Victoria Jackson: Virginia Key 2021

Photo Taken of Victoria Jackson in 2020. Photo by Nigel Courtney/CC BY 4.0

Student Bio:

Hello Everyone! My name is Victoria Jackson, and I was born and raised in Miami Florida. I am junior in the Honors College at Florida International University studying English-Education. Outside of school I love travelling, reading, and dancing. I am looking forward to exploring the place I have called home, seeing, and experiencing the different wonders Miami has to offer and creating memories with the rest of my classmates.


Photo Taken From TOPOZONE/CC BY 4.0

Virginia Key is a barrier island located in the eastern area of Miami-Dade County. It is 863 acres and spans a little over 1.3 miles. It is situated in Biscayne Bay north of Key Biscayne, south of Brickell and minutes from the downtown area. In the U.S Geological Survey, Virginia Key’s map area is Key Biscayne. Fisher Island, Star Island, Dodge Island, and Hibiscus Island are some of the surrounding islands (“Virginia Key Topo Map in Miami-Dade.”). Virginia Key can be accessed from the Rickenbacker Causeway from the mainland. It is approximately 5 meters above sea level. The city balances infrastructural features, recreational benefits, and urban interest.


According to Frederick H. Gerdes, who was a U.S Coast Surveyor and part of the Army Corps of Topographical Engineers, Virginia Key was once part of a larger land mass that also included Miami Beach and Fisher Island. A series of hurricanes that happened between the late 1820’s and early 1830’s started forming the space between Virginia Key and Fisher Island. This created what is now known as the Norris Cut in 1835 which was then used as an initial access for ships that were coming into Biscayne Bay (“Miami’s Virginia Key & Fisher Island Were Split In Two By A Powerful Hurricane That Cut Through Peninsula.”).

There have been several adaptions to Virginia Key that have altered its natural state (“Historic Virginia Key Beach Park in Key Biscayne, FL.”). Virginia Key has a large variety of different habitats such as the mangrove wetlands and the hardwood hammocks. Since the 1970’s, Virginia Key has been used as an area for placing dredging material that came from the Port of Miami. There has also been threats from invasive vegetation (“Virginia Key.”).

Virginia Key has also been an area where important historical moments have taken place such as the opening of a “colored beach”. Thus, providing the African American community with a recreational area that was similar to the “whites-only” beach. Though it had a period of inactivity, Virginia Key has remained an urban escape from the mainland.


While there are no residents in Virginia Key, there can be a visiting population of around 12,943 with the female population being slightly higher than the male (“Virginia Key Demographics.”). Most of the population make up white collar workers. More than 88% of the visitors have some degree of schooling. According to ZipDataMaps around 58% of visitors are white while the other 42% is composed of African Americans and Hispanics.

Interview with Kylie Sandler

Photo of Kylie Sandler Taken By Victoria Jackson/C BY 4.0

***Note: The Person I interviewed is not a resident of Virginia Key. She is instead a resident of Key Biscayne, but she spends a lot of time in Virginia Key. Virginia Key does not have any residents.

Victoria: Hi, can you please give me a small introduction of yourself?

Kylie: Hi, my name is Kylie. I live in Key Biscayne, but I am a frequent visitor of Virginia Key. I am currently a student but because of the pandemic I am doing remote classes.

Victoria: How would you describe Virginia Key and what keeps drawing you back?

Kylie: I would describe Virginia Key as a huge family beach. It somewhere where you can have space to interact with your friends and family and have the opportunity to meet amazing people. It’s a very welcoming environment and it makes me feel at home. I also come with a group on the weekends to do some volunteer work quite often.

Victoria: What do you enjoy the most about Virginia Key?

Kylie: I love the large amounts of recreational activities I am able to do here. I also love how it promotes more of an active lifestyle.

Victoria: What are some changes you would like to see implemented on the island?

Kylie: I would like to see a wider range of restaurants that were available. Having a larger variety on the type of food as well as a variety in the cost.


The Rusty Pelican (3201 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne, FL 33149)

Photo Taken By Victoria Jackson/CC BY 4.0

While The Rusty Pelican is a restaurant, it is a landmark in its own right and is an important food staple in Miami. The Rusty Pelican opened in 1972 on the Rickenbacker Marina. It soon became a tourist destination that people from different parts of the world come to visit. The guest can choose from a variety of Latin inspired and fresh seafood dishes and from over a thousand wines (“About: The Rusty Pelican in Miami, FL.”). The restaurant also provides guest with an amazing view of the Miami skyline. Lunch and Dinner are available from Monday to Friday and Brunch and Dinner is available on Sunday and because the restaurant is in high demand it is better to make a reservation before coming. I can fondly remember going there on different special occasions.

Miami Marine Stadium (3501 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149)

Photo Taken By Victoria Jackson/CC BY 4.0

The Miami Marine Stadium is located on the Rickenbacker Marina and played an important and vital role in the residents’ way of life. The stadium was built in 1963 for the main purpose of water sports, mainly powerboat racing. It was also home to different concerts as well as sporting events like boxing. Major damage was sustained after the arrival Hurricane Andrew and was soon declared too dangerous for visitors to continue coming. It officially closed in September of 1992 (“Miami Marine Stadium.”). It is currently inactive but has now become a home for a different crowd. Since its closing, graffiti artists have flocked to the site and create their art. Not only were they able to have a large blank canvas that they were able to put their work on, but they were also provided with a beautiful view of the Miami Skyline from the Biscayne Bay. The stadium is now in the final steps of being approved for restoration after city residents pledged money to have the stadium renovated in 2004. The Miami Marine Stadium was officially included on the National Register of Historic Places list in 2018.

Historic Virginia Key Beach Park (4020 Virginia Beach Dr, Miami, FL 33149)

Photo Taken And Edited By Victoria Jackson/CC BY 4.0

The Historic Virginia Key Beach Park is not only an important landmark to the island but also an important staple in the African American community. After two black women and four black men started a sequence of wade in protests at Haulover Beach Park, which at the time was a “whites only” beach park, the city wanted to designate another area to be a “colored only” beach (“’White Sand, Black Beach’: The Black History of Virginia Key.”). Since tourism was on the rise and they were heavily dependent on it they did not want it to be a big spectacle that might deter people from visiting.

They ultimately decided, along with the leaders of several African American communities and agreed that beach park on Virginia Key would be the location. It was official open August 1st and was officially known as “Virginia Beach, a Dade County Park for the exclusive use of Negroes” (). A boat left from Overtown, where the black community resided, and took the Miami River to reach the beach park. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. August 1st is officially Historic Virginia Key Beach Park Day.

The Historic Virginia Key Beach is also home to several other important landmarks that have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. These include: The Bath House, Concession Stand, Dance pavilion, Mini Train Station, Carousel. These were amenities that the African American community had available to them that was usually linked to “white only” places (“Florida Stories: A Walking Tour of Virginia Key.”).


