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Thursday, December 13, 2018

County wins court appeal on Grove Playhouse

County's concept of the Playhouse.

On December 10, 2018, a three-judge panel of the Circuit Court Appellate Division ruled in favor of Miami-Dade County in a case regarding the historic preservation approval granted to the County to rehabilitate the Coconut Grove Playhouse.  In April 2017, the City of Miami’s Historic and Environmental Preservation Board had approved the County’s conceptual design for the Playhouse rehabilitation project. Two City residents appealed that decision, and in December 2017, the City of Miami Commission reversed the historic preservation approval. The County thereafter appealed the City Commission’s decision to court.

It was almost a foregone conclusion that this would happen, after it was reported that The Knight Foundation awarded $2 million to the county last week, to be used to complete the Coconut Grove Playhouse project. They would not have awarded the money unless someone somewhere knew that the county would win this case.

The Court’s decision, which can be read here, accepted all of the County’s arguments, finding that the City’s decision was incorrect and that the conditions imposed on the County were not consistent with the governing historic designation and applicable law.  In particular, the Court reversed the City Commission’s condition that the shell of the existing Playhouse auditorium be saved, as the City’s own historic designation report had concluded that only the historic front building retains historic architectural integrity.

This ruling is an important step towards final approval of  the County’s project as designed: the complete restoration of the 1927 historic front building on Main Highway; the creation of a new 300-seat, state-of-the art theater, incorporating the remaining historic elements of the original theater and operated by GableStage; development of a parking garage on the site of the existing surface parking lot; and a site plan that features plazas, a promenade connecting the West Grove to downtown Coconut Grove, lush landscaping and a pocket park facing the residential neighborhood.

The project remains on track to go out for construction bids in 2019.

Please note that all earlier updates remain available on this web site and contain more details about the project and its progress. To view a comprehensive list of all the previous updates visit: http://miamidadearts.org/coconut-grove-playhouse-updates.

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Sandbar holding their annual Pig Roast

The Sandbar is having their 5th annual Pig Roast on Saturday, December 15 from 3 pm to midnight.

This year, along with their famous roasted pig prepared by master chef's Channell, Poggio, and  Alvarez - they're starting a new tradition by including a Toys for Tacos holiday toy drive. The rules are easy...bring a new unwrapped toy that will be donated to Toys for Tots and receive a few freshly roasted pulled pork tacos.

They'll have live music from 3 to 7 pm, including the band Cowboy Up.. Come ready to feast. $10 will will get you a plate that you can fill with all of the roasted pig you want including the side fixins'.

The Sandbar is at 3064 Grand Avenue.

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A day of service in Village West

This was the scene on Hibiscus Street on Wednesday, as volunteers from Rebuilding Together Miami-Dade (RTMD) helped repair homes in Village West.


This day of service is part of a continued effort to preserve affordable housing in West Coconut Grove.
Over 100 skilled volunteers, contractors and handymen completed major repairs like roofing , installation of hurricane impact windows and doors throughout the coming weeks.


The day started at 8 am and went until about 2 pm.


Photos by Harry Gottlieb

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Free Miamian's concert is Saturday

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church is having a Christmas Concert featuring The Miamians on Saturday, December 15.

Join in for a fun-filled Christmas extravaganza as they celebrte the season in song in Four Part Barbershop Harmony.

The concert is free with a reception to follow (donations are accepted).

The event is at 7 pm.

St. Stephen's is at 2750 McFarlane Road.

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Volunteers need for Charlies Woods work party

Come to a short, fun work activity in South Coconut Grove on Saturday, December 15. It's a "Charlies Woods Work Party" to clean up Charlies Woods at Palmetto and Plaza Streets in South Grove. 

Stop by from 10 am to noon. The "Woods" is just next to the historic Charlie Cinnamon House. Parking is available on site.

The four City-owned lots at this intersection are under-utilized and portions are full of non-native invasive plants. The objective is to transform this area to a Connect to Protect garden, supporting all-too-rare native biodiversity. There has been neighborhood interest in this idea, but also strong opposition. Through this event they hope to gain support for the idea of transforming this space to a bio-diverse, mostly native planting, while ridding the area of dense weeds.

