Vox Student Blog

Lauren Farina: Miami as Text 2021

Photo by Lauren Farina/ CC by 4.0

My name is Lauren Farina! I’m a Senior at Florida International University’s Honors College as of Spring 2021. I’m majoring in Biology with a minor in chemistry and a certificate in Women and Gender Studies. My goal is to become a physician assistant and specialize in women’s health and obstetrics. As a former student of Bailly’s, I always knew that I would take another class with him. His class opens your eyes to the lesser known and allows students to be expressive and creative with their thoughts and observations. While it may not seem relevant to some, I think this class is important as an aspiring healthcare provider because it subjects me as a student to a deeper understanding of myself and those that I will provide care for in my profession. I feel that a large and neglected part of healthcare preparation is learning to listen and have a deeper understanding of patients. Ensuring the ability to listen to others and their experiences is crucial to be a successful healthcare provider.

Downtown Miami as Text

Photo of Fort Dallas (also slave quarters) taken and edited by Lauren Farina/ CC by 4.0

“A Window into Miami’s Past” by Lauren Farina of FIU at Downtown Miami; January 22, 2021

Miami is typically labeled as a diverse place- inclusive of all races, languages, and sexualities. It becomes an even more special place when you learn about the beginnings of Miami. Similar to all states and cities in the United States, Miami does have its origins and modern day decisions rooted in racism, colonialism, and power, but it happens to be one of the strangest cases that can be examined in the country. Before Miami became Miami, it was an area inhabited by the Tequesta tribe and Bahamians escaping slavery. Unlike the rest of the states at the time, this area was dominated by people of color and indigenous tribes but not for slavery. The beginning of what became Miami shows a palate for diversity. 

As Europeans began their colonialist quests to the Americas, they came to Miami on multiple occasions. The interactions between the colonialists and the Tequestas was an unfortunate encounter for the indigenous tribe, which fell to disease. What started as a place where all people could co-exist peacefully, became infiltrated by policies and ideologies already thriving in the United States when Florida became a state in 1821. One of the first buildings built by the U.S. in Miami was a fort meant to be used in the Seminole Indian wars. That same building was then used as slave quarters. It is unknown how many slaves were kept here in this small space but it was unlikely to have been an adequate, humane situation. The window pictured above is a part of this building. Looking inside felt cold and wrong. It felt as if I could feel the emotions and atrocities that the people kept there endured. I felt sorrow and anger and injustice just beyond this window. This class reminded me about how history is portrayed in America, how slavery and segregation and racism is glossed over and covered up. It was unfortunate to unfold the history of Miami and how such a diverse place, even today, still covers up it’s history.

Everglades as Text

Photo at Everglades National Park taken by Annette Cruz/ CC by 4.0

“Balancing Through a Global Pandemic” by Lauren Farina of FIU at Everglades National Park; February 5, 2021

COVID-19 has changed our lives in so many ways over the last year. Some people had it, some knew people who had it, and others sat in their home for the last 12 months wondering if it will ever end. It’s been an upsetting year, to say the least. I was supposed to join my class in visiting Everglades National Park, but due to the unpredictable nature of this virus, I had to unexpectedly quarantine for two weeks after my roommates tested positive for COVID-19. I was very lucky and did not contract the virus, however, it was important for the health and safety of my friends, family, and classmates that I monitored my health and isolated myself until I was completely sure that I did not have the virus. Nonetheless, I was devastated to miss this experience. This caused me to do a lot of reflecting not only about the things that have changed for me throughout the pandemic, but for every single person. No matter your age, profession, gender, class, ethnicity – this pandemic has made a long-lasting impact on our personal lives and our communities. It is hard to imagine when the return of normalcy will arrive, but it is my hope that it is soon.

Since I could not attend the lecture in person, I dove into everything I could find about Everglades National Park online. I even was able to watch a live video of the park where I saw a little bird sleeping on top of one of the structures at the park. I also read reflections from other students in my class to get an idea of what personal experiences were like there. It was very apparent to me that the experience was just the right mixture of calm and chaos. Some students described the uneasy feeling of not knowing where to step in the water, and even falling in the water, while others spoke of the innate peace that nature provided there. Reading about my classmates’ experiences Reminded me of this very important balance that we have in life. Just like the balance of emotions that students felt that day in the park, the Everglades also has a balance and human beings are destroying it. Not only has much of the Everglades been manually destroyed for human uses, but the pollution and climate change that we have caused as a species is directly impacting this environment. It is incredibly upsetting the amount of evidence there is that we are running out of time to remedy what we’ve done, yet stubborn individuals and complacent government systems brush it off. Often times when I am able to have the experience to go somewhere special and unique in nature like the Everglades or a natural spring, I become quite sad because it is likely that much of the beauty I have gotten to experience in my two decades of life will be irreversibly damaged or nonexistent for my future children and grandchildren. I think missing this experience happened at a really interesting time for me. It really opened my eyes to the delicate balance we must uphold in our lives.

South Beach as Text

Photos at South Beach taken and edited by Lauren Farina/ CC by 4.0

“How One Woman Saved South Beach” by Lauren Farina of FIU at South Beach; February 19, 2021

South Beach is intentional about what you see when you visit and a woman is greatly responsible for that. Barbara Capitman is the reason Art Deco has survived on South Beach, and made it the international destination of so many. When strolling or rollerblading down Ocean Drive surrounded by color, it’s hard to imagine South Beach could’ve turned out any other way. However, every few buildings you’ll notice one that just… doesn’t look right. More likely than not, this is a building that was destroyed before Capitman was able to save it. She formed the Miami Design Preservation League in 1976 which focused on saving these buildings of art. The group would protest the demolition of Art Deco buildings on South Beach to the point of standing in front of the machinery being used for the demolition. In a roundabout way, FIU is also a contributor to the preservation. It was Barbara’s husband’s job offer to teach at FIU that prompted the family to come to Miami. Barring this, it’s unlikely she would’ve been involved to the extent she was in saving the art of South Beach. It is a surreal feeling to walk through South Beach and be able to identify not only the buildings that are considered art deco, but also what features make those buildings the work of art deco. As you walk past, you notice the infamous eyebrows that loom over the entrances, the rule of three that is captured throughout the architecture, the pastels, and of course- the relief sculptures. It is an overwhelming thought that all of this could’ve been another “concrete jungle”.

Deering as Text

Photos at the Deering Estate taken by Annette Cruz (bottom left) and Lauren Farina (top and bottom right), edited by Lauren Farina/ CC by 4.0

“Control” by Lauren Farina of FIU at the Deering Estate; March 5, 2021

This lecture made me think a lot about control. This may sound strange at first, but I think it will become more clear as I reflect on my experience. I have always had a very challenging relationship with control, in the way that I feel the need to be in control of myself and my situations at all times. This experience was far out of my comfort zone and pushed me to put myself in situations that I could not control. It was a day that I was anxious for, but came out of with a special appreciation for. Throughout my time taking Professor Bailly‘s lectures, I have often learned about how certain groups of people took control over others; the most prominent of which being the Tequesta tribe. At the Deering Estate, I was able to enter an area that is a preserved Tequesta burial mound. For me, it was a very surreal experience. I was standing on a bridge that was built around the area to ensure that it was not disturbed and for a few moments the entire class was silent and all you could hear was the wind blowing through the trees. It was a brief moment where we were able to reflect on the wrongdoings of foreigners that came to this land and took from those who were there first. During my time in this area, I thought a lot about how I wish there were descendants of the Tequesta tribe still alive today and what they would have been able to tell us. It is a tragedy that they were not able to control their situation and continue to populate our planet. In that moment, it gave me a special appreciation for all the things I take for granted everyday that I do have control over. I think it’s important to acknowledge people or groups of people that have been forgotten as the United States was formed and as it continues to evolve and modernize.

Vizcaya as Text

Photos at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens taken by Lauren Farina, edited by Lauren Farina/ CC by 4.0

“The Truth Is In The Details” by Lauren Farina of FIU at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens; March 19, 2021

When walking through the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, it is easy to be captured by the natural and artificial beauty that surrounds you. Statues and paintings, carpets and ceilings; the details are captivating. However, the further you look, the less everything makes sense. Upon entering the home, you are greeted by Bacchus, the Roman god of agriculture, wine, and fertility. It is an entrance that feels important and suggestive. It was indicative of what James Deering expected his guests to experience at his home in the early 1920’s. While prohibition was in place at the time, there was no shortage of alcohol when he was hosting. In a secondary room sits a replica statue of the “Dancing Faun” which is originally found in Pompeii. It is a renowned piece in Pompeii and some see it here as improper and egotistical. Much of the home can be described in this way. James thought highly of himself, and if he liked something, he wanted it to be his. Whether this was disrespectful or inappropriate to a culture or religion was none of his concern. There is a door filled with books, that aren’t actually real books, to give the appearance of education and intelligence. There is a painting of the Virgin Mary cut in half to cover organ pipes- just because he wanted it that way. At the top of the stairs, the French saying “J’ai Dit” is carved into stained glass, as his way of telling guests- he is god-like. James Deering tried very hard to impress, and for those with no knowledge of historical, cultural, artistic, or religious background, he did. But the deeper one looks into his home, the more they come to the realization that it was more about him and his wealth than appreciation for art, religion, or culture.

Marguiles as Text

“Art That Makes You Feel Something” by Lauren Farina of FIU at Marguiles Warehouse; April 16, 2021

As I entered the Marguiles Warehouse, I don’t think I was truly prepared for the way that my time there was going to make me feel. Something that really stood out to me about Mr. Marguiles was his emphasis on how art made you feel instead of how it looks. He makes a compelling point that you can only further support as you explore his warehouse. One of the most surreal installations was “Geheimnis der Farne” by artist Anselm Kiefer. I spent another hour after class in this room. There is an overwhelming presence in the room, although it is completely silent. There were few people walking around the warehouse, so I was to myself for most of the time I spent in there, but it felt like someone was walking beside me the entire time. The center of the room is taken up by two massive concrete sculptures that are representative of gas chambers from the Holocaust. They are eerie and provoke a great deal of emotion. On the surrounding walls are over 40 paintings that draw inspiration from a poet who was a Holocaust survivor that took his own life, named Paul Celan. The poems Celan wrote were deep, and of dark nature, and sometimes quite difficult to understand. The paintings in the room showed a visual interpretation of what Celan wrote. It was breathtaking in a very somber and heart-wrenching way. You could feel the pain of a survivor, the sorrow of a son, the loss of a childhood- it was extremely emotional for me. There was another installation called “Herma” by artist Magdalena Abakanowicz that also took on the subject matter of the Holocaust. Specifically, it visually addresses the majority loss of women/mothers and children. The emotions I felt were so strong that I did not re-enter that room during my visit to the Warehouse. I am incredibly appreciative of Mr. Marguiles for collecting and displaying these important works in such an accessible way. I will be going back before he closes up to re-set the warehouse, and definitely again to see the new displays he has.

Johnny Casares: Miami as Text 2021

Hi, my name is Johnny Casares and I am a student of the FIU Honors College currently majoring in Computer Science. My journey in Miami-Dade County starts in 2016, when my family decided to move from Venezuela to live here in the United States in search of a better life. I believe that I have been lucky to meet the best people throughout this journey, and to have found opportunities that have made me believe I am living the American Dream.
I personally enjoy the little details, being with friends, surrounding myself of positive people, and being outside.
Despite of being here for about 5 years I haven’t been able to really explore the hidden gems of Miami and I am looking forward to discovering some of the county’s secrets and stories.

Downtown Miami as Text

Fort Dallas and Wagner’s house by Johnny Casares of FIU

In the middle of a city characterized by its imponent buildings and cultural diversity, there is a park where two structures meet to remind us of the best and worst parts of our history, two houses that to this day resonate a truth of Miami that at times is overlooked.
Wagner’s house is a representation of the American Dream. A story of how a German man and a Creole woman go against the norm and move to Miami to pursue their happiness and make a family, mirroring both the immigration and the iconic diversity of the city. The Wagner’s also have a story, similar to thanksgiving, where the family and the Seminoles came together for dinner, both parties in their best interests.
The encounter of the family and the Seminoles was due to the Seminole Wars, which is just a fraction of the dark part of the history of Miami. In contrast to Wagner’s house, there is Fort Dallas, a former plantation residence for black slaves, which was then turned into a headquarters for military operations which ended the lives of many, to then become a tea house. This now called Fort has passed through many chapters of history, seeing the worst of humanity and bits of hope.
Despite of these not being the original locations of the buildings, they were perfectly placed in front of each other to tell us a story of both racial division and cultural acceptance. They now rests in Lummus Park, a peaceful place where the face of joy and liberty, meet the one of pain and oppression to go together in an often-unnoticed walk through the city.

