Letters from the Issue of July 28, 2005
Developers in the black Grove are destroying our past: I want to believe what Kirk Nielsen reported in "Fables of the Reconstruction" (July 14) -- that rising Coconut Grove property values have caused developers to come in and destroy generations of hopes, dreams, struggles, and memories of Grovites. But I think that is not true. Personally I think it is a modern form of segregation. But to place blame only on developers is wrong. I also fault the community for allowing this to happen, for not attending meetings or voicing our opinions together as a strong force. That has a lot to do with the destruction going on around us.
As I read the article, the tears quickly came. There's not a year I don't remember attending the Goombay Festival -- except for this present year. Why? Because it was snatched away from our community. Now my own children will not share my fond memories of the festival I grew to love. And it just breaks my heart knowing I will not be able to walk into Angel Arias's Coconut Grove Meat Market and yell, "Hey, poppy, let me get some conch -- and tenderize it twice!" Mrs. Bernice and her diner, the Pine Inn, has been a meeting place to find out what's going on in the community while putting down some of her fried snapper and grits. To think that all this is going to be dust soon -- it's like a part of me is being murdered.
I thank God for the memories I will always have of the black Grove. They will remain strong in my heart.
For a developer, how much money is enough money? In response to Kirk Nielsen's "Fables of the Reconstruction," this demise of neighborhoods is happening all over Miami. My question to the greedhead developers with every councilman and commissioner in his pocket: How much money do you need to survive? Is it necessary for you to step on the toes of the poor and displace entire neighborhoods to fill your bloated coffers a little more?
I guess if you have an avaricious, materialistic, plastic wife who spends money like it's going out of style, following every new trend under the sun and needing cosmetic surgery every other week, the answer is: Enough is never enough.
Keep up the good work, New Times. Meanwhile I'll hope and pray for the "bubble" to burst.
We're trying to maintain the black Grove's essence: No one will dispute that the black Grove (we like to refer to it as "Village West") is in major redevelopment. It was inevitable that the redevelopment boom in the City of Miami would eventually extend up Grand Avenue. However, I'm disappointed that Kirk Nielsen didn't take the opportunity to discuss the efforts of the Coconut Grove Collaborative, a nonprofit, community-based organization that has been working very hard to address development issues in Village West.
Jihad Rashid, president and CEO of our organization, has spearheaded efforts to build affordable housing in conjunction with the University of Miami's School of Architecture and Wind & Rain Construction, Andy Parrish's company. Our strategy, through private/public partnerships, is to have at least 25 percent of any project set aside for Village West residents.
In addition, our organization recently qualified for U.S. Treasury Department tax credits for our commercial-development efforts.
Our agenda is to do our best to maintain the cultural and ethnic flavor of the Grove while addressing the issues of affordable housing and community development. I invite Mr. Nielsen to visit with us and see what we're doing positively in the redevelopment of the West Grove.
Charles Byrd, chairman
Coconut Grove Collaborative
Love the playwright, loathe the production: Your theater critic, Octavio Roca, reviewed Men on the Verge of a His-Panic Breakdown ("Verging on Disaster," July 14), and we're glad he saw the play's brilliance even if he was disappointed in the production. He suggested that other troupes should look into playwright Guillermo Reyes's work. We agree.
Men on the Verge would be ideal at the Coconut Grove Playhouse Encore Room, an upstairs space at Actors' Playhouse, GableStage, or New Theatre. Yet those theater companies have ignored Guillermo while EDGE/Theatre keeps in touch with him, reads his new works, and promotes him.
EDGE/Theatre is filling a valuable niche by finding and producing works like Men on the Verge. EDGE did the first U.S. reading of Shrivings by Sir Peter Shaffer, the world premiere of Messages by John Ford Noonan, and the U.S. premiere of Rod Dungate's award-winning Playing by the Rules. We promote local playwrights and have produced seventeen of them, including six from the theater division of the New World School of the Arts. If Octavio Roca can stimulate other local theaters to search as widely for great plays as EDGE does, it would be constructive.
Jim Tommaney, artistic director
That would be Natasha: As founder and artistic director of Circ X, I cannot thank you enough for the amazing article by Jessica Sick, who did an incredible job of capturing the true essence of what we are all about ("Ring of Fire," June 30). Also the pictures Jonathan Postal took were mesmerizing.
I realize that space was limited and it would have been impossible to list everyone's involvement. There are many people whose hard work and vision have made Circ X the success it is today, in particular Natasha Tsakos. She is one of the most cherished performers of the troupe. Not only has Natasha been with me since the very beginning, but also she is truly one of the most talented artists I have ever come across. I can only say that I feel absolutely blessed to have her in my company and my life. I can assure you that you will see some great work from this woman, for not only is she an integral part of Circ X, but she is also an amazing independent artist, playwright, and visionary. She is the first and only artist I know to use live 3-D animation integrated with live performance. Curious? Check out her Website: www.upwake.com. She alone is worth a dozen features.
Promoting art for the wealthy: I read The Bitch's story "Citizen Arcane" (June 16), and must comment how sad it is to learn of the imminent closing of the Miami-Dade Law Library. It is sad but not surprising when considering the demise of Miami's only classical-music radio station and Congress's 25 percent cut in funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
These losses affect all of us, especially citizens struggling financially who seek knowledge and culture. What next?
Mary M. Verona
Owing to a reporting error in Rebecca Wakefield's article about the black-oriented weekly Miami Times ("Changing Times," June 30), Mohamed Hamaludin was incorrectly identified as the paper's former executive editor. For nearly fifteen years Mr. Hamaludin served as managing editor. New Times regrets the error.
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