Invasive plants such as tropical almond seedlings, air potato and especially snake plant (aka mother-in-law's tongue, aka Sanseveria) have invaded the area. This latter species has deep rhizomes that must be dug up in order to eradicate it.

Enjoy an outdoor activity with your friends or children, meet new people, walk to Coconut Grove afterwards for lunch or for a visit to the Barnacle State Park, enjoy coffee and pastries, earn volunteer service hours, know that you will see immediate results from your hard work.

Please RSVP by sending an email to ConnectToProtect@fairchildgarden.org.

Long pants and closed-toe shoes are required. And long sleeves and hat are recommended. Please bring refillable water bottles and your favorite weeding tools (trowel, weeder, clippers, etc.). The group will provide cold water, gloves, snacks, tools. Take home a new yard sign with our new logo.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Repairing homes in Village West

An historic house in Village West
Commissioner Ken Russell will join Rebuilding Together Miami-Dade (RTMD) to begin repairs and modifications on four homes in West Coconut Grove on Wednesday, December 12.

Earlier this year, Ken teamed up with RTMD and has invested $350,000 to revitalize this historic area. This day of service is part of a continued effort to preserve affordable housing in West Coconut Grove.

110 skilled volunteers, contractors and handymen will complete major repairs such as roof repairs, installation of hurricane impact windows and doors throughout the coming weeks.

The day starts at 8 am at Greater St. Paul AME Church (3680 Thomas Avenue) and ends at 2 pm.

Volunteer Projects are:
3720 Percival Avenue
3517 Hibiscus Street
3628 Frow Avenue
3576 Thomas Avenue

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Rotary luncheon meeting is Thursday

Dr. John P. May, Chief Medical Officer for Centurion Care, is the speaker at the next Rotary luncheon, which is Thursday, December 13. Centurion Care is a provider of health care services in jails and prisons across the US. 

Board certified in Internal Medicine, Dr. May is also a Professor of Medicine at NOVA. Dr. May is co-founder of Health through Walls, a non-profit organization based in Florida; its mission is to assist low income countries in implementing sustainable improvements in health care services in their prisons. A primary focus of this effort is the prevention, identification, and management of infectious disease, especially HIV and tuberculosis.

The Rotary Club of Coconut Grove meets every Thursday at the Coconut  Grove Sailing Club, 2990 South Bayshore Drive at 12:30 pm. The cost of the meeting is $25 with lunch or $10 without lunch. Open to the public. 

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Village Council meeting is Friday

The next Coconut Grove Village Council meeting is Friday, December 14 at 6:30 pm at City Hall (3500 Pan American Drive).

Right after the meeting, there is a Meet and Greet event at Grove Bay Grill hosted by Village Council – all residents welcome.

Some items on the agenda include:

- Proposal to coordinate and monitor funding and inter-agency cordination/planning of
Grove projects.
- Proposal to host quarterly town hall platforms during regularly scheduled Council
Meetings so residents can address specific Grove topics of concern with city staff in
attendance.
- Proposal to introduce a proxy system to Grove stakeholder associations/organizations
to collectively support Grove sensitive issues
Discussion Items
- Proposed NCD legislation – Discuss residents major requests to be added/deleted
- Civic, Cultural Life, Parks, And Green Spaces Committee: Resolution Grove 2030
resiliency report,
- Housing and Zoning Committee: Resolution for the Charles Ave. Hotel
- Transportation and Mobility Committee: Resolution Charles Ave. Reconstruction
Unfinished Business
- Playhouse
- Colzie Corner
- Trolley Routes
- Scooter Pilot program

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Holiday eve at Vizcaya like it was 100 years ago

If you aren't a member of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens it's worth it just to be part of the yearly Holiday Evening at Vizcaya, an old-fashioned celebration honoring the inauguration of the grand estate. This family-friendly event takes place on Wednesday, December 19, from 6 to 9 pm.

Enjoy a trip back in time and enjoy Vizcaya decorated for the holidays, as it would have been in the time of its founder James Deering, who came to the estate on Christmas day, 1916

Enjoy live music, hot chocolate and wreath-making as you take pleasure in the beauty of the illuminated estate as seen at night-a rare treat that available to the public only a few times per year.

