However you may have arrived here, this is the old Not Not Silly Newsroom.

It's a long story -- hardly worth going into here -- but after this place was declared a Brownfield Site, we abandoned it for the NEW! IMPROVED!! Not Now Silly Newsroom.

Feel free to stay and read what you came here to read, but when it's time to leave go to the new place by clicking HERE.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Trolleygate Brings A Community Together

Diesel bus garage, February 27, 2013
While crews continue to build the nonconforming Coral Gables diesel bus garage, a lawsuit by West Grove residents is working its way through the court system. If the residents of the community have their way, (and why shouldn't they?) the bus garage will never open. If Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff has his way, his constituents will get screwed . . . again.

Flier announcing tomorrow's unveiling.
The residents of West Grove have sued to stop Coral Gables, the neighbouring town, from building its polluting bus garage in the residential neighbourhood of west Coconut Grove. Oddly enough, the border between Coral Gables and Coconut Grove is just one block west of this construction site.

However, before the residents even knew about the diesel bus garage they were already looking at the corner of Frow and Douglas for an urban renewal project. Teaming up with MLK Community Mural Project, the community decided to paint a mural on the wall of a convenience store. With the announcement of the diesel bus garage, the mural has now become a rallying point.

The design of the mural came together organically from the ground up. A survey was sent around asking neighbours three questions:
1). What symbols of the community would you like to see in a mural?
2). What elements of the community are you most proud of? 
3). What are the future dreams you wish for the community?
The wall before it had been transformed.

Kyle Holbrook, of MLK Mural, took all the suggestions and created 3 different designs for the mural, incorporating them all. The designs were then voted on, with the winning one translated to the wall in colourful paint. What had been a nondescript wall has been turned into a vibrant mural and symbol of community pride. The painting pays tribute to the original Bahamians who settled the area, as it also honours the history and people that made the Grove what it is today.

Tomorrow afternoon at 1 the community will come together to dedicate this wonderful work of art.

One of the things I have heard several times recently, from more than one person, is how people used to just call it The Grove, or Coconut Grove. These days, however, people refer to North Grove, East Grove, West Grove, Black Grove, White Grove. The mural reflects the concept of One Grove, with a banner proclaiming that at the very top of the mural. Reunification seems to be the desire of the community and return to the idea that everybody is in this together. This is something Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff should take the time to learn, as opposed to pitting community groups against each other in order to divide and conquer. 

The wall after it had been transformed.

Close up of the center section of the mural. Grand Avenue and Charles Avenue do not actually meet, except as the two streets around which the community congregated and thrived.
Another close up.

A family visiting the mural, as the parents teach the children about their history and heritage.

Three of the important pioneers of Coconut Grove: (L to R) Father Theodore Gibson, who did so much to integrate Coconut Grove during the various Civil Rights struggles; Esther Mae Armbrister, who championed turning the Mariah Brown House into a museum and community resource, among other good works in a lifetime dedicated to serving others; E.W.F. Stirrup, whose forward thinking ideas about Black home ownership more than 120 years ago is what makes Coconut Grove a unique place in this country to this very day.

Mangos! Shotgun houses! Foliage! All symbols of Coconut Grove.

These four young ladies were among the first to show up to paint the mural. A photograph was taken of them posing with their paintbrushes, which was then incorporated into the mural.

Caribbean dancers! More foliage and shotgun houses. And, the very building on which the mural is painted.

Full circle: Young man admiring the mural within the mural.
This is a wonderful work of art which will adorn this building for many years to come. It has also become a symbol of pride for a neighbourhood coming together to fight the Coral Gables diesel bus garage.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Does The White Hand Know What The Left Hand Is Doing?

At the east end of Charles Avenue in Coconut Grove, Florida are two festering, open wounds: The Coconut Grove Playhouse and the E.W.F. Stirrup House.

I've written extensively about the historic 120-year old E.W.F. Stirrup House, but far less about the 86-year old Coconut Grove Playhouse. In the beginning, despite them being catercorner from each other, I assumed they were two separate stories. My focus has always been in saving the E.W.F. Stirrup House, so I just put the Playhouse out of my mind. I concentrated on learning everything I could about the E.W.F. Stirrup House and Mr. Stirrup's amazing legacy.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Inside The E.W.F. Stirrup House ► Before and After

The E.W.F. Stirrup House on February 22, 2013
I've been documenting the E.W.F. Stirrup House since July of 2009, during which time I have researched its rich 120-year old history. In those 4 years absolutely nothing has changed. The house has been allowed to undergo Demolition by Neglect, while the developer that controls the property has done nothing to preserve this architectural jewel. In this follow-up to my recent blog post The E.W.F. Stirrup House ► Before and After, I get back inside the E.W.F. Stirrup House.

Anticipation of Wednesday's upcoming Charles Avenue Historic Preservation meeting must have rapacious developer Gino Falsetto scrambling to give the appearance that he actually cares about historic preservation. It would be most awkward if, at Wednesday's meeting, anyone questions whether his stewardship of one of Coconut Grove's historic landmarks has been a monumental 8-year mistake, even if it has been.

After the vines were ripped away. This is what
happens when a community asset is ignored
for 8 years. February 22, 2013
Efforts this past week to 'pretty up' the property -- by cutting back the plant growth that has had 8 years to attack the house -- is the equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig. When you've allowed a house to rot for 8 years without even bothering to seal the windows from the elements, anything done now is only being done for purely cosmetic reasons. IRONY ALERT: When Falsetto's work crew indiscriminately ripped out the vines that had been allowed to penetrate the house, it exposed the damage Falsetto's 8-year control of the E.W.F. Stirrup House has wrought.

"Some people say" my blog posts have placed Falsetto in an uncomfortable position. Until I happened along, his real estate manipulations were hidden in plain sight. However, as I researched the long history of the E.W.F. Stirrup House, I couldn't help but learn why the house has been empty for these past 8 years. Posting my research (as I discover it) has built up an awareness in the local community and a trust in my reporting. Community leaders in West Grove were unaware of some of the history I've uncovered. Now they come to me for accurate information about the Stirrup House.