Verónica Guzmán Betancourt: Medley 2022

Student Bio

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0 

Verónica Guzmán Betancourt is a Junior at Florida International University in Miami, Florida.  She is pursuing a major in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice, while being a member of the Honors College. After graduation in Spring  2023, she plans on continuing her education in Forensic Psychology.

Geography

Town of Medley in Miami-Dade county, Florida. Photo taken from Google Maps/ CC by 4.0

Medley, Florida is a small town located in the western part of the Miami-Dade county in South Florida. The town is sandwiched between the city of Doral and Hialeah, with a total area of 4.3 square miles, of which 0.5 square miles of the town is water. 

Medley has great road coverage and accessibility, as the Ronald Reagan Turnpike sits to the westward limit of the town and US-27 (also known as West Okeechobee Road) to the east.These two major highways allow for the traffic to run the city, connecting it to other majors parts of South Florida. 

The great location finds itself only 10 miles away from Florida International University’s main campus, Modesto A. Maidique,  on 8th Street. Conveniently enough, the Miami International Airport is 8 miles away from the town center. It also has public transportation that reduces the usage of independently owned vehicles while keeping transportation efficient and reliable. 

History

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0 

Medley, Florida was named after its founder Sylvester Medley. He established his residence in the town in the early 1900s, but it was not officially incorporated until the mid 1900s. He was a farmer there until he passed away shortly after the town’s incorporation. Ever since, the small town has been thriving in an industrial boom. Its most lucrative industry is construction, with many plants splattered through the town. The biggest plants are a rinker plant and a cement plant. 

Being an industrial town, many now go there to work and live in neighboring towns. With the industrial revolution happening almost a century before the town was established, it influenced the quick growth of Medley. It has provided uncountable jobs to people of the Miami-Dade community, housing tons of manufacturers and warehouses. Many family owned and regional businesses were able to open in this welcoming area, where business is always booming. 

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0 

Even though it is a small town, it is fully equipped with all of the resources it needs to function efficiently. As explained by the town’s official website, it has departments dedicated to utilities, water, and sewage control, as well as inspectors for buildings, zoning, plumbing, electrical. The MPD, Medley Police Department, promises to protect the life and property of the community and ensure the law is always respected. The community very early on formed a great association with the government department that keeps Medley on its feet.

Demographics

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0 

According to the latest census information, that being the one from 2020, the population of Medley is 1,053. There are an estimated 207 people per square mile. The median age is 54.5 years, which is about 1.3 times higher than that of the State of Florida. About 55% of the population falls within the 18 to 64 age category, followed by 65 and over which is 32%. The census also showed that about 55% of Medley’s population is female. The race and ethnicity of the town is not evenly distributed, as it is reported to be 96% hispanic and 4% white. 

The median household income in Medley is $32,895, with 81% of the population making under $50,000. The median income is slightly over that of the State of Florida, which sits at $57,703. This leads 25.6% of Medley’s residents to lie below the poverty line, finding itself doubling that of Florida. 

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0 

There are an estimated 410 households in Medley, averaging almost 3 persons per household. About 51% of the population is married and in the remaining, 21% are female led households. It is reported that 56.8% of the population has had a high school education or high, with only 10.8% having a Bachelor’s degree and beyond. 

Most of the residents of Medley are foreigners with 79.4% being born outside the country, most are from Latin America.

Interview with Janeen Coronado

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

Veronica: Hi Janeen, thank you so much for taking time to chat with me. To start off, could you please introduce yourself? 

Janeen: Of course, my name is Janeen Coronado. I’m a Junior at FIU, majoring in psychology. I was born in Venezuela and at the age of seven I moved my family to Florida. 

Veronica: What is your relationship with Medley? 

Janeen: When I moved from Venezuela, my parents decided to start their own company called Coronado Express. They moved around a bit but they ended up locating their business in Medley, Florida. Medley is a great location for many businesses since there’s a lot of space warehouses for the type of company my parents own. They send cargo to many places, especially in South America, where family members in the U.S. can send to their loved ones that are in need of resources in low income countries such as Venezuela or Colombia. 

Veronica: What is your favorite aspect of Medley? 

Janeen: My favorite aspect of medley is how it’s such a great town for both, a residential and for a business lifestyle.

Veronica: What is something you recommend for people to do in Medley? In particular, to those that might not know much about the town. 

Janeen: There are so many good food joints. Whenever I help my parents out at work, we go find a new place to eat. Everyone there is always so friendly and welcoming, but the food is just absolutely great.

Veronica: What is a downside to Medley? 

Janeen: Honestly, one of the things that I really dislike about it is the traffic. Miami traffic is just insane. Sometimes getting from one place to another takes forever, even if it’s just a couple miles. 

Veronica: Thank you for your insight!

Janeen: My pleasure!

Landmarks

Okeechobee MDT Station

The Okeechobee MDT station is a metrorail station that was opened for service on May 19th of 1985. It was the northern end of the metrorail system, but only until 2003 when the Palmetto Station was opened. The station is on what is considered to be an island platform, which is made up of 2 tracks. Okeechobee MDT is equipped with parking on both sides, as well as some extra parking underneath the station. This station is conveniently located only one block away from a major road, the Hialeah Expressway. 

The Historic Hampton House

The historic Hampton house is the second largest African American museum in the United States. This museum used to be a motel that was often frequented by famous individuals such as Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali, and Jacki Robinson. Dr. King delivered an early version of his widely known “I have a dream” speech, at the Hampton House, in 1960. 

The Hampton house was a two story building with 50 rooms that displayed the modern Miami theme. There was a jazz club, swimming pool and restaurant. The motel was a hotspot, gaining the name the “social center of the South”. 

Famous musicians such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., also stayed at this motel. With Miami Beach being such a great place for people to visit and only being a couple miles away, the guests would often travel there during the night and return to the Hampton house at night to relax. 

The Hampton House was forced to close in 1976 due to financial reasons, leaving it abandoned until the 2000s. The historic motel faced the threat of being demolished but thanks to an advocacy group, the Hampton House was able to remain on its feet as it was named a historic site when the county of Miami-Dade purchased the property. 

In 2015 with the help of preservationist Dr. Enid Pinkney, the Hampton House received a 6 million dollar donation. This new increased budget was what gave the new project wings that restored the Hampton House to a museum and community center. 