Tickets are $15 for Vizcaya Members. Children under age 5 get in for free. This is a ticketed event and tends to sell out each year, so guests are encouraged to purchase their tickets online in advance. Only members are part of this event, so membership is required. Purchase membership here.

SPECIAL: For the next 48-hours, Holiday Evening tickets will be available for the general public at the members-only price.
-- $15 Adults
-- $10 children 6-12 years old
--free for children under 5
If you want to join in for Holiday Evening and are not a Vizcaya member, make sure to purchase your tickets online by this Wednesday, 
December 12, at NOON HERE.

Built between 1914 and 1922, Vizcaya is one of the most intact remaining examples from this era in United States history, when the nation's most successful entrepreneurs built lavish estates inspired by the stately homes of Europe.

Vizcaya features a Main House, 10 acres of formal gardens, a rockland hammock (native forest), mangrove shore, the Vizcaya Café and Shop presented by A Joy Wallace Catering, Design and Special Events, and a historic village that will be restored for additional venues for programs and community outreach. 

Located at 3251 South Miami Avenue, between Brickell Avenue and Coconut Grove, Vizcaya is open daily from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm except Tuesdays, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. For more information, visit www.vizcaya.org

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Holiday Bazaar at Woman's Club

The Woman's Club of Coconut Grove had the third of their yearly bazaars on Sunday, there was one in August, another in November and Sunday's was the year-end holiday bazaar. Above are Samantha Nordin and Niki Simon Blacker. Samantha runs the show at the club and Niki performed with her partner John Reubens, Niki plays piano and John sings. John and I sneaked off a bit later and had lunch at Harry's Pizzeria. It was a nice quiet Sunday after Saturday's madness at Art Miami and the art shows downtown.

If you haven't been to the Woman's Club events, they are fun and a step back in time. The building and the club itself are historic and the events are understated and first class.


So many locals show up and there were even a few people from the Miami Opera milling around.


Helen Zhang and Samantha Nordin.

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Sunday, December 09, 2018

Art Miami and the art shows

We did Art Miami yesterday, the shows at the former Herald location, I think they are Art Miami and Context. We took the Freebee from home to the Shell gas station, and then walked across the street to get the Metrorail. Freebie doesn't cross US1, which was totally fine and easy.
We had our $23 glasses of champagne, foreign beer and oh, yes, enjoyed the art, too. We saw a lot of Grovites there.  A friend who shows at the St. Stephen's Art Show and I hung out for a bit, we discussed the upcoming show and the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, which are both in February.

The only famous person I saw was Nicole Scherzinger in a big fluffy, fur coat. Very Nicole Scherzinger-y.

Today, Sunday, is the final day of Art Basel, Art Miami and the art shows.




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Saturday, December 08, 2018

Grove Groove tonight

The second Saturday of the month is "Grove Groove" night. 

Join in for happy hour, date night or a trip out with the family tonight, December 8 from 6 to 9 pm.

The Coconut Grove Business Improvement District (BID) invites you to experience the Grove’s restaurants and cafes, shop at its boutiques, and listen to the sounds of live music.

Enjoy live musical performances by University of Miami's Frost School of Music students and live art demonstrations by local artists. 

Be sure to take advantage of the discounts available at the following participating businesses:

Mayfair Kitchen Grove
2 pizzas for $20 

Next Generation Pizza
$5 discount on a Combo Meal of: Three Cheese Pizza & Two Organic Beers for $21

Pineda Covalin
Take off 15% on all silk products (open until 9:00 PM)

Alma Miami
30% off on all bottles of wine

Le Bouchon du Grove
Offering a glass of “Kir Royal” to customers upon arrival

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Knight Foundation awards $2 million to Playhouse

The Knight Foundation awarded $2 million to the county to be used to complete the Coconut Grove Playhouse project. 

Alberto Ibargüen, President and CEO of the Knight Foundation, announced the Playhouse grant during the Knight New Work Miami event held at Perez Art Museum Miami on December 3. He emphasized the grant was for the County to build a 300-seat theater at the Playhouse site.