Hobie Island Beach Park (Old. Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149)

Photo Taken By Victoria Jackson/CC BY 4.0

Hobie Island Beach Park is situated right off of the Rickenbacker Causeway in the west area of Virginia Key. Though it is relatively small in size compare to the other green spaces, it offers a beautiful panoramic view of the city. The park has a small walking trail. The beach also goes by the name of Windsurfer Beach and offers windsurfing rentals. This beach park is one of the only ones in Miami that is dog friendly. The water is shallow and calm making it perfect for dogs (“Hobie Beach – Windsurfer Beach in Key Biscayne, FL.”).

Historic Virginia Key Beach Park (4020 Virginia Beach Dr, Miami, FL 33149)

Photo Taken and Edited By Victoria Jackson/CC BY 4.0

The Historic Virginia Key Beach Park is found in the southeastern region of Virginia Key. In the park there is a large walking trail, part of it wrapping around a large open field that is equipped with soccer goals. There is a playground set provided for children and it is situated next to the Historic Dance Pavilion where there are picnic benches placed. This is in front of the Historic Concession Stand where there is live music that plays and more seating. Picnic and barbeque areas are also provided for guests (“Visit the Park.”). Visitors are able to rent out kayaks and paddleboards and they are also able to use the Historic Bath House to rinse off.

Virginia Key Beach North Point Park (3801 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149)

Photo Taken And Edited By Victoria Jackson/CC BY 4.0

Virginia Key Beach North Point Park is located in the northeast section of Virginia Key. It is home to the Virginia Key Outdoor Center and the Virginia Key North Point Trails. Guests are able to go down and explore through the Mabel Miller Walking Trail. The Outdoor Center provides visitors with kayak and paddleboard rentals for different activities like lessons, yoga classes, manatee photo safaris, and sunset as well as full moon trips (“Virginia Key Outdoor Center in Key Biscayne, FL.”). People are able to explore on their own, in a group or join a guided group. Mountain bike and beach cruiser rentals are also available to those who want to explore the trails.

The North Point Trails features 19 trails with different levels of experience that are open from sunrise to sunset. The novice trails are flat with minimal elevation changes. The intermediate trails have a more moderate elevation change and incorporate bermed corners. The advanced trails are only accessible once the qualifier is passed at the beginning. After, riders will experience trails that have challenging elevation changes and bridges and incorporate rocks, sharp turns, and difficult descents (“Vkbctrails.”).


Photo Taken And Edited By Victoria Jackson/CC BY 4.0

The Metrobus:

The Metrobus makes six stops throughout Virginia Key through the 102 Route. These include Rickenbacker Causeway at Virginia Beach Dr., Rickenbacker Causeway at Mast Academy, Rickenbacker Causeway at Marine Stadium, Rickenbacker Causeway at #3301 MD Fishhous, Rickenbacker Causeway at Op Hobie Beach and Rickenbacker Causeway at Op Smith Pathway (“Miami Metrobus Transit.”). It is very convenient to the facility workers and students who want to travel to and from work and school. The metrobus is also a cheaper option for those who want to avoid the park fees. The bus has implemented social distancing measures and has lowered their cap on their total capacity. Face coverings are required to ride. The fares will be restored starting the first of June this year.


Cars are probably the most popular mode of transportation. Virginia Key provides visitors with designated parking areas so that they are able to easily access local facilities, parks, and the beaches. Since it is such a short drive from Miami’s most popular areas, people will opt to use a vehicle. For example, the drive from Miami Beach is less than 25 minutes, from Downtown the drive is around 12 minutes and from Brickell the drive is around 9 minutes.


Bicycles are used by many people to get to and from their destinations. Designated bicycle lanes have been added to the rode to encourage more people to us bikes as a mode of transportation. It ensures their safety and is well ordered for them. Virginia Key also has several walking trails and bicycle trails that bicyclist flock to.


Whiskey Joe’s Bar & Grill ( 3301 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne, FL 33149)

Photo Taken By Victoria Jackson/CC BY 4.0

Whiskey Joe’s Bar and Grill is a two-story restaurant that is located on the Rickenbacker Marina. It is situated in the west area of the island. It features a fusion of American and Caribbean style cuisine and highlights their seafood collection. They also point out that they are vegetarian friendly. It is open from 1:00 pm to 10:00 pm on Mondays through Thursdays, 11:00 am to 11:00 pm on Friday through Saturday and 11:00 am to 10:00 pm on Sunday (“Miami: Hours + Location: Whiskey Joe’s: Waterside Bars and Grills in Florida.”). While reservations are not required, they are ae suggested since it can get very busy. They have 3 other locations in Tampa, Port Richey, and Manatee River.

Atlantica Seafood Restaurant & Market (3501 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149)

Photo Taken By Victoria Jackson/CC BY 4.0

Atlantica’s Seafood Restaurant and Market is also located on the Rickenbacker Marina situated on the west area of the island. It operates Tuesday through Sunday and puts an emphasis on the quality of the different seafood dishes it serves. The amazing smell of the food meets you before you even reach the door. The restaurant is very comforting and family oriented. Outdoor entertainment is also provided at different times. It opens at 11:00 am and usually closes at 9:00 pm on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, 10:00 pm on Thursdays and Fridays, and 11:00 pm on Saturdays.

Beach Park Food Stalls (Old. Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149)

Photo Taken And Edited By Victoria Jackson/CC BY 4.0

On Hobie Island Beach there are different food stalls that are near the parking and walking area scattered down the strip. They are family owned and operated and provide visitors who are at the beach park with a delicious meal and refreshing beverage. They sell food like hot dogs, nachos, Garcia Sausages, and sandwiches and each have their own specialty items like frozen lemonade or arepas. They are very welcoming and stay stationed out there for a majority of the day.


Miami Water Life Tours (3301 Rickenbacker Causeway Key Biscayne, FL 33149)

Phot Taken By Victoria Jackson/CC BY 4.0

The Miami Water Life Tours offers premier rentals for Jet Skis. They provide jet ski tours of Biscayne Bay with an experienced tour guide. The tours typically last for an hour. They also rent out kayaks and paddleboards as well. They are open every day at 9:00 am and close at either 5:00 pm on the weekday and 6:00 pm on the weekend.

South Florida Boat Club (3301 Rickenbacker Causeway Key Biscayne, FL 33149)

Photo Taken By Victoria Jackson/CC BY 4.0

The South Florida Boat Club is located on the Rickenbacker Marina and provides people who join boating lessons (“Boat Club Fort Lauderdale Miami Florida.”). Members pay a certain amount per month and they are taught and led by different harbor masters. Their slogan is “Boat more and pay less.” When people sign up, they save more than if they were to buy their own boat or constantly rented out boats. It also allows them to have no worries regarding clean up, maintenance, and storage. There are a fleet of ships available and you just have to message them for more information and an open house.

Bike Parlor (3801 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149)

Photo Taken By Victoria Jackson/CC BY 4.0

The Bike Parlor was stationed near the bike trails within Virginia Key Beach North Point Park. They sell different parts to the cycling community that not only enhances their experience but makes them more noticeable. The products are top quality and have a longer shelf life. Some of the items they sell are chuksgrips, gloves and socks. They are stationed near different bike trails. Their products can also be bought online and shipped to all parts of the U.S


Entering Virginia Key from the Rickenbacker Causeway is taking you to a recreational haven. Visitors can escape the hustle and bustle and whirlwind of the main areas of Miami and enjoy and appreciate different recreational activities like, walking, biking, swimming, fishing, kayaking, and sky gazing. It is people friendly as well as eco-friendly, with the island providing trash cans and recycling bins throughout the area and promoting multiple ways of transportation that help with pollution.

