Plus, Why more green spaces are good for the Magic City.
Welcome to Wednesday, Miami.
If you haven’t been tuning into the Miami Book Fair these past few days… What have you been doing? As one would expect from an annual gathering going 37 years strong, Miami Dade College’s celebration of the written word has kept up with the times and gone virtual this year. Since it kicked off on Sunday, the fair has hosted a litany of locals including Cocaine Cowboys and 537 Votes filmmaker Billy Corben as well as American literary institutions like Joyce Carol Oates and Judy Blume.
If you’re unfamiliar with the event or know Miami best for its more, uh, decadent qualities, you might be surprised to learn the Miami Book Fair also happens to the largest literary gathering of its kind in the country. The Magic City has more to offer besides heat and vice and — it’s got books and books too.
To mark the Miami Book Fair’s 2020 edition, we’ve put together a quick rundown of how you can participate in this year’s online festivities plus a Q&A with panelist and The Greenway Imperative author Charles Flink, who shared his vision of a greener and more pedestrian-friendly future for Miami and cities around the world.
While we won’t advise you to crack open your phone or computer the way you would a book, we do ask that you read on for more…
💧What Miami is talking about
So you missed the first few days of this year’s Miami Book Fair — that’s OK! Before times got even stranger and our schedules became littered with Zoom meetings, the page-turning party’s weeklong programming meant there was a little bit of something for everyone.
By the time it wraps up on Sunday, November 22, the book fair’s 2020 edition will have hosted more than 300 authors across its all-virtual slate of programming. You’d be hard-pressed to find an age group, genre, or niche interest that’s unaddressed: Interested in hearing what Chip Kidd, one of the world’s most celebrated graphic designers, has to say about Charlie Brown and the world of Peanuts? If not, perhaps you’ve been reading up on the works of James Baldwin over these tumultuous past few years and would like to explore his incisive insight into the American character more deeply. If you’re interested in local affairs above all else, maybe you’re trying to learn more about Miami’s evolution and trajectory as a global destination for the arts? If you can imagine the subject, odds are the Miami Book Fair is tackling it.
You’re probably saying to yourself “Gee, this sounds great — how can I get in on the literary goodness?” Fortunately, that’s easy! Visit miamibookfaironline.com, register using your email address or your Facebook log-in, and you’ll be well on your way to joining in. From there, you can sign up for the panels you’re interested in and curate a watch list. And if you have any questions we didn’t address here, the book fair was nice enough to put together a FAQ page of its own.
In the event you leave a panel with a new must-buy book in mind, Books & Books has got you covered with a list of featured titles and accompanying purchase links. And if you’re trying to keep up with the latest Miami Book Fair, erm, affairs, you can find ’em at the user handle @miamibookfair on Instagram and Twitter, and yes, on Facebook too.
But wait, that’s not all: Keep scrolling to read our interview with Miami Book Fair panelist and author Charles A. Flink…
🏆 Stay at the #1
The JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa in Aventura was declared the “Best Resort in Florida” by Condé Nast Traveler readers earlier this year. Luckily for readers of The New Tropic — or more specifically, our Club New Tropic members — we’ve teamed up with them to raffle off a visit to the scenic getaway. Join as a member today for your chance at winning a one-night staycation at the award-winning hotel as well as $50 in credit for on-site dining. The prize package, which is valued at $800, also includes admission for two to the resort’s brand spanking new water park Tidal Cove, which boasts a lazy river (sign us up!).
🌴 5 questions with author Charles Flink
Charles A. Flink has spent 35 years endeavoring to build greener cities and document the positive effects of nature-filled public spaces on community morale. The landscape architect and North Carolina State University professor shared his findings earlier this year with the release of his book The Greenway Imperative: Connecting Communities and Landscapes for a Sustainable Future.
Flink took the time to speak with The New Tropic in advance of his participation in the Miami Book Fair panel “In Conversation: Promoting & Protecting Green Spaces” tomorrow. He’ll be appearing alongside Meg Daly — the founder and president of Friends of The Underline — to discuss the strides Miami has made towards establishing shared green spaces and what the next steps might be. Here’s more about Flink’s eco-friendly philosophy and a preview of tomorrow’s panel.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
The New Tropic: How did you get involved with eco-friendly landscape architecture?
Charles A. Flink: I was someone who always wanted to be outdoors; I wanted to work on preserving and conserving the environment as a main component of my work. I loved working with communities and I’ve always enjoyed being a problem solver, so greenways kind of checked all those boxes for me. I opened my business, Greenways Incorporated, in 1986. I’ve had a chance to work all across the United States and in seven foreign countries pursuing my passion.