Of course, there are other plans and the playhouse issue has been going back and forth over the plans, including a lawsuit by two Grovites.

According to Miami-Dade Dept. of Cultural Affairs, "The Knight Foundation also named Joe Adler, GableStage's producing artistic director, as one of the 2018 Knight Arts Champions, each with a $10,000 contribution to be donated to an artist or arts organization of his/her choice. Mr. Adler directed the gift to arts education nonprofit Arts for Learning, for its robust student programs in the heart of the West Grove community, reaching under served children and families in the area."

There are currently two plans, the County's/GableStage plan, which calls for 300 seats and the destruction of a major part of the playhouse - Knight Foundation gave the $2 million to this plan, and then there is the Heisenbottle/Eidsen plan, which calls for preserving the whole structure and having more than 300 seats.

If the second plan is approved, not the county's plans, will the Knight Foundation give the $2 million to that plan, let the county keep the money anyway or take back the money?

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Friday, December 07, 2018

Christmas carols and holiday cheer at The Mutiny

The Mutiny Hotel is having Christmas Caroling again this year on Thursday, December 20.

JC and Cristina Digon of Table 14 along with the St. Kieran Catholic Church will host this event.

Stop by from 7 to 9 pm and hear the carols, sing along and enjoy refreshments, light bites and holiday cheer.

Early carolers can enjoy $5 happy hour from 4 to 7 pm at Table 14.

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Chamber of Commerce holiday party

Join the Chamber and the Coconut Grove Arts Festival for their annual holiday party celebration. A evening of traditional holiday music and carrolling; sparkling wines and an array of scrumptious food. Celebrate the season with your friends, neighbors and colleagues.

Bring an unwrapped toy for children age 3-5 to put under our tree. All toys will be distributed to the wonderful children of St. Alban's Enrichment Center for Children.

This traditional event has been celebrated by the Chamber and the Arts Festival for years and years....so join the fun and be a part of this fabulous occasion.

The event is Thursday, December 13 from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival Gallery (at the Mayfair near the bull).

Fees/Admission:
Preregistration members $10.
Preregistration non-members $15.
Members at the door $15
Non-members at the door $20.

Call: 305-444-7270 to pre-register.


MUGS

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Thursday, December 06, 2018

Christmas Mart back for week two

St. Stephen's will be hosting their second Christmas Mart Sunday, December 9, the first was last week. It will be in the breezeway of the church from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm.  

Fair trade crafts from Kenya will be for sale, including stone carvings, textiles, jewelry and pottery.

Most of the proceeds will go to African Team Ministries, a ministry which provides support for refugee relief in East Africa along as well as school fees, tuition, books, and uniforms for school children. This support ensures that the children receive an education and a measure of stability needed to rebuild their minds. 

St. Stephen's is located at 2750 McFarlane Road.

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Rod MacDonald concert at The Barnacle on Saturday

Veteran of the Greenwich Village folk scene Rod MacDonald performs on the Barnacle estate veranda, Saturday, December 8 at 7 pm. – part of the monthly “Under Moonlight Concert” series at The Barnacle.

A regular on the Florida music scene since the 1990s, previously, MacDonald was a constant presence at many of New York’s most prestigious folk clubs including Gerdes Folk City and the Bottom Line. Today, in addition to performing all across the Florida, he teaches Music Americana at Florida Atlantic University. 

MacDonald plays a rhythmic style of acoustic guitar and sings in a clear tenor. He has considerable experience playing with bands as well – currently the lead singer in the local rock band, Big Brass Bed, which performs mostly Bob Dylan songs. 

Admission at the gate, is $10 (adults), $8 (Society members), $3 (kids 6 to 9), and free (under 6). Picnics, blankets, and lawn chairs are welcome. No pets, please. Gates open at 6 p.m., one hour before show time.

For information, call 305-442-6866 or visit www.thebarnacle.org.

The Barnacle is located at 3485 Main Highway.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Holiday Bazaar at Woman's Club

There is a holiday bazaar at the Woman's Club of Coconut Grove on Sunday, December 9 from noon to 6 pm.

Stop by and check out the gifts, housewares, clothing, jewelry and more. There will be a Kids Corner, food, music and much more.