Transportation is doing pretty well. Even though visitors typically come by car, the traffic flows well and allows people to get to their destination in a short amount of time. This makes traveling there and within the island less stressful. One thing that could be a bit improved is the regulation of driving through and parking around the Rickenbacker Marina area. The space is very limited and when a lot of people are trying to make their way in or out there are some bumps along the way. In addition, the restaurants, while limited in number, provide their guests with an amazing dining experience that shows off the best of Miami and Miami style cuisine.


“About: The Rusty Pelican in Miami, FL.” Rusty Pelican Miami | Upscale, American Cuisine in Miami, FL,

August 29, 2019·10 Comments. “Miami’s Virginia Key & Fisher Island Were Split In Two By A Powerful Hurricane That Cut Through Peninsula.” The Next Miami, 29 Aug. 2019,

“Boat Club Fort Lauderdale Miami Florida.” South Florida Boat Club, 16 July 2018,

“Florida Stories: A Walking Tour of Virginia Key.” Visit Florida,

“Historic Virginia Key Beach Park in Key Biscayne, FL.”,

“Hobie Beach – Windsurfer Beach in Key Biscayne, FL.”,

Maps, Zip Data. “Miami Neighborhood Virginia Key Profile, Demographics and Map.”,

“Miami Marine Stadium.” Abandoned Florida, 27 Oct. 2020,

“Miami Metrobus Transit.” ,

“Miami: Hours + Location: Whiskey Joe’s: Waterside Bars and Grills in Florida.” Whiskey Joe’s | Waterside Bars and Grills in Florida,

Nebhrajani, Written by Roshan. “’White Sand, Black Beach’: The Black History of Virginia Key.” The New Tropic, 16 Feb. 2017,

“Virginia Key Demographics.” Household Income, Virginia Key Population & Demographics – Point2,

“Virginia Key Outdoor Center in Key Biscayne, FL.”,

“Virginia Key Topo Map in Miami-Dade.” TopoZone,

“Virginia Key.” Frost Science, 10 Oct. 2016,

“Visit the Park.” Historic Virginia Key Beach Park Trust,


Victoria Jackson: Miami Service Project 2021

Photo Taken Of Victoria Jackson in 2020. Photo by Nigel Courtney/CC BY 4.0

Student Bio:

Hello Everyone! My name is Victoria Jackson, and I was born and raised in Miami Florida. I am junior in the Honors College at Florida International University studying English-Education. Outside of school I love travelling, reading, and dancing. I am looking forward to exploring the place I have called home, seeing, and experiencing the different wonders Miami has to offer and creating memories with the rest of my classmates.


I completed my service hours at three different locations. The first location was at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park where I went as a part of Professor Bailly’s class to have a cleanup on the beach. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park offers a range of debris cleanups and land maintenance opportunities for volunteers to participate in. The second location was at Crandon Park where I was a participant of the Youth Service Earth Fest. The park is not only home to this organization but hosts a variety of different groups who can aid in cleanups, gardening, and upkeep. The Youth Service Earth Fest works with volunteers to complete beach cleanups, plantings, and beautifications (“Youth Service Earth Fest”). The third location was at Feeding South Florida. Feeding South Florida provides different opportunities such as food inspection and food sorting for volunteers to participate in to help provide those in need with meals.


Due to the pandemic, it was challenging to find volunteering activities that were still open and following the guidelines that the CDC put into place. A large majority of these have been outdoor cleanups and planting, and some have been through organizations that are still ongoing. I was able to participate in one through my class at the Honors College and two others after learning more about them online. I was happy that I was able to come across these different volunteer activities and that I was able to make a difference in the environment and people’s lives.


Bill Baggs State Park:

On February 17th, 2021, our Miami in Miami class at the FIU Honors College helped the park workers in cleaning up the landscape near the beach after our class. I felt connected to this project because I was glad to do my part in helping this amazing park. It was the first time I was really visiting and learning about the history of the park, so that inspired me even more to do what I can to help the environment.

Youth Service Earth Fest:

On April 18th, 2021, I participated at Crandon Park to help with planting pollinator plants after learning about it online. I felt connected to this activity because gardening has always been an interest of mine and something I wanted to learn more about. Since it is Earth month, they are holding different events throughout the month and I knew that I had to take part.

Feeding South Volunteer:

On April 20th, 2021, I participated at Feeding South Florida to help sort food to be shipped to those in need. This activity really resonated with me because during a time where everything feels so out of control and so many people are suffering, I felt that I could control this aspect and really make a difference in peoples’ lives.


Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park:

Photo Taken By Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

The class on February 17th, 2021 began at 10:00am. After connecting at our designated meeting point, we set forth on our tour of the lighthouse and the area around it while we were given our lecture. After lunch we got ready and carpooled to a different section of the park where we eventually broke off into groups. After each group was given their assignment, we all set of to complete our individual tasks.

Photo Taken Of Victoria Jackson and Brittney Sanchez in 2021. Photo By Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.0

We first started by adjusting the sand on the sides of the path to its natural location using a garden fork. Because of large vehicles that needed to go down that path, the sand started pilling up on the side. We then collected a variety of trash and dead and scattered tree branches and twigs that were then placed in the garbage pile. This was followed by the class working together to scoop sand into a forklift that was then transferred to a different area in the beach. After we finished, we were able to enjoy the rest of the day at the beach which was a fantastic way to end the day.

Youth Service Earth Fest at Crandon Park:

Photos Taken And Edited By Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

On April 18th, 2020 I arrived at Crandon Park to begin the Earth Fest activity. We were introduced to the team working with the program as well as the person who was providing the plants for us to garden. We then made our way to the circle area where the planting was taking place. There we learned more about the plants and why were planting them. The goal was to place pollinator plants in the garden to attract more of our native butterfly species. They even told us that one of the plants was used as starch by the Tequesta tribe who were a group of people who lived and inhibited the land before us.

Photo Taken By Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

The group proceeded to spread out and start their individual activities. The area was separated into four quadrants and we planted along the edge of each one. After we planted both the small and small-medium sized plants, we placed rocks along the edge of each quadrant bordering the plants in. After, we went between each of the plants placing mulch over the top of the soil so that moisture will be retained. After finishing the area, we were free to explore the rest of the park and even go on the beach.

Feeding South Florida:

Photo Taken By Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

I arrived at the Pembroke Park location of Feeding South Florida on April 20th, 2021 to volunteer for two shifts. I promptly checked in and waited in a small vicinity in the warehouse. I was then given an orientation on the different jobs and their description and then made my way to the part of their warehouse where we were working. The volunteers were split into two major groups, the food inspectors, who examined the food for any damage and made sure it was still healthy to consume, and food sorters, who separated and boxed the food into different categories. I was part of the food sorters and worked on separating and boxing the food that was eventually taped up and shipped out. By the end we were able to separate and sort enough food to equal around 6,100 meals. We then cleaned up and got the area ready for the next shift.

