7 awesome projects to improve Miami’s public spaces

The Miami Foundation has announced the 19 winners for their fourth annual Public Spaces Challenge, a countywide contest to make our public spaces better. The winners get grants from $5,000 to $25,000 for projects like installing solar panel benches, hosting outdoor open mic nights, and planting gardens in under resourced areas. These are a few of the projects we’re most excited about.

CULTRA – Miami’s First Outdoor Open Mic

Grant: $10,000
Organizers: Buskerfest Miami and Emerge Miami

You might have heard of a little music festival called ULTRA. Well, now we have CULTRA. It’s a traveling outdoor open mic night that will be hosted in Miami’s three Downtown parks — Museum, Bayfront and Dan Paul Park on Parcel B— and will feature musicians, acrobats, theatrical groups, and comedic acts, among others. There are lots of reasons why we love this project (the excellent pun being one of them) — but most of all it’s because it’s a celebration of all things Miami.

Smart Benches for City of Miami parks

Grant: $10,000
Organizers: City of Miami

Okay, this one is kind of genius. The City of Miami wants to install solar panels on public park benches. You might be thinking “Wait, benches don’t need energy” and you might be right. But these benches will store energy so that you can use them to charge your phone while hanging out at the city’s parks.

Biscayne Green

Grant: $10,000
Organizers: Miami Downtown Development Authority

It’s kind of hard to get to Biscayne Bay as a pedestrian — especially downtown. You’ve got Biscayne Boulevard with eight lanes of traffic and a bunch of parking bays in the way. This project is trying to prototype a solution. For one month, the DDA will transform three parking lots along Biscayne Boulevard into public spaces. The first one will be an outdoor lounge for movies and live music, the second will be a playground and mini dog park and the third will have a reading nook and pop-up coffee stand.

La Terrecita

Grant: $20,000
Organizers: PlusUrbia Design

Parklets are cute. And an awesome use of a parking space. This design firm wants to transform a parking space in the East Little Havana residential area into a park where people can hang out, enjoy, and most importantly, play dominoes. It’s especially important in this densely populated residential area that is largely lacking green spaces.

Resilient Solutions: Putting the “Health” in Miami’s Health District

Grant: $20,000
Organizers: The Nature Conservancy

At Wagner Creek, an arm of the Miami River that border Jackson Hospital, the water is polluted and flooded by stormwater runoff. The Nature Conservancy wants to plant trees and add shrubbery along the sides of the creek to create a natural barrier and water filtration system so that the polluted runoff water is absorbed by neighboring greenery rather than running directly into the creek. They also want to create trees for shade and grassy areas for people to enjoy.

Overtown FoodScape

Grant: $20,000
Organizers: EarthLearning

Overtown lacks grocery stores providing healthy food options, so this project hopes to bring some fresh fruits and vegetables to the area with an urban food forest. A food forest is a garden that mimics an ecosystem — so it has bugs, plants, and trees all in one place and they feed off of and grow in a managed system with one another. The food forest will provide Overtown residents and visitors edible plants, while also beautifying the neighborhood and serving as a public space.

Growing Green Bus Stops

Grant: $17,000
Organizers: Neat Streets Miami

Miami’s hot and waiting for the bus with the sun beating down on you really blows. That’s why this project is a major key. The group will plant canopy trees to provide shade at 10 bus stops on Kendall Drive. Then they’re going one step further by stenciling haikus about trees at those bus stops, making the experience of riding public transit more pleasant all around.

You can see the whole list of projects here.