No entry fee.

The Woman's Club is at 2985 S. Bayshore Drive.

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Check out the light show on Lime Court!

There are some great residential light displays that are easily walkable from the village center. One of the best is Michael Hornyak's on Lime Court. This photo doesn't do it justice.

"I start working on my display in early October, and it’s pretty much a full-time job until I turn them on Thanksgiving night. I do it for no other reason that seeing how much people enjoy it when they walk or drive by. A neighbor two doors over also does a big display in his yard, and other neighbors have begun adding lights as well. Lime Court is a cul-du-sac, so it’s very pedestrian and kid friendly," says Michael.

One visitor Saturday night said to another, “We have our own neighborhood theme park!”

Lime Court is off of Matilda between Oak and Day.

The lights are on from 5:30 till 11:00 pm daily, and those times will be extended till midnight about two weeks before Christmas.

In the 1990s, I think it was, I had friends who lived at Virginia and Coconut and they would do this to their house every year. There were so many lights, they would start decorating in the summer! Each year, the tv news would come out and The Herald would add it to their holiday display story.

I would help once in awhile. So much electricity was used that they borrowed electricity from the neighbors. One neighbor was across the street - so there would be a wire going across the street, above traffic.

I remember holding the ladder for my friend in the center of Virginia Street as he strung the extension cords over the street from one house to the other. Back then, the Grove didn't have much traffic and I don't remember having to move for any cars wanting to pass as we set the wires up.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Two steps forward, one step back

Glenn Terry tells me that today, the City of Miami cut down this 20 foot oak tree.

For the last two years South Grove residents have been trying to get the City of Miami to help them create a small park on public land where Palmetto Avenue and Plaza Street meet.  

"We've just been asking for a few benches and  trees", said Glenn Terry, spokesman for the group. 

Today, the City did just the opposite. According to Glenn, the stick hut that Commissioner Ken Russell and his children helped build, was also destroyed by the city. What's important about this is that it is part of the Charlie's Woods project, at the Charlie Cinnamon property.

Their work crew cut down a 20-foot oak tree and destroyed a children's play shelter.  "It's unbelievable.  They broke their own laws by cutting down a healthy, fifteen-year-old tree without giving notice or having a permit. I hope they replace it soon," says Glenn.

These photos are the tree on Plaza Street.


Another large tree will be coming down at The Taurus location near 3540 Main Highway.

Commissioner Russell tells me that, "The big Tamarind in front of The Taurus has to come down according to the county.  Two arborists, including Bob Brennan, concluded that the limbs would start falling and could cause damage to  the structure and risk to people," says Ken.


He says it will be a surprise and a bit  traumatic to see a big tree like that go on Main Highway, "so I’m making sure  people know why, and that a large, mature replacement tree is ready to bring in within a week of the removal (26 ft tall Gumbo Limbo). " 

There might be a little gap in time as they need to bring in the Silva Cells and permit the re-bricking.  The BID is paying for the bricking and street repair.

I'd sure love to have the brick replacement concession for the Grove. It's an on-going job.

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Continuing education to be discussed at luncheon

How are adult learners different from younger learners?  What interesting opportunities are available for us to learn and develop without working toward a degree?  

Learn all about continuing education on Thursday, December 6 when the Rotary Club of Coconut Grove welcomes guest speaker Randy Lichtman, the Program Manager for the MDC School of Continuing Education & Professional Development, Wolfson Campus.

The Rotary Club of Coconut Grove meets every Thursday at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club, 2990 South Bayshore Drive at 12:30 pm. The cost of the meeting is $25 with lunch or $10 without lunch. Open to the public.

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When will the greed and destruction stop?

Photo by Ezra Stoller

The City of Miami's Preservation Office is expected to recommend denial of historic designation of the Alfred Browning Parker designed Dora Ewing residence, located at 3701 El Prado Boulevard. The house was advertised by realtors  as a tear down. The current owner would like to tear down the house.

I'm not sure how you purchase a magnificent property built by one of the country's top architects, and see demolition as its future. 