The Hampton House is a vital, yet often overlooked, piece of Miami’s Black history.    

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park

Although it is located slightly east of Medley, this park commemorates the great impact Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had in the community. A lot of people do not actually know the history of segregation and racial discrimination that many suffered here in the late 1900s. The park is home to a statue of Dr. King which reminds us all of the great challenge he was able to overcome as he was one of the leaders in restoring civil rights in the United States. 

Green

Given the small area that Medley has, along with its main purpose, many of the green areas are outside town limits.

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0 

Botanical Gardens

Located in Hialeah, these botanical gardens consist of about 5 acres of land in which over 500 native species and over 45,000 plants are housed. Given the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, the gardens have allowed the public back in to visit every day of the week. One of the most convenient attributes is that there is free admission. 

13501 NW 107th Ave, Hialeah, FL 33018

Doral Glades Park

This beautiful park is multi-purpose. It has areas for picnics and a playground for children to play. There are multiple courts for people to enjoy sports like tennis, basketball, and volleyball. There is a nature center, a boardwalk, and a nature trail that caters to the outdoorsy interests of the community. This park also has an amphitheater that can be used for events that bring together people of Doral and Medley. 

7600 NW 98th Pl, Doral, FL 33178

Tobie Wilson Park

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0 

This park is located right next to the Medley Police Department. It is a small park with wonderful greenery. It has a basketball court and playground, as well as tables for eating that are roofed with a tent that provides light. 

7901 NW South River Dr, Medley, FL 33166

Transportation

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0 

Truthfully, the best way to get around Medley is by car. Although some distances are quite far for the average person, walking can be a great alternative during peak traffic hours. Being part of Miami-Dade county, Medley also has public transportation. This is another alternative that people can use to not only get around Medley, but get to other parts in Miami. Public transportation is always eco-friendly and wallet-friendly. This could also be another way to get to know the area or see alternate routes for the daily commute. 

Moving around Medley is not difficult, but if you travel through during peak hours then it is recommended that you do so with a lot of time to spare. There are many accidents and road works that happen on a daily basis, so be an alert driver!

Food

Mara’s Fish House 

Located right off West Okeechobee Road, this very well reviewed restaurant brings a little of the sea to land. Offering a Latin take on seafood, this little joint serves the community with delicious food Monday through Friday. 

7400 NW South River Dr #B6, Medley, FL, 33166

(305) 863-1009

La Cosecha Argentinian Steakhouse

Located right off the Hialeah Expressway, offers some of the best steak in town. This Argentinian steakhouse offers its clients a range of foods from sandwiches to pasta. La Cosecha brings a little bit of Argentina to the community Monday through Saturday.

6981 NW 74th St, Miami, FL 33166

(305) 885-8850

Napolitano Restaurant & Pizzeria

Located right between the Palmetto Expressway and West Okeechobee, this restaurant has some of the best pizza there is around. They offer mouthwatering appetizers, from mozzarella sticks to garlic knots. This restaurant serves the community Monday through Saturday.

8481 NW South River Dr, Medley, FL, 33166

786) 332-6222

Businesses 

Tax Medic 

A local business providing the community with year-round support with taxes.

https://taxmedic911.com

7911 NW 72nd Ave #219b, Medley, FL, 33166

Phone: (305) 699-4077

Custom Manufacturing Corporation 

A diverse manufacturing company catering to personal care, cosmetics, and other products.

Home

9324 NW 102nd St, Medley, FL, 33178

Phone: (305) 863-1001

Coronado Express

Pictures provided by Coronado Express.

A family owned courier service, shipping goods to many Latin American countries.

https://coronadoexpress.com

10049 NW 89th Ave Bay 14, Medley, FL, 33178

Phone: (786) 391-4404

Summary

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0 

Medley, Florida is a beautiful town filled with culture and people from all over the world. The time that I spent researching and traveling through was a learning experience. Even though it is a small town, you might want to dedicate a couple days to see everything. Of course, please take time out of your day to sit down and eat at many of the local restaurants. The food is absolutely delicious and the people will welcome you with open arms. 

Given that it is a working town, people drive there and through there a lot. This means that the traffic gets backed up, sometimes even on the weekends. Medley is located right by multiple highways, so there will always be vehicles getting on and off of them. Even so, on the bright side Medley has provided thousands of people with jobs that not only help them but also the economy. Many of the products we use on a daily basis can potentially come from there. There are many local florists that can sell flowers and other plants for any decor need one might have.

No matter what, every part of Miami is full of history and culture. South Florida is a melting pot of diversity, we all are part of this massive community, regardless if you reside or simply visit. From Medley, you can easily take the leap and explore other mesmerizing parts of Miami. 

Works Cited

About Us, http://www.townofmedley.com/about-us.

“Census Profile: Medley, FL.” Census Reporter, censusreporter.org/profiles/16000US1243900-medley-fl/.

Media, Spacenet. “Home: MedleyPD: Medley, FL 33166.” Medley PD, http://www.medleypd.com/.

“Medley, Florida.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 21 Feb. 2022, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medley,_Florida.

Services, Miami-Dade County Online. “Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park.” Untitled Document, http://www.miamidade.gov/parks/martin-luther.asp.

“History.” Historic Hampton House, historichamptonhouse.org/history/.

Verónica Guzmán Betancourt: Miami Service 2022

Student Bio

Verónica Guzmán Betancourt is a Junior at Florida International University in Miami, Florida.  She is pursuing a major in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice, while being a member of the Honors College. After graduation in Spring  2023, she plans on continuing her education in Forensic Psychology.

Who

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0 

The Deering Estate is located in the Palmetto Bay area of Miami, Florida. This fabulous organization was founded in the 1920s by Charles Deering. The estate is now listed as a conservation site, as it houses part of local history and provides access to the Atlantic Ocean. 

This land provides a safe house to an entire ecosystem. Manatees and pelicans happily live in the waters that surround the Deering Estate. There is also a historic mangrove trail that I got the chance to explore. Unfortunately, throughout time, trash flows in from the ocean. People who litter as they pass by on their boats do not realize the dire effect they have on the land. Regardless of the distance, water is an endless medium, and with help from the wind, anything and everything can travel immense distances. Human pollution is one of the leading causes of the decrease in biodiversity in the world, as well as contributing to climate change. Human impact on nature has caused a lot of damage.

