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Thursday, August 31, 2017

THE MOST CRASS MARKETING EVER

INSENSITIVE PET CARE CLINIC OPENED PAINFUL WOUND



The picture here is of our beloved Puchy.

We shared custody of her with a Little Havana neighbor living hand to mouth.

When she took sick, we ran up well more than $1,000 in vet bills trying to save this little mixed breed bundle of joy.

Sadly, at about age 10, our angel dog crossed the rainbow bridge.

The veterinarian outfit we took her to, one with several outlets in Greater Miami, did a terrible job of caring for her.

She wasn't a beloved family member to them, she was a profit center.  

Even when we knew she had to be euthanized, the clinic's sales people were marketing to us -- guilting us into buying a clay pressing of her dying paw and a deluxe post cremation kit.

That day in 2009, I decided I wouldn't do business with that group of charlatans if they were the last veterinary clinic left standing in South Florida.

So imagine my shock when from out of nowhere yesterday, I received a "Happy Birthday Puchy" text from this piece of crap outfit.

Of course, the well wishes were a thinly-veiled come-on, wrapped around a link that went to their online pet appointment scheduling application.

Even if Puchy were alive, she'd be nearly 20 years old.  I don't think the average dog lives that long, so it's crass and careless to send out birthday wishes to an old pet anyway.

But this craphole of pretend pet care went beyond.

When it was pouring dollars into a new marketing campaign, it couldn't even have the decency to check its own records.

Five minutes of matching my cell number to the pet I brought in would confirm that this outfit put our beloved Puchy down in less than a week after it commenced  care of our furry family member.

I try not to be vulgar in my blog posts, but Knowles Animal Clinics -- 
I send you to hell.

I love my Puchy.

She brought joy to our lives for a good half dozen years.

We're truly not sure how old she is, because our indigent friend took her in off the street when she was full grown.

I guess when we registered her for care, we had to give a birth date so we made one up.

Somebody took that data, damn near a decade old, and turned it into the most shameful, greedy sales pitch text I've ever heard of.

If you are in Greater Miami, I urge you to go to Miami-Dade Animal Services.   They have a brand new facility and some of the most caring people -- from vets to entry level staff -- on the planet.

Boycott Knowles.  They are all about profit margin, not pet care.

I truly hope this goes viral.

Is there anything more underhanded than playing on a pet owner's emotions to try to ring the cash register a few more times?

Thanks for nothing Knowles, you opened a wound of grief I thought was long healed.

Thanks to your obsession with the almighty dollar and nothing else, I am shedding tears for my long-departed Angel Dog...when I could be spending my time caring for our 6 rescue animals.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

ART IMITATES LIFE




A DAILY OCCURRENCE IN ISTANBUL

Istanbul is one of my favorite cities on earth.

I've spent well more than a month total in my visits.

I can give directions to visitors, if stopped an of dozens of neighborhoods.

But I also can, rather intentionally, get "lost" wandering the back streets of Fener, Balat, Zeyrek, Hocapasa or Beyoglu.

Author Orhan Pamuk and many of his characters love walking the backstreets of Beyoglu.

I was heading from Istiklal Caddessi downhill toward Cihangir.

I was not sure if I was on the right track to the antique district.

So I pulled out my smart phone and started looking at google maps and feeding in the name of a museum and shop in the general area I wanted to arrive at.

Confident that I was on the right path, I shut down the phone.

I pulled out a bottle of water and looked up at the street art.

Looks like a traveler of a different era was doing the exact thing I was.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

YOU SCREAM, I SCREAM, WE ALL SCREAM...

...FOR DONDURMA


Dondurma, a Turkish style of ice cream, typically includes milk, sugar, salep and mastic.

The last two ingredients give it a thick, almost chewy quality.

It holds together like taffy.

Dondurma vendors always wear colorful vests and must be adept at picking up a few pounds of the treat and manipulating it with a long paddle stick.