Photo taken by Johnny Casares, 2021. Wagner’s house (left) and Fort Dallas (right)/CC BY 4.0

Everglades as text

Everglades by Johnny Casares of FIU

I lived in Venezuela for over 14 years, in that time I was fortunate enough to know some of the most beautiful views, rich in color and scent that one could only imagine seeing in movies. However, I lived my whole life in Caracas, a city surrounded and protected by El Avila, a cordillera that extends beyond the borders of the capital and that is known as the lung of the city. Despite waking up every morning to the spectacular view of the mountain, my family never had the opportunity to take me inside the national park that is El Avila and get to know the monumental and imposing nature that gives air to the inhabitants of the city.
Going to the Everglades was very special because, like Caracas, Miami is my home, and getting to know the biggest nearest national park to the city was amusing. It was what I always wanted to do back in my country. Like El Avila, The Everglades has some myths attached to it, and the most popular one is that it is a swamp. I even believed it, but when we were told that the exact place in which we were walking was a river I can’t deny that I was surprised by the truth. Reflecting upon it, I think people often underrate the nature that surrounds them because they ignore its true value. Sadly, for some those stigmas are keeping them away from adventuring into what really is Miami and Florida.
I was eager to see a panther, but the rangers told me they were rare due to their low population numbers. One lucky encounter, however, was the one we had with the gator. When talking to Ranger Dylan we had a conversation about their diet, because to me it seemed odd that a gator could survive in the waters where we were slough slogging. The inhabitants of those waters are small low trophic, how could a gator really sustain itself in such an environment? In a conversation with Ranger Dylan, she told me that gators feed on bigger fishes and turtles that inhabit the deeper sides of the river, also they prayed on birds when they approach the water. The heavy vegetation however made me wonder if they complemented their diet with some of the flora, to which Ranger Dylan responded that gators eat a fruit called the pond apple, but that their stomachs don’t really digest the fruit, therefore there is no nutritional benefit to consuming the fruit.
I have been living in Miami for over 4 years and I feel like I never got to know Miami the way I got to know her on that day. It is fascinating to think of how much humans can change the landscape and to visualize that maybe some of the places where the biggest buildings across Miami are now standing held a much life as the Everglades.

Photos taken by Johnny Casares, 2021. /CC BY 4.0

South Beach as Text

South Beach by Johnny Casares of FIU

Design is the concept of anticipating an idea through planning, and South Beach has been at the epicenter of design, witnessing both the destructive and creative nature that this concept can have

The history of South Beach has a dull beginning with the destruction of the mangroves that protected the shores of the island, completely changing its ecosystem. At first South Beach was turned into a plantation, but later it became part of visionary plans due to its touristic and leisure potential. The changes were not minimal, South Beach looks nothing like its natural state, and the beach that makes this place so famous around the world has sand that is originally from the Bahamas. South is a landscape that was altered by humans and transformed to our convenience, prioritizing desires and ignoring risks. South Beach now faces the dangers of rising sea levels due the early destructive environmental design.

South Beach, at the time known as Ocean Beach, was made as a city or town for affluent white people, and those groups that diverged from the standard were discriminated. The design of the city showcases how wealthy white people had access to the better sides of the island, near the ocean, while black people, despite their major role in the destruction of the mangroves and the reshaping of the island, were not allowed in this new touristic attraction. Jews, even though accepted because of their acquisitive power, were also discriminated, being allowed to own property at a specific distance due to anti-sematic ideas that Carl Fisher shared. So, despite not being noticeable at first sight, South Beach has a city planning that is designed upon discrimination of minority groups.

 Over the years, however, South Beach quickly became one of the places that pioneered feminism and the acceptance of LBTQ community. With symbols like the rainbow crosswalk and bars like Palace, achieve to show the inclusiveness of the city, and the many sexual references that one can find in relief sculptures allude to the sexual nature of the city. The house of Gianni Versace, who can also be found along Ocean Drive, was the place where one of the most influential designers lived, and one that promoted fashionable clothing for the likes of women instead of the conformism that society obligated them to endorse. But beyond clothing, there is Barbara Baer, an activist that played a major role in preserving the artistical structural design of the art deco that makes South known around the globe.

From destruction and discrimination, to preservation and integration, the past and the present of South Beach are contrasting, but it just shows how much humanity can change for the better.

Photos taken by Johnny Casares, 2021. /CC BY 4.0

Deering Estate as text

Deering State by Johnny Casares of FIU

The vision of preserving a part of Miami as it was originally found was a brilliant idea from Charles Deering, and one that has allowed for the protection of both the environment and history. When reading about the Deering Estate, and finding out that some of the oldest human remains in North America were found here in Miami I was intrigued. The idea of people living here more than ten thousand years ago is a number almost unimaginable, especially when having the perception that the Americas’ natives are relatively new when compared to other societies of the world. The way nature achieves to preserve the past in the form of fossils is almost fictional, but the fact that is real and we can get little clues about the past of humankind and the fauna that surrounded them is something that is really worth it.

Apart from the findings of human remains, I think it is also great that the ecosystem is preserved by protecting this land. Many species endemic to Miami live in these areas, many of them which I even ignored inhabited Florida, like otters and manatees, which I thought could just be found in either South America or Africa. I believe visiting the Deering Estate can be a didactic experience from which visitor can built a better connection and understanding of the delicate fauna that surround us.

The Deering Estate not only is committed to the protection of the environment but also to promoting and presenting art to the public. Afraid of the destructive capabilities of fire, Deering decided to build a house designed to be non-flammable, especially after the events at the Great Chicago Fire, which destroyed many of properties and left many without a home. The place is an ample storage and gallery for art to be displayed safely. Their economic power allowed the Deering brothers to pursue and put forth their individual desires and goal, and thankfully they used it in a way that created a long term positive impact in the community.

Vizcaya as text

Vizcaya by Johnny Casares of FIU

Miami is known for its beaches, nocturnal life, and architecture. From its design to its history, the Vizcaya museum and gardens share the same features that make our city so famous. A majestic colonial house that showcases dreams and desires, full of excessive details characteristics of power and eccentricity, facing the very ocean that merges two worlds into one. Vizcaya is a European villa built to fulfill the conquistador complexes of its owner and the craving lust that hunts the human mind.

There are many questions surrounding this built and the owner of this massive property. James Deering is a figure that not much is known of. One of the most interesting rumors are regarding his personal life, in specific, his sexual orientation. Many have questioned his sexuality, and the decorative artifacts in the house, some people argue, hint his possible homosexual inclinations. However, this might never be confirmed, but what we know is that James Deering was accepted Paul Chalfin, one of his architects, who was openly gay. This is a remarkable fact because Miami is a city known for openly accepting and embracing the LGBTQ+ community, something that during the early 20th century was not an easy task due to gender roles and social expectations.

The concept of an European villa was an idea that served to feed the conquistador alter ego of its owner, and also serves to emerge the users that visit the place into the whole idea of encountering signs of civilization in the middle of the wilderness, just as the colonizers did. The experience now is obviously not the same as what the first visitors might have encountered, but it is still impressive how contrasting it is to the eye to see such European builds in a landscape in which is dominated by nature. Once one is deeper into the museum, the opposite happens, nature is dominated by man-made structures, showing a conflict of man vs nature and desire of humans to govern and bring order to the chaotic beauty of nature.

Converting this property into a museum was a great addition to the Miami’s historical sites because it resonates with the self-centric attitude that many privileged people have, and also with the eccentric and liberal nature of the people of Miami.

Photos taken by Johnny Casares, 2021. /CC BY 4.0

Margulies Collection as text

Margulies Collection by Johnny Casares of FIU

think of museum, art displayed under protection, among many others. However, the Margulies collection is not a usual art gallery. From the outside, an unattractive warehouse that blends with the rest around the area; so, starting from the place itself, it is already different.

Once I entered, I was welcomed by the class and some art that to me seemed abstract. However, when the lecture started, I was moved by the story of how Jews were seen and treated by the Nazis and the connection of this idea to the sculpture of the faceless crowd. The story was touching and terrifying at the same time. I find it very beautiful and very powerful how everyone has the intrinsic value of freedom printed in their DNA, and despite the efforts to dehumanize a person, the individual will always seek for a way to find happiness. On the other hand, it was heartbreaking that some others try to take from others the most valuable thing: life.

Apart from that story, the rest of the museum was mostly an eye-enriching experience. I was never exposed to conceptual art before, and I would continue to argue that I am not a fan of it, but I can see relevance in it, especially when without looking at the title, one can extract some meaning from the shapes one sees.

One sculpture I want to talk a bit about is the “Sprache der Vogel”. I chose this one because I think it really achieves to portray what the collection is about. The piece can be described as a set of books with its wings extended as if it was ready to fly, and to me that can be interpreted as the human ability to give meaning to an otherwise nonsensical arrangement of matter. The object is not alive, but by us giving meaning to it, it becomes embedded in our minds, and as long as we live, the ideas and dreams that we hold are also, in some way, alive.

Photo taken by Johnny Casares, 2021. /CC BY 4.0

Rachel Pasteris: Miami as Text 2021

Photo taken of Rachel Pasteris in 2020. Photo by Rachel Pasteris/ CC BY 4.0

Rachel Pasteris is a junior working towards a B.A. in Mathematics Education at Florida International University (FIU), as part of FIU Honors. She recently transferred from Miami Dade College (MDC), graduating with an A.A. in Mathematics as part of MDC Honors. Passionate about education, she is looking to specialize in teaching secondary and college students in the subject areas of mathematics and science. In her free time, she enjoys reading books, making music, playing soccer, spending time with loved ones, and volunteering in her community. As she was born and raised in the multicultural city of Miami, where she grew up surrounded by a large extended family, she is eager to explore what more her home has to offer.

Downtown as Text

Fort Dallas and the William F. English Plantation Slave Quarters. Photo by Rachel Pasteris/CC By 4.0

“History Hidden Through Time”

By Rachel Pasteris of FIU at Downtown, 22 January 2021

Originally called “William F. English Plantation Slave Quarters,” this historic “Long Building,” currently standing in present day Lummus Park, is now known as “Fort Dallas.”  Following the events of the Indian Removal Act in 1830, in 1831, the Second Seminole War transpired.  Consequently, the first three wooden buildings constructed for Fort Dallas commenced in 1835.  Its ownership changed hands when the war ended in 1842.  The fellow who had leased the land in the first place sold the land to his nephew, William F. English, who would adapt the building’s former use at Fort Dallas to plantation slave quarters.  He abandoned the property in 1849 for the California Gold Rush.  Once again, the Army requisitioned it as soldier barracks and a storehouse.

The property continued to be repurposed over time, serving a myriad of means: trading post, county courthouse, post office, restaurant, tea room, and hotel.  In fact, those largely responsible for its successful relocation from Miami River were the Miami Women’s Club and the Everglades Chapter of the American Revolution (DAR).  After being rebuilt in 1929, the city finally designated it a historic site in 1984.  Originally called “City Park,” the site now recognized today as “Lummus Park,” Miami’s first designated park, is the current standing place of this historic structure.

It is quite unfortunate to see how much of Miami’s rich and colorful history has fallen victim to the whims of time.  One may conjecture that few of the residents residing in the city of Miami are even aware of such a complex past. Perhaps in the future society would grow to recognize and appreciate its historic roots.

Source material courtesy of plaque located onsite. Further information may be found online at http://www.historicpreservationmiami.com/pdfs/Fort%20Dallas.pdf

Everglades as Text

Slough Slog at Everglades National Park. Photo by Rachel Pasteris/CC By 4.0

“The Living Amongst the River of Grass”

By Rachel Pasteris of FIU at Everglades National Park, 5 February 2021

As one slogs through the “River of Grass,” is it evident to the trekker how even the air itself is teeming with life, from bough to slough.

The trees, the bald cypress and the pond cypress the two in particular which call this cypress dome home, stand tall and proud, swaying in the wind, their branches bare for the time being, until spring. They carry up on the weight of their limbs several species from the family Bromeliaceae (to which pineapple plants also fall under). These particular kinds, better known as “air plants,” belong to the genus Tillandsia, donning silvery-green leaves as they stay home in the trees.

Several of the cypresses’ bark are speckled with cavities left behind by what one may credit to be some of the prominent local species of woodpecker that can be found year round, among them the pileated woodpecker or “woody woodpecker” (the largest of the woodpecker species), the red cockaded woodpecker (an endangered species that has been reintroduced to the Everglades), the red bellied woodpecker, and the ivory billed woodpecker. Warblers also twitter to and fro, singing about as they go. Many of these have migrated south due to the cold season, currently enjoying the warm weather South Florida is so famously known for, as other “snowbirds” of sorts also flock here during this time of year.

Amongst the numerous insects found onsite, both dragonflies, with approximately 65 species identified thus far, and damselflies (including or the Florida bluet or “the Everglades sprite”) thrive in this Everglades environment.  In fact, a discarded exoskeleton of a dragonfly nymph, remains of the second stage in their life cycles as part of incomplete metamorphosis, was witnessed and photographed by the slough sloggers on the day this post was made. 

