as the minutes passed. He has a vision that not many had at this time and was not influenced by the fact that because of his origin or the color of his skin, he could have abused his position in more way than one. Instead, because of his endlessly tolerant mind, he found love within Evelyn, faith in his children, and peace with the Seminoles. He used his divine insight to make people stronger in a time where everything was divided amongst the masses.

I am thrilled that I was able to become more educated regarding the origin story of the city I was raised in and adore. I was fortunately raised around a largely diverse group of people. My family is from various different countries and continents, as are my friends. Now I don’t have to question the ways to which we reached this peace in this place we call home. Now I know that even in the darkest times, there were people out there who saw the light in others. The extent to which these people fought to save that light now gives me the privilege to do the same, and gave others privileges that I won’t take for granted anymore.

OverTown as Text

“New vs Original Overtown”

by Amaranta Bailly of Florida International University at Overtown Miami, 15 September 2021

Miami is a city well renowned for its diverse population. The large variety of cultures compacted into approximately 100 miles of coast is unparalleled nationwide. Although it has grown to be quite the tourist attraction, its authenticity still burns bright as day. It wasn’t until I made my way into Overtown along with my fellow pupils and professor that I realized the roots of what makes Miami flourish as a city is gravely under threat. 

This picture of Overtown MIA was taken by Amaranta Bailly/CC by 4.0

Overtown was originally founded in 1896 and went by the name Darkie-Town. In the late 19th and early 20th century, Black Americans were only permitted to inhabit certain neighborhoods and enter wealthier neighborhoods for work. Slavery at the time was outlawed, but segregation played an enormous part in the formation of Miami at this time. Through the challenges of a marginalized life, the Black Americans that were forced into Overtown were still able to build a successful community that flourished over the years. The fact that strong, original remnants of this town remain today is relieving to say the least.

This image of the Lyric theater was taken by Amaranta Bailly of FIU/CC by 4.0

Celebrities such as Billy Holiday and Muhammad Ali would come to Miami and showcase their talents in wealthy parts of the city but were after sent to Darkie-Town because they were not permitted to rest at hotels near where they performed. The Lyric theater pictured above was a safe space for celebrities to behave authentically and is a large part of why Overtown was referenced as “Miami’s Broadway”. Not only did celebrities visit Overtown, but strong political activist such as Andrew Young, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. often spoke at churches, which brought resilience into the hearts of the community.

This image of the interior of Mount Zion Church was taken by Amaranta Bailly of FIU/CC by 4.0

This altar is located in Mount Zion, one of the other few structures that still does this historically charged area justice. I was astounded when I learned that I was standing before a place where various heroes had previously preached their ideas to the people. Knowing that empowering words of tolerance and change were spoken and heard here, by people who needed to constantly battle oppression, is a once in a lifetime experience. A heartwarming woman elaborated on the personal connections she shared with Martin Luther King as well as the kind and homey atmosphere that the church possessed. Her unique words of wisdom brought to my attention that any one individual has the ability to make a difference if they can attain the courage, strength and heart to do so. I felt moved, and had a reality check to the largest extent of the word. These chosen few individuals had the ability to reach people to unbelievable proportions and honed that talent to change the world for the better. Their ideals are still touched upon in schools nationwide today, but to stand before a woman and a place that was graced with an extraordinarily powerful presence brought upon the realization that people suffered in cosmic proportions to build the town I’ve come to visit.

