Best Activist 2020 | Maya Ragsdale | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

Although Maya Ragsdale is relatively new to town, the Harvard-trained attorney has already become one of the loudest voices in the fight to reform Miami's criminal-court system. A former Miami-Dade public defender, Ragsdale is driven by a passion for the people she used to represent: poor, mostly Black defendants who have historically been railroaded by the U.S. penal system. Although no longer a participant in that system, Ragsdale has continued her advocacy as a so-called movement lawyer involved in organizing efforts with local groups. Working with the Dream Defenders, she helped start the Free the Block campaign, which seeks to end pretrial detention and the use of cash bail. And when the coronavirus reared its ugly head in March, Ragsdale was one of the first activists to sound the alarm about the inmates in Miami-Dade's jails, who — as she predicted — began contracting COVID-19 at alarming levels. Starting in April, she helped represent them in a lawsuit against Miami-Dade's corrections department, interviewing dozens of incarcerated people and their families to document unhygienic, inhumane, and even life-threatening conditions inside the Metro West Detention Center. "The people inside are vulnerable," she said during an April Zoom call, "and it's on us to protect them, because Corrections won't."

Courtesy of Feeding South Florida

Feeding South Florida continues to step up big time. Last year alone, the organization — covering Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties, it's the largest food bank in South Florida — distributed 51.5 million meals to more than 700,000 individuals, including 240,000 children and 110,000 older adults. And this was all before COVID-19 and its ugly self settled in. Since that time, the nonprofit has seen a 600 percent increase in demand, with approximately one in five individuals experiencing food insecurity as a result of the pandemic. Amid this influx, Feeding South Florida continues to deliver, distributing tens of millions of meals since mid-March. Where everyday scenarios and,now, a pandemic have left people hungry, Feeding South Florida is the true fuel that keeps them going.

People are suckers for a good dose of nostalgia and memories of simpler times. The '90s and early '00s were much, much simpler times. In 2019, when politician Alexander "Alex" Penelas announced he was running for mayor of Miami-Dade County in 2020, ears everywhere perked up with excitement. Was it not just yesterday that it was 1996, and a young, very charismatic Penelas was elected as county mayor? His second and final term as mayor, from 2000 to 2004, felt like mere weeks ago. Alas, it's been 15 years since the Hialeah native was in the spotlight, and we didn't realize just how much we'd missed him. Even though Penelas had served two terms as county mayor, he was eligible to run again because in 2007 the county changed to a "strong mayor" form of government, so he was essentially running for a new gig. Unfortunately, in true 2020 fashion, all good things must come to an end. Although the community will always love Penelas and cherish the eight wonderful years we had together, residents of Miami-Dade County weren't ready to jump back into the old relationship. After the August 18, 2020, primary election, Penelas conceded. Here's hoping this short-lived comeback isn't the last time we hear from the once-golden boy of Miami politics.

Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty

"Power couple" might be an understatement. Don and Mera Rubell are widely known in the arts for their formidable modern and contemporary collection, which includes works by such big names as Keith Haring, Ai Wei Wei, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama and many, many more. The couple has been collecting art since the early days of their relationship, often focusing on rising artists by traveling to galleries worldwide and searching for new acquisitions to add to their ever-growing legacy. Having cultivated such a large collection over the span of fifty years, in 2019 the Rubells moved from their Wynwood viewing space into the new, 53,000-square-foot Rubell Museum, located in Allapattah. (See "Best Private Collection" elsewhere in this section.)

Bars are closed, pool parties canceled. Clubs may not fully reopen until 2021. Thanks to COVID-19, if you're not a dating-apps kind of dude and want to meet single women, you're going to have to make like your forefathers and head for the beach. The sands of South Beach have been both disappointingly (to Dr. Fauci) and pleasantly (to single guys on the prowl) packed. Anyone daring to brave the crowds is probably enough of a risk-taker to meet someone new in this dangerous time. But be cautious out there, Romeo: While having three dimensions might make you stand out in this brave new world of Zoom, if you don't want to scare women off, you should definitely abide by the six-feet rule. In bygone eras, getting too close to a sunbathing stranger could get you labeled as a mere creep; now you'll be considered a bona fide menace.

Daniella Mía

A lot can be said about a man who knows how to pick out ripe produce, am I right? And even if finding love at the supermarket wasn't your original plan, with bars shuttered and social events canceled, the pickings are slim, my dears. Not to fret: In addition to affordable avocados and that devilishly addicting speculoos cookie butter, Trader Joe's South Beach is a bountiful hunting ground for single men — single men who like to cook. So get dolled up, strap on your most fashionable facemask, and hit the aisles for a chance at love. If it doesn't work out, there's always a silver lining in the stockpile of Trader Joe's ever-so affordable $2.99 wine.

Courtesy of K&K Billiards

K&K is the perfect breeding ground for the aspiring pool shark: the 15 well-kept, comfortably spaced Diamond Professional tables mean that you never wait too long for your session and you don't have to solve a complex physics problem merely to take a shot. (Oh, the joy of never again having to deal with the slightly slanted, beer-damaged felt at your local watering hole!) As an officially sanctioned American Poolplayers Association venue, K&K hosts billiards tournaments, but it's as hospitable to beginners as it is to the well-practiced looking to elevate their game. K&K doesn't serve hard liquor — a concession to our government bureaucracy that allows patrons 18 years old and up to play pool here — but there's a wide selection of craft beers and wine on offer for those who require some liquid courage. The food menu consists of bar-and-grill classics, including tacos, bourbon sliders, and stacked salads, which means you might never want to leave. The tables rent for $12 per hour for the nine-footers and $10 per hour for the seven-footers. Open daily.

Photo courtesy of the Open Reel

Where many festivals had to shut down their operations down this year, Outshine Film Festival offered not just one but two 2020 festivals for audiences to enjoy. With screenings (both virtual and drive-in) of dozens of queer films that included such gems as Dry Wind, Ask Any Buddy, The Strong Ones, and Eté 85 (Summer of 85), Outshine has been a shimmering reminder that there are still ways to enjoy a film festival without sitting in a packed theater.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®