Many more creatures may be discovered high and low; these are just but a few of the near and dear flora and fauna which can be seen located along the Slough Slog at Everglades National Park.

Slough Slog with Park Ranger Dylann Turffs. Further information may be found online at https://www.nps.gov/ever/planyourvisit/sloughslog.htm

South Beach as Text

McAlpin Hotel on Ocean Drive. Photo by Rachel Pasteris/CC By 4.0

“Colorful Culture: Miami Beach’s Art Deco Historic District”

By Rachel Pasteris of FIU at South Beach, 19 February 2021

For the past 21 years, I have grown up in Miami, visiting South Beach solely within the vicinity of the South Pointe Park Pier.  Never had I walked far beyond the shore, let alone be aware that a whole world seemingly trapped in time, evidently displaying the wonders originating from the heights of the Roaring Twenties, existed outside of the zone I had begun to strictly associate with South Beach.  Today, living in a contrasting kind of twenties, one overrun with widespread shutdowns due to the current global coronavirus pandemic, visitors may now walk down Ocean Drive since the roads have been closed to traffic.  In fact, the City of Miami Beach is now seriously considering the case for a permanently car-free Ocean Drive, which would, in turn, prioritize pedestrians and, no doubt, benefit local tourism.  That being said, there is much to be said about the roots and influences of this particular district located within the confines of Miami.

Barbara Baer Capitman, writer, artist, preservationist, founded the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL) in 1976.  The MDPL is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving, protecting, and promoting the appearance and integrity of the Miami Beach Architectural Historic District.  She lead the crusade to establish the Miami Beach Art Deco District, the first 20th-century neighborhood to be recognized by the National Register of Historic Places, much of which is now preserved and restored to their original style is thanks to her efforts.  The neighborhood is made up of over 800 buildings and structures, built between 1923 and 1943.  Aside from Art Deco, Miami Modern (MiMo) and Mediterranean Revival belong to the three predominant architectural styles found in the Art Deco Historic District.

Four of the local Miami Beach Historic Districts together comprise the National Register Art Deco District.  One of these is Española Way, the first commercial development on Miami Beach in the early 1920s, built to serve as an artists’ colony.  As of May 2017, a revitalization project went underway, making it a pedestrian-only street.  Another notable recent development may be found on the intersection of 12th Street and Ocean Drive: “The Rainbow Crosswalk.”  On the designated plaque, it reads: “Dedicated on November 9, 2018, the Rainbow Crosswalk celebrates Miami Beach as a diverse and inclusive city and salutes the many LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer +) people who worked for decades to preserve and revitalize this unique historic community.”  Bestowed with a beautiful myriad of intricate mosaics, the Jewish Museum of Florida, now owned and run by FIU, was also placed under the National Register of Historic Places.  At the time, Jews were solely permitted to live south of 5th Street.  It is there that they created their first congregation and cemetery in 1913, the beginning of many things for Miami’s Jewish History.  Years later, long overdue, in 1949, a law was passed by Florida’s Legislature that ended discrimination in real estate and hotels.  Many of the Miami Beach Art Deco buildings, now architectural treasures known throughout the world, were designed, built and operated by Jews.  As mentioned before, Barbara Baer Capitman, a Jew, launched the campaign in the 1980s that established the Art Deco District.

Many other colorful cultures not mentioned here contributed to the beauty in art and architecture that tourists travel from far and wide to see for themselves firsthand.  I would encourage anyone intrigued by my brief blurb here to research the representation of those who may have taken part that are not as renowned nor remembered for their part in making Miami the cultural melting pot that it is, that we would rightly respect and honor all for their work.

Source material courtesy of plaques on location, along with various linked websites. Further information may be found online at https://mdpl.org and https://www.miamiandbeaches.com/things-to-do/history-and-heritage/art-deco-historic-district.

Deering as Text

Nature Preserve Trail Bridge at Deering Estate. Photo by Rachel Pasteris/CC By 4.0

“Dying to the Past whilst Living in the Present”

By Rachel Pasteris of FIU at Deering Estate, 5 March 2021

Over a decade ago, I visited these grounds for the first time, for my tío and tía’s wedding. Now, I experienced Deering Estate for what it is and what it was, taking in all its former glories, as well as surviving beauties.  We explored several ecosystems onsite, three of them notable in particular: the Tropical Hardwood Hammocks, the Pineland Rocklands, the Mangrove Forests. 

In the Tropical Hardwood Hammocks, porous oolitic limestone have gradually been eroded away as a result of the acidity associated with rainfall, slowly carving into the Miami Rock Ridge drop by drop, creating solution holes.  Over time, serveral of these solution holes have dried up, leaving sinkholes behind of varying depths.  Hundreds of caves can also be found scattered around alongside the other topographic features of South Florida.

The most famously called “Gumbo Limbo” (elsewhere recognized as “copperwood”) trees by Miami locals, is known for growing extremely fast, so much so that it can grow from seed into a 6- to 8-foot-tall tree in a year and a half.  Funnily enough, it is also nicknamed the “tourist tree,” as it constantly sheds its red flaky exterior bark, resembling sunburnt skin.  These traits make them ideal for resisting hurricane conditions, which so often visit South Florida.

In the Pine Rocklands, other trees have grown to stand their ground as well.  Saw pines remain resistant to the not so uncommon brush fires that often accompany the harsh heat of the summers here.

In recent years, a wooden walkway has been built around a Tequesta burial mound.  As of 2012, the structure was rebuilt, its plaque identifying it as the “Cutler Burial Mound Boardwalk.”  Atop this Miami mountain, a might oak tree had been planted, honoring their dead by bringing life to the site to this day.  Unfortunately, no traceable Tequestan descendants have been delineated, thus, much of their history is lost to us now in the present day.  Hopefully, the little we do know now shall not be forgotten, as we hold on to the treasures the past provides.

Along the trail, one may find iron nails, originally designated as markers for a railroad whose construction site was relocated as a result of the cries of the people.  Off the beaten path, several shell tools can be found adjacent to the mangrove forests.  These so-called tools were merely broken pieces of shells, repurposed for everyday use, such as digging.  The Tequestans and paleo natives utilized their surroundings in ways such as this to support their livelihood amongst the local flora and fauna.

Within the mangrove forests, an unexpected curiosity remains: a stolen plane crash site.  Its tale, largely unknown, but it is believed to have been taken to carry out illegal activity.  And yet, deep within the hardwood hammocks, another mystery still unsolved: an abandoned stone well.  Down below, a Star of David, along with several other unknown inscriptions, is inscribed within its inner walls.

Although some stories may never be uncovered, shrouded or even gone altogether due to divisions within our world or simply lack of care, it is important to value what we have discovered, accessible, within our reach, now.  At Deering Estate, one may glimpse at what Miami, perhaps all of the Florida coastline itself, used to be in its prime, existing untouched in its pure natural state, what a rare site, at that.  As such, we should feel a certain sense of duty to our current homeland, preserving and protecting that which we hold to be precious, wisely stewarding wildlife and all else that exists within these natural ecosystems.  The future is in our hands. Let us not permit history to repeat itself, but yet, learn to grow from our mistakes, withstanding hardships as they come our way, as seen with the nature surviving and thriving ‘till this day.

Source material courtesy of plaques on location, along with various linked websites. Further information may be found online at https://deeringestate.org/miami-hiking-trails-parks/ and https://deeringestate.org/conservation/.

Vizcaya as Text

Secret Garden at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. Photo by Rachel Pasteris/CC By 4.0

“Fateful Encounters”

By Rachel Pasteris of FIU at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, 19 March 2021

Since I was little, I’ve always been an avid reader. One of my favorite books in middle school was The Secret Garden, authored by Frances Hodgson Burnett. In it, a young English girl, recently orphaned, named Mary, sent to live with her uncle Archibald, whom she had never met before, returns to England from India. Left to explore the house on her own, one day, she discovers the Secret Garden, and, in it, a sad, sickly young boy named Colin, later revealed to be her cousin. Several other individuals belonging to a curious bunch join along the way, leading to a lot of growth, not only in their gardening skills, but in character as well. As a bookworm with well over a hundred books under my belt, along with hundreds more on my shelves still waiting to be read, I would like to imagine that the Secret Garden at Vizcaya would foster a similar tale, both in the past and in the present.

Though the Secret Garden was originally known as the Orchid Garden, the new name is quite fitting nonetheless. The Miami Herald interviewed the chief horticulturist at the gardens, Ian Simpkins, who divulged the following observations:

“You could be anywhere in this garden and you would feel like you were by yourself. That was one of the reasons they called it the Secret Garden. The family had a place to retreat to where they could be by themselves while the head of the house did all of the entertaining.”

Ergo, one may care to speculate the hypothetical happenings that could have been made possible by having such an elusive getaway so close to home on the property. Maybe family, guests, and servants alike had reserved rendezvous, obscured beneath botanical beauties. Other mysteries remain regarding the personal life and sexuality of James Deering, as attempts to document these aspects prove inconclusive. Some speculate that, due to the fact that he never married, he may have been homosexual. As famously quoted from Pride and Prejudice, authored by Jane Austen, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Thus, who is to say that a substantial case may not be made in favor of this theory? Coincidentally enough, artist Paul Chalfin, who worked on Villa Vizcaya (surprisingly never working on another after Deering’s death despite receiving high praise), undoubtedly was homosexual. After a major hurricane in 1934, Chalfin even returned, again, after Deering’s death, to Vizcaya to consult on rehabilitation of the property. Either way, the world may never know.

About 320,000 visitors are welcomed annually to fulfill fairytales of their own, for European-inspired gardens, photography and filming, birthdays, communions, quinceañeras, graduations, engagements, weddings, pregnancies, you name it. It is indeed a very Miami-esque bucket list type of tourist attraction, for romantics, dreamers, adventurers, historians, educators, and tree huggers (like me) alike.

Source material courtesy of plaques on location, along with various linked websites. Further information may be found online at https://vizcaya.org/.

Margulies as Text

“Untitled” by Barry McGee at The Margulies Collection at the WAREhOUSE. Photo by Rachel Pasteris/CC By 4.0

“It’s a Piece of Art because It’s an Idea”

By Rachel Pasteris of FIU at The Margulies Collection at the WAREhOUSE, 16 April 2021

“Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eyes.”

H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

As we roamed the halls of The Margulies Collection at the WAREhOUSE, Mr. Martin Z. Margulies in the flesh divulged his intimate feelings regarding his collection. It all started with a story: a couple decades ago, a lady friend of Margulies said to him, “All you’re interested in is chasing women and sports: football, basketball,” to which he responded, “What else is there?” to which she suggested, “Well, a guy like you, you could go and collect art.” Margulies continued telling the tale: “so, she goes ahead, and she saw a future with me wasn’t too encouraging,” we laughed, as he presented further, “so what she did is, she found a nice man, and she moved up to Princeton, New Jersey. I lost touch with her. We were really just friends. There was no real romance there, but it was a very wonderful friendship.” Turns out, after all these years, she got married and ended up becoming quite a successful woman, teaching speech therapy, in addition to teaching companies how to communicate with customers, employees, and various people. Coincidentally enough, Margulies actually received a letter from his dear old friend, who had read in a magazine that he was a top collector, to tell him that he’d be happy to know she was coaching the New York Giants. Funny to see how their roles reversed as time went on, apart from each other. Thus is the inspiration for Margulies’ beginnings in collecting art. As to why he opened The Margulies Collection at the WAREhOUSE to the public, well, “I collect art, and I ran out of space in my house,” as good a reason as any, I’d say.

Margulies is an interesting character, to say the least. He began by discussing abstract expression, demonstrating brushstrokes as a composer would wave his baton to orchestrate beauty, gesturing dripping as a pianist would caress the keys to create a cacophony, but not in the way you would think. “If you know the outcome of this painting, then you’ve lost,” he proposed, emphasizing that abstract expression is a subconscious effort on your part. It was their arms, their wrists, their hands that took them to a place of psychic automatism, the theory of not knowing the result. “So, when you doodle, you’re an abstract expressionist,” he remarked, and again, we chuckled.

Another philosophy that he brought to light within the realm of art is the idea of alchemy. I thought of how, like in Merlin, people believed and hoped in these philosophical doctrines, magical practices, and direct investigations of nature, aiming to find the Philosopher’s Stone, the principle that could reveal the secrets of life and transform the very essence of things, turning base metals, such as lead, into gold. As to the tools these artists used, many viewed them as essentially alchemy, as the rust would eventually be gold, eventually that the grass and trees would astound and plant. The coal and clay would one day transform into something of greater value, for now resting in the power of potential. What a beautiful perspective to consider! If only such things were reality; but maybe it’s better that they’re not. Optimism can only take one so far in life.