Photo Taken By Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

After a break period I began the second shift and took on the same role as I did the first time around. Even though the number of volunteers was smaller than the first group, we were still able to accomplish a great amount and sort enough food to equal 5,000 meals toward the end of the shift. We then sanitized our stations and were free to leave.



I am so appreciative that I was able to experience these different activities. Regardless of the limitations, I am glad that I was able to do my part. Seeing how much we were able to accomplish at the end of every opportunity was not only gratifying but extremely inspiring and pushed me to want to do even more for my community. I left each volunteer activity with a new perspective and newfound respect and admiration. I will continue to volunteer but also take more time educating other people as well and try to inspire them to volunteer and make changes in their life as well.


“Youth Service Earth Fest.”,

Victoria Jackson: Miami Service 2020

Photo taken of Victoria Jackson in 2020. Photo by Nigel Courtney/ CC BY 4.0

Student Bio:

Hello Everyone! My name is Victoria Jackson, and I was born and raised in Miami Florida. I am junior in the Honors College at Florida International University studying English-Education. Outside of school I love travelling, reading and dancing. I am looking forward to exploring the place I have called home, seeing and experiencing the different wonders Miami has to offer and creating memories with the rest of my classmates.


I completed my service hours at two locations. The first location was at the Deering Estate where I went as a part of Professor Bailly’s class to have a cleanup at Chicken key and in the Mangroves. The Deering Estate offers various volunteer opportunities like ground upkeep, coastal cleanups and for different special events (“Volunteering Opportunities”). The second location was The Art Bakehouse Complex. The Art Bakehouse provides different volunteer opportunities like working and collaborating with different artists. I volunteered here as a part of Professor Bailly’s class as well.


It was very difficult to find volunteering opportunities that matched up with my schedule and that I was able to attend because of the Pandemic. It was so amazing that as a class we were able to have different opportunities to participate in different volunteer activities. I love engaging and taking part in projects that benefit the environment and bring more awareness to the conservation efforts.


– Chicken Key:

On October 14th, 2020, our Miami in Miami class at the FIU Honors College canoed to Chicken Key to gather waste. I really felt connected to this project because it was such a new and worthwhile experience for me. I really enjoyed my first canoe ride while looking at the beautiful scenery and doing the cleanup felt very gratifying. It felt good to do my part for the betterment of the environment.

–The Bakehouse Art Complex:

On October 28th, 2020, our Miami in Miami class at the FIU Honors visited the Bakehouse Art Complex to work with Lauren Shapiro on her project. The whole activity resonated with me and I felt really connected to it because of the message and the vision of the project.


On December 2nd, 2020, our Miami in Miami class at the FIU Honors canoed into the mangroves to collect trash. I felt connected to this activity because it was like our first trip to the Deering Estate. The canoe ride was just as amazing as last time. It was challenging but fun to weave through the mangroves to collect the trash.


-Chicken Key:

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

The class began on October 14th, 2020 at 10:00 pm. While we adorned our life jackets and picked out our paddles we were put into pairs and then we each picked a canoe. One by one we set off with empty bags in the middle of the canoe to Chicken Key. My partner Lukas and I eventually reached the island where we tied up our canoe and walked on to shore. After regrouping we set off to start collecting the debris.

Photo taken of Victoria Jackson and Lukas Stump in 2020. Photo by John Bailly/ CC BY 4.0

We collected a variety of items like shoes, wrappers, bottles, glass, pieces of plastic and string. We had different breaks in between for lunch and for water breaks so that we were able to stay hydrated. At the end of our cleanup trip, we jumped in the water and it was such an amazing way to end the day. With our canoes filled with trash, we slowly made our way back to the Deering Estate. When everyone was back on land, we saw that we filled over 6 canoes with garbage.

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

-The Bakehouse Art Complex:

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

On October 28, 2020 I arrived a little earlier than the rest of the afternoon class and I started with the activity. Once a majority of the morning class left, the afternoon class gathered around local artist Lauren Shapiro to explain her vision for the project, and that was the structure was a representation of our dying coral reefs. Once we got our instructions, we broke off into two groups. One group was molding the clay against the stencil and then placing it in a bin while the other group worked on placing the completed clay shells on to the structure. We alternated between both jobs freely while getting tips and having conversations with the other artists. By the end we were able to complete a whole side of the structure and make good progress on all of the other sides.

Photo taken of Victoria Jackson and Britney Sanchez in 2020. Photo by Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.0


Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

December 2nd, 2020 allowed us to have another cleanup day that was similar to the first. We met up at Deering Estate just like the previous time but instead of going to Chicken Key we were heading to the mangroves. Just like the previous time we partnered up, this time I was with Louis who was from the previous class, got ready and set off. There was a lot more wind this time around which caused some of us to drift off or run into branches. After we finally got back into a group we drifted through different sections of the mangroves and admired the beautiful and calming view. Once we got to our destination, we tied up our canoes and went through a bit of a challenging period of getting out of the canoes and not falling into the deep water. Once we were all out, we started collecting the debris. We collected balls, bottles, large containers and large variety of other things. Once all the garbage was in the canoe, we slowly made our way back in the canoes. The wind was very strong, and everyone started drifting apart. Once everyone made their way back to the mainland, we emptied out our canoes and dumped all of it in the trash.

Photo taken of Miami in Miami class in 2020. Photo by Nicole Patrick/ CC BY 4.0



I could not be more grateful to have the opportunity to have experiences like this. Seeing the product after each volunteer service gave me such a gratifying feeling. It was great working as a collective to do what we can to better the environment. It sparked a newfound appreciation within me that I was able to take with me and use to start making more changes in my daily life.


“Volunteering Opportunities.” Deering Estate, 27 Aug. 2020,

Victoria Jackson: Opa-locka 2020

Photo taken of Victoria Jackson in 2020. Photo by Nigel Courtney/ CC BY 4.0

Student Bio:

Hello Everyone! My name is Victoria Jackson, and I was born and raised in Miami Florida. I am junior in the Honors College at Florida International University studying English-Education. Outside of school I love travelling, reading and dancing. I am looking forward to exploring the place I have called home, seeing and experiencing the different wonders Miami has to offer and creating memories with the rest of my classmates


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Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

Opa-locka is an urban city located in the northeastern area of Miami-Dade County. It spans around 4.2 square miles and it is located about 13 miles from the city of Miami (“City of Opa-locka History”). It is surrounded by the areas of Hialeah, Miami Lakes, Golden Glades, North Miami and Westview. Opa-locka is a city that has a mixture of industrial, domestic and commercial areas (“The Beacon Council”).

Map of Opa-locka from Google Maps


Opa-locka was founded during a land boom that was happening in South Florida. In 1925 during a partnership with James Bright, an aviation pioneer named Glen Curtis became increasingly interested in the area that is now Opa-locka and sought to acquire it. The site was originally called “Opa-tisha-wocka-locka” meaning big hummock, but it was changed to its nickname, Opa-locka, by Curtiss after he bought it. Curtiss planned to have Opa-locka be one of his top achievements and had it modeled after the Arabian Nights (“Opa-locka Company Administration Building”). With the help of Bernhardt Muller, the city started its development and took on a Moorish revival style of architecture. In late 1926 the Great Miami Hurricane hit the city and destroyed a great part of the city and caused the land boom to cease. From that point they became economically disenfranchised and has since struggled to recover.