Miami is among the many cities featured in The Greenway Imperative. What’s your history with the city and the Miami River?
I had a chance to partner with The Trust for Public Land on the Miami River Greenway [project] back in the late 90s and early 2000s. They gave me a call and said, “Hey, we think we want to do a greenway strategy for the Miami River Greenway. Would you come down and help us with that?,” and I said sure. When I arrived, there were two major agenda items: One was to try to clean up the river because it was full of nasty pollution and lots of sediment. Secondly, there was the discovery of the Miami Circle, this incredibly old archeological find dating back to the Tequesta Indians maybe 2,000 years ago. [The question was] what are we going to do with this river? When I started talking with people, I got the distinct impression that a lot of people were surprised that there was a river cutting through the middle of downtown and they didn’t know that their city was named after the river. So there was this need — not just from an environmental perspective — to connect people with the river and a cleanup effort, but there was also a need to connect people to a cultural landscape that was the birthplace of the community.
Is it fair to say Miami has struggled with establishing public green spaces?
Miami has a great opportunity to take advantage of its natural resources and be more of an outdoor city, be more of an outdoor community. Why it hasn’t done that is a mystery, because when you look at this mighty river… the Miami River Greenway is not a fulfilled promise or fulfilled dream. [The project] is 20 years in and it’s still not done and there’s much more to do. Part of the reason the book is titled The Greenway Imperative is to try to get people to wake up and understand that these are things that you have to really continue to put energy and effort into; they don’t just happen by themselves. These are community landscapes and community spaces, and it depends on an actively engaged community to make it happen because politicians just don’t do this kind of stuff on their own.
What’s the prognosis for greenway-type projects and initiatives in Miami’s future?
The first phase of the Underline is going to connect right to the Miami River… and you have the Ludlam Trail happening. So pieces are beginning to come together in Miami [and] Miami-Dade County that forms an important spine of development that’s going to create the desire to get more done. Hopefully citizens won’t just be satisfied that little pieces are being done and they’ll demand more of their elected officials and their community. The Miami River Greenway holds promise; it’s not fulfilled, but there are elements of it out there that show people that this can be successful.
Are there any trends or developments that give you hope for the environment and sustainable living in the long-term?
When I travel around the world, I find that there’s a lot more that we agree upon that we’re interested in trying to do together. And it would be nice if we could put the differences aside and focus on what we need to accomplish together for one major reason: The only zone of life that we know of anywhere in the universe is on this planet. And I’m encouraged: the thing I was trying to showcase in the book was the variations on this theme of the greenway imperative and how people have embraced it, taken it to heart, and worked through their differences.
We’re not the victims of the future; we’re the determinants of the future, and we need to act like that.
You can learn more about Flink’s work during the Miami Book Fair panel “In Conversation: Promoting & Protecting Green Spaces” tomorrow.
🌙 Groove in the garden after dark with DJ Le Spam (Miami Beach)
🎧 Join The Children’s Movement of Florida for a Give Miami Day party featuring live tunes from Gene Paul (Online)
👾 Learn the basics of coding by building your own game (Online)
🎶 Jam to a live gypsy flamenco performance by Andre Carvajal at the Doral Yard (Doral)
💃 Dance to electropical tunes selected by Mr. Pauer during the North Beach Social’s free livestream (Online)
🐟 Help conserve Florida’s coral with Ideas for Sea Change: Citizen Science & Reef Restoration (Online)
✊ Tune in to Young People Big Dreams, a livestream concert benefiting Power U Center for Social Change (Online)
🌳 Local artist Barbara Fernandez and light artist Javier Riera present “A Growing Transparency” (Deering Estate) (sponsored)
🎥 Watch a screening of Almost Christmas! at the Sandrell Rivers Theater (Little River)
😻 Tune in to watch The Whiskars Pet Awards Show to benefit the Humane Society of Greater Miami (Online)
😋 Groove and munch at the Soul Brunch featuring a live performance by R&B songstress, Yoli Mayor, at the Doral Yard (Doral)
🎥 Get weird with director Alex Winter’s documentary about iconic and experimental rocker Frank Zappa (Coral Gables)
🍺 Sip rare craft beers at this guided tasting with the experts at BXLDER Miami (Wynwood)
✌️ Well, what are you waiting for?
You finished reading today’s newsletter — go grab a book or tune in to the Miami Book Fair! And don’t forget to just take a look — it’s in a book.
— Zach & The New Tropic