Why

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0 

The Mangrove Trail is part of what is called the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve. Here you can find many types of animals, exploring and living their best life. As we ventured into the mangroves, we encountered crabs and spiders everywhere we looked. These animals play a huge role in the maintenance of the ecosystem, however human activity is endangering their habitat. It was incredible to see the amount of trash that we were able to pick up. Without necessarily having to go deep into the mangroves, we filled up bags upon bags of trash that had floated in from the ocean. 

This opportunity was presented to me by my professor, John Bailly. He was able to coordinate a fantastic day out on the Deering Estate, as two of his Miami in Miami classes joined in efforts of making the mangroves a better place. Conservation and marine biology are not the focus on my studies, however I have always loved the ocean. I was blessed to have grown up in South Florida with the ocean right at my fingertips. I had the privilege to experience ocean life, which is something many people do not get. Nonetheless, I have always loved being exposed to nature. My childhood consisted of me being involved with animals and their environments, so this opportunity was great for me. 

How

As a Florida International University student, particularly from being part of the Honors College, I have been fortunate to be in classes like Miami in Miami. This last year, I have spent entire days getting to know the marvels of Miami. We connect with the history and culture of our people. We go to places that most of us had never been before, even those who have lived here for a while. With the help of both Miami in Miami classes, we were able to come together to help clean the mangrove’s home. As a group we supported each other every step of the way, knowing that for some the experience might be somewhat uncomfortable. This did take most of us out of our comfort zone, but we pushed through, having in mind the main goal which was the enrichment of our planet. Even by helping out such a small part of the world, we are contributing to the environment. Little changes over a long period of time always make a difference, for the better.

Where & What

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

The Deering Estate gave us the green light to enter this area, which had been blocked off. The bridge that led people through the mangroves has been destroyed and with the struggles that came with the COVID-19 pandemic it has not been redone yet. We navigated through the muddy land, dodging the many spiderwebs that lingered throughout. A lot of us had some reservations going into the mangroves as all the critters we saw petrified us. Some of us climbed parts of the broken bridge to try to get to the other side of the mangroves. Each of us had 2 bags initially and for some it was not enough. Many had to go all the way back to the entrance of the trail to get more bags to fill up. 

Among the things we found were illegal marine traps and insect repellent from Cuba. A classmate found four pairs of shoes laying around. I found a lot of plastic, many water bottle caps and parts of bags. There was a lot of trash left behind that floated its way deep into the mangroves. A lot of people like to canoe or kayak by the mangroves, some even use their boats. 

When

Summary

This experience is one that will, for sure, stay with me forever. I will always remember how much fun I had with my classmates, as we supported each other through the quest. Navigating the mangroves was no easy task, especially when so many things there frightened me. It was so reassuring to know that everyone there was caring not only for the environment but also for each other. I hope that by sharing this experience with people, I can inspire them to become involved, or keep being involved, in the betterment of our planet. I know that we, as humans, are to blame for many of the detriments we see, but we can turn it all around and leave a long-lasting effect in our communities. By teaching others about how important it is to be caring and compassionate for this planet, we can hope to keep passing it on for generations to come. In a world ruled by innovations and technology, we tend to stray away from our connection with Mother Nature. I hope that more people realize how beautiful our home is and start valuing it for all of its riches, as we only have one planet and one life to make it right. 

Verónica Guzmán Betancourt: Bal Harbour 2021

   All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

Student Bio

Verónica Guzmán Betancourt is a Junior at Florida International University in Miami, Florida.  She is pursuing a major in Psychology as well as Natural and Applied Sciences, while being a member of the Honors College. After graduation in early 2023, she plans on continuing her education in Forensic Psychology.

Geography

Village of Bal Harbour in Miami, Florida. Photo taken from Google Maps/ CC by 4.0

Bal Harbour is a small village in Miami, Florida. So much so, that many people fail to realize that it is its own established village, shadowed by the better known nearby cities of Aventura and Sunny Isles Beach. According to the last U.S Census, the Census Reporter states the current size of Bal Harbour to be 0.4 square miles. Although most of the area is land, most of the important parts of Bal Harbour are water.  

The village is the northernmost part of the Miami Beach barrier island. Traffic mainly passes though Collins Avenue, which clearly separates the living area from the commercial side. To the west of Collins Avenue, apartments and houses can be found alongside the famous Bal Harbour Shops. To the east of Collins Avenue, beachside hotels run along the coast. 

The village is surrounded by water from the west, east, and north. The southern city limits are denoted by the Kane Concourse, south of which begins the city of Surfside. The northside of Bal Harbour opens up to a channel that connects Key Biscayne to the Atlantic Ocean. Running across the channel, Collins Avenue becomes a bridge that connects the village to Haulover Park.

History

   All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

The village of Bal Harbour is located in the county of Miami-Dade in South Florida. The village is about 8 miles north of the well-known Miami Beach. The story of its establishment is quite long, as the village was incorporated on August 14, 1946. It can be considered to be a fairly modern village when compared to nearby cities.

The planning for the creation of Bal Harbour started as early as the 1920s. The Miami Beach Heights Corporation was the sole owner of the land, which was mostly uninhabitable as it was a swamp.

By the 1930s designers were brought into Miami to begin the design of Bal Harbour, which was originally to be named Bay Harbour. The word Bal comes from the fusion of the words bay and atlantic. Throughout the decade, many plans were made and sent for review. As the final touches were being made, World War II took the world by surprise. As Miami was a major city for the United States, the establishment of Bal Harbour had to be put aside. 

As head of the Miami Beach Heights Corporation, Robert C. Graham allowed the United States Air Corps to use the land, soon to become Bal Harbour, for their military purposes. After the war was over in mid-1945, the land began its conversion.

Demographics

   All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

From the last U.S census, the population of Bal Harbour was reported to be 3,004. This leads to an estimate of about 7,835 people per square mile of land. The median age for residents of the village is 51.6 years, which is about 25 percent higher than that of the state of Florida. 

The residents of the Bal Harbour are predominantly female, 55 percent. There seems to be a disproportion in the distribution of race and ethnicity in the area, as 58 percent are white and 35 percent are hispanic. Only 2 percent of the population is black and 3 percent is asian. 