Monday, August 28, 2017

ULU CAMI (GRAND MOSQUE)



BURSA, TURKEY
Ulu Cami is the largest mosque in Bursa and a landmark of early Ottoman architecture which used many elements from the Seljuk architecture.
Ordered by Sultan Bayezid I, the mosque was designed and built by architect Ali Neccar in 1396–1399.
It is a large rectangular building, with twenty domes arranged in four rows of five that are supported by twelve columns.
Supposedly the twenty domes were built instead of the twenty separate mosques which Sultan Bayezid I had promised for winning the Battle of Nicopolis in 1396.
The mosque has two minarets.
There is also a fountain (sadirvan) inside the mosque where worshipers can perform ritual ablutions before prayer; the dome over the şadırvan is capped by a skylight which creates a soft light below, playing an important role in the illumination of the large building.
The horizontally spacious and dimly lit interior is designed to feel peaceful and contemplative.

The subdivisions of space formed by multiple domes and pillars create a sense of privacy and even intimacy. -- Wikipedia

Sunday, August 27, 2017

140,000 READERS AND GROWING

 

TODAY, WE CELEBRATE MORE THAN 140,000 UNIQUE VISITORS TO THIS BLOG

While that is a total, cumulative readership, vs. daily readership...in gross numbers, it is within a few thousand of the daily circulation of the Miami Herald.

We have ranted for a better built environment, especially for people with disabilities.

We have shared more than 1,000 fine art images of Istanbul, New Orleans and dozens of other favorite destinations.

We have shared news of great urban design by firms we are proud to be affiliated with.

In more than 95 percent of the posts, the writing and photography is original -- as in we took the images and wrote the words.

When it is not, we give full credit to the original source.

Today, we share a picture from Bursa, Turkey.

About an hour before dusk, observant Muslims were lining up at bakeries to buy special loaves for Ramazan.

We were invited to share in this breaking of fast, simply when we were sitting in a park just after dark.

The fellowship was divine.

We are not very religious, certainly not of the Muslim faith.

And our kind, informal hosts knew this.

But they simply wanted to share in the holy month.

This is what travel is about.

This is what mankind is about.

Why our president or any other insane elected officials would falsely and maliciously associate Islamists with terrorists is beyond comprehension.

Today, we celebrate peace-loving, mankind loving people around the globe.

A few weeks per year, we are blessed to make these new friends.


Saturday, August 26, 2017

VIEW OF BURSA, TURKEY


FROM EFEHAN HOTEL

The Efehan is more or less a standard business hotel, not specifically aimed at tourists but quite comfortable.

If you need a place to stay in the central bazaar area near the Ulu Camii (Great Mosque), which is about 5 minutes away.

The Green Mosque is about 10 minutes away in the other direction.

Finding a decent restaurant nearby is easy enough as well, though most businesses in the area don't stay open very late.

The rooms were large and comfortable, and from the upper floors (including the breakfast salon.)


There are great views westwards over Bursa's bazaar district and towards the Hisar/Citadel.

--Trip Advisor


Friday, August 25, 2017

MARKET DAY IN BURSA, TURKEY

RAMAZAN FASTING


Bursa's market district is full of covered hans.

There are shops for silk, homewares, clothing, mattresses, toys, antiques -- you name it.

There also are great food markets.

But when were were there, it was Ramazan.

So it was not polite to gobble down market food in front of observant Muslims.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

THE FACE OF TURKEY


BURSA -- GIRL WITH KEDI

Turks love their cats.

It shows on the faces of young and old.

For more insights, visit:

https://www.kedifilm.com/

Kedi film is coming to my old hometown, Cleveland OH, Aug. 26

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

GREEN TOMB


BURSA

The entry portal is crowned with semi-umbrella vault and has muqarnas niches above marble seats on both side of entrance. 

Iznik tiles with flower patterns in blue, white and yellow adorn the portal.

Inside, past the carved wooden doors, the royal catafalque stands on a platform at the center surrounded by seven other tombs. 

The Green Tomb is richly decorated with scriptures and flower designs painted in yellow, white and blue glazed tiles.

The lower section of walls is lined with blue-green tiles, also used in tympana of windows on the interior.

The muqarnas niche of mihrab on the qibla wall is also set in a large frame of ornamental tilework: the mosaic of tiles inside the niche depicts a garden of roses, carnations and hyacinths.

The chandelier and the colored glass windows are later additions.

--Wiki

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

PROUD TO EMBRACE FRANCIS SUAREZ

AS THE NEXT MAYOR OF THE CITY OF MIAMI




Proud to be at Francis' side for his historic filing.

He will be the next mayor.

