Not just a single charity, Hands on Miami is more like 70 charities in one. Since 1993 this extensive community-service network has been making it easy for busy city dwellers to do the right thing. Want to deliver care packages to AIDS patients? Build a house for a cash-strapped family? Read to kids in need? Hands On Miami will help you find the service opportunity that fits your hectic schedule. Last year, the organization claims, Hands On Miami volunteers logged more than 53,000 service hours. Once each year Hands On Miami Day brings together as many as 3000 volunteers for a full day of good work and good cheer. Nearly every week Hands On Miami holds an orientation meeting to introduce would-be volunteers to a variety of initiatives across town. Go to the Website to find out how Hands On Miami can help you help others.

Located west of Biscayne Boulevard immediately north of Miami Shores, this is a big city and a small town rolled into one. Incorporated in 1933, the tiny municipality -- less than a square mile in area -- is close enough to Miami's urban core to allow for easy access to downtown or the beaches. But by remaining steadfastly residential (there are no commercial structures at all in Biscayne Park) and avoiding urban-style development, the area has retained its neighborhood aesthetic. Oaks fill the spacious medians and shade the streets. Ten full-time police officers help maintain a pedestrian-friendly environment by strictly enforcing speed limits. With fewer than 3500 residents, the community has an intimate feeling about it, which allows resident to keep a close eye on their mayor, village council, and police department. Mayor Ted Walker brags of the seventeen parks dotting the tree-lined streets (some are basically very large medians, but they're big enough for picnics and contribute to the community's lush greenery). Homes -- mostly built in the Fifties on 75-by-135-foot lots -- range from $200,000 to about $450,000.

Located west of Biscayne Boulevard immediately north of Miami Shores, this is a big city and a small town rolled into one. Incorporated in 1933, the tiny municipality -- less than a square mile in area -- is close enough to Miami's urban core to allow for easy access to downtown or the beaches. But by remaining steadfastly residential (there are no commercial structures at all in Biscayne Park) and avoiding urban-style development, the area has retained its neighborhood aesthetic. Oaks fill the spacious medians and shade the streets. Ten full-time police officers help maintain a pedestrian-friendly environment by strictly enforcing speed limits. With fewer than 3500 residents, the community has an intimate feeling about it, which allows resident to keep a close eye on their mayor, village council, and police department. Mayor Ted Walker brags of the seventeen parks dotting the tree-lined streets (some are basically very large medians, but they're big enough for picnics and contribute to the community's lush greenery). Homes -- mostly built in the Fifties on 75-by-135-foot lots -- range from $200,000 to about $450,000.

The Tom Hanks megahit movie Big connected with audiences thanks to the actor's uncannily guileless portrayal of youthful joy. Listening to Boog Sciambi broadcast Florida Marlins games on WQAM-AM (560), including the team's unlikely ascent to a World Series championship this past season, brought that same feeling to mind. Sciambi, an old-school announcer with an eager-to-please voice, sounded so damn glad to be there it was impossible not to be infected with his enthusiasm. The opportunity for Sciambi to broadcast high-profile games must have been a big chance for career enhancement, but what made listening to him such a joy was that, underneath the announcer, you could hear the kid whose dreams were coming true.

During the Fifties and early Sixties, the nightlife of Overtown made today's South Beach seem tame. Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, and many more superstars played the Knight Beat, the Harlem Square, and other clubs for appreciative locals and visiting celebrities. The main man on the scene -- running clubs and promoting shows -- was a dapper chap with curly hair and charm to spare. He was Clyde "Glass" Killens, famous for carrying around a mystery mug -- contents unknown. At his death this past February 2, the 95-year-old cancer victim still lived at NW Second Avenue and Eleventh Street, in the heart of O-Town. Resting in a magnificent black-and-silver Milso coffin with white lining and an arrangement of white flowers at the foot, Killens looked half his age. Numerous family members, friends, and well-known figures gathered on February 10 at Greater Bethel AME Church to hear a two-hour eulogy by Rev. Marvelle Cheevers. Afterward the hearse and family limos made a last drive past Killens's long-time residence. The previous night's wake had drawn such crowds that police had to close nearby intersections as hundreds of mourners paid their respects and then celebrated this hero of entertainment with a street carnival and concert. A big party. Glass Killens wouldn't have had it any other way.