The median household income in Bal Harbour is $76,962. When compared to that of the state as a whole, it is about 1.4 times higher. The median household income of Florida is about $55,660. There is an estimate of 1,424 households in the village, with about 2 persons each. Only 65 percent of couples living in Bal harbour are married, however only 48 percent of the entire population is married, leaving 52 percent to be single. These rates are similar to that of Florida, as it has a 51 percent rate of married residents. 

Almost 62 percent of the residents of Bal Harbour have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, which is over double the rate in Florida. About 31 percent of the population of the village has a postgraduate degree.

Interview with María José Giraldo

   All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

Veronica: Hi Maria, thank you so much for taking time to chat with me. To start off, could you please introduce yourself? 

Maria: I am a sophomore at FIU studying Biology with a pre-med track. I was born in New York to Colombian parents. I have lived in many places throughout my life, from the Americas to Europe. No other place has been as fascinating as Bal harbour, that’s for sure.

Veronica: What is your relationship with Bal Harbour? 

Maria: When we first moved to South Florida, we lived in Aventura for quite a while. My family became very acquainted with the area. My mother loved going to the Bal Harbour Shops, so growing up I would spend a lot of time there. On the weekends we would switch between Surfside and Bal Harbour. 

Veronica: What is your favorite aspect of Bal Harbour? 

Maria: I think that the best part of Bal Harbour is the water. I love the ocean, it was one of the things that I enjoy the most living here. I love that it’s the middle ground between fantasy and reality. Driving through Collins, I always feel like I’m in my own movie. 

Veronica: What is something you recommend for people to do in Bal Harbour? In particular, to those that might not know much about the village. 

Maria: Hands down it has to be watching the sunrise at the beach. I’ve been to other beaches down here but I don’t know. Bal Harbour is kind of a second home for me. 

Veronica: What is a downside to Bal Harbour? 

Maria: One of the most obvious things to Bal Harbour is how fancy and upscale everything is. It’s not really a place for everybody, it’s nice for a day or two but after that there’s not much to it. I soon realized how expensive and unattainable everything is there, at least for me as a working college student. 

Veronica: Thank you for your insight!

Maria: Thank you for putting Bal Harbour on the map!

Landmarks

More information on how to get involved with the arts and culture within Bal Harbour can be found on the village’s website.

One of the most popular landmarks in Bal Harbor is the Bal Harbor Shops. The village shops had recently reached its 75th year anniversary, as of 2021. Bal harbour’s rich history continues as it constantly flourishes with tourists from all over the world and is one of the most successful town square shops in the United states. 

The Bal Harbor Shops is currently being expanded. This massive project will cost around 500 million dollars to complete. This project will add around 241,600 square-feet to the shops along with an estimated 40 new restaurants and retail stores. The new expansion of Bal Harbor Shops will be completed by 2024. 

   All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

Another very successful landmark is the Ritz carlton. This hotel is one of the most popular places to stay in Miami, down from its massive luxurious rooms to its guest service. The hotel also offers a very nice venue for weddings which is also extremely popular among tourists, when visiting Miami. The location of the Ritz Carlton is defined as one of the best beach resorts in Miami, as you get to experience its pristine stretches of hot white sand and refreshing light blue ocean water. While experiencing such a breathtaking view, the Ritz Carlton offers fine dining that involves exclusive locally caught seafood.    

Green

   All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

Given the small and coastal nature of Bal Harbour, the only natural area within the village is the beach. The access to the beach can be slightly tricky, as the beach is public but most of it is restricted by the beachfront hotels. One must find metered parking throughout the village or use the valet parking provided by the hotels. Bal Harbour Shops does have a parking garage where you can pay an hourly rate, however the walk to the beach is longer than if walking from a hotel or nearby street parking.

Bal Harbour Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches South Florida has to offer. The environment there is a paradise on Earth. With the iconic palm trees and ocean breezes, this beach is beyond comparison. Known for its fine white sand, Bal Harbour is home to one of the most coveted vacation/getaway destinations South Florida has to offer. 

With the perfect tropical weather, Bal Harbour Beach is postcard worthy. Leaving your mind at ease, it is the perfect place to disconnect from all the worries and stress of daily life. The exclusivity of the beach makes you feel safe and excited to witness one of the prime locations in Miami.

Transportation

   All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

The best method for transportation around Bal Harbour is walking. The distances are less than a mile long and with Miami’s traffic coming all the way to Collins Avenue, walking is the most efficient way to get around the village. A car is only necessary when you are traveling outside Bal Harbour to adjacent cities. Most people who live here use the car to go to establishments like pharmacies or supermarkets when required. Bal Harbour is mostly a tourist city, which explains the heavy waves of traffic that move through it. The village is extremely popular with people coming in from Aventura and North Miami Beach as well. 

Unlike other parts of Miami, walking to your destinations within Bal Harbour allows you to get the most out of the village. The spectacular views are to be witnessed in its entirety, not through the limitations of the window of a car. Bal Harbour has been accommodated for its residents and visitors, providing safe and distinct walkways. The village does provide a shuttle service for its residents.

Bal Harbour’s small area is the perfect paradise destination. Given that it is a coastal city, the beach is one of its deciding factors. The use of public and private transportation is discouraged, unless traveling long distances to other parts of Miami. 

Food

Carpaccio

Carpaccio restaurant located in Bal Harbour Shops

Carpaccio is a popular Italian restaurant that opened over 25 years ago. Located in Bal Harbour Shops, it is attended by some of the most famous celebrities and powerful people of the area. The dishes are rich in flavour, one of the best in the village. 

Address: 9700 Collins Ave, Bal Harbour, FL 33154

King David Cuisine

Photo provided by King David Cuisine.

King david cuisine is famous for its multiple custom dishes and unique culinary knowledge. Some special dishes that they offer are Moroccan themed and come in a variety of styles. King david cuisine displays a beautiful dining area and a great customer service experience. Located in the heart of bal harbor, this restaurant won’t disappoint when it comes to its mediterranean and moroccan style dishes.  

This restaurant opened in 2018. 

Address: 10245 Collins Ave, Bal Harbour, Florida, 33154.

Makoto

Makoto restaurant in Bal Harbour Village

The Makoto in Bal harbor offers a variety of dishes that are all inspired by Japanese cuisine. Makoto is home to one of the most talented Edomae-style sushi chefs in Miami. Chef Makoto Okuwa has a career that has been constantly expanding for over 20 years. The chef had created his own take on Japanese style cuisine, starting from the age of 15 years old. 