He has already proven his capabilities to our family in dozens of ways as a compassionate and intelligent leader.

His commitment to diverse communities is unmatched.

For 8 years, he has represented our City Commission District with poise and is more than ready to graduate to citywide leadership.

https://www.telemundo51.com/noticias/destacados/Francis-Su_rez-s-lanza-a-la-alcald_a-de-Miami_TLMD---Miami-439744683.html

Monday, August 21, 2017

WE SUPPORT RALPH ROSADO 100%

TO SERVE AS OUR DISTRICT 4 MIAMI CITY COMMISSIONER

Each day, dozens of younger voters and households with an eye on the future of Miami are meeting Ralph Rosado and pledging their support based on his expertise on urban issues and his strong roots in/commitment to community.

I predict he will win a close election and become an excellent replacement for the strong leadership that Francis Suarez -- our next mayor -- has given District 4.

Our family has proudly lived in District 4 four 16 years, have known Ralph Rosado as a friend and colleague for the same number of years and will support him at the upcoming election.


With all due respect to Ralph’s opponent Manolo Reyes, he has high name recognition because older voters mistakenly think he is the pioneering Cuban-American broadcaster of the exact same name -- the Manolo Reyes who passed away nearly a decade ago. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

PLUS URBIA DESIGN IS COMMITTED TO LITTLE HAVANA


PlusUrbia Design -- www.plusurbia.com -- is working daily to craft a plan that is inclusive and balances all needs of the unique and wonderful neighborhood known as Little Havana.

We are proud partners in an initiative that has gathered far more pubic input than every previous LH planing effort combined.

Nearly half of our boutique studio -- follow us at @plusurbia -- lives in Little Havana and supports the small businesses that give LH its charm.

We restored historic homes and were attracted to the enclave because of its amazing Cuban-American, Latin American and just plain American history and heritage.

We know that small businesses, low rise housing, urban density and great connectivity to jobs and activities are what make LH an increasingly attractive place to live, work and play.

Our designers are putting thousands of hours into enhancing affordable housing, historic preservation, recreation/green space, adaptive re-use, safe walkability and premium multimodal mobility.




Saturday, August 19, 2017

GREEN TOMB

BURSA

The Green Tomb (Yeşil Türbe) is a mausoleum of the fifth Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed I.

It was built by Mehmed's son and successor Murad II following the death of the sovereign in 1421.

The architect, Hacı Ivaz Pasha designed the tomb and the Yeşil Mosque opposite to it.

Set amidst cypresses on top of the hill in Yeşil neighborhood, the mausoleum stands higher than the rest of the complex. 

It is built on a hexagonal plan and crowned with a hemi-spherical dome. 

The exterior of the mausoleum is clad with green-blue tiles that give it its name. 

A majority of the tiles were replaced by contemporary Kutahya tiles following damage in the 1855 Bursa earthquake.


--Wikipedia

Friday, August 18, 2017

BURSA, A WALLED CITY



STONE WALLS STILL RING PARTS OF THE OLDEST 
NEIGHBORHOODS OF THE GREAT OTTOMAN CITY

Bursa is the first capital city of the Ottoman Empire, the heart of the famed Silk Road, and resembles an open-air museum, a true reflection of Turkey's Ottoman heritage. 

Nestled at the foot of Mount Uludağ, the city is known for its lush, green scenery, healing hot springs and Turkish baths, and is also world-renowned for winter tourism.

-- Daily Sabah


Thursday, August 17, 2017

MEYVE ŞERBETI, BURSA, TÜRKİYE



Drink vendor at edge of market district in Bursa

Serbeti is kind of like sherbet, only melted.

It's sweet and served cold.

But it's not frozen like sherbet is.

It's often a blend of fruit and flower petals, turned into a juice.

Serbeti is very refreshing.

Here, it's for sale for 2 Turkish Lira -- far less than a dollar -- quite a deal.

There are so many varieties.

This one looks like possibly rose hips.

Or possibly a blend of pomegranate and rose water.