During the Fifties and early Sixties, the nightlife of Overtown made today's South Beach seem tame. Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, and many more superstars played the Knight Beat, the Harlem Square, and other clubs for appreciative locals and visiting celebrities. The main man on the scene -- running clubs and promoting shows -- was a dapper chap with curly hair and charm to spare. He was Clyde "Glass" Killens, famous for carrying around a mystery mug -- contents unknown. At his death this past February 2, the 95-year-old cancer victim still lived at NW Second Avenue and Eleventh Street, in the heart of O-Town. Resting in a magnificent black-and-silver Milso coffin with white lining and an arrangement of white flowers at the foot, Killens looked half his age. Numerous family members, friends, and well-known figures gathered on February 10 at Greater Bethel AME Church to hear a two-hour eulogy by Rev. Marvelle Cheevers. Afterward the hearse and family limos made a last drive past Killens's long-time residence. The previous night's wake had drawn such crowds that police had to close nearby intersections as hundreds of mourners paid their respects and then celebrated this hero of entertainment with a street carnival and concert. A big party. Glass Killens wouldn't have had it any other way.

It was supposed to change the way people felt about urban transportation. A personal hovercraft destined to spearhead the brave new world of tomorrow? Maybe not. When the Segway Human Transporter was revealed to the public, the collective disappointment put a damper on the lofty dreams of creator Dean Kamen. To which he answered at Segway's first public demo, "So sue me." No. The world's first "self-balancing personal transportation device" did find a niche on the less grand avenue of carting tourists around urban centers. Add to that folks who don't mind looking like dorky computer geeks in public. The machine is a tempting joy ride into the world of advanced robotics. Indeed, the smooth ride and maneuverability in tight spots is big fun despite the dirty looks from pedestrians and bicyclists. In fact those dirty looks are the best advertisement for SHTs and their promise of a new and better tomorrow.

Faux sculpture (manatee, porpoise, et cetera) mailboxes have become a trend, but this is not that. The owners of this nice house have created an oceanic panorama of a mailbox, a swirl of fish and covellite, teal, aquamarine background that rises above trendiness and achieves the status of art. The mailbox-mural alone has probably increased property values 25 percent in this quiet backstreet neighborhood, where it tastefully provides an inanimate vista as wondrous and beautiful as those seen when actually diving or snorkeling. The artistic endeavor deserves applause, but please don't screw up what should be an example for all homeowners by bothering the residents. When in the South Miami area, drive by slowly, take in the view, ponder the wonders of the sea, and quietly move on. Just like a snook feeding along the shoals.

In the October 16, 2003, edition of this weekly chronicle of Miami business and governmental action (essential reading for anyone interested in public affairs), an article appeared with this headline: "County close to acquiring Homestead land, official says." The land in question was the former Homestead Air Force Base. The official was assistant county manager Bill Johnson. The issue was a lawsuit brought by Homestead Air Base Developers, Inc., a private corporation owned by a group of politically connected businessmen. For years the company has been known by its acronym, HABDI (pronounced hab-dee). In the article, reporter Shannon Pettypiece goofed by calling it Homestead Air Force Base Development Initiative. A mistake, yes, but not worthy of recognition. This award is bestowed for what Pettypiece thought she heard Johnson say about HABDI: "The county won't be taking title until the happy litigation is resolved."

In the October 16, 2003, edition of this weekly chronicle of Miami business and governmental action (essential reading for anyone interested in public affairs), an article appeared with this headline: "County close to acquiring Homestead land, official says." The land in question was the former Homestead Air Force Base. The official was assistant county manager Bill Johnson. The issue was a lawsuit brought by Homestead Air Base Developers, Inc., a private corporation owned by a group of politically connected businessmen. For years the company has been known by its acronym, HABDI (pronounced hab-dee). In the article, reporter Shannon Pettypiece goofed by calling it Homestead Air Force Base Development Initiative. A mistake, yes, but not worthy of recognition. This award is bestowed for what Pettypiece thought she heard Johnson say about HABDI: "The county won't be taking title until the happy litigation is resolved."

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®