Medicine Wheel Nomadic Apothecary

Plant Medicine + Ritual + Magical Spaces

Apothecary + Fire Cupping + Dowsing + Limpias + Reiki + Herbal-infused tales

Art in the city # 1

In the words of Peter Sellars, director of the Los Angeles Festival: “There is no meaning, either in art or in society, without participation”.
What is the purpose of public art in our cities? I often find myself asking this question to artists, planners, curators and street artists. Needless to say, each of these groups of people has distinct opinions on the subject.  Art is the physical manifestation of creative forces that we humans have in order to express ourselves in a non-linear and non-conventional way. Art is usually subjective and provocative. Art is a way for people to articulate abstractions and communicate ideas concisely, or leave them up to interpretation. I’m interested in the role that art plays as a place maker, as well as its role in changing society and instilling communal identity. According to Sellars’ conditioned definition of art and society, its suitable to say that there is effective art and ineffective art. The latter definition applies to the type of art that lacks to engage people and speak to them directly.

Cemeteries and planning

According to the dictionary, a cemetery is a spatially defined area where the remains of deceased people are buried or are otherwise interred. The term "cemetery" ( from Greek  meaning sleeping place) implies that the land is specifically designated as a burial ground. The intact or cremated remains of deceased people may be interred. The remains may be interred in a grave, commonly referred to as burial, or may be interred in a tomb, an "above-ground grave" (resembling a sarcophagus), a mausoleum, columbarium, or other edifice.

Burying the dead and burial sites have been part of human history for thousands of years.  The act of honoring the dead is one of the  many  unifying themes that permeates across cultures all over the world.

Designated grounds for the dead have varied in place from the outskirts of a settlement to the rear area of churches in the middle of  a town. The latter approach, was banned in Europe due to the spread of infectious diseases, a sharp rise in population in the early stages of the industrial revolution and limits in space for new corpses or headstones amongst  the main reasons.

The stratification of the dead. Gwadeloupe Island 2012.

The stratification of the dead. Gwadeloupe Island 2012.

As civilizations made scientific and technological advances like sewer systems, and planning regulations like zoning came into place, it was allowed for cemeteries to be located in close proximity to the city again. In turn, the expansive city has encroached these spaces turning them into yet another square in the quilt of the urban fabric.

As a planner,  it is this aspect of integration of sacred space  into the urban fabric that interests me the most in  terms of the implications of  land use , community development and the  potential  environmental benefits that an  area might gain from viewing these sacred/open spaces through a  different lens.

In my research I have come across supporting evidence that in the United States there are cemeteries that play more than its  prescriptive role. I aim to expose the various uses of cemeteries and their impacts on the natural and  human community. In addition, my research begins to tackle  the  issues  encountered in the process of  proposing additional uses for sacred/open space. the legal process of  zoning and regulations  put in place  which sometimes  hinder these  spaces  from performing additional functions. In many cases, the regulations are not even stipulated which can either be frustrating or rather  taken as an  opportunity to formulate various scenarios that are  place-based and sensitive to the community.

Burial style, Gwadeloupe Island, 2012

Burial style, Gwadeloupe Island, 2012

Cemeteries within city limits have intrinsic characteristics in terms of land use. They are a required zone in the urban fabric and they are considered sacred ground as well as open space. Most importantly, given the nature of most cemeteries, they are typically vacant  for the  majority of the time.

As mentioned before, as cities grow cemeteries have been engulfed by development.  It is not rare to see a cemetery nestled between high-rises and proposed residential development like the municipal cemetery in  Miami, Florida. In Albuquerque, a prime example of a cemetery in a  residential  area is  the Fairview  Memorial  park.

Tourist in my own town

I had  been in Miami for a  few weeks now. This time everything  had been different, beginning with the way I felt about being  at  home , staying in and  simply   being  content at all times.

pink cadillac, soBe.jpg

Miami up to now ,  always meant an endless  party for the  most part, and  although the opportunity was always there, this time I decided not to take it.  

I dedicated most of my time to view  my  immediate surroundings  with  eyes  of  absolute  wonder and  rediscover the every day things that I  tend to take for granted. 

It was a wonderful experience to feel like a tourist at  home.

This approach  aims  to  highlight  the  positive  attitude  and  overall  happy feeling one gets  from  being in a "new" place ....  even though it has been there all along. 

I feel  my  home  is  my escape and  I'm always at the center of it all. A wonderful feeling of  gratefulness and awe that  I hope sticks around for  long...

Save Greynolds Park

Greynolds Park, North Miami Beach

Greynolds Park, North Miami Beach

I have  been admiring the absence of  light amidst an ocean of power lines, high-rises and antennae  almost every night for the past 10 years of my  life. This lack of  light for me represents the  purity and calmness of what my neighborhood must have been like before it was developed.  Greynolds park defines place as much as it  defines a genreation  of  people that  have  been shaped by the experiences lived there. During high school, my friends and I often sought refuge in this little patch of land, from the  surrounding mundane hang out spot: Aventura Mall. Later in life, the park became the place to run, tan, and embark on adventures through the mangrove swamps on our dinghy boats while sipping on a couple of beers, hoping for the old  snook to finally let himself be caught. Greynolds has lent itself to an wide  variety of events, from the weekly sunday blues festivals, the love-in, lumpy sue and my  favorite,  the  sunday Rastafarian church.  This place attracts the elite Aventura citizens as well as  people from the surrounding areas that , in my  opinion, otherwise wouldn't mix so evenly thanks to the  natural environenment.

In my years of exploring the park, I have  never  felt unsafe , except for one  alligator that came out of nowhere that one time , and during spider season, when spiders cover the sky. 

Now I feel  like all these memories and the  beauty of  the absence of light  might be  consumed by yet another foreign developer hoping to make some  cash. A 15 story tower  or so ,  its said  it  be  in the  plans for the east side of Greynolds park , where an old 3-4  story nursing home used to be. 

I cant imagine the impact that it will  have on the  wildlife way before it even starts affecting the neighbors and the solemn darkness of this little sanctuary.

As I think about what Greynolds means for me and what it  represents for my community, I can see  how I have  changed but my  feelings remain intact. I still feel  my  heart so close to the  memories that  are constantly created in this space but now  I have the knowledge to understand the  political forces that shape the very place I live in. I cant  imagine having the remote  understanding about zoning laws, that  might have allowed me to care about possibly  fighting this war , that  otherwise would not even  seem like a  war at  all.  Like  many  people  going about their  busy  lives, I would not know that my  voice counts, and that community activism shapes places and  our  relationship to them and  to one another.

Om mani padme hung -for all my relations- por todas  mis relaciones  - Mitakuye Oyasin - OMETEOTL - gracias