When you enter a home or place of business during Ramazan, you are almost as likely to be offered serbeti as tea.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

What to Ask to Make Sure Your Hotel Is Mobility-Friendly

EXCELLENT ARTICLE ON OYSTER, 
FULL OF EXPERT INSIGHT FROM HEIDI JOHNSON-WRIGHT


by Christina Vercelletto

Researching, booking, and taking a trip isn’t always smooth sailing from beginning to end. It takes some time and a little know-how to pull off a perfect getaway. When planning a vacation for a person with limited mobility -- whether yourself, your child, or another family member -- there’s an additional challenge of making sure that the hotel you choose meets your needs. Begin online, narrowing down the property options in your target destination. Keep in mind that finding a hotel that calls itself “accessible” is only the first hurdle of many. From there, you’ll need to start asking the property questions directly.   

“The descriptions that properties use to define accessible when it comes to rooms varies -- not just from country to country or from brand to brand, but even from hotel to hotel within a brand. This makes it very difficult for the individual traveling,” says Nadine Vogel, CEO of Springboard, a company that serves people with disabilities. 
Asking questions like “is your hotel accessible?” or “do you have accessible rooms?” won’t reveal all that much, even if the answer is yes. Vogel stresses that asking specific questions that reflect your particular needs is crucial. To help, we rounded up what you need to inquire about to make sure your hotel is mobility-friendly.

Vogel points out that a good way to start compiling relevant questions is by checking out online photos of the property, especially the areas or amenities you know you’d like to make use of. Those images can be a springboard to smart questions. You might ask something like, “From the photos online, I see the lobby bar is elevated. Is there a ramp to access the bar?” Or, “The gym seems to have plenty of equipment. Which machines can be used by someone in a wheelchair?” If it’s your child you’re inquiring for, then kid-centric amenities should be the first thing you look at. You might ask, “The kids’ camp looks like it offers a variety of activities. What do you provide when the child has a walker and may not be able to participate in all of those activities?” Or, “Does that children’s pool have a wheelchair lift? I don’t see one in the picture.”

Will there be designated parking with a priority location in the parking lot? “Also, ask if you can self-park, especially if your vehicle has special equipment, such as hand controls. It’s not a good idea for a valet to try and drive a specialized vehicle,” says Heidi Johnson-Wright, ADA Coordinator for Florida's Miami-Dade County. 

Is there step-free access to the main entrance? 

Does the main door open automatically?

Is the lobby level washroom accessible?

Is there level or ramp access to public areas, such as breakfast rooms?

Is the hotel shuttle accessible? “If you qualify for door-to-door paratransit service in your hometown, you may be able to apply for temporary paratransit use in the city you’re visiting. Just remember it requires significant advanced planning,” says Johnson-Wright. If the hotel shuttle is not accessible, and a free shuttle to and from the airport or into town is included in your room rate, ask that alternate transportation be provided. 


Questions to Ask About the Rooms

Are the accessible rooms located on the first floor? If not, is there an elevator? If I’m going to be on a higher floor, who will assist me, especially in the event of a fire alarm or other evacuation?

How wide is the entry to the room, and the bathroom doorway?

How many beds are there? “What many hotels do to make a room accessible is reduce a two full-bed room or two queen-bed room to a one king-bed room. That’s fine if you’re comfortable sleeping with your traveling companion,” says Johnson-Wright. “Just don’t assume you can ask housekeeping to bring in a rollaway. Sometimes they can’t due to fire codes.”

At what height are the light switches and power outlets? What about the rod in the closet? 

Are there lever-type door handles on all doors?

Is there a roll-in shower? If not, is there space next to the tub to leave a wheelchair? If a tub shower is all that’s available, will a transfer bench be provided? Transfer benches, which have two legs that sit outside the tub and two that sit inside it, are harder to come by in hotels than simple bath or shower benches. “They make it much easier for a wheelchair user to transfer to, then scoot over into the shower,” says Johnson-Wright. You may need to email over pictures to get a straight answer. “Few people in hospitality industry know the difference without seeing a photo,” says Johnson-Wright. 

Are there grab bars around the toilet and shower?

Is the toilet raised? 

What is the height of the bottom of the bathroom sink?  


If you need a lift to transfer yourself from your wheelchair to the bed, ask if open-frame beds, rather than box-frame beds, are available. This way, the lift will be able to roll completely under the bed. 



Monday, August 14, 2017

FLASH TEKNI SERVIS


BURSA TURKEY

Possibly the oldest, most ramshackle building in all of ancient, historic Bursa houses this shop.