The United States Census Bureau lists that there are 15,887 people living in Opa-locka as of 2019 with most of them being female. The City-Data shows that the African American population is the largest group of people living in the area at 61.5% followed by the Hispanic population at 35.3%. The city’s median household income in 2017 was $27,523 which was almost half of the state’s median household income (“QuickFacts”). 44.9% of residents live in poverty and a little more than half of that percentage belongs to the African American population (“Opa-locka, Florida”).

Interview with Pansy Hunte:

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

Victoria: Hello, please introduce yourself.

Pansy: Hi, I’m Pansy Hunte

Victoria: Have you always been a resident, or have you moved here from another area?

Pansy: No, I haven’t always lived here. I immigrated to Florida in ’79 with my children. I worked at the Jackson North maternity nurse.

Victoria: How long did you work there?

Pansy: I worked for 15 years as a labor and delivery nurse.

Victoria: Is the building you worked at still there?

Pansy: No, it’s not there anymore. It closed after they moved the patients to the main hospital after many high-risk deliveries. I don’t remember the exact year it closed down but if you pass by there now the building is gone and the area is rundown.

Victoria: Could you describe the city back then.

Pansy: The people in the community that lived here were very nice but there was a lot of violence. A lot of violence because of the drug activity and poverty. Where I worked before was in a dangerous area. It was called The Triangle. It was known for heavy violence and drug use. They changed the name of it now. Now its called Magnolia North.

Victoria: Do you notice much of a difference from then to now?

Pansy: There has been a decrease in violence. More people are coming to live here because of rebuilding and construction that is happening in some areas. There has also been a few businesses opening up.

Victoria: Name one thing about the city that you wish would change in the future.

Pansy: For the city to assist more with housing and employment.


Opa-Locka City Hall (777 Sharazad Blv, Opa-locka Fl, 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

The Opa-locka city hall was developed in the 1920’s during the big land boom of South Florida. It is one of the last buildings that survived the destruction cause by the Great Miami Hurricane. It is part of the U.S National Register of Historic Places and is boarded up. It is located right next to Sherbondy Park and is a couple of blocks away from the current and more modern city hall.

Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport (14201 NW 42nd Ave, Opa-locka Fl, 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport Miami, formerly known as Opa Locka Executive Airport, was founded in 1927 by Glen Curtiss. It served as a base to the Miami Naval Air station during World War 2 and also had a part in Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs in the 1960’s.

Veterans of Foreign Wars (757 Ali Baba Ave, Opa-Locka Blvd Fl, 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

The Veterans of Foreign Wars was a center that honored and helped to provide for Veterans and their families with money and different resources. Its part of one of the oldest programs that are offered for those who served


Ingram Park (2100 Burlington St, Opa-locka, Fl, 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

Ingram Park is situated in the northeast area of Opa-locka overlooking a small lake. The main features include a baseball and football field as well as a tennis and basketball court. The park is also home to different youth educational programs for after school students and for children during the summer months(“Parks & Facilities”).

Sherbondy Park (380 Bahman St, Opa-locka, Fl, 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

Sherbondy Park is located in the north area of Opa-locka. The park is bordered by two older government buildings, the Opa-locka Building & License Department and the Opa-locka City Hall. There is a small playground, a basketball court, and a large baseball area as well as other indoor facilities that support their after school and summer programs. It has become a COVID-19 testing sit for the community (“Parks & Facilities”).

Segal Park (2331 NW 143 St, Opa-locka, Fl, 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

Segal Park, compared to the two other parks in the area, is on the smaller side. It features a main building, an open field and a short walking trail. It also has a center where after school programs and summer programs are held (“Parks & Facilities”).


Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

The Opa-locka Express Bus

The Opa-locka Express Bus is a newer addition to the area (“Move That Bus”). Making its grand debut in 2011, the free of charge bus service hopes to benefit many of the residents in the area especially the elderly and those who are enrolled in school. It alternates between two main routes and operates on the weekdays from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm while on Saturdays it operates from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Other than street stops it also has stops at places like Walgreens and Miami Dade College which is helpful for their target group (“Free Bus Shuttle Service for Opa-locka Residents”).


The Tri-Rail has a station in Opa-locka that connects with seventeen other stations (“Rail”). The Tri-Rail also provides incoming passengers with connections to the Miami-Dade Transit Metrobus and the Opa-locka Express Bus shuttle. There is free parking available to those who commuted to the station and it is accessible to those with disabilities.


The Metrobus has a stop at the Tri Rail station and connects to other stops like the Santa Clara Metrorail Station, Civic Center Metrorail Station and the Adrienne Arsht Center Metromover Station.


For more than 90% of the city, a car is the most preferred method of transportation. (“Opa-locka Demographics”). With the commute time to and from work being an average of 30-40 minutes many people drive themselves or figure out a carpool strategy (“Opa-locka, Fl City Center”).


Jackson Soul Food 2 (14511 NW 27th Ave, Opa-locka Fl, 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

Jackson Soul Food 2 is the second location of the historic family owned and operated business that was started in 1946. The core of their legacy is to provide a space where comfort soul food could thrive. It is an important staple in the African American community and has even attracted people nationally and internationally. A visit to this cozy restaurant will make you feel as if you are eating a large diner with a family you have known your whole life. I can remember so many fond memories from past visits there with my family.

Nat’s Seafood (1739 Opa-Locka Blvd, Opa-locka Fl, 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

Nat’s Catering, or more commonly referred to as just Nat’s, is a restaurant established in 1979 that is run from a unit in a warehouse facility. They have a cafeteria style of dishing out great soul food at reasonable prices. Unlike most restaurants, Nat’s is only open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00am to 5:00pm. My family and I have been coming here for years. One of the downsides is that because it is only open on four days out of the week and it is highly sought out, the wait in the line outside in the sun can be long.

Crabman 305 (2006 Opa-Locka Blvd, Opa-locka Fl 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

Crabman 305 is an amazing place to get flavorful seafood. The restaurant began in 2013 out of a single-family home garage and eventually became a very well-known restaurant in South Florida. While times differ the restaurant is open everyday selling delicious hot meals that are of great price.


Opa-locka Hialeah Flee Market (12705 NW 42nd Ave, Opa-locka Fl, 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

Opening in 1981 the Opa-locka Hialeah Flee Market has over the years become a staple and serves as landmark of its own. It is open every day of the year and has more than 100,000 visitors (“All About Opa-locka”)

Coin Laundry (149 Opa-Locka Blvd, Opa-locka Fl, 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

This quaint coin laundry is in a small shopping center that is located in the middle of a residential area. While it is on the smaller side, it can be packed with people due to it being open 24 hours a day 7 days of week.

Elegant Beauty Supplies/Salon (2710 NW 135th St, Opa-locka Fl, 33054)

Photo taken by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

Elegant Beauty supplies store belongs to a beauty supply chain. They sell full lines of various quality hair and beauty products to the public. They pride themselves on being an all-in-one place where all your hair and beauty need can be met. What makes them unique is that they have full-service hair salon including nail technicians. You can make an appointment or walk in. There is also an ample amount of parking space.