Finally, Margulies and Bailly touched on the topic of art itself. What is art? Bailly challenged our “traditional notions of art, that it’s a painting on a canvas on a wall, or a sculpture is a freestanding figure,” pointed out how a French artist contradicted this, expressing his sentiment as, “you’re obsessed with an object, when art is an idea.” I found this article from Artspace Magazine titled “It’s The Idea That’s Important”: Christian Boltanski Thinks Art Is Like a Musical Score that Anyone Can Play.” In it, we can read direct quotes from Christian Boltanski on this observation:”…I think that the idea of the relic is completely stupid, especially in art today…what I have been trying to do for a few years now is to escape this idea of the relic…but it’s not an object, it’s an idea…it’s the idea that’s important.” You know what? He’s absolutely right. Bailly elaborated that “the idea is the most important part of art, and then, along with that idea, manifests itself materially is secondary; the idea is most important.” This is the idea of conceptual art. It’s a curious matter. Makes me think of when I read George Orwell’s 1984 in high school and our teacher asked us if eradicating words would destroy the ideas behind the terms themselves, as the government aims to accomplish in the book by implementing Newspeak. Can art exist without a physical, tangible medium? As I answered my teacher then, I believe so. These things are not merely objects in and of themselves. The power of something is not in itself, but in what it can do, its purpose. To close, I’ll leave you, the reader, with this question:

Without ideas, would we even be human?

Private Tour with Martin Z. Margulies. Further information may be found online at https://www.margulieswarehouse.com/.

Silhouette of Rachel Pasteris featuring “Blind Eye 3” by Jennifer Steinkamp at The Margulies Collection at the WAREhOUSE. Photo by Rachel Pasteris/CC By 4.0

“One must always be careful of books and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”

Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel

“All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;

The old that is strong does not wither,

Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,

A light from the shadows shall spring;

Renewed shall be blade that was broken,

The crownless again shall be king.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of The Ring

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”

Augustine of Hippo

“I would rather die of passion than boredom.”

Vincent van Gogh

Komila Kholmatova: Wynwood 2021

The Photo of Komila Kholmatova. Photo by Violetta Rudenski/ CC BY 4.o


Komila Kholmatova was born  and raised in “the pearl of Central Asia” Ferghana, Uzbekistan. The city gained the title for its beauty, picturesque view and for being completely surrounded by mountains. Currently, Komila is a junior student at Florida International University, she is a part of Honors College and pursuing her degree in International Business with a focus on a certificate in Social Media and E-Marketing Analytics. As an international student, Komila is very excited to be a part of this course and have an opportunity to learn more about the history and the culture of beautiful Miami. After finishing her degree at FIU, Komila hopes to start up her own business. Apart from school, she likes cooking, travelling, reading and painting.

For her Ineffable Miami project, she chose to explore Wynwood. To learn more about the city read below.


The photo of Wynwood Walls in Wynwood, Miami Fl. Komila Kholmatova / CC BY 4.0

Wynwood, also known as one of the world’s largest open-air museums, is a neighborhood located in in the city of Miami, Florida. The neighborhood is surrounded by Overtown to the south, Midtown and Edgewater to the east, Allapatah to the west and Miami Design District to the north. Today, approximately 50 city blocks are the one that lure folks with its enormous galleries, vivid murals painted by prominent artists of the world, and colorful museums and restaurants. Located close to the Interstate 95 and central city area, the concrete jungles of Wynwood is limited to parks and green zones. (“Wynwood”).

Map of Wynwood. The red line represents a border of Wynwood.


Josiah Chaille was one of the founders of Wynwood Miami.  Source: https://miami-history.com/history-of-wynwood-miami/

Wynwood is almost a 100-year old neighborhood that is rich in history that dates back to early 1900s. However, very few people today are aware of it. On January 7th, 1917 a couple of Miamians Hugh Anderson and Josiah Chaille purchased the land that was farmland and included a part of Pulaski Estate. If not for the annexation held in 1913 by the city of Miami, the neighborhood might have been included in North Miami. Originally two partners named this neighborhood as Wynwood, however after a couple of months the letter “d” was dropped from the name. Later, the area became called Wynwood Park, and then went back to Wynwood and remained the same since then. The original boundaries of the neighborhood were determined by NW 7th Avenue to the West, the FEC Railroad Track tracks to the east, NW 36th Street to the north and NW 20th Street to the south.

Apart from being a part of the founding of Wynwood, J. Chaille and H. Anderson were both involved in the development of Miami itself. Josiah Chaille made a great contribution to the Miami City Council. A numbering system in a plan and a new street name provided by Chaille were enacted by the city council in 1920. The “Chaille plan” included the numbers and modern streets names that exist till today in downtown Miami and closely areas, and was adopted in 1920.  Hugh Anderson took part in developing Venetian Islands and Miami Shores. Also, he was one of the founder builders of Biscayne Boulevard.

Working class and The Fashion District

Wynwood served as a working class neighborhood and most of the families who resided in the area were middle class in the early 1920th, and as time passed commercial residents started to become attracted to Wynwood as well. In the late 1920th Wynwood witnessed the boom of the garment industry and its southern portion became the Garment District. As Cubans started to migrate to Miami, they were the one who provided the workload for this growing fashion district, which consisted of manufacturers and retailers of clothes. According to Miami News on October 27th in 1980, the fashion district consisted of 225 businesses that made around $64 million in sales for retailers and $125 million in revenue for manufacturers.  As the Garment District grew in popularity in the 1980s the manufacturers started to make a place for retailers and move out of Wynwood. In 20 years, many of the businesses were sold to South Koreans. (Piket, 2014).

Little San Juan

In the middle of 1950s Wynwood became known as “Little San Juan”.  Due to the reason that commercialization and urban flight has impacted the neighborhood local residents including old timers and youngsters started to move away and instead of them other immigrants began to fill the neighborhood. Most of the immigrants were Puerto Ricans and they represented the initial great influx of Miami and thus the area was referred as Little San Juan. The influence of the influx of Hispanics, specifically the Puerto Ricans affected the names of the many places in the neighborhood. The name of the Wynwood Park was altered to Roberto Clemente Park in 1974 after the Puerto Rican baseball player’s death in 1972. Built in 1924 Robert E Lee Middle School was closed in 1898, due to the old condition of the building, and it made a place for a new school that was named Jose De Diego Middle School and opened to the public in 1999. The name changing did not leave untouched public service centers such as Eugenio Maria de Hostos, which was named after a Puerto Rican writer and patriot, and Borinquen Health Care Center that was named after the ancient Puerto Rican island. Regrettably, over the years what left from Little San Juan would become subject to gentrification.

Fall of the Wynwood and the rise

Gradually, the neighborhood became more diverse and included not only Puerto Ricans but also Colombians, Haitians, Cubans, Blacks and Dominicans. In the late 1970s, the Wynwood neighborhood was regarded as lower middle class and considered a “springboard community” due to the influx of new immigrants. Drug traffic was ominous and unemployment was 55%. The aim of the common laborers was to improve their financial status so that they could leave Wynwood as soon as possible. Dottie Quintana served as an unofficial Mayor of Wynwood for more than 10 years. She did make an enormous impact on the community of the neighborhood together with her husband by gathering food for Haitian Immigrants in the 1970s and by helping Cuban refugees in the 1980s. There are stories of how she would drive the Wynwood in her old Chevy sedan at night and would make notes of the drug trafficking dealers including other illegal characters and on the next day she would leave them in a discreet way to the police station. Thanks to her great work, efforts and achievements, the community center in Roberto Clemente Park was named in her honor as Dorothy Quintana Community Center.

Over the years in the middle 2000s Wynwood attracted Goldman Properties. Tony Goldman, a man of power and energy behind SoHo revival and South Beach, who unlike others sees a thrive and art in neighborhoods instead of urban decay saw an art scene in Wynwood. (Piket, 2014). In 2006, Goldman along with his son Joey and daughter Jessica started purchasing land with a dream of establishing an open air museum with colorful murals called Wynwood Walls. And in two to three months his dream came true and the gallery was opened in October of 2009.  As Goldman vision, Wynwood became a canvas for street artists and had and has been attracting various retailers, restaurants and bars and many more other businesses. Sadly, at the age of 68, Tony Goldman passed away but he left his dream and passion that continues to live through his children, who until nowadays fund Wynwood community and manage Goldman Properties.


According to Areavibes website, Wynwoods population is approximately equal to 17,923. The general population ratio is 1.2:2, respectively Male/Female. The average  household income distribution is $40,000 to $60,000, and it makes up 18% of the total. The highest number of population is White (70.50%0), followed by Black (19.11%), Asian (1.28%) and American Indian (0.24%). In terms of age breakdown, over 20% of the population consists of people between 25-34 years. The median age is 35.2 and it is 11 % lower than Miami median age.

Interview with Isabella Bodnar: Resident of Wynwood.

The photo of Isabella Bodnar. Photo by Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.0

Isabella is 21 years old. Currently, she is a senior studying at Florida International University. Prior to living in Wynwood she lived in Tampa and moved to Miami to attend school.

*Komila: How long have you been living in Wynwood?

Isabella: I moved to Wynwood about a year ago and this year it is going to be my second year living here.

*Komila: Why did you decide to live in Wynwood?

Isabella: I really enjoyed Ybor city (the arts district in Tampa) so I thought I might enjoy living in a similar area. I really love it and its and even bigger and better arts district than the one I have at home.

*Komila: What is your favourite thing about Wynwood?

Isabella: Along with loving the arts, I really do love the variety of food that I have at my disposal. If I don’t feel like eating food down the street from my place, I can always walk one or two more blocks and there’s an entirely different and amazing selection of food available.

*Komila: What is your least favourite thing about Wynwood?

Isabella: Wynwood is a very lively and active part of Miami. There are always events going on and Tourists love to visit. I would say my least favorite part is trying to park and the pollution and noise that goes along with being an attractive part of town.

*Komila: If you could choose one place to visit in Wynwood what would it be?

Isabella: There are so many places to look at art in Wynwood, but like I said, I really love the food. I would definitely recommend visiting “House of Mac”, a mac and cheese joint that was founded by Pitbull’s former manager! The food is delicious and the atmosphere is chill. They usually have a Dj playing music, so you can jam out and enjoy delicious cheesy mac and cheese.


Wynwood Walls

Photo by Komila Kholmatova/CC BY 4.0

If a tourist would visit Wynwood a must go destination would be Wynwood Walls. Conceived by a pacemaker Tony Goldman, the Wynwood Walls became a major tourist attraction that includes the artwork of the world’s most famous artists in the street art and graffiti genre. Since its establishment, the Wynwood Walls program has served as a hosting place to more than 50 artists depicting 16 different countries. The artwork of Wynwood Walls has covered 80,000 feet of Walls. As the time passes, Wynwood Walls expand its territories and open doors to new world class art and well-known artists. The tickets to this beautiful destination may be purchased at the Guest Welcome center, which is located at 266 NW 26th St, Miami, FL 33127. The current general admission price is $10. Additionally, they provide various tours, events and memberships.

Margulies collection

The photo at Margulies collection. Photo by Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.0

The Margulies collection at the Warehouse is located at 591 NW 27th St, Miami, Fl, 33127. It is a non-profit organization extended to 50,000 square feet of land. It introduces seasonal exhibitions to the public from the collection of Martin Z. Margulies, who owns the place and has collected more than 5,000 pieces of artwork of a different kind. The main mission of the renowned collector is to encourage the education of art in the community. As Mr. Margulies once mentioned himself in one of Miami in Miami classes that were held at the Margulies Collection, “art is about learning and educating yourself” (Margulies, 2020). The Warehouse is open to the public from Tuesday to  Saturday from 11 am to 4 pm. The admission is free for Florida students, the general admission for adults is $10,  and $5 for out-of-state students.

Bakehouse Art Complex

Photo at the Bakehouse Art Complex. Photo by Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.0

The Bakehouse Art Complex was founded in 1985 for artists and  by artists. The Bakehouse incorporates 100 associate artists and residents coming from a rich cultural diversity of backgrounds. The art complex is one of the oldest foundations of Miami with a big range of studios, galleries, ceramic and wood-working areas, classrooms and printing and photography labs. The Bake house allows artists to learn, share, make, discover their art and work with each other and a wider community. The garden and indoor galleries of the Bakehouse are open to the public each Saturday and Sunday from 12 pm to 5pm. Admission is free of charge. RVSP is highly recommended, since it would guarantee the admittance.


Roberto Clemente Park

Roberto Clemente Park is the only park in the Wynwood neighborhood. It is located at 101 NW 34th St, Miami, Fl, 33127. Originally named as Wynwood Park, the green space was renamed to Roberto Clemente Park as a sign of dedication in July of 1974. The park was named after the baseball player from Puerto Rico who passed away in a plane crash in December 1972. The park witnessed name change due to the Hispanic influx in the middle 1960s. Today, the park provides various programs to the public that include Basketball and Baseball League, Children and Senior citizens Arts and Craft, after school and seasonal programs. Roberto Clemente Park is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 am to 9 pm and on the weekends from 9 am to 5 pm.


