CARTA professors, Holly Zickler and Glenda Puente, have recently been awarded a grant from the The Miami Foundation as winners of their 2019 Public Space Challenge. The foundation posed the challenge to the public to conceptualize and pitch ideas on ways to “create, activate, or improve the way residents move around Miami-Dade County”. This year, the foundation specifically challenged participants to focus on the four key means of mobility – pedestrians, cyclists, streets and sidewalks, and public transit – pledging to invest $250,000 to the top ideas presented.
From Prof. Holly Zickler (in collaboration with Mari Chael), the idea of painting the columns found at the Underline at SoMi to match the colors of the rainbow was presented. They suggested that it can truly make SoMi more distinctive in style and even presented the thought of expanding the painting to the pedestrian sidewalks and within neighbourhoods. Not only would the colors be used to beautify the experience of walkers, bicycle riders and the like, but it can also be used as identifiers for different destinations along the Underline.
“It takes a village! Certainly, Bo Drago’s Dominoes project was inspirational for us. He and Meg Daly of the Underline advised us well on producing our final proposal. Mari and I have worked a long time trying to build a stronger sense of community in South Miami. This project offered us a chance to highlight something that is often seen as a barrier or division in our community and reframe it as a seam. It is our hope that we can involve our community in painting the rainbow. As it is a pretty simple idea, requiring just brushes and rollers. We could have everyone help. As for getting the grant, we are really excited!”, Holly exclaimed, “We hope the grant will allow us an opportunity to involve a much larger group of residents than in our past projects and inspire others to take on projects of their own in the city.”
Prof. Glenda Puente presented the idea of updating and improving the lighting fixtures at Avenue 3. She suggested creating an overhead canopy of ornamental lights over the southern block of NE 3rd Avenue since that area isn’t that well lit and can become very dark at night. She suggested this idea as a short-term, inexpensive solution that gives pedestrians, outdoor enthusiasts, and tourists the freedom to experience strolling the beautiful area at any time. Allowing them to visit different restaurants and other attractions. When asked about her inspiration behind the project and how she plans on utilizing the grant strategically, Puente said,
“Public opinion [inspired the project]. While there are several issues to address in order to make NE 3rd Avenue more pedestrian-friendly, better lighting is one of the priorities for the community. At night the street can become deserted and, unlike many areas in Downtown, this street does not shut down after 5pm, many businesses remain open in the evening. The hope is that with better lighting people will feel more inclined to visit”, she continued, “I felt very happy because the team and the community got really excited when the idea got selected as a finalist and it gives us all some renewed energy to continue working towards making Downtown a better place and not give up. A Miami-Dade County Quickbuild Challenge grant was won last year and a community dinner event called “Taste of Avenue 3″ was organized with the funds. This allowed for temporary changes to the street to be implemented, the street completely transformed for a few days, but after the event everything had to return to the way it was. With the Public Space Challenge grant by the Miami Foundation, plus the support of the Miami Downtown Development Authority and continuous fundraising, we hope to be able to implement something that will remain on the street for at least a year.”