When I hear people talk about Opa-locka I mostly hear them describe it as a place that is extremely dangerous and that it is a bad area with bad people when that is not the case. I have found that a lot of the city’s residents are kind and welcoming. The city is also filled with hidden gems and a rich history down every street. While there are people with bad intentions, there is a lot of hardworking people that need more support and more backing from their community leaders. There is good and bad in any population. Do not let that deter you from visiting this unique city.


-, Christina Gordon, et al. “Move That Bus! Commission Officially Launches The Opa-Locka Express Bus.” Miami’s Community News, 11 May 2011, 

“All About Opa-Locka.” All About, 

“City of Opa-Locka History.” Opa, 

“Free Bus Shuttle Service for Opa-Locka Residents.” Google, Google, 

“Opa-Locka Company Administration Building.” Abandoned Florida, 5 May 2020, 

“Opa-Locka Demographics.” Point2, 

“Opa-Locka, FL (City Center).” NeighborhoodScout, 

“Opa-Locka, Florida.” Opa-Locka, Florida (FL 33054) Profile: Population, Maps, Real Estate, Averages, Homes, Statistics, Relocation, Travel, Jobs, Hospitals, Schools, Crime, Moving, Houses, News, Sex Offenders, 

“Parks & Facilities.” Opa, 

“Rail.” Tri, 

“U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Opa-Locka City, Florida.” Census Bureau QuickFacts, 

Victoria Jackson: Miami as Text 2020-2021

Photo taken of Victoria Jackson in 2020. Photo by Nigel Courtney/ CC BY 4.0

Hello Everyone! My name is Victoria Jackson and I was born and raised in Miami Florida. I am junior in the Honors College at Florida International University studying English-Education. Outside of school I love travelling, reading and dancing. I am looking forward to exploring the place I have called home, seeing and experiencing the different wonders Miami has to offer and creating memories with the rest of my classmates.

Deering as Text

Photo by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

“A Trickle in Time”


From the moment you enter the grounds of the Deering Estate, you feel as if you are being far removed from society and entering a world from another time. We stepped into and gazed at a true Miami that was untouched and uncultivated. We were greeted by a variety of plants, an untamed wildlife environment and a rich history.

While hiking we explored the limited history of the Tequesta people, a tribe of people who existed and inhabited the land before us. Having a glimpse of their life and holding the tools they used was such a memorable experience. During our journey we came across one of their last surviving burial mounds. They were buried face down with their heads together and on top of their remains rested a large tree. We were told that it is said that their life force flows from them into the tree, providing it with life and the ability to grow to new heights.

I truly felt it. I felt not only the energy going into the tree but intertwining and exuding into the vast surrounding nature. Seeping into the soil and providing a strong foundation for the flora and fauna to thrive off of. I felt completely as one and surrounded by the spirits of our geographical ancestors. Surrounded by the spirits of the people who once occupied the land that we know today. Surrounded by the spirits whose names we do not know, whose appearance we are unaware of and whose tribe was decimated, still helping to enrich the land, and helping life to continue on. Time has continued on and their people are no more but as my mud-covered shoes hit the same trail that they walked all those many years ago I felt connected.

South Beach as Text

Photo by Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

“A Reflection of a Shinning City”


Millions of tourists flock to the beautiful icon and staple of Miami that lies on the south part of Miami Beach. They come to immerse themselves in a community with different people and styles. They come to take part in the action on Ocean Drive and experience all the sights, sounds and smells that the area comes with. To experience this wonderful blend of art, history, and cultural heritage. An experience that a lot of us who live here in Miami take for granted.

While walking with the class I felt like I had a special lens on that was allowing me to see the streets I have traveled a couple of times before in a new and clearer way. Many people wish they could revisit something for the first time again and feel the same amazement, admiration, curiosity, and excitement as they did initially. As we went on with our journey, I felt like I was getting a chance to experience this wish. That I was seeing and experiencing South Beach for the first time through a whole different perspective.

We learned about the amazing inspirations and ideas that formed the wonderful architecture that adds to the unique culture of Miami. Viewing the great Miami Modern, MiMo, architecture and its geometric style, nautical theme, curved and open court characteristics. Looking at the beautiful and scenic concentration of Art Deco buildings graced with symmetrical and repetitive patterns of natural elements, neon colors, pastel highlights and shaped by dreams and ideas of the future.

As we continued to make our way, I could not help but think back to what we learned about the great and beneficial yet awful, segregated, and dehumanized foundation of the neighborhood that we have come to know. I was shocked that not only had it happened but also that it was information that was not well known. When I recounted the details to some family and friends they were just as taken aback as I was. It upset me that these things are not being discussed leading to not only more ignorance but a lack of honor to the individuals who built and did so much for the area without getting recognition. While we can see how times have evolved and how South Beach has become a place for acceptance for all types of people, it is instances like these that show how many steps Miami has taken in terms of justice, honor and accountability.

The idea of viewing this community from a new perspective was amplified when we saw the impact that the Coronavirus is having on the area. While it was unique opportunity to walk through the streets without much car or foot traffic and have a glimpse into a more peaceful atmosphere like how it was in the 80’s, we were brought back and given a harsh reminder of the direct results of the pandemic and collapse of the economy. Where there was so much life end energy flowing through and around every shop and restaurant is now vacant.

Downtown as Text

Phot by Victoria Jackson/ CC By 4.0

“A Paradox”


While it contains a beautiful mixture of cultures that has existed for years, Downtown Miami is no stranger to the inequality, prejudice and racism that was once ran widespread and unrestrained. The remnants and long-lasting effects can be still be seen throughout the area.

One of the places that we visited was the Miami Dade County Courthouse. A building that is supposed to endorse and represent justice and impartiality but is actually a constant reminder of the discrimination against individuals who lived here long ago. When approaching the front of the building people are greeted by a statue of Henry Flagler who helped make Miami what it is today but also utilized and then discarded and segregated individuals when they were no longer useful just because of the color of their skin. While we cannot ignore the great benefactions that Flagler provided for the development of Miami, to remain unknowledgeable about the history would be a big dishonor and disservice to the many hands who also had an important role in building the Miami that we love.

 People are also greeted by a plaque adorning the wall at the front that uses the derogatory term “negroes” to refer to some of its citizens. Greeted by its looming and intimidating structure the courthouse can already make someone who is going there unnerved, but having the statue and plaque placed proudly at the front of the building can deter anyone looking for a fighting chance. This building was built on and continues to highlight its own contradicting message of equality and representation of the innocent.

Our present system illuminates and prides itself on being a free, diverse, and progressive land that caters to its citizens and provides them with opportunity, chance, and justice. This blinding message truly blinds some into thinking that no effects of the past are present today when that is not the case. Just walking through the neighborhood, you could see such a stark contrast in the livelihood of its citizens. Many homeless people, predominantly people of color, roam the streets passing by established buildings. The wounds are still present. Yes, they have healed for those who have been privileged and provided with opportunity but for others the wounds are still raw and serve as a constant everyday reminder. These things need to be addressed and changed.