Due to the central location of the neighborhood, transportation is very well-developed and it is convenient and easy to find ways to reach needed destinations. There is the City of Miami Trolley which is free of charge and makes multiple stops around the city, including the most wanted tourist destinations as Wynwood art District and the Wynwood Walls. Metrobus is another type of transportation. The Metrobus routes are 2, 6, 77, and 277 depart from Government Center located in the downtown right to the center of Wynwood’s Art District. In order to catch Metrobus one should take the Metrorail to downtown Miami and then transfer to different bus-rides would be available. The hours of operation of Trolley are: Monday through Saturday from 6:30 am to 11:00 pm. No service provided on Sundays. To plan the trip and stay on the right track of the ride it is suggested to download the Miami-Dade Transit Tracker app. In addition to the public transportation, ride sharing on the Freebee cars, Bike sharing and Moped sharing are available for the comfort of the community.


Wynwood is one of the districts of Miami that became the richest home to a big variety of restaurants, cafes, bakeries and markets.


The photo was taken by Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.0

1-800-Lucky is my most favourite restaurant in Wynwood. Restaurant serves a wide diversity of Asian cuisine,  from Japanese to Thai, from fish ice-cream to dim sums with shrimps and poke. Guests can take a virtual tour of the inside of the restaurants and get access to an online menu. The restaurant has an amazing atmosphere with live music, karaoke and of course eclectic and delicious offering of cuisines!  Reservations are not required. The restaurant is  open every day from 12:00 pm to 12:00 am on Monday through Wednesday, and from 12:00 pm to 3:00 am from Thursday to Sunday.

Zak the Baker

Source: http://mitchandmeltakemiami.com/zak-the-baker/

Bakery was established in 2012 by the head chef Zak Stern. Zak the Baker is a kosher food restaurant that gained its popularity for its sourdough bread. It is one of my favorite bakeries in Miami. If you are nearby, you simply cannot help but go to the bakery because of the delicious smell of freshly baked bread. They also serve various bakery and food. It is a great place to have a breakfast with a cup of coffee and freshly baked bread with butter. The main chef Zak Stern was named Best Baker by the Miami New Times and received several awards for distinguished service and quality.

Giache crepes of Art

Photo by Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.0

Founded by Valeria Giache the Giache crepes of Art restaurant was created through a family tradition passed down from grandmother to granddaughter. Valeria mesmerized her entire childhood with her grandmother’s crepes, the recipe of which was passed from generation to generation.  She wanted to share the flavor with the rest of the world and she did by opening this beautiful restaurant with wonderful delicious pancakes, the taste of which cannot be compared with more than half of the pancakes located in the restaurants of entire Miami. The restaurant serves freshly made crepes and rolls of a different kind. They also provide gluten free and vegan options.


Wynwood is one the most dynamic and colorful neighborhoods in Miami. Even though I have visited Wynwood several times, I was not able to truly appreciate its beauty and learn about its rich history behind the colorful and bright walls. It is not just a neighborhood, it is an open air museum and a district the walls of which are the canvases to the most eminent artists of the world. Like many other neighborhoods have their drawbacks, Wynwood also has one and it is a limited number of green spaces. The only green space in the area available to the public since 1917 is Roberto Clemento Park. Hopefully, the concrete jungles of Wynwood would execute new green plans for the district. The pricing for most of the restaurants, museums and galleries is frank and affordable. 

Wynwood plays an integral role in the identity of Miami and serves as an outstanding example among all with its rich history and cultural melting pot. Every culture who lived through the history of Wynwood has left a mark that will always remain with us and continue to embrace the identity of Miami.


 “A Brief History Of Wynwood”. Wynwood Art Walk Official, 2013, https://wynwoodartwalk.com/brief-history-of-wynwood/.

 Digitalcommons.Fiu.Edu,2011, https://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1108&context=mpo_dade.

“Directions & Lodging | Wynwood Business Improvement District — Miami, Florida”. Wynwood Business Improvement District — Miami, Florida, 2021, https://wynwoodmiami.com/experience/directions-lodging/.

“Home – Margulies Collection”. Margulieswarehouse.Com, 2021, https://www.margulieswarehouse.com/.

Piket, Casey. “History Of Wynwood Miami – Miami History Blog”. Miami History Blog, 2014, https://miami-history.com/history-of-wynwood-miami/.

Shulman, Sara. “The Complete Guide To Wynwood, Miami”. Tripsavvy, 2019, https://www.tripsavvy.com/the-complete-guide-to-wynwood-miami-4174451.

Lemuel Fernandez: Miami As Text 2021

Photo by Annette Cruz/ CC by 4.0

Hi! My name is Lemuel Fernandez, and I am a Junior at Florida International University studying Biological Sciences. I was born in Cuba but raised in Miami.  My goal in life is to become a Physician Assistant and give back to a community that has given me so much. Through Finding Miami, I hope further to understand the history of this extremely diverse city in order to adequately provide quality healthcare to its residents in the future.

Downtown as Text

Photo by Lemuel Fernandez/ CC by 4.0

“More than Meets the Eye”

By Lemuel Fernandez of FIU at Downtown Miami, 22 January 2021.

For many people, when they hear the word Miami they automatically think about the beach, spring break, unpredictable weather patterns, and luxury. Few people actually take the time to learn the history of this cultural melting pot, to walk through its streets and experience the real Miami. Being nicknamed “the mother of Miami”, Julia Tuttle was one of the biggest advocates for the incorporation of the City of Miami. Tuttle was the one that got Henry Flagler to extend his railroad down to Miami which catalyzed the development of Miami from a desolate area to the major city that it is today. The diversity and versatility of Miami can be seen in the Plantation Slave Quarters found in Lummus Park. Termed the “Long Building”, it served as slave quarters, army barracks, a post office, a courthouse, and a tea room/social club.

As a common theme throughout the United States, Miami features a past which has been “white washed”. Unknown to most, Henry Flagler did not just bring a railroad to Miami. Once he successfully got the city to be incorporated, largely thanks to his male employees, Flagler segregated his African American employees to “Colored Town”, what is now known as Overtown. Part of Miami`s problematic past also involves the Tequesta people. What is now known as the “Miami Circle” was previously known as the hub of their city. This is where they congregated on a daily basis and where they first saw Ponce De Leon sail in through Biscayne Bay, we now use it as a dog park. On the north side of the Miami River, we constructed a hotel where the Tequesta used to bury their loved ones. By keeping all of this history hidden, we are bound to relive it. History is meant for us to learn from our mistakes so that they do not happen again.

Everglades As Text

Photo by Lemuel Fernandez/ CC by 4.0


By Lemuel Fernandez of FIU at Everglades National Park, 05 February, 2021

Although it is in their own backyards, most Miami residents have never been to Everglades National Park. Personally, after living here for over 15 years I have only visited the national park three times. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, Everglades National Parks offers countless activities to spend your day interacting with nature and appreciating the natural world. Slough Slogging in particular allows you to walk through the River of Grass and experience something that not many people do in their lifetime. When you first begin slogging, you quickly notice that the water is colder than you expect. Your attention then shifts to the fact that while the water is clear, it is murky in the path that you are walking. This may terrify you because at first you do not know if you are stepping on a log or on a snake. However, as you spend more time in the water, you become more comfortable moving around as you realize that animals really do not want to be near humans and just want to be left alone. One piece of information that I will share with you based on personal experience, try walking as close as possible to the tree trunks as the farther you are from the trees, the deeper the water is.

One of the more popular trails in the national park is the Anhinga Trail. The trail allows you to walk through a sawgrass marsh in wish you can see alligators, turtles, and many different types of birds. The trail starts at the Royal Palm Visitor Center and is a little under 1 mile long. Fun fact, the trail actually sits on what was the main road of the Royal Palm State Park. Before Everglades National Park and Royal Park State Park, the land was owned by Henry Flagler in hopes of building his railroad through the Everglades and out to Cape Sable. Once people became aware of the countless benefits that the natural ecosystem of the Everglades provides the people of Miami, the land was given to the government for the inception of Royal Palm State Park after push from Mary Mann Jennings and the Florida Federation of Women’s club. Just another example of how women shaped Miami and its surroundings into what it is today.

South Beach As Text

Photo by Lemuel Fernandez/ CC by 4.0


By Lemuel Fernandez of FIU at South Beach, 19 February, 2021

Miami Beach has become one of the most sought-after vacations for people all around the world. When standing at South Point Pier and looking at down the beach, it is impossible to imagine how this land used to be full of mangroves and largely uninhabited. The Tequesta tribe would sail out to the island to escape the mosquitos in the mainland but kept they kept their primary residence at the mouth of the Miami River. While on his first trip to Miami Beach in 1910, Carl G. Fisher fell in love with the island and recognized its potential. He dreamed of making it a perfect vacation destination for his friends in the automobile industry.

With the development of South Beach came segregation. In order to increase the population of the now City of Miami Beach, Fisher worked to attract Jews to live on the island. The reason for this is because they were not black, and they had money to spend. Jews were only allowed to reside south of fifth street and many businesses used “Gentiles Clientele Only” in their marketing to attract white customers and assure them that no Jews would be there. Fifth street became the main road into south beach, serving as a physical divide between the white and Jewish population living on the island.

As a common theme throughout South Florida, Miami Beach would not be what it is today without women. Barbra Baer Capitman, founder of the Miami Design Preservation League, fought for the preservation of the historic Art Deco district and was a fierce activist in her community. Barbra began to campaign for the preservation of Art Deco district as many investors began to buy the long-neglected buildings and constructing buildings that had nothing to do with the history of Miami Beach. Barbra believed that if we did not protect those buildings, then the true history of Miami Beach would be lost. Because of her, Miami Beach has become one of the biggest travel destinations in the world as many tourists travel from all over the world to see the Art Deco buildings that Barbra fought so hard to protect. Yet again another example of how women (badass women as Professor Bailly says) shaped Miami into what it is today.

Deering As Text

Photo by Lemuel Fernandez/ CC by 4.0

“Hidden Gem”

By Lemuel Fernandez of FIU at Deering Estate, 05 March, 2021

As I walked into the nature preserve at Deering Estate, the first thing I thought was, this is not Florida. Everywhere you would turn, you would only see grass and trees. We have essentially wiped out most of the natural flora in South Florida in order to build our homes, schools, and shops and there are only a few places in which the naturally existing trees in this area have been protected. The Deering Estate contains around six ecosystems with over 120 acres of Pine Rocklands and is actively protecting and preserving other ecosystems that are vital to our survival in South Florida. Among its various ecosystems, the estate also features mangrove forests which serve as a barrier between hurricanes and our cities. When a hurricane hits South Florida, mangroves reduce the impacts of waves, storm surge, and winds. Mangroves also serve as a habitat for fish in Biscayne Bay and absorb toxins in the water which helps reduce the concentration of harmful chemicals in Biscayne Bay.

Alongside the natural beauty in the nature preserve, the Deering Estate also features two historic homes, the Richmond Cottage and the Stone House. The Richmond Cottage once served as a small inn south of the developing city of Miami. As an advertisement, a poster would hang on the wall of the Inn which read “Connected to Miami” which at the time was a special thing considering travel from Miami to Cutler (where Deering Estate is) was around two days due to the difficult topography. The Richmond Inn served as a place where people who were in the business of Henry Flagler Railroad could sleep while in town. Soon after the Inn closed, Charles Deering bought the property and used it as his winter home. While in Europe, Deering purchased a Spanish Villa named Maricel which was used as his main residence. During the war, Deering was not able to return to his Spanish retreat and decided to rebuild it on his winter estate in South Florida. Deering then built the Stone House, a three-story Mediterranean Revival overlooking Biscayne Bay. Interestingly enough, Deering never built a kitchen in the Stone House and only used the one found in the Richmond Cottage. Deering also built a boat turning basin so that he could park his boats (Barbee and May-y-cel). Both the boat basin and the stone house were constructed by Afro-Bahamian workers which were often injured on the job and would lay on the floor dying because there was no way too get them medical attention until the following day.

Vizcaya As Text

Photo by Lemuel Fernandez/ CC by 4.0

“A Palace in the Mangroves”

By Lemuel Fernandez of FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, 19, March, 2021

As you begin to towards the main house at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, you are welcomed by a row of trees and beautiful fountains that are meant to mirror the heavens at night. From here, you can catch a glimpse of the North end of the house, through the courtyard, and out to Biscayne Bay. Despite being built many years ago, Vizcaya embodies Miami culture; luxury, and picture perfect. On a typical visit to Vizcaya, you can encounter at least one teenage girl taking her quinceanera photos, or a couple taking their engagement photos. In our own homes, it is customary to hang pictures of your family by the front door so that visitors can get a glimpse into the residents. For example, if you are Christian, you may have a cross by the door, letting visitors know that this is a Christian household. When you first walk into the main house, you are greeted by a sculpture of Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstasy. James Deering placed this sculpture at his front door so visitors would immediately know who he was and what his house was intended for.

