For all the attention that troublemakers garner, there are people in greater Miami who follow their passion, live out their commitments and, at the same time, make life better for all of us. Throughout the year, the Herald Editorial Board has the privilege of sitting down to chat with many of them, coming away heartened by the number of people who see a challenge and earnestly jump in to overcome it. Some generously do it on their own dime, others selflessly make a career of rooting out what shouldn’t be. All of them deserve a tip of the hat on this Labor Day.
Lorna and Daniel Bravo
They are mother and son, nurturing the habitat of the monarch butterfly, which struggles to find sustenance during its annual migration from Canada to Mexico. Lorna Bravo is, among other things, a master gardener. Her interest led son Daniel, 10, to create a science project showing how much caterpillars, which become butterflies, need to eat — a lot.
The project didn’t win first place, but Lorna posted the project on Facebook, where it caught the eye of the producers of the 2012 film Flight of the Butterfly. They sent Daniel books and words of encouragement. Then HBO came calling and featured Daniel and other visionary kids in its documentary Saving My Tomorrow. Now, Daniel is a crusader for planting monarch “way stations” at schools throughout Miami-Dade. He recently won a $1,500 grant from the Pollination Project, which funds “passionate, committed people with a social-change vision.” Daniel’s, indeed, is a worthy goal, one that seeks to give students greater understanding of their place in the natural world, provide monarchs habitat to refuel and make this community’s overbuilt environment a little greener.
It’s ironic. Last week, while a majority of Miami-Dade Commission was honoring a developer who, in the 1980s, was accused of discriminating against African Americans at his apartments — and who settled, twice! — Matthew Tisdol, three decades later, stood on the front lines of the fight against housing discrimination, still a scourge in South Florida.
Mr. Tisdol, 31, is the testing and investigations coordinator for HOPE Fair Housing Center. In reponse to complaints, HOPE dispatches white testers to a suspect rental manager. They usually get shown a nice array of available units. The black testers? “Uh, nothing’s available.” In the past three years, HOPE has recovered more than $1 million in damages and housing fees for victims of housing discrimination. Design Place, north of Miami’s Design District, for instance, was one location that settled claims, Tisdol says, however, it’s back in court.
Credit Tisdol and his team for ferreting out a disease that has no place in 21st-century Miami.
Victor Dover is convinced that, in greater Miami, the future is not going to arrive in a four-wheeled exhaust spewer.
The urban planner, 52, is the prime mover behind Wheels, a five-day event, from Nov. 11-15, that, he says, will attract 10,000 participants set to prove that biking is a feasible alternative to get to work, to school, to anywhere.
He’s also striving to make the point that greater Miami could readily forge connections among bikers, public transit, and public corridors like the incipient Underline along U.S. 1. All it takes from decision-makers is the same commitment to green mobility that propels Mr. Dover.