Week 22: History Miami Exhibition

A lot of patience is required when engaging in a community development project like Made in Opa-locka. One could argue that a large portion of time and effort is dedicated to finding and communicating with your targeted audience. At this point, I’m not entirely sure who our intended audience is -- and that's what we're working to clarify. At an immediate level we want to gain support from the people who live in the neighborhood, but we also need to attract donors to make sure the project has a strong financial footing. We also want to communicate the project to the larger Miami-Dade community as a viable alternative to the New Urbanist and neo-traditionalist approaches that define most of what is built in Miami. This week an opportunity to engage with a broader audience materialized, almost overnight.

Willie Logan (CEO of OLCDC) was asked by History Miami to participate in an exhibit about the history of Opa-locka’s Moorish architecture. Willie agreed with the condition that the exhibition not be only backwards-looking but also forward-thinking. He wisely proposed that the exhibition also showcase the various initiatives underway in Opa-locka, including Made in Opa-locka.

Due to an extremely quick turnaround time, our plan was to exhibit photographic prints of the targeted properties where we are working, display the Micro-Enterprise models, and hang large colorful flags announcing the various activities to come to the neighborhood (such as “Recorded in Opa-locka,” “Designed in Opa-locka,” and “Dance in Opa-locka").

Alongside with museum staff, Aileen and I installed the project in one night. Approximately 150 people were in attendance for the opening night of “Opa-locka: Mirage City” (see more information about the exhibition here). Visitors to HistoryMiami were able to learn about the history of the Arabian-themed development as well as get a hopeful glimpse of its future. The work will be on display for approximately three months, so if you happen to be in Miami before September 8th, definitely stop by History Miami!

-- Germane Barnes