Address: 9700 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33154

Businesses

Given the tourist nature of the village, most of the businesses here move around the business and commerce aspect.

Humannature

Founded in 1999, it is a public relations and communications agency focusing on science and technology.

Phone:  (305) 864-8224

10155 Collins Ave, Bal Harbour, FL 33154, USA

Talu Bisoneaux Hospitality

A business management consultant.

Phone: (744) 888-8840

9910 Collins Ave #5, Bal Harbour, FL 33154

CyberVision, Inc

A software company based within the Ritz-Carlton.

Phone: (201) 585-9809

10295 Collins Ave #804, Bal Harbour, FL 33154

Summary

Photograph provided by the village of Bal Harbour.

Even though South Florida is all about shopping and beaches, the exclusive and classy Bal Harbour adds to the individuality of Miami. With its fine resorts and amenities, the village welcomes travelers from all over the world to enjoy its breathtaking, natural beauty. 

With its establishment in the mid 1900s, the village is relatively modern and up to date with all the progressive technology. Always looking to accommodate its residents and visitors, Bal Harbour is pedestrian friendly and accessible to all. Collins Avenue, the main road going through the village, provides fast, easy, and sustainable movement. 

No matter who you are, you can visit and taste a little bit of paradise. It being such an upscale and elite area of Miami, Bal Harbour does come with its heavy weight on the wallet. The fine dining and resort style lifestyle might not be adequate for the average person. However, to enjoy the village, you do not need to spend exorbitant amounts of money. Taking a walk down Collins Avenue, with the palm trees and the ocean right beside you, is completely priceless. It is an experience unlike any other. It has no comparison to its southern neighbor Ocean Drive, the ambience is unmatched.

Citations

“All about Bal Harbour.” MiamiandBeaches.com, https://www.miamiandbeaches.com/neighborhoods/bal-harbour.

“Bal Harbour, Florida.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Oct. 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bal_Harbour,_Florida.

“Bal Harbour’s Art Access Program to Museums in Miami.” Bal Harbour, https://www.balharbourflorida.com/miami-arts-culture/access-program/.

“Carpaccio at Bal Harbour Shops Miami.” Bal Harbour Shops, 30 May 2021, https://www.balharbourshops.com/store-directory/carpaccio/.

Census Profile: Bal Harbour, FL. https://censusreporter.org/profiles/16000US1203275-bal-harbour-fl/.

“Kosher Glatt: King David Cuisine: United States.” King David Cuisine, https://www.kingdavidcuisine.biz/.

Makoto, https://makoto-restaurant.com/.

“Miami Travel Guide to Family Activities, Hotels, Bal Harbour Mall.” Bal Harbour, https://www.balharbourflorida.com/miami/travel-guide/.

https://www.allbiz.com/business/humannature_14-305-864-8224

Verónica Guzmán Betancourt: Miami Service 2021

Student Bio

   All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

Verónica Guzmán Betancourt is a Junior at Florida International University in Miami, Florida.  She is pursuing a major in Psychology as well as Natural and Applied Sciences, while being a member of the Honors College. After graduation in early 2023, she plans on continuing her education in Forensic Psychology.

   All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

Who

One of the most captivating places I have had the pleasure of volunteering at is the Deering Estate in Miami, Florida. It is in the Palmetto Bay area, and it is listed as a botanical garden as well as conservation site. Founder by Charles Deering in the 1920s, this land serves as a cultural and historic landmark for all South Florida.

Through the Deering Estate, I was able to have access to Chicken Key. This tiny island, a mile offshore, is home to an incredible amount of flora and fauna. The island, though completely uninhabited, preserves the life of many local endangered species.

Why

Chicken Key is actually very popular for people to visit. The Small nature of it makes it welcoming to small groups of people. It has a great location, just a couple miles from Key Biscayne, which is already well-known by locals and tourists. Many who canoe or kayak in the area can stop and rest, taking in the beautiful environment. However, there are people who abuse their stay. Some arrive in their small boats, excited and radiating the party energy Miami births. Chicken Key now has a grave pollution problem, endangering the wildlife that inhabits the island. The amount of plastic and trash left behind is endless. No matter how much time you spend cleaning up, there will always be some residue. Human interaction with the land should not be so detrimental to it, on the contrary, our impact should be beneficial. We have contributed immensely to the destruction of this habitat. If these poor practices are allowed to continue, there will not be a Chicken Key for us to enjoy. With all its native wildlife gone, the land will not flourish. Without proper care, this little paradise will cease to exist, only to remain forgotten in the history of Miami.

Personally, I thought that this service project was a great opportunity for me to step out of my comfort zone. Even though, I appreciate and respect nature, I never really find myself being involved in it. My life revolves around the city, not giving me much time to step out into Mother Nature. Canoeing and beach clean ups do not align at all with my major, but they are activities that allow me to connect with people on a deeper level. I have always loved being a part of events like these, where I can meet people. Talking to others gives you culture and opens your mind to other perspectives, which is something that is essential for my professional development.

How

   All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

With the help of our great coordinators from the Honors College, we were able to embark on this clean up journey. We joined forces with both Miami in Miami classes from Florida International University with the guidance and supervision of John Bailly, our professor. The Deering Estate was extremely resourceful and welcoming, providing all the equipment we needed to get to Chicken Key, from the canoes and kayaks to the paddles and life jackets. They also allowed us to use their facility to our discretion.

This opportunity was a great bonding experience, as we pushed through the water and wind, uniting our strength. Very few people had proper canoeing or kayaking experience, but that was never an issue. Everyone in our group was supportive and patient, allowing everyone to adapt and go their own pace. Nobody was ever left behind; we all enjoyed the ocean breezes and the rays of the sun as they hit our skin. The refreshing ocean water kept us lively and ready for the adventure at hand.

Where & What

Upon reaching our most important destination, Chicken Key, we soon realized the extent to which the island was polluted. We had been warned that it was in a bad state, but it was beyond our imagination. We spent a couple of hours going around the entirety of the island. We grouped up and each had the task of filling up a sandbag with all the trash we could find. However, it was very evident that one bag would not be enough. Within the group I was part of, we were able to fill up as many as 3-4 bags each.

   All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

On the island itself, we found endless amounts and types of plastics, ranging from bottle caps to bags. I came across cans of shaving cream, sandals and shoes, toothbrushes, and aluminum. All of these are objects that should not even be remotely close to an island like Chicken Key or any uninhabited island to begin with.