Chicken Key as Text

Photo by Victoria Jackson/ CC By 4.0

“A Veiled, Harsh Truth”


Exploring Chicken Key was truly an experience I would not change for the world. Visiting the small island in Biscayne Bay off the coast of Miami Dade County was an experience unlike anything I have done before. While throughout day we had some challenging moments that we had to work through, what we were able to accomplish as a class was truly amazing.

Along with the bustling schools of fish and the scuttling hermit crabs that greeted us as we parked our canoes and made our way on the island we were also greeted by the harsh reality of our actions. Pieces of glass, rope and strings, sections of shoes and other discarded objects littered the floor. As we explored and went deeper into the heart of the island the waste was not only becoming larger but was also becoming more prominent.

Looking at all of our canoes steadily pile up with trash saddened and angered me because I know that this land is an exceedingly small reflection of the many polluted areas across our planet. Just viewing the island at face value, it would be hard to believe that behind the scenic beauty would lie so much trash and waste. It makes me wonder why as a society we do not do more and push the conservation conversation to the forefront.

As we paddled away from the island it was a very bittersweet time. While we were not able to collect everything, we did feel good that we were able to make a dent in the growing mound of trash. The whole experience was extra special because it was our first time being together as a whole class. Though we were going to be separated again during our next meeting, we could hold onto this precious moment and use it influence our future choices.

Bakehouse as Text

Photo By Victoria Jackson/ CC By 4.0

“An Intersecting Medium”


Art is able to transcend so many barriers and serve as an amazing language of its own that has the ability to spread messages, prompt feelings, and evoke emotions. Visiting the Bakehouse Art Complex in Wynwood served as an important reminder that individual efforts can lead to an increasing and powerful collective.

The arts have been a passion of mine from since I was smaller, specifically in dance. I loved being able to shape and mold myself as part of an ensemble to visually represent a bigger picture. While I have always held great admiration for art, I have not been given many opportunities to utilize it as a form, so getting a chance to explore the same concept through a different medium was extremely exciting.

Using a silicon-based stencil to create clay models, in a variety of colors and shapes, we were able to create, form and display a representation of the continuous problems happening to coral reefs due to climate change. Lauren Shapiro, the principal artist, does an amazing job of blending science, art, and technology to generate and produce more environmental awareness within our community and create a platform for additional information to be spread by scientists and researchers.

This was a wonderful representation of how the smallest contribution could affect the overall picture. From many different conversations I have had had with my peers, a lot of them wonder and have some degree of disbelief regarding how much of their individual effort could make a difference. It is so important to know that the little things that we do everyday can have a large impact. With amazing projects like this we were not only able to feel accomplished working as a group to help and exhibit a powerful message, but it also made us mindful of doing our own parts as we go forward.

Rubell as Text

Photo by Ahdriana Amandi/ CC By 4.0

“Comfort in the Uncomfortable”


The Rubell Art Museum is an amazing space that leaves the floor open to many hidden as well as upcoming artists to display their messages and ideas. Though I was not able to able to be there physically, I could sense the amount of feelings and emotions it prompted from my classmates while discussing the trip with them.

The museum is home to pieces by artists from all around the world spanning different eras. The artists they chose to shine a light on are overlooked and on the rise thus providing them with a larger audience to display and promote their amalgam of thoughts and ideas. Leaving their art up for interpretation while also demonstrating different things in our current society. Making visitors think beyond normal confines and venturing into topics that some people may view as unconventional and unorthodox.

Viewing the different pieces elicited such a powerful response from me. A piece by Mickalene Thomas called Mama Bush ll, Keep the Home Fires Burnin’, really stuck out to me. The piece depicts a woman who is naked and completely owning her own. There is such a push for women to step away from the roles that have been set for them and to embrace themselves but if people were to look at a painting like this, they would refer to it as too revealing, and it would serve as a tendentious topic. A picture like this would be over-sexualized instead of focusing on the empowerment of the individual. This serves as a great reminder that as a society we still have so far to go to get to the point where a woman is not put into a biased and prejudiced category based on their race and approach of sexuality.

Changing perspectives, morphing ideology and an abundant number of stories and experiences opens the floor to visitors to question the way they think. Opening up important conversations that need to be held and challenging them to deliberate. I hope in the future I am able to go visit so that I can fully immerse myself into this collective, open, inspiring, and free-thinking space. To look and take in the different textures, angles, lightings and see how they contribute to the larger narratives. To ask myself questions and to challenge my way of thinking.

Everglades as Text

Photo By Victoria Jackson/ CC By 4.0

“Moment of Stillness”


Stepping into the clear and frigid water felt like walking into a new world entirely. The hairs on my body were rising, my senses were amplified, and each step I took away from the main road brought me closer to exploring and contemplating a different existence. While I was stepping in and peering into this space that was unknown to me, it gave me a refreshing feeling. Guided by our amazing ranger, we were greeted by the many lichen decorated cypress trees, shoals of mosquito fish, and hanging spider webs along with the salutations of other animals who were a distance away.

At one point in the trip, we branched off from one another, closed our eyes and just let ourselves be immersed in the sounds of nature. Listening to the leaves shifting under the wind and the movement of the trees. Hearing the distant chirping of the birds and the croaks of frogs. Allowing ourselves to get lost in this wonderful world that was untouched by man was one of my favorite moments. For this very brief period of time, I was able to just escape all of my current thoughts and feel fully submerged in this one-of-a-kind and treasured landscape.

This reflection caused me to pause and analyze things from a new perspective. It was a great reminder that this environment has not only shaped the livelihood of the flora and fauna immediately present but has also shaped the culture and economy of all of the citizens living in Florida. It was a reminder to not overlook this amazing world in our backyard but to really analyze and deeply appreciate the beauty of this environment. It was a reminder that we should be working toward more conservation efforts to preserve this beautiful and unique place where different walks of life are intertwined.

Wynwood as Text

Photo By Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

“A Fleeting Moment of Gold”


Our conversation held at dusk at the Locust Projects was an overture to revision, rebuilding, and rebirth. Mette Tommerup, a wonderful creator and narrator from Denmark, has carefully interwoven the many threads of this immersive installation where creation and product are able to come together to form a glorious space called “Made by Dusk”.

In this fleeting moment of gold, we were able to encounter a lasting significance. Compilation contemplation, communication, and connection are brightly illuminated. It was so easy to be captivated by the perfect merging of audio and video, tangible textures, interactive pieces, current subject matters, and mythology. It is an open space serving as a protest of power that gives society a platform to comfortably discuss a wide array of more sensitive topics like commercialism, gender, and race representation through history. The floor is open and encourages a variety of discussion to take place that reflect the displays.

While we are currently facing our own pause and separation from this world, this space provides a pause where an individual can find solace, support, and peace. Where we have been devoid of touch, we can now revel in the tactile element of the space. Where it feels like communication has been impaired, we can build up the conversation. This is where salvation, healing, and liberation for both the artist and the spectators can be found. While my eyes glazed over the canvas covered walls, the video of Mette Tommerup repeatedly tossing a large tapestry off of a roof, the gold covered floor, large structure, and uneven swings, I saw not only the beginning and the ending but the whole journey. The ambiance of the room outshone the black and white of the outside world to formulate a new visceral vision and feeling.