In 1912, James Deering bought about 100 acres of land from Mary Brickell and began to design a villa which was to be built in the middle of the mangroves. In 1914, Deering began construction on the villa and celebrated its completion with a Christmas Day party in December of 1916. Since its completion, the villa has been known for its parties. Similar to Versailles Deering built small cavelike structures in the gardens where people could have secrete rendezvous. When Versailles was built, it was very restricted who you could interact with. You had to stay in your social class and could not interact with those above or below you. The gardens is how people would meet up in secret. James also incorporated the gardens at Versailles in his property. Gardens which were carefully manicured as to look unnatural and to give a sense that he could control nature.

Margulies at Text

Photo by Lemuel Fernandez/ CC by 4.0

“The Heart of Wynwood”

By Lemuel Fernandez of FIU at The Margulies Collection at the WAREhOUSE, 16, April, 2021.

Now known for culture and art, Wynwood was once a Miami inner city neighborhood built for the working class. In the early sixties, Cuban immigrants arriving to Miami were moving to Wynwood. This was at a time where it was safe enough for children to be carelessly playing on the street. Unfortunately, as we have seen across Miami, gentrification plays a big role into why an area is the way that it is today. When I-95 was proposed, the wealthy white neighborhoods did not want a big highway running next to their homes and I-95 was ultimately built through Wynwood and Overtown. Wynwood began to be neglected, until art moved in and revitalized the neighborhood. One of the pioneers of the Wynwood art scene was Martin Z. Margulies.

Before being one of ARTnews Top 200 Collectors, Martin Z. Margulies was previously a real estate developer. He began his collecting career by acquiring several Contemporary Art pieces, buying photography, video and installation art from the United States and Europe. In 1998, Mr. Margulies began to look for a place to house and exhibit his growing collection. In 1999, the Margulies Collection at the WAREhOUSE opened in Wynwood. The space comprises 50,000 square feet of contemporary art. The collection comprises well renowned artists such as Sol LeWitt, Willem de Kooning, George Segal, Anselm Kiefer, and several others. The Margulies Collection has donated several of its art pieces to several institutions in Florida such as Florida International University, University of Miami, the Lowe Arts Museum, and has multiple pieces on loan at museums around the world. In keeping with its commitment to education, admission to the warehouse is free for students of the state of Florida. As the warehouse is fully funded by the Martin Z Margulies Foundation, the admission fee charged to visitors is donated to the Lotus House, a shelter for homeless women and children in Miami. The Warehouse closes for the summer and cycles its display pieces before reopening. During Art Basel, admission to the warehouse is highly regarded as people in the art world come from all over the world to see the Margulies Collection and its priceless contemporary art pieces. One piece of art that stood out to me was “Hurma” by Magdalena Abakanowics. The piece includes 250 figures made out of burlap and resin. The 250 figures are all ambiguous in nature, this represents the crowds arriving at the death camps during the Holocaust. The figures are faceless, symbolizing the dehumanizing nature of the concentration camps.

Aleksandra Baryshnikova: Miami as Text 2021

Aleksandra Baryshnikova: Miami as Text

Photo taken of Aleksandra Baryshnikova in 2021. Photo by Komila Kholmatova /CC BY 4.0

Welcome to my page! My name is Aleksandra Baryshnikova, I’m a Junior in Hospitality management at Florida International University. I was born in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. This city has a special place in my heart. The city is full of historic places, palaces, parks, and museums. When I was a kid my family developed a personal love for traveling. Since then I want to visit as many countries as I can. Other than that, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, and my dogs. I love creating photography and arts. I hope “Miami in Miami” class is going to help me to discover Miami and new passions.

Downtown as Text

Photo taken of Aleksandra Baryshnikova in 2021. Photo by Annette Cruz /CC BY 4.0

“Deeper connection ”

By Aleksandra Baryshnikova of FIU at Downtown Miami, 22 January 2021.

I have been living in Miami for three years and I never fell in love with this city. However, from all of the places in Miami, Downtown is on my top list. Even though I have been to Downtown quite a few times and I never paid much attention to buildings and structures. When students and I were walking through the “heart of Miami” ( sometimes running because professor Bailly is a speed) we were amazed by the history of this place. Downtown is full of contrast. Rich and poor everyone wants to take something from this place. 

In one day with professor Bailly I saw more, than in three years by myself in Downtown. The place that gathered my attention the most was a piece of the Berlin Wall. The Wall was built after World War Two. It represents two different views and ideologies of the USSR and the US. Their views were extremely different as well as their governments and they decided to separate Germany. The eastern communists were obviously more conservative and strict in every single way. While western democrats were more open-minded. The piece of the Wall today symbolizes victory and division at the same time. Still, we can see how Russian and the US are different. Even nowadays Russia saved its conservative views while America represents liberty. I think I liked this monument because I feel that this piece is a part of my history. My great-grandparents participated in Word War 2 , they shared their memories with my family. I remember they said that War is the worst thing that could happen in the world.

Another historical place that captured my attention was Freedom tower. While I was listening to the professor’s lecture I felt extremely sentimental for Cuban kids who had to go through immigration alone. The Freedom tower is extremely important in Miami history because it tells the story of the Cuban immigration to America during the Cold War. 

Miami represents diversity. However, we need to remember where this diversity came from and respect the importance of the history of Miami. We should never forget the real history of Miami. Indians were the first people who lived in the area of Downtown more than 15 centuries before white men came and colonialized lands. Tequestas were a Native American tribe and people shouldn’t forget that they died in those lands because of colonialization.   

Everglades as Text

Photo taken of Aleksandra Baryshnikova in 2021. Photo by John William Bailly /CC BY 4.0

“Hidden gems”

By Aleksandra Baryshnikova of FIU at Everglades , 05 February 2021.

Our second journey took place at  Everglades National Park, situated at the junction of North America and the tropical Caribbean climates. Everglades Park is home to a varied flora and fauna. Who would have thought that we would have a chance to go slogging there?

As soon as we stepped into the water we entered a magical portal to wildlife. Few minutes after I looked back,  there was no road, no cars, only a labyrinth of cypress. Everglades opened their doors for us, it was kind to us. Water was clear and still, soft wind accompanied us all the way through our adventure. I felt as we were a group of explorers. Everyone knows that a good group of explorers have a ringleader. In our case, we had two leaders: Ranger Ms. Dillan and Professor Bailly. Our leaders guided us through the labyrinths of cypress and waters.  My classmates and I were brave enough to enter the alligator hole. The students submerged into the water, up until their waist; gathered around and gazed at the mysterious hole. After a while, we all agreed that there were no alligators. Hence we persisted to scramble through trees and water.  Later some people decided to “baptized” themself in Everglades waters. It was quite entertaining.  After lunch, our brave group decided to continue our adventure with Cesar Becerra. Cesar is a Miami historian and a natural-lover explorer. I was thrilled when Cesar said that he could take us to a place that was seen only by two hundred people. We trumped through the woods to look at some of the hidden Everglades finds. It was magical. I tried to capture everything that Cesar was saying. Meanwhile, the atmosphere of “Indiana Jones” mixed with the “Jurassic Park” vibes followed us through the whole day from the moment when we stepped into the water to the moment when we had to sit in our cars and leave the mysterious place. 

“Grateful and pleased”, words that would best describe my feelings. The Everglades flora made my mind and soul dived into a deep state of serenity and complete silence.  

South Beach as Text.

“Unseen faces , Unheard voices.”

By Aleksandra Baryshnikova of FIU at Everglades , 19 February 2021.

Photo taken of Starlite hotel in 2021. Photo by Aleksandra Baryshnikova /CC BY 4.0

There is a plethora of ignorance when it comes to the history of South Beach. Some people still believe that colonist Carl Fisher found, now called South Beach, during his vacation dated in 1910. Supposedly, later on, Fisher announced that he is buying the land and rebuilding it into a “paradise”. Yet according to Samuel Hensdale Johnson, before Fisher’s railroad, Miami was like a tiny neighborhood where people knew everyone who lived there. When the railroad was done, South Beach became unrecognizable. Later, blacks were banned from there. 

Fisher, Flager, Collins these names are all around the city. Certainly, the above-mentioned people made a great contribution to the development of the city. Although, after blacks basically built the whole town and the time came to share the bounty from the flourishing Miami, Black residents were quickly banished. People blindly admire the city of Miami without realizing that not only white businessmen were involved in the history of South Florida and it needs to be said more.

After all, the history of Miami is not something to be proud of. On the other hand, the architecture of South Beach is magnificent. Ocean Drive is a truly unique place. This exclusive place combines a mix of architectures such as Art Deco, Mediterranean, and Mimo. It is impossible to choose a favorite style. Every single building has a unique detail that leaves an indescribable impression. In fact, Ocean Drive was saved by Barbara Baer Capitman. Thank to her merits and activism, we still have this gorgeous neighborhood. Without her passion, South Beach would look like a run-of-the-mill skyscraper city. 

Deering as Text.

Photo taken of “Finding Miami” group in 2021. Photo by John William Bailly /CC BY 4.0

“Diversity of Nature”

By Aleksandra Baryshnikova of FIU at Deering Estate Miami, 6 March 2021.

“ Fill your life with experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.”- Unknown. I was lucky enough to pick the “Miami in Miami” class this semester. I can definitely say that it was love at first sight or better to say love at the first hike. Much as I go on to have fun with Miami’s nature and architecture, there was still something about being outside and hiking through mangroves that lit me up inside. Thus, this week’s adventure was waiting for us at Deering Estate. 

Deering Estate is a unique place that has eight different ecosystems. They are pine Rocklands, mangrove forests, seagrass beds, coastal dunes, salt marshes, and tropical hardwood hammocks. Imagine you are walking and eventually entering a completely different ecosystem. It is like you transitioned in time or used a magic portal. At Deering Estate you can find rare solution holes, sinkholes, and caves. We persisted to scramble through contrasting ecosystems and caves. All of those surfaces were naturally created many years ago. More than a thousand years ago, Florida faced a phase of erosion and carbonate sediment deposition. Due to the historical movement of freshwater, it created an extremely porous limestone foundation with many caves and holes. We were lucky to immerse ourselves in one of the caves at the end of our hike. Besides, Deering Estate is doing a good job of preserving and protecting this historical land and in particular those ecosystems.  

In addition to the marvelous flora and fauna of Deering Estate, we explored Charles Deering’s estate. Located in Palmetto Bay, the Deering Estate is an enlightening treasure and historical site featured on the National Register of Historic Places. Finally, I can say that this trip to Deering Estate might be one of my favorites hikes so far. I’m looking forward to new adventures. 

Vizcaya as Text.

Photo taken of Finding Miami in Miami group in 2021. Photo by Annette Cruz /CC BY 4.0

“Typical Miami”

By Aleksandra Baryshnikova of FIU at Vizcaya MuseumMiami, 19 March 2021.

For my whole childhood- I had spent countless hours at endless museum tours- hating all of them. However, I have never hated art or history, all I’ve hated are the lifeless tour stories, long lines, and crowds. After some time, my mind fell victim to the growth of knowledge and the hate turned into fondness- I began to love attending museums. Ironic isn’t it? Luckily, I had the colossal privilege of being born in Saint Petersburg, a place full of palaces, royalty, and museums, so moving to an entirely different country has taught me to appreciate the art and culture I experienced during my upbringing. Thus, it is pretty interesting to observe how historical places like Vizcaya museum have been preserved in time in a place of modernity and hastiness.     

The history of Vizcaya started in 1914. Completely hidden by the subtropical ecosystem, Vizcaya was an unseen gem in the middle of the jungle. Built and decorated by many artists, the estate and the gardens resemble a Mediterranean paradise mansion on the shores of Biscayne Bay. Nowadays, Vizcaya serves as a museum for visitors. The owner, James Deering wanted to create an interpretation of an Italian villa. Therefore, Designers like Alexander Stirling Calder, Robert Winthrop Chanler, and Gaston Lachaise constructed this stunning Mediterranean artwork. One of my personal favorite parts of the villa is the Courtyard- originally this open in order for the ocean breeze to cross the whole house. Besides, Vizcaya is extremely famous for combining a plethora of different European styles. However, it is important to remember that Vizcaya was built in the subtropical ecosystem which is a dramatic difference compared to the European climate. A good example would be the garden’s layouts- inspired by French and Italian architecture but performed with Cuban limestones and coral trim, planted with Floridian native plants. 

Definitely, the estate has a unique charm. While walking through the villa you can feel the change in different styles of architecture. It creates a feeling like you are traveling through time. From Rococo to Renaissance and back to Islamic motive, this mix of architecture demonstrates James Deering’s taste. He did not care about rules, if he wanted a piece of art, he got it- the newer the better. As an illustration, James Deering’s estate was the first place with a telephone system in Miami-Dade County.

All things considered, Vizcaya is a perfect representation of Miami. A mix of everything in one place. The newest thing and designs (at that time). Vizcaya still remains chic and luxurious. It is a great place to visit and get involved in Miami history. 

Margulies Collection as Text.