At the end of our journey, our canoes fit more trash than people. The paddling back to the Deering Estate was incredibly exhausting, as we now had added weight in our canoes. Halfway back to shore, we had to transfer bags to other canoes because it had become difficult for my partner and I to paddle efficiently.

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

Thankfully, we were able to collect a great deal of waste. Back on the Deering Estate, the water level had fallen dramatically compared to when we had left in the early morning. As each canoe arrived on site, we had to climb back onto land and unload the trash before we could lift the canoes and kayaks onto the grass. Once we all were grouped back together, people from the Deering Estates arrived with trucks, onto which we would load all the trash. These trucks then led us to their garbage containers, where we helped dispose of the trash and debris we had found.

When

Summary

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

This day is a day that I will remember for the rest of my life. I was able to give back to a community that has welcomed and provided for me since the moment I arrived. Being able to share this experience with my classmates was amazing. I have always been an advocate for the environment, growing up in a time in which pollution really sky rocketed.

Daily, I see people throw out things from their cars as they drive, having no regard for it. It is truly heartbreaking to see how people care so little about the planet that houses them. I hope to be able to share my experience with my peers and loved ones, so that they can feel inspired to do something for the environment, too. The more we talk about this, the more it expands. The Earth deserves love and attention, after all without it none of us would exist. It is our home, and we need to care for it, prioritize it.

I never thought that picking up trash would bring so much satisfaction. Being immersed in nature like that, something I normally would never do, pushed me out of my comfort zone. I met wonderful people though this event. We all exchanged stories and supported one another throughout the journey. All the hard work, every drop of sweat was worth it in the end.

Works Cited

“Deering Estate Chicken Key.” John William Bailly, 25 Apr. 2021, https://johnwbailly.com/lectures/chicken-key-clean-ups/.

“Deering Estate History: Historic Miami Mansion & Gardens.” Deering Estate, 21 Oct. 2021, https://deeringestate.org/history/.

Verónica Guzmán Betancourt : Miami as Text

Verónica Guzmán Betancourt is a 19-year-old Junior at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. Born in Cali, Colombia, Verónica lived most of her childhood in her home country before moving to South Florida in the fall of 2009. Ever since, she calls the Sunshine State her home. Graduating from high school in 2020, she is now pursuing a double major in Psychology and Natural and Applied Sciences, as well as being part of the Honors College. With these degrees, she plans on furthering her career by attending medical school to become a licensed psychiatrist.

Downtown as Text

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

They say that time is the best healing tool; however, many fail to acknowledge that we forget about experiences that are traumatic, so much that our brain removes them from our conscience. How might this be relevant? History. Everything we know, everything that makes us a cohesive race and society comes from history. We take what others have learned and done, applying it to our daily lives without even knowing. If it were not for textual and visual records left, many of the historical events we know about today would be forgotten in existence, like they never even happened. 

World War II was a collection of harsh and weary years that our society endured. What once started as an act of self defense ended in the assassination of innocent people. All for power, to have the upper hand, because being loyal and pure of race was more relevant than basic human rights. One of the most important symbols of the war was the Berlin Wall. Concrete that separated people, that divided a country, even more so the world. This wall represented the discrimination and oppression of people for power, all in the name of progress. 

Why is this wall important today, so many years after the war ended? This piece of the Berlin Wall stands in Miami, the melting pot of cultures. A city that thrives on a diverse and rich civilization. There is no city like Miami anywhere else in the world. A city that rose from the wild, from segregation and female foundations. Today this city is a beacon of hope and inclusivity for many who seek a safe haven. Miami is the home to anyone who needs a one, she will open her arms and take you in. She will provide you with life and warmth, regardless of where you come from. 

The Berlin Wall once stood to break apart, to isolate, to create an us and them. Today, it stands in a city plentiful of everything it once promised to end. Today, people from all over the world walk by it without even realizing what it once meant. Many have no idea that this vital part of our history even stands in our city. Ironically enough, so much time has passed by that it is considered just a graffitied wall, a random piece of art, on the sidewalk by the Miami Dade campus downtown. Time has led us to forget what our ancestors fought for, to give us the privileges we enjoy today. There is history everywhere you look, even if it might seem like there is nothing there. 

Overtown as Text


Windows at the Greater Bethel AME Church in Overtown, Miami. All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

I have called South Florida my home since 2009 and after so many years one would think that I would know everything there is to know about it. Unfortunately, that is not the case for me. I have lived here for 12 years and I must admit that I still feel like a tourist in Miami. 

It is crazy to think that I have been missing out on the culture and history of the city that I frequent so much. My experience in Overtown was beyond everything I expected. Being able to experience it first hand and learn from the natives was so touching and valuable. The things that I learned are not in any textbook or website out there. These were stories and facts told straight from the source, from people who actually were there seeing it all happen with their own eyes. 

We visited Greater Bethel AME Church and Mount Zion Baptist Church, both locations that witnessed vital and historic events during the Civil Rights movement. I stood in the same places in which people like Martin Luther King Jr. once stood. I saw the impact leaders like him left, both in the people and environment. 

Both of these churches rose from the ground, they were brought up with the intention to solidify and grow a community. A goal that faced adversity in a time of discrimination and intolerance. The building of these churches took years, there was no money to hire a contractor or any company to plan and carry out the construction. Given the fact that it was also in Overtown, no reputable (white) company would get involved in the area. The walls of these churches were brought up by its members, people of the community who donated their time and talents. 

The beautiful stained glass windows found at the Greater Bethel AME Church were done by people that came from out the state, particularly from Texas. These talented artists devoted their time to beautify their place of worship. 

These churches were and are more than just a place to go pray. These places united a community, provided support of every kind to anyone who needed it. These churches were education centers and health service providers, resources the community did not have back in the 1900s. It is heart-warming to see how much Overtown has grown, how it has expanded and withstood the past challenging years. At the same time, the churches have fought against the law to stay afloat. They now stand as landmarks in order to avoid being torn down as new people and companies move into the city trying to modernize the area. 

The legacy and history of Overtown will forever stay in the minds and hearts of people. No matter how much is torn apart or destroyed, you cannot erase history. 

