🐮'La Vaquita' is reborn
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🐮'La Vaquita' is reborn

The Freedom Tower lit up in a patriotic display.
(📸: Courtesy of Miami-Dade College)


You might have seen it shining blue or pink, or even a patriotic red, white, and blue. We’re talking about the Freedom Tower.

The Miami landmark lights up for all kinds of occasions, just like the Empire State Building in New York or the Willis Tower in Chicago.

But how does it all work? We reached out to Juan Mendieta, the communications director over at Miami-Dade College, to find out more about how the building chooses its signature shine for special occasions.

When they first started lighting the tower up: The practice first started about 10 years ago with the color red, which remains the default.

How it all works:  The lights are programmed through a mobile app designed by MDC engineers about 10 years ago. It includes a bunch of color options and patterns and only works on the college’s internal wifi to avoid being hacked.

How they choose the colors:  Mostly it’s pegged to major holidays or events like the 4th of July and Pride Month, but MDC has also displayed the colors of a country’s flag in solidarity after notable events or tragedies (i.e. the deadly attacks in Paris a few years ago). They also get requests tied to national charitable causes like shining pink lights for breast cancer awareness month or going blue on Human Rights Day.

Any weird requests? “For the most part, I am sure because of the building’s significance, people have been very respectful and avoided outlandish requests,” Mendieta says. “I only recall a couple times where a cause was too nascent or very localized or not linked to a national charity and we had to kindly decline.”

Other buildings like the Miami Tower and the Frost Museum of Science use similar technology to illuminate their buildings. The Miami Tower’s system has been in place since 2012 and replaced a process where a worker individually changed colored gels on the building’s 382 lights.

Are there other burning questions you have about random things in Miami, or just something you’ve always been curious about? Hit reply and let us know or email us at [email protected] and we’ll try to get you some answers.

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💻 Coding bootcamp LaunchCode has a free bootcamp coming up. It kicks off July 23, and will be two nights a week for seven months at the Little Haiti Cultural Center. There are 150 spots, and they’re taking applications through July 15. Want to learn to code without having to quit your job and shell out a ton of cash? Maybe this is for you. Details here.

💸 The Miami-Dade College Idea Center is now accepting applications for “Scale Up Miami: Jumpstart Your Small Business,” a four-week training program consisting of Saturday workshops that will help you refine your business marketing strategy, improve operations, and “gain financial know-how to access new funding channels.” The program is meant for local small business owners and includes three months of coaching and technical assistance after the program. Applications are open through July 13. You can find them here.

Got an opportunity, workshop, scholarship, grant, etc. you want other curious locals to know about? Hit us up at [email protected] to have it listed here.

Science, folklore, & history collide at Frost Science’s new exhibition The Power of Poison. Catch the #ToxinTakeoverMiami open now through Sept. 3rd. Learn More ».
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Dab on ‘em. The Holy Smokes Tobacco Shop has Miami-Dade officials heated. The Kendall shop has been selling Miami-Dab County vape kits for folks who use marijuana oil in their vape pens. Their kits use the same colors, design and font as the county’s ubiquitous logo, which prompted a county lawyer to send a letter demanding the shops stop selling the kits. The company’s owner said he doesn’t really plan to fight the county since the kits didn’t really spark (heh) sales in the way he’d hoped. (Miami Herald)

Sneak preview. David Beckham and his team are continuing their push for an MLS soccer stadium at the Melreese golf course and on Sunday night they released renderings and a promo video for the proposed “soccer village” called the Miami Freedom Park. The $1 billion plan calls for a stadium, 110 acres of green space, youth soccer fields and keeping some golfing. On Thursday, City of Miami commissioners will decide if the plan will go before voters in November. (Instagram, Miami Herald)

The “other” kind of gentrification. While most folks know about climate change and sea level rise, the concept of “climate gentrification” is slowly but surely becoming part of the conversation. A new study from Harvard researchers focused on Miami shows that fears about  the effects of climate change have pushed up prices for properties at higher elevations while property values in lower-lying areas have continued to decrease. That higher ground has traditionally been home to mostly working-class and low-income residents who are now at risk of being pushed out by wealthy folks seeking land where their investments can last. (The New Tropic, City Lab)

Access denied. After protests and a visit by Sen. Marco Rubio, the feds are rolling back politicians’ access to the Homestead facility housing immigrant children. The Department of Health and Human Services blocked U.S. Rep Carlos Curbelo from visiting the facility last week – which is in his district – even after he followed federal guidelines. An HHS spokesperson said the visits have caused an “unnecessary strain” on staffers. Curbelo said he doesn’t “feel sorry” for the agency and well…we hear that. (McClatchy)

No more $40 beers. After years of tourists being scammed into paying crazy prices for food and fancy drinks on South Beach, Miami Beach officials have created official guidelines for menus and are now requiring businesses to get their menus approved by the city. Restaurants now have to list prices, spell out any special costs, and even have make sure service charges are in a big enough font for customers to read. (Miami New Times)

And speaking of beers… Last year as Hurricane Irma hit North Bay Village, knocking down power lines and trees, some village cops decided to crack a few Corona Lights instead of patrolling the streets and responding to emergency calls. Records indicate that half the members of a special hurricane “Landfall Team” were drinking on the job while the police department was receiving calls for medical emergencies. And the only punishment for the cops was giving up some extra pay and receiving written reprimands. (Miami Herald)


Make it a great week, Miami. And don’t worry, even if Tropical Storm Beryl becomes a hurricane it shouldn’t pose much of a threat to us here in the 305.

– The New Tropic

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