Photo taken of Aleksandra Baryshnikova in 2021. Photo by Saniya Pradhan /CC BY 4.0

“A bigger idea”

Before attending the Margulies Collection, I had heard many stories of how Wynwood was constructed as a working-class residential district, and how later on it became one of the most famous neighborhoods in Miami. Martin Z. Margulies was one of the people who bought a warehouse at Wynwood a long time ago and changed it to one of the most famous private collections in Miami. 

Before meeting Martin Z. Margulies, I imagined that he would look extremely professional and formal. However, to my astonishment, I saw a humble man wearing a simple T-shirt with a goofy label on it. As soon as I saw him, I immediately knew I would enjoy his company. I was extremely excited about our tour at  Margulies Collection. While slowly wandering through the gallery you get the sense that your mind is being freed. I believe this is connected to the fact that the collection does not have a specific theme or meaning- which I find astounding. You allow your imagination to flow with whatever comes to your mind. We saw many examples of contemporary art. Personally, I loved it. It is interesting how for some people, Anselm Kiefer’s work wouldn’t leave any impressions, but for others, his work would touch hearts. It is amazing how art could change people’s emotions and perspectives.

The Margulies private Collection stores a diverse range of modern art worldwide, but perhaps my favorite feature is a massive artwork, “Dinner Party” by Will Ryman at the disposal. “The dinner table is a great narrative to bring different characters together and is also a timeless topic”, says Will Ryman. In addition, Mr. Martin patiently explained why and how he purchased each individual piece of the collection. Apart from his stories, he shared his opinion about contemporary art, he says that “art does not have to have a meaning, it is simply an idea.” I find this appealing to my idea of art. I see art as a charming expression of an ability to see beauty everywhere. 

Visiting Margulies Collection is a great way to challenge your imagination and perspectives regarding art. I strongly suggest you visit the private collection and dive into contemporary art.  

Claudia Martinez: Design District 2021

Student Bio

Hi, my name is Claudia Martinez and I am currently an Economics major at FIU. One of my favorite hobbies is going out and exploring new things including everything that Miami has to offer. When I heard of a different type of class, one that would leave the classroom setting and take you out to see the city for yourself, I knew that was going to be the next class I was going to sign up for. Taking the Miami In Miami during Covid-19 challenged me to get out of the comfort of my home and explore the city by going to new places that I would have otherwise not visited. The course is thought provoking and causes one to think outside the box literally. The course discusses subjects that I find uncomfortable, and I would too often avoid. However, I stand challenged by this class and I look forward to seeing this class expand into greater horizons.


The area covers 0.249 square miles (0.64- km2). The zip codes for the Miami Design District include 33127 and 33137 according to “Wikipedia”.


The origins of Design District go back to a pineapple farm in Buena Vista owned by farmer T.V. Moore. In the 1920’s, Moore built the historic Moore Building in the1920’s for a family-owned furniture business known to be the Moore Furniture Building. However, in the 1980’s and 1990’s, Design District had fallen into a terrible state of decay and it was not until late 90’s and early 2000’s that art and design stores began opening in this neighborhood. Eventually, Real-Estate developer and art collector Craig Robbins purchased 18 run-down buildings in this area and persuaded top designers in furniture, textiles and other creative mediums to open showrooms and studios in this area. Through out the early 2000’s, design district continued to evolve as streets and sidewalks were redone and new plants and trees were planted there. In 2010, Robbins who is CEO of Dacra partnered with L Real Estate to develop Design District into a luxury based shopping and lifestyle destination for tourists and residents while welcoming exotic architects from around the world to take part in the project. Presently today, one can still see signs of Buena Vista such as the school of Buena Vista and the Buena Vista Post office.


As of 2,000, the population of Miami Design District had 1,116 people of which 522 were males and 594 were females. The Median age for males were 26.2 years old while the median age for females were 25.4 years old. The average household size had 3.1 people and the average family size was composed of 3.6 members. The percentage of married couple families was 32.9% while in the other hand family couples with children was only at 17.5%. On the contrary, single mother households made up 20.7% of households and never married females who were 15 years and older made up 19.5% of households according to “Wikipedia demographics” and “points2home”.


“Reinaldo Martinez”, by Claudia Martinez. CC by 4.0

Claudia: Before starting, just introduce yourself and who you are.

Reinaldo: For starter, my name is Reinaldo Martinez, I am a person who used to live in Design District and thought it would be nice to share my experience of when I was living at Design District.

Claudia: Perfect! Let’s begin with the interview. What made Design District an option for you?

Reinaldo: Well for starters, Claudia, I am an optimist and I wanted to live in an area that was central in its location while I was still able to experience the exotic architecture that makes up part of Miami.

Claudia: In your own words describe Design District and its residents.

Reinaldo: Design District and its residents cannot be confined to a simple description. The people who live in Design District are a beautiful people and they are not afraid to show that. They stay in constant motion and that is something nice to see in people.

Claudia: Great! What did you enjoy most about Design District?

Reinaldo: What I enjoyed most about Design District is the diversity, like I said before its central location, and the exotic design of the neighborhood. The people are pleasant, and I find that to be to be a good attribute in the neighborhood.

Claudia: If you were to introduce someone to Design District, where would you take them?

Reinaldo: Well, first I would take them to one of my personal favorite parts, the Tom Ford store to show off the modern layout of the store, I would show them around the Albert Pallot Park and have them see the water view and lastly, I would take them to museum garage where people may not know it but besides being a hot spot to take pictures it is also a good place to see the skyline of Biscayne Blvd.

Claudia: Thanks Reinaldo, also do you consider Design District to be safe?

Reinaldo: Of course, I consider Design District to be safe, you can walk freely without having to look over your shoulder constantly, there is security around the area which protects the area. As long as you stay away from trouble, you have nothing to worry about.

Claudia: I see… Also, is there anything you would change about Design District. If so, what would it be?

Reinaldo: If there is something I could change about Design District, I would change the belief that you have to be extremely rich to visit the neighborhood. Design District is not restricted to just the opulent class but also anyone who wants to deeply appreciate an outdoor artwork that it is.

Claudia: Okay Reinaldo, one last one: How do you see Design District in the next five years?

Reinaldo: At the current rate that it is going, I see Design District expanding in the Furniture Business as well as the Design sector. I believe that it will have many more great developments worth visiting. Claudia: Thank you Reinaldo for your time in doing this interview.


The Moore Building

“2nd floor of the Moore Building” by Claudia Martinez. CC by 4.0

The Moore Building is located in the heart of Design District. This was the first building built in the back then Buena Vista neighborhood and present-day Design District. This was actually the first furniture showroom space for Moore and Sons and was also going to be the first of many furniture stores to come in the future to Design District. The building is comprised of four floors of arcaded spaces with a central atrium.

Jungle Plaza

“Jungle Plaza” by Claudia Martinez. CC by 4.0

The following landmark is Jungle Plaza which is the ideal place for festivals, live performances and other events. The Plaza’s name is derived from the large “Jungle” mural created by collaborative art in hopes of portraying the exotic southern Floridian landscape as well as the neighborhoods urban landscape according to “miamiandbeaches”.

Palm Court

“Claudia Martinez at Palm Court” by Claudia Martinez. CC by 4.0

Palm Court is an event space for pedestrians to walk at their own leisure. This area was designed by Japanese Architect Sou Fujimoto and Aranda. The court is surrounded by, you guessed it, palm trees, a white eclectic orb amid a fountain according to “Miami Design District”.


Albert Pallot park

” Albert Pallot Park”, By Claudia Martinez, CC by 4.0

Albert Pallot Park is a beautiful, pleasant greenspace park by the water. The park is composed of grassy green areas for picnics and a sidewalk with benches right by the water. This park also contains a recreational playground for children to play in as well as a pair of dominos sculpture and also happens to be free. The park is located right off 195 and Biscayne Blvd according to “Yelp”. Whether you want to catch a sunset, sunrise or just spend some leisure time, this is the park to go to.

Morning Side Park

“Morningside Park”, by Claudia Martinez. CC by 4.0

Located along Biscayne Bay, amid the historic Morningside neighborhood, the park is surrounded by a large array of trees. This park is free with a large amount of grassy green areas, boat ramp, fishing areas, recreational areas for children, kayak and paddleboard rentals and a beautiful water view. This park is regularly watched over by police making this a secure and protected park to spend time in. The hours are from sunrise to sunset according to “tripadvisor”.

Rooftop Garden

Located above the garden building of design district, the Rooftop Garden showcases mahogany trees, a unique maize made up of Jamaican wood hedges and accented with railroad vines and philodendrons according to “Miami Design District”. This garden was designed by landscape architect Nathan Browning with Island Planning who aimed to bring a modern look to the rooftop garden.


Trolley and Bus

Design District provides its residents and tourist with free transportation via the trolley. Trolleys that circulate the Design District area include the Biscayne-Brickell trolley, the little Haiti trolley and the Wynwood trolley according to “Miami gov”.  If you want to catch a bus, you can catch the J bus, the 9 bus and the 110 bus which leave you at Design District as well according to “Miamigov”.


The East side of Design District is conveniently situated next to Biscayne Blvd, the west side meets the I-95 and its southern border begins at Florida state road 112. Another major road is the Florida 944 that leads to the north border of the Design District neighborhood.

Walking or Biking

Walking or biking is acceptable, and some may even view it as a fashion statement as you can stop at your own leisure to take a quick picture at the colorful buildings of your choice.


“Dior Rooftop Cafe”, by Claudia Martinez. CC by 4.0

Dior Rooftop Café

Dior Café is the only Café that Dior has opened within the US and currently the only one in the whole world. The café provides gourmet croissants, mouthwatering gelatos and signature Dior coffee.  Despite the Designer brand name, the décor brings its guests a fresh down to earth type of atmosphere according to “Miami Design District”. Customer service is amazing as waitresses and waiters are not overburdened with an excess of clientele.

Little Hen

“Little Hen”, by Claudia Martinez. CC by 4.0

Little Hen experienced a boom in popularity after Instagram bloggers began showcasing this restaurant on their Instagram feeds. This restaurant is unique for its floral décor and royal blue walls. Little Hen is not only widely popular for its beautiful décor but also for its breakfast and brunch-based menu options and its carefully decorated coffees as stated by “Little-Hen”.


“Swan”, by Claudia Martinez. CC by 4.0

The Swan restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor dining destinations from experts David Gutman and Pharrell Williams. Swan’s menu varies throughout the seasons and market available ingredients, that provide its guests new and interesting flavors all year round. The menu consists of rustic cuisine and a wide variety of options for everyone according to “TripAdvisor”.


Nisi B Home

“Nisi B Home” by Claudia Martinez. CC by 4.0

Nisi B Home is known for offering that carry out glamour and a unique style to the room it decorates. The furnishings are hand made from small producers. Whether you are looking for a different type of chandelier or colorful objects to spark a room, there is something for everyone that this furniture store has to offer that will suit any unique style. Nisi B opened up in 2004 and helped many local designers and retailers’ style and complete their projects with its diverse mix of lighting accessories and furniture. Nisi B home has influenced how other parts of design district are put together. If you are a little bit more specific about what you want, Nisi B offers customizing a variety of materials according to “MiamiDesignDistrict”.

Monica James & Co

“Monica James & Co Furniture Store” by Claudia Martinez. CC by 4.0

On the second business that we are checking off is Monica James & Co and you guessed it, it is an additional furniture store. Design District is known for its unique décor style and just as its origins started with the Moore furniture building, it is surprising to see how this initial business left a lasting impression on present day furniture businesses in Design District. This showroom offers contemporary home furnishing, textiles, art and many other accessories from around the world. The showrooms tradition remains until this day as their collections have been curated to include eclectic lines of the interior design industry according to “MonicaJames”.

Emilio Robba

“Emilio Robba Flower Design”, by Claudia Martinez. CC by 4.0

Emilio Robba is known to be as the “sculptor of flowers”. Well known to be a symbol of fashion for over 25 years, Emilio Robba uses artistic talent and innate understanding of nature to create an appealing brand highly admired by architects, interior designers, and individual consumers worldwide. Thanks to Emilio Robba and his creative influence, we are able to have have today the development and evolution of silk botanicals. Robba refers to his collection of decorative elements as “Nature’s Sights Unseen”. Robba’s aim is to bring a refreshingly new addition to an already decorated room according to “Houzz”.


Design District is a trendy upbeat neighborhood that makes up part of present-day Miami. However, the truth is that most of its residents are white collar workers and only small portion are blue collar laborers creating a gap between class hierarchy. On the other hand, Pinecrest is largely thought of as a luxury that only the rich can take but the truth of the matter is that that is a myth as Design District is open to all Miami’s residents and all visiting tourists. Just like many neighborhoods in Miami, Design District has come a long way starting from its Moore Furniture Building at the Buena Vista neighborhood and is now a hotspot for designers to showcase their art pieces and design. I know that Design District will continue to progress and expand and add more diversity to its neighborhood as it has been doing so since its origins. I believe with the equality movements that are taking place on this day,  there will be more diversity of minority groups living in this neighborhood together.