Vizcaya as Text

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

Walking into Vizcaya feels as though you are walking into another dimension. Coming in from the busy city of Miami, the serenity and green landscapes of James Deering’s villa will blow your mind. It is astonishing to see such architecture hidden beautifully within nature from the constant gaiety of the city. With construction beginning in 1914, over 100 years ago, the grounds still hold the same magic and breathtaking views that once mesmerized every soul who set foot at Vizcaya. The perfect blend between the characteristic warmth of the city and the blissful, fresh ocean breezes makes Vizcaya something of a paradise on Earth. 

One of the things that captivates the attention of those who visit Vizcaya is the diversity within the estate. There is not a single detail that was not taken into consideration. The intricacy of every room is unmatched. James Deering proudly adorned his property with items personally designed and requested by him. Nowadays many questions still remain as to why certain artworks and items were brought to Miami by Deering. 

This villa has been the epicenter of many important events through the history of the city of Miami. Among the most significant events held at Vizcaya was the meeting in 1987 between President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II. A moment in time that signified the coming together of democracy and faith in one of the most distinct places in the country. Miami has always been known to be a city full of life, culture, and diversity. Even so, Vizcaya stands out in a place where everything is already one of a kind.

SoBe as Text

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

Miami is one of those places where the more you see, the more mesmerized you are. This time around, my journey in South Beach made me realize how much I take South Florida for granted. Even though I have lived here for over a decade, I must admit that my knowledge of the area is miniscule. There is so much valuable substance right at my fingertips, entire cultures and oceans of history that just sit there waiting for me to come discover it. 

Now that I am a college student, my mind is far more educated and open than I thought. I remember the very first time I visited Ocean Drive was a couple years ago when I was still in high school. It was so captivating, so much so that it left me feeling like a tourist in my own backyard. Growing up in the age of technology, playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was what gave me some sense of what Miami was like, South Beach in particular. Coming from Colombia from such a young age, I did not even understand what Miami was. In my head, the Miami I knew came from video games and movies. That video game was what introduced me to Ocean Drive, to the beaches, and the architecture. Coming to see this, in real life, as an adult gave me nostalgia, without even knowing any of the true history that built the streets I walked upon. 

Walking through Ocean Drive today, even in the times of a pandemic, still has its magic. No matter how many times you pass by, there will always be something you never noticed or knew about. Regardless of the day or time you go visit, the streets are full of life, whether it be the tourists or locals, the beautiful palm trees and ArtDeco buildings with vibrant pastels and neon also bring a fantasy to life. Having the ocean right in front of you as you enjoy a coffee or dinner with your family, is an experience like no other. With something as simple as taking a stroll through, breathing in the atmosphere, as the sun hits your skin, makes you feel like the main character of your own movie. 

Still, it feels as though I have not truly processed the fact that there is no place like South Beach anywhere else in the world, that I walk the streets many dream about. In reality, that is all it is, the distinctive vision of people who were not afraid to stand out in a rigid world. 

Rubell as Text

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

Being creative takes an immense amount of courage. Your creativity is innate, it is born with you and shaped as you go about experiencing life. That is the true beauty of art. It does not have to be about what technique you use or what you are doing in your work, the key is in expressing yourself. Your art allows people to see other perspectives, it opens people’s minds to other worlds. Art is like seeing the world in different colors. Art is to the eyes as taste buds are to your mouth. It is everywhere, in the building you drive by every morning, the billboards you see on the streets. 

The Rubell Museum in Miami offers an immersive experience with contemporary art. Their collection is absolutely beautiful, representing cultures and people from all over the world. Every work has a space dedicated to it, respecting the uniqueness of it while providing the recognition it deserves. 


This museum is also home to some of Cajsa von Zeipel’s work. She is a Swedish born sculpturist, mainly using silicone to bring her works to life. The sculptures she makes can be described as “dramatically adorned figures and contorted figures [that] delve into identity, queerness, normativity, and fantasy” (Rubell Museum Cajsa von Zeipel). I understood her display at the Rubell Museum as a criticism of influencer culture and modern sexualization of women. It portrays women in particular, doing the most attention seeking things one could imagine. The clothing itself, full of color and disagreement in theme, shows how eccentric and bizarre the lives of these women are. The sculptures, to me, are a representation of the material world as they include technology and designs from luxury brands, like Louis Vuitton. The use of cute animals and pastel colors brings attention to how these influencers target the most impressionable audience, children. Even though the sculptures are extravagant, they have a charmingness to them, captivating the attention of those who land their eyes upon them.

Refferences:

“Cajsa Von Zeipel.” Rubell Museum, https://rubellmuseum.org/exhibitions/2021-22/2021-cajsa-von-zeipel. 

UNTITLED as Text

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

I see Miami as a city of contemporary art, supporting artists from all walks of life as well as giving birth to new ones. Never have I been the person who would willingly go to a museum or see art as anything remotely interesting. The truth is that in the past few weeks I have come to learn that you do not need to be a professional critic or an artist to get involved with art. Art is a form of expression, regardless of the medium.

My visit to UNTITLED, opened my eyes to the way I looked at art. I did not realize that it was not just about paintings. The booth that caught my full attention was the one belonging to Galerie Kornfield, which came all the way from Berlin, Germany. The artist that was featured was Federico Solmi. He is an Italian artist based in Brooklyn, New York. I found his work to be mesmerizing. He merges two different worlds into one. The representative of the gallery present at UNTITLED, explained that his work is first rendered using coding software. It is designed virtually, which takes months to do, then it is all carefully and accurately transferred to a canvas to be painted. The completion of just one of those paintings can take up to a year. The process is lengthy to allow enough time and thought to provide peak creativity and essentially perfect work. One of my favorite aspects of Solmi’s work was the beautiful colors used in the background of his paintings. Everything is perfectly blended, uniting the background and the drawings into one cohesive piece. 

Also featured in my collage, is LOOP by Amy Ellingson from Eli Ridgway Gallery.

Coral Gables as Text

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

The one thing about Miami that will never fail to mesmerize its visitors is the architecture. Coral Gables adds a vital touch to the rich and interesting history of the Magic City. 

Throughout our tour and learning experience, the building that caught my attention was City Hall. The building was finished in the late 1920s, built in the style of the Spanish Renaissance.  Inspired by the Mediterranean revival, the common architectural style found throughout the city. As you walk closer, you can see the detail in the stones, the perfect placing, the beautiful carvings. This building works to serve the community, as it provides the residents with their needs. Whether it be for personal or commercial demands, City Hall welcomes anyone who can benefit from its services, even in the times of COVID-19.