Bill Baggs as Text

Photo By Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

“The Light of Perception”


The large structure that sits on the southern tip of Key Biscayne serves as an important symbol of the place we have called home. It provides perception and awareness into the multilayered history of Miami. Serving as an illumination of the truth in multiple ways. Viewing the lighthouse that sits on the southern tip of Key Biscayne in Bill Baggs State Park was truly an experience.

Growing up I always saw the lighthouse as something that was a symbol of good and held one simple undertaking. From our day at the park, I realized it was not entirely true. It is neither good or bad, black or white, but lives in a shade of grey. While it was initially built as a way to stop the journey of the runaway slaves to the Red Bays of Andros Islands in the Bahamas by shedding a light on oncoming boats, it also provides a visual of history as it happened and not a fabricated story that favors one side. It provides representation for the unrepresented and displays perseverance and strength.

Most of the history that we are taught throughout our time in school come from one specific perspective and completely writes off those who go against these main ideals. Treating them as invalid and portraying them as the villain. They are only included if they fit the picture that others are trying to draw. An example of this was shown when viewed and learned the story behind a painting of an American Indian man and a white man. Even though the man was defending himself and his future he was portrayed as the main aggressor. History is not something that is just simple. There are multiple sides that need to be heard, understood, and acknowledged and not doing that is a disservice. The abundant aspects of American history are engraved on the coast of Key Biscayne

River of Grass as Text

Photo Taken By Roger Masson/ CC BY 4.0

“A Contrast in the Same World”


Visiting the Everglades always feels like you are stepping into another world. A world where time is forgotten, moments are cherished, and you have the ability to just breathe. A world where you can see and experience the natural Miami. It is also the place where you can see both the effects of change as well as the new beginnings.

The Everglades also display two sides of a coin. During the class’s previous visit to the everglades, we were able to go slough slogging and examine an area that was generally untouched by man. A hidden world under a cypress dome that was ours to explore. The class’s visit this time to the everglades displayed a different world. A world where extreme changes were made. From unsuccessful farming attempts to the location being used to house missiles that were used as a primary line of defense, the are has been subject to a lot of transitions and adjustments which caused a decline in the growth of the area. However, because of recovery efforts that have been happening the past couple of years, the area has begun to flourish once again.

Experiencing and basking in the glow of this environment causes you to have a greater admiration and appreciation for Miami’s natural landscapes. That even though many changes have been made previously, efforts to conserve will be a beautiful beginning to a positive transformation. It sparks an urge to work harder and do more to preserve and protect places like this so that the areas continue to grow and prosper. So that we are able to keep and maintain a beautiful world that we could cherish for a long time. I hope to take what I have learned and continue to spread the message.

Frost as Text

Photo Taken By Roger Masson of Roberto Obregón’s Untitled (Snow) / CC BY 4.0

“One in the Same”


After venturing out and exploring different parts of Miami, the class was able to make its way back to campus to tour the Frost Art Museum. The Frost Art Museum is truly a gem. The museum houses a collection of over 6,000 pieces with an expanding collection of pieces from contemporary artists who have ties to the Caribbean and Latin America. The class was able to have the chance to look into the minds of Roberto Obregón and Pepe Mar through their respective collections.

The pieces by Roberto Obregón really connected with me in particular. His pieces on the rose worked through the deconstruction of its more common expression and style. He literally and figuratively peeled back the layers to view the flower objectively. He specifically observed the rose and how it decayed through a series and succession of images. It served as a physical display for the passage of time.

I feel that the class as a whole was able to resonate with this piece, especially in light of everything going on regarding the coronavirus pandemic. Learning about the exhibit and viewing the pieces caused me to really reflect and think about life itself and the concept of time. While different outside forces caused the flower to become wilted, the inner integrity stayed constant. Especially in the past year, we have all been shown that tomorrow is not promised and that the only things that are guaranteed in this world are birth and death. This should not prompt us to live in fear and uncertainty but to go through life’s journey and show love and care for other individuals in an earnest and profound way. Obregón’s work on the rose provided me with a passage to deepen my thoughts and connect them to other feelings and beliefs.

Coral Gables as Text

Photo By Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

“Advancement vs Identity”


Passing by buildings like the one on the right have always struck me as odd. Especially when they are situated next to others that look like the ones on the left. Now, after our class visit to Coral Gables, they strike me as completely out of place and as a symbol of things that are making Miami lose its cultural heritage.

Our class had the opportunity to learn more about the history of coral gables and its visionary George Merrick. George Merrick was able to model the area into an image of a Mediterranean style city. From his trip to Mexico, he was able to gather inspiration to create his vision. He implemented Moorish, Rococo and Roman styles and designs along with the natural tropical feeling of the area to mold his empire. We viewed this as we walked through the area and visited building like the grand Biltmore Hotel. The construction and development of the area was also due to the labor of Bahamian immigrants who were adept craftsmen. Learning more about the history and going deeper into these wonderful constructions took me on a journey back in time. These moments were then broken when something like a commercial building came into view. Taking away from what represents the history of Miami and what shows the mixture of styles, use of natural resources and the amazing work of the Bahamian immigrants.

When I speak to friends and family who have visited Miami, the main thing they take away from the city is the beaches and the twenty plus story commercial buildings. Even some individuals I know who live in Miami view it only as this as well. While that is a part of it, it is a very small part of the interesting and rich history that this beautiful city has to offer. The meeting and merging or different styles encompass and represent everything that Miami is, has been and always will be. A place where a mixture of different elements come together in harmony to form a new collective. Conserving, protecting ad maintaining the diverse legacy and identity of the city should be the priority.

Vizcaya As Text

Photo By Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

“Embracing Identity”


Beyond walls of pink lies a masterpiece whose foundation is intertwined with the history of Miami. The Villa Vizcaya stands in all its glory; curtained and framed with the ever-growing greenery. Greeting its visitors with a passing breeze. The creation of James Deering and the canvas for Paul Chalfin and Diego Suarez serves as our brilliant emblem. Acting as a visual representation of how we are currently influence by the past. Weaving distinct and different fragments into a cohesive refined construction.

Using Bacchus, the roman god of wine, fertility, agriculture, and fruitfulness as a paragon, Vizcaya was built as a place of escape and freedom. Built by the hard and often unrecognized labor of the Bahamian people and dressed in a Mediterranean style with heavy Italian and Spanish influences with facets of the native natural elements, a new identity in Vizcaya is formulated. Watching as the rooms continuously unfolded into others and seeing the alluring paintings adorning the walls, hanging tapestries, and beautifully preserved furnishings allowed us to experience a journey so foreign yet so familiar. It was an amazing journey to walk through the passages inside, leave the main part of the house and look out at the sea and finish off by walking and weaving through the extensive and magnificent garden.

A man’s winter home has become a long-lasting symbol of our identity. Embracing ourselves unabashedly. The mixture of native as well as imported elements. Passing on fragments and information of the old world to the new world. The blending of the negative and the positive aspects of our history to all be knit together to form our elegant heirloom. To be passed down from generation to generation. To form and represent the core of our culture. This is Vizcaya. This is Miami.

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