I also didn’t realize until traveling to town with my class just how much the local’s fight for equality is ongoing. Overtown is currently experiencing Gentrification; when wealthier people move into an urban area and push out those without a financial advantage. The process is slow and grueling for the true locals. Overtime, due to environmental and financial reasons, Overtown has been nearly torn to the ground. For approximatley a century the Black Americans who were forced into Overtown to begin with have been building a community with the small amount they worked tirelessly for. The talent that came to life on Miami Broadway attracted folks from all over, and soon the roads buzzed with activity. There came a gradual shift in Overtown in a sense of who wanted to inhabit the streets, and once developers arrived, the authentic community began to be a thing of the past. As wealthy people flood into a town that has beautiful music, great food, and people living harmoniously, they begin to clear house and create establishments too difficult for the locals to afford. It starts with an Art Gallery in a prominent cultural area, followed by little cafés, bakeries and shops. Slowly older restaurants and stores are purchased and remodeled, charging more than any other place in town. Then come the high-rises, slowly but surely pushing people from their homes and cities because they can’t afford rent. Fortunately historically valuable buildings are protected to a certain extent, although it is extremely difficult for these structures to be put on the list of Heritage Registers, which is essentially a list of areas that cannot be remodeled or destroyed because they hold a historically important past.

This image of a violation notice was taken by Professor John Bailly of FIU/CC by 4.0

This image was taken less than two weeks after my class and I visited the church of Greater Bethel. This church is technically on the register of historic structures that cannot be demolished but certain protocols are in place in to maintain structures of a community, and if the following repairs are not completed in a time frame provided then the building might not have a very long future. Filure to follow these difficult codes can result in the “destruction of the offending structure by the city of Miami.” Because the community is forcibly absent, not many are able to visit the Greater Bethel church and therefore it does not receive suitable funding. It only goes to show that the government does not care about the historical landmarks that exist in Overtown, they do not recognize the challenges that those who are attempting to keep the community alive face. If the Greater Bethel Church cannot fulfill the cities requests, then less than a year from now this sacred ground might not exist. Who is going to remember that Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Andrew Young took a stand within these walls if there are no walls to marvel at? How is it fair to be forced out of a town your ancestors were herded into, who then encouraged it to grow into something to be admired? How will anyone be able to attest to the existence of Overtown without a place to explore? The absence of the original Overtown as well as the people who fill it with pride and beauty is an injustice to the growth of our nation and one step closer to erasing our past. This should strike anger into the core of anyone who values the history of Miami and the people who helped create the community that lies before us.

I spent the day being immersed in a community that I quickly grew adore. Every single individual opened their personal their nook for us to be explored with open arms, on the condition that we came with open minds. Civilians on the street, gentleman at the barbershop, and the totality of Mount Zion as well as Greater Bethel wanted us to know where they come from and exactly how threatened they are by big companies and developers with big money. Professor Bailly continues to emphasize that the destruction and harmful events that occurred here are not our own fault unless we lack the ability to educate ourselves. This brought upon a large moral dilemma that I fought with internally the entire day and for quite some time after. How can I say I’m innocent and free of blame if I absorb all of this information and choose to do nothing with it? If I hear all of the stories and emphasize with the people who are being harmed, then I believe I would be flawed morally if I remain silent. Challenging the government and people behind Gentrification is how we can aid and possibly save the remnants of Overtown as well as other communities that are struggling. I realize that in order for me to repay the entirety of Overtown for the unparalleled generosity, I have to give them my support that extends past my personal education. I will continue to visit Overtown, to eat their delicious food and to walk their streets with my companions so that they can also open their mind to a beautiful part of our city. A part of our city that is unforgettable and beyond a shadow of a doubt, worth fighting for.

Vizcaya as Text

“House of Power”

by Amaranta Bailly of Florida International University at Vizcaya Museum, 3 October 2021

The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens have stood as a symbol of aged wealth in Miami for approximately the past century. Ten percent of the Miami population was employed by James Deering, the only true resident of this establishment, and participated in the construction of this stunning Villa. The structure is completed with various guest rooms, more than one floor, an interior courtyard, towers that flank the structure, a barge to protect from the tide amongst other things and the most high end trinkets of the early 20th century.

This image of Dionysus was taken by Amaranta Bailly of FIU//CC by 4.0

Not only is this home a fascination to various architects, interior designers and artists, but the gardens are very well maintained and breathtaking to say the least. These amenities are a clear indicator of the magnitude of wealth James Deering attained in his lifetime. The peaceful waterfalls, inspired by islamic temples, guide your slow descent to the back entrance of the home, where you will find a glorious yet revealing statue of Dyonisus. Dyonisus is known as the god of wine, but is also often associated with both pleasure and ecstasy. This statue was carefully selected to stand in the entrance of the home because his power accurately displays the message James Deering was attempting to send to any visitor who has the pleasure of entering his home.

