January 12, 2018.
[For a Spanish version visit newspaper Nuevo Herald.]
Downtown Miami illustrates what Brazilian urbanist Jaime Lerner calls Urban Cholesterol—the excessive and perilous use of cars in our arteries. For example, motorists use NE 2nd Avenue as a highway, driving at speeds over 50 miles per hour. And 2nd Avenue cuts through Miami Dade College, the Wolfson Campus, and residential towers with increasing numbers of children.
Crossing the intersection between SE 3rd Ave. and SE 2nd St. is almost a suicidal act. When pedestrians start for the opposite sidewalk, motorists accelerate—rushing for their suburban barbeques. In bullfighting they use the term embestir, charge furiously.
Not surprisingly, our beautiful Miami is among the eleven most dangerous cities for pedestrians. Which makes all the more welcomed Mayor Francis Suarez's resolution to impose speed limits in residential neighborhoods to 20 and 25 miles per hour.
The facts are clear, according to the National Safety Association: 5 percent of pedestrians die when struck by vehicles traveling at 20 miles per hour. At 30 mph, 40 percent die. At 40 miles, 80 percent die.
But downtown proper poses a zoning challenge, being a business, judicial, tourism and entertainment center, and a residential neighborhood with over 40 thousand residents.
Maybe the solution is not signage, said noted urbanist Victor Dover, but redesigning streets to ensure adequate speeds. “Speed kills. The design speed is more important than the posted speed. At high speeds little mistakes cause giant injuries.”
Raul Guerrero is the Director of the Downtown Arts + Science Salon – DASS.
Salon Urban Cholesterol
January 17, 7:00 - 8:30 pm at The LOFT 2
An illustrated conversation featuring distinguished urbanist and architect Victor Dover, author of the influential book STREET DESIGN: the Secret to Great Cities and Towns. Also, MDC Professor of Gaming and Virtual Reality Martin Mittner. Professor Mittner has extensive experience with city simulation in video games, pursing different techniques for accurately modeling the movement of city populations in a virtual world, including traffic patterns. And complimenting perfectly with his input on applicability, Ken Russell, City of Miami Commissioner.
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Syndication / Cultural Content
DASS develops content on language, science and art, which appears locally in El Nuevo Herald. Google Raúl Guerrero’s article Sobre hombres y simios, tracing the journey from chimpanzee to Homo sapiens. Explore curious etymologies—chinola, passion fruit, and equator—or the history of the Spanish language in La pureza del idioma es un mito. Enjoy one eccentric dictionary based on literary works, Libros, libros, la magia de los libros.
Bohemia / Drama Poetry Opera Jazz
Literary Salon with Jazz. Four local writers, an experimental jazz quintet, dramatic readings and the iconic Olympia Theater were the perfect ingredients for a magical evening. Featuring Martha Otis, Raúl Guerrero, Timothy Schmand and Patricia Engel.
The New York Times commented on Patricia Engel: “To immerse oneself in her prose is to surrender to a seductive embrace, a hypnotic beauty that mingles submersion with submission.” She remarked about the Literary Salon: "It was a beautiful experience to watch such talented actors and musicians bring our stories to life in a new way.”
Hats off to actors Islara Souto, Terrell Fritz and MDC Music Professor Gary Thomas. Presented in partnership with the Olympia Theater.
Opera Master Class for Audiences. Magic City Opera’s Director, Graham Fandrei, led us through 500 years of opera in two hours. The world’s greatest arias illustrated the journey. Great performance by the coolest social opera in town.
NERUDA: Poetry and Jazz. Every November, the Miami Book Fair frees our collective literary appetite, so we gathered actress Islara Souto and University of Miami Literature Professor Martha Otis for bilingual readings of all-time favorites by the Nobel Laureate.
Intermixed the piano jazz of Jim Gasior, music professor at downtown’s New World School for the Arts, and the band MAKAI’s renditions of Latin American Nueva Canción classics.
December 9, 2017
DASS: The Year in Review
2017 is fast becoming memories. Time to highlight some memorable Salons, and alliances that advanced our commitment to help foster a downtown neighborhood identity, and rediscover the art of conversation over a glass of wine, or two.
Humanities / History Science Media
History and Fiction. We kicked off the year with Dr. Paul George, Miami’s de facto official historian. Drawing on his vast body of work, Dr. George engaged Raúl Guerrero in one hilarious duel. Raul Guerrero is the author of the novel Women Loved Dr. Böll, set in downtown Miami.
Who won? The audience. The Salon took place at NEUSHOP, a boutique and cultural center anchored in the historical Ingraham Building. For the occasion, NEWSHOP’s owner, architect Nicolas Delgado, curated the exhibit Historical Architectural Drawings.
State of Human Evolution. Then we took over Books & Books, at the Arsht Center, to commemorate Charles Darwin’s birthday. Dr. Debra Lieberman, noted evolutionary psychologist, led a provocative conversation on the evolution of emotions and how they influence the promulgation of laws.
Dr. Lieberman’s book Objection, on the relationship between the emotion of disgust, morality and the law, will be published in 2018 by Oxford University Press.
Media Salon. To close the Spring Semester, DASS presented a discussion on the media’s impact on downtown’s transformation from a mere business center to a full-fledged community of over 40 thousand permanent residents. (Greater Downtown, including Brickell, accounts for some 90 thousand residents.)
Held at Miami Dade College, the Wolfson Campus, the Media Salon was organized in partnership with the Downtown Neighbors Alliance and the Brickell Homeowners Association. Panelists included Francis Suarez, Miami’s newly elected mayor, and Nancy Ancrum, director of the Opinion Pages for the Miami Herald, MDC Virtual Reality Professor Martin Mittner, David Smiley, Miami Herald’s urban correspondent. Moderated by and Amal Solth, president of the Downtown Neighbors Alliance, and DASS