It's a smart phone store that does sales, service, repairs and most important -- loading of credits.

We couldn't resist this picture of an ancient structure housing a modern necessity.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

OSMAN GAZI TOMB


BURSA, TURKEY

Osman Gazi founded the Ottoman empire in 1299.

The empire grew and lasted until 1922.

He rests in a tomb a few paces from his son, Orhan.

A pleasant plaza for the two turbes overlooks the fertile Bursa valley.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

ORHAN GAZI


TOMB IN BURSA, TURKEY


Orhan Gazi was the 2nd sultan in the Ottoman Emptire.

He ruled for more than three decades of the middle 14th century.

Friday, August 11, 2017

PHOTOJOURNALIST: The Life Story of Ara Guler -- 4


MUST-HAVE BOOK CHRONICLING COLORFUL LIFE OF THE
WORLD’S GREATEST LIVING STREET PHOTOGRAPHER


Photojournalist is about heart...the heart of one of the greatest street photographers to every walk the backstreets of Istanbul and far beyond. It is about the heart of Nezih Tavlas, who painstakingly coaxed and cajoled amazing stories that would otherwise likely go to the grave with Guler, because no one else had the passion and determination to unearth these layered, colorful gems from the humble master.

For anyone who has picked up a camera to document more than family birthdays. For anyone who has traveled to Istanbul. For anyone who has sought to reconcile Turkey's odd 20th century of being torn between east and west -- this book is a must-have.

It's not so much as it is an in print distillation of the better part of a century of a passionate, keen-eyed photojournalists heart, soul, drive, determination, sense of humor, sense of empathy and strong bond with humanity.

And that is very high praise coming from this journalist and author who is himself hard to please when it comes to biographies that are up to the challenge of capturing the essence of their subject.


http://photojournalistaraguler.com/


Thursday, August 10, 2017

PHOTOJOURNALIST: The Life Story of Ara Guler -- 3


MUST-HAVE BOOK CHRONICLING COLORFUL LIFE OF THE
WORLD’S GREATEST LIVING STREET PHOTOGRAPHER

In a sense, Photojournalist: The Life Story of Ara Guler, is two books in one. About 80% of it is well-told (with mom and pop, uncomplicated language) stories of Guler's life, times and tens of thousands of documented bits of life in Turkey and far beyond. 

The other 20% is basically a long Q&A between author and master Guler on everything for his favorite cameras, his life, his eventual switch to digital photography and any number of tidbits.

The Q&A 20 percent is for the die-hard Guler fan. A casual reader may lose interest in the question-response format. Because I had the rare privilege of meeting Guler, talking to him, going through a long out of print book of his photos and bravely seeking his signature on said book -- I read every page in Photojournalist.

Again, the book is not fancy. The English translation even has several instances of odd punctuation and more than a few spots where words run together or multi-syllable words are oddly broken up in type. I could easily look past this. Just as the book is not a technical manual about photography, the typesetting is not a piece of publishing house technical perfection.


http://photojournalistaraguler.com/


https://www.amazon.com/Photojournalist-Life-Story-Ara-Guler/dp/1543129447/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1502048568&sr=8-3

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

PHOTOJOURNALIST: The Life Story of Ara Guler -- 2


MUST-HAVE BOOK CHRONICLING COLORFUL LIFE OF THE
WORLD’S GREATEST LIVING STREET PHOTOGRAPHER

The book is like the transcribed notes of an entire winter's worth of fireside chats with a compelling, humble and driven master photographer. It's not about technique and kind of camera/lens/lighting. Just like it drives the beauty in his captured images, it is Guler's personality that drives the narrative.

It appears he was not all that keen about spilling his guts, so high praise is owed to Tavlas for coaxing and endless amount of anecdotes about Guler's exploits...through the back streets of Istanbul, through the small towns of Turkey, through national photo assignments and even through celebrity interviews that at first seem out of place for the down to earth intrepid Guler -- whose best work is always in black and white and done with film.

