Crandon Park: Commissioners Feared Lost in Mangroves!
We were very pleased with Oscar Musibay's frank and honest description of the state of affairs at Crandon Park ("His Own Private Paradise," April 4). It was interesting to note the level of dissension within the county about Bruce Matheson's plans for the park. We have been dealing with this matter for more than a year now and we were never made to believe that there were any county employees who strenuously objected to it. Perhaps now that more light has been shed on the issue, the rest of Dade's citizens will speak up against this before it's too late. Oh, by the way, has anybody seen our elected county commissioners? I think they are missing in action.
Thoughtful and incisive as the article was, it was mistaken about our name. We are the Key Biscayne Music and Drama Club, not the Calusa Playhouse Drama Club, as printed.
Richard Cifuentes, chairman
Calusa Playhouse Restoration Committee
Crandon Park: Turn Back the Clock -- Way Back
Why is there a Crandon Park? So that litterbugs can have their beach barbecues, plastic models can pose in their rags for the fashion merchants, and snobs can play golf and tennis when not racing their Jaguars down Brickell Avenue.
Bruce Matheson would do best to push for an even deeper return to wilderness. Close Crandon Boulevard altogether. Let Key Biscayne residents take a ferry from Coconut Grove. And stop all development. Only when the unsightly parking lots and obnoxious traffic are gone from Key Biscayne will Crandon Park be a true public paradise.
Hey Greens, Try Selling It Like You Really Mean It
Kirk Semple may have hit upon something very important in his article about the absence of ethnic diversity in the environmental movement, especially in South Florida ("A Whiter Shade of Green," March 28). Of particular interest was the divergence of opinion on why Hispanics and people of African descent are not more visible and active in organizations that believe the survival of the land means survival of the species.
A common theme: Ethnic communities represent a tremendous market for selling the politics and ideology of environmentalism. The trouble is that environmentalists have not figured out how to use marketing principles to attract members of ethnic communities. So it may not be so much resistance to diversity as a lack of knowledge about convincing people from ethnic backgrounds that they have great value to contribute, and that their input would be appreciated and respected.
For example, Nathaniel Reed, a leading South Florida conservationist, speaks in terms of lack of "education" and "affluence" and a consequent failure to "recognize that economic growth and high environmental standards go hand in glove." In his unfortunate choice of words, Mr. Reed expressed the same naive stereotypical judgment that has historically steered people away from involvement with environmentalists and conservationists who may not have quite enough dirt under their fingernails, despite their love for the Earth. After all, native Africans and Native Americans were the original environmentalists, whether or not they had education and affluence.
When environmentalists extend themselves to ethnic communities, they will find receptive and committed partners who have the will and ability to positively affect policy and politics in furtherance of the same goals.
George F. Knox
Add Color to Your Environmental Group in Three Easy Steps
I'm a life-long environmentalist who, a decade ago, worked for and volunteered at a number of environmental nonprofits. Though the leaders of these organizations claimed to rue the homogeneity of their membership and staff, midlevel managers and staff members sabotaged (with or without the leader's knowledge) the hiring and work of minorities.
If blacks or Hispanics were hired (I don't recall that any Native Americans or Asian Americans ever were), these new employees were not given the training or support necessary to succeed. No new worker can long keep a position at a place where their co-workers are actively trying to push them out.
But environmental leaders can stop this. Here are a few suggestions:
Set up a voluntary affirmative-action plan, then let employees know they will be given routine performance appraisals (if they aren't already) and that a major component of the appraisals will be how well they work with and train new hires of every ethnic and cultural group.
Hire in pairs. I've worked as the lone European American in firms owned by African Americans and Hispanic Americans, and I know how vulnerable a unique employee can feel. A lone worker is apt to frame every incident in terms of his or her vulnerability.
Form coalitions to work with established minority-created and minority-operated environmental organizations. To make the connection, contact a local office of an organization and ask for a referral.
Miami Sinks While Semple Hits the Links
The environmental movement white? What environmental movement? There is only one environmental activist in all of South Florida: the black, inner-city woman who stood up at the end of the March 7 Dade County Commission public hearing on the east-west rail debacle and said, "What about the environment? No one has said anything about the environment!"
Where the hell was Kirk Semple? Heavy golf schedule? Where the hell were all the sustainable-development oxymorons, out driving on the Palmetto? Where the hell were all our brilliant, built-environment-chic urban planners, slumming at some Brazilian seminar in Coral Gables?
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Damas y caballeros, friends and neighbors, a small group of misguided, tinted-window-brained businessmen have just succeeded in stealing an entire public transportation system right out from under our little environmentally sensitive noses.
The east-west rail project was to have been the urban complement to the Everglades Survival Plan. The total failure of any journalist or so-called recognized environmental group to openly, publicly, loudly challenge the projections and the no-map, public noninformation campaign has resulted in an approved proposal for nothing more than an Avoid Miami Train.
The environmental consequences may be insurmountable: no urban-development corridor to unburden western Dade County from continued urban sprawl; no integrated approach to creating a real, living pedestrian metropolitan core; no impetus to create and link a string of sustainable pedestrian villages along existing and proposed transit lines; and finally, no end to the Edge City madness that is consuming South Florida, America, and the world.