Mr. Deering was clearly a man of immense riches, a party animal ahead of his time, and desired more than anything a cultured image. This sculpture of Dionisus, amount many others, as well as the actual structure of the home is meant to display the fact that he could actually afford the culture he so greatly admired, as well as the fact that anyone who came into his home should prepare for a good time. The tour of his home is absolutely immaculate. Each room, specially crafted by Architect Paul Chalfin, displays a different time period and location in Europe. Nearly all of the items in this room were imported from different parts of Europe and were not actually selected by James Deering, he sent Paul Chalfin on various trips to select the priciest handmade items for months on end.

I can admit that this accumulation of wealth for his time is to be gawked at, but I in no way felt a personal connection to these excessive items. It appears to me that James Deering was a man who lacked actual culture but had the ability to pay in large for it. The presence of an antique organ in the living room is strong evidence of my take on this home. Mr. Deering did not actually know how to play an organ, but the ownership of an organ when not by a public place at this time indicates extreme wealth. His closer associates questioned his desire to have this particular object imported because it would serve no actual use in his home. Mr. Deering would not hear any of this logical questions and purchased the organ regardless to achieve the status quo.

This image of the exterior of Vizcaya was taken by Amaranta Bailly of FIU//CC by 4.0

Just because Mr. Deering was clearly obsessed with appearances, does not necessarily mean that what I think he paid to create is in any way less important, admirable and powerful. Vizcaya is now a place where one can venture off to in order to admire the beauty thats a blended history holds. The mixing of cultures is something commonly seen in Miami, but this structure is evidence that citizens of this city admired all parts of the world from a very early age.

I personally felt at home in a cultural sense while visiting Vizcaya because I am of both Latin and European descent. My mother is Cuban and My father is French, therefore I can state with confidence that the entirety of my life has been graced with a combination of backgrounds. I often traveled with my father through different parts of Europe as he worked tirelessly to make something for his family. I was blessed with the opportunity to experience different parts of the world at an incredibly young age and for that my gratitude will never waver. I had the pleasure of exploring various cities out of state, of eating food that does not exist or is not often found in Miami, of getting to know my extended family and admiring structures that stand tall after thousands of years.

After traveling for months I would return to Miami and be surrounded by my Cuban culture and family, as well as the members of my family who are Peruvian and Thai. Not only did I have a very unique cultural experience in my youth because of personal reasons, but Miami has flourished into a city where I have had the privilege of becoming well acquainted with individuals who originate from all over the world, like myself. Often my blended background lead to questions of self identity. I didn’t feel like I belonged to any one place and I couldn’t answer a question regarding my origin without quite a lengthy response. As I got older and explored places like Vizcaya, my questions regarding the explanation of my origin were answered overtime. The discussion that occurred in the discussion room spoke to me on a deeper level in particular.

This image of the Marie Antoinette room was taken by Amaranta Bailly of FIU//CC by 4.0

At first I had thoughtlessly assumed that all this room could attain was an extreme display of wealth that Mr. Deering spent though sands of dollars on in order to impress other people who attained a similar amount of wealth. This room is focused on the eighteenth century time period in France, and is breathtaking for lack of a better word. Tall ceilings, a glistening chandelier, windows lining the north wall, and a statue of Mary Antoinette by the east door truly resemble the form of riches she lived with. As we were about to leave this room, the attention of my classmates and I was brought to the walls, which were gracefully and subtly covered in palm trees.

It was at this point I realized that although James Deering himself was not extremely knowledgable and did not actually enthrall himself in cultural affairs, through his immense financial gain he created a structure that would influence Miami as well as the rest of the world, as it continues to gain popularity among tourists. Vizcaya in essence is both unique and lovely, and has become a beacon of unity for generations to come.

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