Who would have guessed that man best-loved for pictures of dockworkers, everyday Turks, blue collar tradesman and even peasants -- would have fun hobnobbing and interviewing A-list celebs and Cannes and other festivals. Guler's sharing of tales of what oddballs he had to suffer through to get portraits of Salvador Dali are worth the price of the book alone.


http://photojournalistaraguler.com/



https://www.amazon.com/Photojournalist-Life-Story-Ara-Guler/dp/1543129447/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1502048568&sr=8-3

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

PHOTOJOURNALIST: The Life Story of Ara Guler -- 1


MUST-HAVE BOOK CHRONICLING COLORFUL LIFE OF THE

WORLD’S GREATEST LIVING STREET PHOTOGRAPHER

Nezih Tavlas' book on legendary Turkish photographer is not fancy at all. It's a very straightforward biography of the world's least-heralded (at least in the US and most of the western world) master photographers. A true living legend.

The best thing about the book is its unassuming nature. It is not fawning, but clearly the author thinks the world of Ara Guler. It does not shy away from the whole truth -- a divorce, a few setbacks, a sometimes curmedgeonly personality of a man who has focused 8 decades of his life as a photojournalist.

It is very easy to think of Guler as an artist. Hundreds of his most famous shots and many more others would look at home as fine art on the wall of any museum. But the Armenian Turk bristles at being called anything but a photojournalist -- an historian with a camera.

For those of us who discovered Guler and cannot have enough, this book includes every vital aspect. From an upper middle class upbringing in the home of a successful Beyoglu pharmacist/businessman father, to a man -- Guler -- who very easily could have lost his life at any number of harrowing scenes, from bombings to fires and battlefields.


http://photojournalistaraguler.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Photojournalist-Life-Story-Ara-Guler/dp/1543129447/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1502048568&sr=8-3

Monday, August 7, 2017

ISTANBUL STREET ART

KARIKOY


Near Tophane

KOZA KHAN


BURSA, TURKEY

There are 50 ground-floor rooms in the han.

Those at the corners have panelled square vaults, while the others have barrel vaults oriented perpendicular to the courtyard.

There are porticoes in front of the rooms and on the four sides of the courtyard.

On the second floor, there are 54 rooms including the rooms on either side of the portal.


The portico on the upper story is covered by a series of domes supported on square pillars.

-- www.discoverislamicart.org

Sunday, August 6, 2017

KOZA KHAN



BURSA, TURKEY

Koza Han, koza meaning literally 'silk cocoon', was founded by Sultan Bayezid II as a waqf (or pious foundation) to fund his imaret in Istanbul.

It was completed in 1491 and was the center of the silk trade for centuries.

In the center of the courtyard is an octagonal kiosk-masjid supported on eight stone pillars connected to each other by arches.

Beneath the mosque is an octagonal fountain with an additional pillar in its center.


The masjid is accessed by a marble stairway and is covered with a dome.

Adapted from www.discoverislamicart.org

Saturday, August 5, 2017

GREEN MOSQUE


BURSA

The architectural style known as Bursa Style begins with Green Mosque.

The mosque is based on a reverse T-plan with a vestibule at the entrance leading to a central hall flanked by eyvans on the east and west and a larger eyvan with mihrab niche on the south.

Two small eyvans flank the entryway above which the royal box (hünkar mahfili) is located.

There are four rooms with fireplaces to the north and south of side eyvans accessed through the vestibule and the central hall respectively.

Stairs on both sides of the vestibule lead to the upper floor where the royal lodge and two adjacent rooms for the royal women are located.

Here, a passage opens to the balconies on the northern façade where the minaret steps begin.

--Wikipedia

Friday, August 4, 2017

GREEN MOSQUE


BURSA

The Yeşil Mosque can be shown as the perfect blend between architecture and embellishment, the proof that such works of art were produced in a country where the battles between siblings had come to an end and peace had returned.

It was commissioned By Sultan Mehmed I Celebi and completed in December 1419 or January 1420.

The mosque was built between 1419–1421 by architect vezir Haci Ivaz Pasha. 

-Wiki

Thursday, August 3, 2017

COCONUT GROVE COMMUNITY COMES TOGETHER TO SHARE ITS VISION

WITH PLUS URBIA DESIGN AT COCONUT GROVE BID WORKSHOP


Thank you to the 50+ community members who shared their vision for Coconut Grove’s future at the workshop PlusUrbia Design hosted with the Coconut Grove BID and Perkins+Will on Saturday, July 29th.

We were excited to hear all the different ideas to improve the neighborhood from Coconut Grove residents, old and new.