In front of City Hall, lives the statue of George Merrick. A man who is credited for the development of Coral Gables as a whole. A man who envisioned a city built with fine style and at the same time exploiting the benefits of urban living. A man who is often judged for his perspective in a time of severe segregation. It is known that this fascinating city was built with the hands of hard-working Bahamians. Many of which had to endure the horrible conditions and consequences of racism in Miami. 

River of Grass as Text

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

Even in a world ruled by technology and advancements of all kinds, the Everglades still stand intact. Through many efforts of conservation,  this National Preserve houses some of the most incredible species in the world, some of which are only found here in South Florida.

Coming from the city, I was shocked by how secluded this vast area actually feels.  I had to drive essentially an hour and a half down to Homestead to the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center. Having been living in South Florida for almost 12 years, I had never found myself visiting the Everglades. I was very surprised to find out that this part of the Everglades is actually home to old army bases where defensive missiles were kept throughout the Cold War. The Everglades supports a massive amount of species and us too. 

This excursion out to the wild allowed me to connect with nature in a way that I had never been able to before. Growing up I thought that I had a good sense of what nature was given the fact that I had grown up in rural areas where farming and farm animals were very common. However, I realized that I was extremely wrong.  

This trip to the Everglades was mind opening,  it was beautiful to see how peaceful it really is out there and how clustered and stressful our lives have become with the extensive use of technology.  Everyday we stray away from nature and everything it has to offer. 

As we ventured out into the wild,  we faced different types of vegetation.  We walked among carpets of tiny, little grasshoppers jumping around.  We walked through puddles of weather rock filled with tadpoles as they were swimming around.  The wind brought us a blissful breeze to counteract the effects of the Florida sun rays on our skin. We came across a snake curled up on the ground, almost undetectable as it camouflaged with the dirt.  We walked among high grass becoming one with nature. 

Wynwood as Text

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

Coming from an outside perspective, as a person who is not involved with art in the slightest, Wynwood and Design District really opened up my mind to be more receptive to modern art. Having lived in South Florida for over a decade, I had found myself visiting these places before, but never under the guidance of someone who knew so much about the history of the area. 

The Margulies Collection in Wynwood was my favorite stop throughout our day in Miami. Their Postwar Italian Art collection was absolutely mind blowing. I was truly shocked to see that art is not just paint on a canvas. Modern art has taken so many shapes and forms. The collection had digital art, as well as something that I had never seen before, olfactory art. Ernesto Neto and his “Eo bicho” exhibition left me speechless. It worked on my senses far more than anything visual ever had. Smelling the spices sent me back to my childhood, it brought me to a safe place, full of memories I forgot I had. It is incredible to see how something as simple as smell can trigger so many memories. 

Growing up, one of my biggest interests was Italy and its culture. So much so, that it led me to learn the language and dedicate part of my studies in high school to it. One of my favorite exhibitions at the Margulies Collection was the work by Luciano Fabro. The meaning behind it seems very subjective to me. As I see it, a rock sits on a log with the inscription,  “il giorno mi pesa sulla notte”, meaning something along the lines of “the day weighs upon my night”. This leads me to think that he is reflecting upon his daily actions, that what he does today is what leads him to tomorrow. Perhaps the nights are meant to be reflective, they lead him to think about life and how what he is doing influences his future. 

One of the things I learned on this excursion was presentation vs. representation. Most of the time, with art, people try to convey meaning visually, meaning that you have to interpret what you see. However, modern art has taken another look at it and actually represents what it’s meant to be. A wall is a wall and not a barrier between two worlds. A ladder is a ladder and not a connection between a high and a low.

Key Biscayne as Text

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

One of the things that gives Florida its uniqueness is the spectacular scenery anywhere you go. The Sunshine State has nature growing and thriving wherever you look. South Florida is home to some of the most beautiful nature reserves in the country. Key Biscayne is year after year voted one of the best places to vacation and visit. Tourists from all over the world come here to delight themselves under the bright, hot sun. 

The barrier island is home to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, where the famous Cape Florida Lighthouse is located. The one we see today was not like the original one at all. It faced adversity, being destroyed and rebuilt in 1846. The famous lighthouse guided sailors for many years. It helped boats stay away from the reef that could have caused many accidents if they came too close to shore. Much of the trees and other plants you encounter throughout the park are man-made. You can find some in multiples of three, carefully placed to conserve the environment and enrich the ecosystem.

According to Florida State Parks, “Cape Florida was designated a National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Site”. These grounds were a vital point for people who sought refuge. Being so close to the Bahamas, many Native Americans and fugitive slaves were able to flee Florida. There they were able to have much more freedom than they had before, even during times were racism and segregation was in place.

Coconut Grove as Text

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

As a Miami in Miami student, I have been able to learn about the extensive history of Miami. There are so many things that I was unaware of, history that I walk upon everyday unknowingly. With this class I have been able to learn about my community and how to give back. 

Coconut Grove has such a rich history everywhere that you look. This neighborhood was established in the late 1800s by Bahamians who made it their permanent residence. The lands that Coconut Grove stands on are older than the City of Miami, lands that were once inhabited by Tequesta and Seminole indians. Much of the origins of Miami as a whole started in Coconut Grove, something that most people do not know.

All photographs taken and edited by Verónica Guzmán Betancourt/CC BY 4.0

On my excursion out there, I encountered so much life and beauty as I walked the streets. Ever since I was young, I loved reading and being able to disconnect from reality, which sometimes can be harsh. Books have provided so much knowledge and culture that I otherwise would not have gotten. The Coconut Grove Branch Library was the only library that I had the chance to visit in all of the excursions we did as a part of Miami in Miami I wanted to take that opportunity to be able to give back some of the magic that books gave me to other children out there. I know that there are many families out there who live from paycheck to paycheck, who might not be able to afford the luxury that books can be. 

As we get older, our interests change. What we once loved suddenly becomes a distant memory. Now, as I’m moving on to a new stage of my life, I decided to let go of some of my childhood but at the same time give the opportunity to somebody else. I took this as a community service act and I donated about a dozen books from my old collection. Those non-fictions that once fed my imagination, will now get the chance to inspire somebody else. 

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