"It's beyond rational belief that the Miami's Preservation Office would recommend the demolition of this iconic part of Coconut Grove's architectural heritage. My father designed and helped build the Ewing residence. Dora Ewing was a very elderly widow with a tiny budget, whose joy was creating pottery. She couldn't climb stairs, hence the ramps including a intermediate place to rest on the journey up....Her studio for 'throwing' pottery was on the ground floor to enable it to be 'washed' out with a hose on occasion as needed. The upper living quarters included one-piece of continuous built-in furniture...It began in the kitchen with cook-top and cabinets, swung into the dining room with built-in dining table and went on into the living room with fireplace...From the living room this 'one-piece' of built-in went into the bedroom with closet and ended in the bath..An integrated serpentine piece of furniture designed by Alfred Browning Parker to provide all of Dora's living needs," says Robin Parker, Alfred Browning Parker's son.


The Dora Ewing house

Yesterday, fairly new resident of the Grove contacted me, she is distraught because her little plot of bungalows is being demolished. She wrote: "Drive Development purchased our little community of homes. They plan to knock down the houses and trees on the property including numerous huge banyan trees. They have submitted plans to the city but I don’t believe anything has been approved yet.

"Drive Development has also installed camera's pointing at our front door to spy on us and make us as uncomfortable as possible so we’re forced to leave."

I didn't know what to tell her, if these developers are following the law, what can be done? 

Regarding the Dora Ewing resident, District Commissioner Ken Russell says, "I’ve discussed with our City of Miami preservation officer the potential for a thematic historic district based on specific architects who were influential in Miami’s development. Alfred Browning Parker certainly has many roots here. My official role only comes into play if there is an appeal of a decision by the Historic Environmental Preservation Board. Then it comes to City Commission. Until then I will watch the process with interest."

UPDATE: Regarding the house, the meeting took place Thursday, but the HEP Board continued this issue until January 8. The meeting will be at 3 pm that day at City Hall (3500 Pan American Drive).

The issue was lack of notification. Proper notices were not posted.

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Reuse, Recycle…Compost?

Ugo Angeletti, an 18-year-old, and his sisters are in the process of starting a small revolution in the disposal of Miami’s household waste.

It shouldn’t be a big surprise that Miami has waste disposal pretty much backwards. Our garbage cans are emptied twice a week, but our recycling cans—once every two weeks. It’s comparable to our approach to transportation. We can’t seem to get some things right.


The Angettis - Ugo, Emma, Anna and Mila
And composting? While more progressive cities are far ahead of Miami, composting isn’t even on Miami’s radar. At least it wasn’t until Ugo, then a high school senior, enrolled in an environmental education class. As part of the class he developed a project to gauge how much waste his neighbors generated and how to dispose of it. In Ugo’s words, neighbors brought “tons and tons of food waste” in buckets every week. Eventually Ugo and his three younger sisters had set up a composting station at their South Miami home, collecting food waste from more than 100 homes in the neighborhood in buckets they carted around by bicycle. They called their project back2earth.

Meanwhile, Ugo graduated from high school and entered FIU, where, as a freshman, he is embarking on a career in marketing with a focus on agrarian ecology. Already he’s shown a strong talent for his chosen profession, having created a press kit, a website, and an array of social media channels to spread the word about back2earth.

In true entrepreneurial fashion, Ugo looked for an opportunity to expand the project. With help from $1,100 raised through a GoFundMe page, he found it in Coconut Grove with Alicia Kossick. She owns The Polished Coconut, a store that specializes in socially responsible, folkloric products from throughout the world, and she took him on as a protégé. The owner of one of the older wooden houses in Village West, Kossick helped Ugo and his sisters set up a station in her neighborhood. 

Starting in October, that house and its front and back yards, located at 3536 William Ave., became the setting of back2earth’s second composting station, which includes a garden. The composting bin is located right at the sidewalk. It contains clear instructions on the dos and don’ts of composting for the uninitiated. Vegetable and food scraps, coffee and tea leftovers, and pasta and rice can all be put in—but not meats and seafoods, greasy foods, and dairy products. 

Word about the station has spread rapidly. According to Ugo, the bin keeps filling up, but the back2earth team isn’t daunted. 

Learn more at back2earth.

— by Hank Sanchez-Resnik 

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