Our design team is working on mapping the big ideas shared at the workshop to make a map of the study area.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

THE PRICELESS VALUE OF PARKLAND

AS A DEFENSE AGAINST FLOODING




This is a picture of historic Bryan Park in Miami's Shenandoah section of Little Havana.

More than a decade ago, my wife pretty much sacrificed two-plus years of our lives to protect the rare 2-acre green space in the heart of a densely urban area.

An incredibly ill-advised plan proposed to pave over all but about 5 or 10 percent of the park to put in a tennis center.

About 100 kids who played competitive tennis would have benefited. About 10,000 -- who play dozens of improvised games on the soft, safe grass -- would have been driven into the streets for life. Over the decades, perhaps 100,000 people would be denied a safe, green oasis in the heart of the city.

And the plan almost became a reality. A grant was written, contracts were put out -- all with zero public notice. The power play for the few almost ruined recreation and open space for the many.

More times than I can count, my wife and I were shouted down by selfish tennis parents who could only think of their kids and not of the community.

We made power points and handed out flyers listing the dozens of reasons why a park -- already half paved over for tennis courts and park equipment, needed to preserve the roughly one acre of green space remaining.

We got threaten phone calls, dirty looks and worse.  At one meeting, my wife and I mentioned that a recent heavy rain -- not a hurricane, not an end of the world rain -- had flooded the area around the park.

We had water in our garage and several neighbors suffered damage. This was before anybody was talking about sea level rise in Miami. 

I suggested that the acre of green grass was a sponge that could save our nearly 100 year old homes.  I said endless impermeable surface will result in flooding even when it rains only an inch.  Far too many house lots featured almost zero grass, as people concreted over their back yards for patios and paved their entire front yards for parking.

My wife and I pleaded for a few more stormwater drains plus the preservation of the big, grassy area that could absorb water that would otherwise flood us.  

 An official obsessed with building a giant, out of scale, revenue-producing tennis tournament center dressed us down. He said we were grasping at straws to save our view of the park.

Well, I'll spare the reader of all the thousands of hours we spent dedicated to preserving parkland -- in the city that has the least amount of parkland per person in the U.S.  Suffice to say, after many setbacks and attacks on us, the tennis center finally went away.

When Francis Suarez became the District 4 Commissioner, brokered a deal to build a compact community center, but to preserve the park for people and green space.  That is why, among dozens of other strong reasons, we will vote for him for mayor this fall.

Francis later created a covenant to protect the land.  But Miami City parks are still vulnerable.  Not a year goes by when some city official, elected person or community leader suggests paving over our precious little park space.

Fire stations, revenue-generating events/facilities, bigger swimming pools, community centers that could be on lots not used for parkland -- all of these are suggested. They all might be good uses, but not at the expense of reducing the green grass that gives life to our children and protects the homes of their parents.

Yesterday, it looked like about half of Miami and Miami Beach was under a foot or more of water.  Our area was very hard hit by relentless rain.

When I came home, the nearby traffic circle at SW 24th Avenue and SW 14th street was a lake.  A pair of low-lying house lots on SW 23 Ave at SW 13 Street were flooded up to the doors of the houses. But the rest of the area around Bryan Park was wet, but not severely flooded.

I looked out. Bryan Park was a lake.  Just a few inches of water, but a lake.  All that water that would be displace by concrete, was percolating through to soft, green grass and into the soil.  It is how nature intended it.

I'm no engineer, but I'm sure some slight modification of the grading of SW 13 Street and maybe a few more French drains -- and Bryan Park would be even better equipped to serve as an inexpensive, brilliant flood control device.

Thank goodness my wife and I had the courage and conviction to fight for our park. Had we not, I think half our neighbors would have suffered tens of thousands of dollars in flood damage.

I'm not saying this to boast. I'm sharing it as a cautionary tale.  Please, fight for your green space. Push city officials to buy more park land.  Even a single house lot-sized pocket park may be enough grassy area to channel flood water into.


Sea Level Rise is real. It will take billions of dollars and genius technology not even yet developed to save greater Miami. In the meantime, let's realize that park land is our most valuable asset. And park land that doesn't have parking lots, concrete courts and roof lines on it -- is the parkland that's best prepared to safely handle runoff stormwater.