Wikipedia. “Miami Design District”, Demographics. | Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miami_Design_District

Point 2. “Miami Design District Demographics” |Miami Design District Population Demographics, 2019. https://www.point2homes.com/US/Neighborhood/FL/Miami-Design-District-Demographics.html

Miami Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The Official Site of Greater Miami” |Moore Elastika, 2021. https://www.miamiandbeaches.com/business-resource/moore-elastika/977#:~:text=Th

Miami Design District “Jungle Plaza | Miami Design District . https://www.miamidesigndistrict.net/event-venue/742/jungle-plaza/

Miami Design District |Palm Court. https://www.miamidesigndistrict.net/event-venue/744/palm-court/

Yelp. “Albert Pallot Park” | Yelp, 30 Sep. 2020  https://www.yelp.com/biz/albert-pallot-park-miami

Trip Advisor. “Morningside Park” | TripAdvisor, Jan. 2019.  https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g34438-d10499495-Reviews-Morningside_Park-Miami_Florida.html                

Miami Design District. “ Dior’s Rooftop Café  Is Your Chick New Dining Spot” | Miami Design District, 16 Jan. 2019. https://www.miamidesigndistrict.net/blog/entries/784/diors-rooftop-cafe-is-your-chic-new-dining-spot/

Little-Hen. Contemporary Breakfast and Brunch. “Home of The Rose Petal | LittleHen. https://www.little-hen.com/#:~:text=Little%20Hen%20is%20an%20English,homely%20accents%20and%20luxurious%20touches.

The City Of Miami. Miami. “Get Trolley Information, Schedules & Maps”.  | MiamiGov, 2020. https://www.miamigov.com/Services/Transportation/Get-Trolley-Information-Schedules-and-Maps

Miami Design District. “Nisi B Home”. | Miami Design District.  https://www.miamidesigndistrict.net/listing/24/nisi-b-home/

Monica James. “Monica James & Co Showroom Is Located in the Heart of the Miami Design District” | MonicaJames, 2021. https://monicajames.com/

Ameenah Aljabry: ASC Service Project Fall 2020

Photo taken by Emily Morgan. Edited by Ameenah Aljabry/CC BY 4.0


Hi, I’m Ameenah Aljabry, I’m currently a junior at FIU. I’m an English major and have a love for animals and nature. After graduating from FIU, I plan on going to vet school and furthering my knowledge of animals as well as nature. And hopefully, in the future, I plan on combining my love for journalism, photography, and veterinary medicine to help continuously teach the world how we can be more aware of preserving the environment and helping the animals that are suffering due to our negligence.


During our last class and adventure, we all went together to help out the environment and clean the mangroves. I might have fallen in the water a few times and lost my balance but it was completely worth it. My service project was cleaning up the mangroves as well as truly learning what our environment provides for us and the animals around us. When first arriving at Deering Estate, we all witnessed a manatee coming close to where we all were. I’ve never been that close to a manatee before so it was an experience I would not ever forget. When approaching the mangroves, we were able to see the vastness of the body of water we were in and I could just imagine how many animals call this place their home. The fact that we would be helping these animals even just a little bit made the experience even greater.

Photo taken by Ameenah Aljabry. Edited by Ameenah Aljabry/CC BY 4.0

My canoe partner and I filled our canoe fully and were even asking others if they had more empty bags we could fill. We were on a mission to take back with us as much trash as we could. At the end of the trip when we all got back seeing how much trash we collected was honestly impressive. I was so happy that we all worked together to help the environment. It was a great experience that I want to do again. I was even thinking of creating a group of individuals who weekly go out and help clean up areas that have a lot of trash like these mangroves. But instead, we go to different areas every time. I would speak to the coordinators of each location and create a schedule and allow kids to volunteer as well. And while volunteering I would also teach them about the environment and sustainability.

Ameenah Aljabry: ASC See Miami Fall 2020

Photo taken by Emily Morgan. Edited by Ameenah Aljabry/CC BY 4.0


Hi, I’m Ameenah Aljabry, I’m currently a junior at FIU. I’m an English major and have a love for animals and nature. After graduating from FIU, I plan on going to vet school and furthering my knowledge on animals as well as nature. And hopefully, in the future, I plan on combining my love for journalism, photography, and veterinary medicine to help continuously teach the world how we can be more aware of preserving the environment and helping the animals that are suffering due to our negligence.

Photos taken by Ameenah Aljabry. Edited by Ameenah Aljabry/CC BY 4.0

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden


Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is located in Coral Gables in Miami Dade. This area of Miami Dade is mostly for the higher class individuals, which reflects why this garden was probably constructed in this area because many individuals who live here have the means to splurge on extracurriculars which allows this Garden to have many visitors. Even though this can be true people travel from all over Miami Dade to escape the city and immerse themselves in this Tropical Garden. It was opened in 1938. Not only does this garden consist of 83-acres of land, but it has buildings for research as well.


According to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, their mission is “to harness the power of plants for humankind and share the joy and beauty of tropical gardening with everyone.” They definitely go beyond their intended mission by allowing nature to speak on its own and be the center of their approach to art. They incorporate an intricate layout of an array of plant groups as well as water in the forms of ponds and lakes to really emphasize the beauty in the everyday scenery. They also have a butterfly garden in which they allow butterflies to roam free while people step inside their world. When categorizing what is considered art, many people tend to ironically put the definition of art in a box. They see art as pieces like paintings and photography or even clothing but forget that we all currently are living on a huge piece of artwork called Earth. Yes, theoretically mystical creatures do not exist and magic is part of a world of fantasy but if you look deep into nature and its mystery, it is so beautiful and unworldly. It sometimes makes you wonder how amazing our ecosystems and the world around us is and how it works all on its own miraculously. That is why I specifically chose Fairchild Botanic Garden for my See Miami project because they do such a good job at making people see the true beauty in nature while also learning its diversity.

Photos taken by Ameenah Aljabry. Edited by Ameenah Aljabry/CC BY 4.0
Photos taken by Ameenah Aljabry. Edited by Ameenah Aljabry/CC BY 4.0


According to FairchildGarden.org, the roots of this amazing botanic garden come from a plant explorer named Dr. David Fairchild. During his time exploring, he went all over the globe to dig deeper into plant life and to truly understand the differentiations between each plant and their usefulness in everyday life. That’s the basis behind this botanical garden, to celebrate the diversity of plant life by bringing together plants from South Florida and the Caribbean into one space. It also continues his legacy by housing research centers for students to continue making new discoveries when it comes to the field of agriculture science and botany. Col. Robert H. Montgomery founded this garden under his friend’s name to further honor his friend and his geniuses when it came to discovery and research. Robert collected plants himself and knew the true meaning and value behind plants.


Fairchild does not specifically offer any means of transportation to their guests but Metrorail services in Miami always come in handy when wanting to explore this wonderous city.


The garden is open to the public from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm everyday. And has made special accommodations to aid in social distancing. They created special times for seniors and anyone who might be more at risk.


Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden has an array of admission prices that give students and seniors as well as others great deals. These admission prices include:

Daytime Tickets

  • Fairchild Members – Free
  • Non-Member Adults – $25
  • Student (with valid school ID) – $16
  • Seniors (65 and over) – $18
  • Children 6-17 – $12
  • Children 5 and under – Free



If visitors use their bike or walk to Fairchild when visiting, they can get five dollars off the ticket price for adults and two dollars off tickets for children. It is great that they are encouraging people to help our environment in all ways possible. This incentive can make a huge impact. 

They also offer first responder discounts and military discounts. 

These prices include access to the entire garden as well as a guided tour. Or, you can stroll and enjoy the scenery on your own.


Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden has an exhibition yearly to highlight their plants as well as a light show to go along with it during the month of January. They have special installations in which individuals can interact with not only the nature around them but other pieces of art work as well. They manipulate different mediums with a combination of different light sources to create interesting pieces of artwork. They even use the plant life as a background to shine light on. It’s an approach I’ve never seen in the art world before which is refreshing.

Photos taken by Ameenah Aljabry. Edited by Ameenah Aljabry/CC BY 4.0
Photos taken by Ameenah Aljabry. Edited by Ameenah Aljabry/CC BY 4.0

Fairchild Garden also has a beautiful butterfly garden in which you can interact with the butterflies roaming free. It is a greenhouse filled with a variety of different types of butterflies and plants.

Photos taken by Ameenah Aljabry. Edited by Ameenah Aljabry/CC BY 4.0


Fairchild Garden is a place to relax and bring your family as well as teach your loved ones about the world of botany. This garden encapsulates the true meaning of being one with nature. If you want a quick getaway at the same time as getting closer to your roots, this is the place to go. The use of nature in the form of art allows individuals to truly understand the diversity and beauty of our ecosystems.

Rafaella Ribeiro Miami Service 2020


My name is Rafaella Ribeiro. I am currently a junior at FIU. I am majoring in international business and supply chain management. I was born and raised in a small town in Brazil. I have always loved Miami, that love however is fading away. I am taking this class to fall in love with Miami all over again. I love taking pictures, hanging out with friends, and learning a new side of things.


For my service hours I volunteer in cleaning up the Chicken key  with my honos class by  Professor John Bailly. This was a life changing and life blowing experience. I also volunteer at the Bakehouse Art Complex in Wynwood, which was also organized by Professor John Bailly for his Honors class.


This year has been so hard for me. I lost so much, to the point that I lost touch with reality. The opportunities to volunteer gave me a joy that I had not experienced in a long time. It reminded me that there is so much to do out there. The chicken key experience made me realize how damaged our planet is. I love nature and both of these opportunities made me closer to myself and more important to our beautiful planet.  


Chicken key: On October 14th, 2020, Professor John Bailly and Nichole organized a cleanup for our Miami in Miami Honors class. We went to Deering Estate Park. From there we started to prepare for our time on the island. We were assigned groups of two and we canoed to the island, and then back to Deering Estate Park.

Bakehouse Art Complex: On October 28th, 2020, Professor John Bailly we met in the  Bakehouse Art Complex. It was located in  Wynwood, Florida. This was a project about coral reefs. The artist, Lauren Shapiro was there and she told us the meaning behind the project and what she was trying to accomplish from it.


Chicken Key island 

Canoe photo by Rafaella Ribeiro/ CC BY4.0

On Wednesday October 14th, 2020, Professor John Bailly had us meet at the Deering Estate to pick up trash from Chicken Key. The day was beautiful, and the weather was just right for what the day was going to be. We got assigned into groups of two. My partner and I both did not have as much experience cannoung so it made the proces a bit harder. We paddled on our canoes out to the Chicken Key island. I had no idea how much strength it would take to get us there. It was definitely a new experience for me. Once we arrived at the island it looked so untouched. I was wondering where all the trash was at. We tied our canoe and began to explore the island. Once on the actual island I saw how much trash  there was.  To say that I was heartbroken would be an understatement. There was trash everywhere. It was overwhelming to see it. For a few seconds I forgot that I was in the United States and saw myself at a documentary of a 3rd world country where trash is not properly disposed of. It was so easy to fill the bags because there was trash everywhere. We filled our bags but there was still so much trash left behind. I was happy to have had this opportunity and so surprised to see something like that with my own yes. The day was beautiful and once done filing the bags we had the chance to explore the island for fun and swim in the ocean. 

Bakehouse Art Complex

Rafaella And Lauren by Rafaella Ribeiro/ CC BY4.0

On Wednesday October 28th, 2020, we met Professor John Bailly at the Bakehouse Art Complex to help out a local artist, Lauren Shapiro, with her art project. I was super extended for this project but I was also nervous because I had had an experience with clay before and it gave me a bad allergy reaction. I went into the part of the gallery that was home to Shapiro’s project. She introduced herself and I met the rest of my classmates. Shapiro explained that the molds we would be using were made of  actual coral reefs. It was cool to know that they were able to use actual reefs. To a certain extent it made it feel more real. She taught us how to use the mold and it was game on. I loved the compact behind the project. I think it was a clever way to bring awareness while doing something fun. She decided not to bake the clay. With time the project will dry out and fall apart. This is kind of what is happening to the reefs. Her project is a really cool representation of the problem. The experience was really fun and gave me a chance to bind with my classmates. 


Chicken Key by Rafaella Ribeiro/ CC BY4.0

Those two experiences were truly fun and it made me feel connected with my plant. Chicken Key was the most humbling experience I have ever had. I grew up near the water and have always enjoyed being on the boat. Now I appreciate it even more because It is so much work to be in a water vehicle that is not electric. I was so happy to make the island a bit less polluted. I know that we did not fix the problem, but we did our part. This experience  reminded me of something I heard once. I cannot fix the planet by myself, but I can do my part, and if everybody did their pat this would be a much better place. I hope that in the culture I have other opportunities to get involved with a clean up. Bakehouse Art Complex was also a great experience. I loved how chill my volunteering experience was.

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