It’s done. The deadline for South Florida’s Best Block Contest has passed, and now comes the hard part: sifting through scores of submitted photos and videos to pick the outstanding urban places in a region that — judging from the rich and diverse evidence collected here — may have more examples than you think.
You, the reader, will play a role: Starting right away, you can peruse all the entries online and, just for fun, help select a “people’s choice” winner in the video and photo categories. That can be done by “liking’’ the photo entries on Instagram (#sfbestblock) and the videos on YouTube (find the playlist, as well as all the photos, on www.miamiherald/bestblock). The video and photo entries with the most “likes’’ by 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 30 win the popular choice.
An expert panel of five jurors, meanwhile, will begin combing through the submissions to decide the winners and finalists who will receive cash awards for best video and best photo, as well as the big overall prize: South Florida’s Best Block, which will be rewarded with a block party this fall.
Three jury finalists in each of the categories -- that is, best video, best photo, and Best Block -- will be announced in print and online in The Miami Herald after the jury convenes for voting on Oct. 1. The first, second and third cash prizes in video and photo, as well as the Best Block, will be announced soon thereafter at a public exhibit of images from the competition. That exhibit will be followed at a subsequent date by the block party.
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One sad note: The jury must proceed without a distinguished member, South Beach and Wynwood developer and urbanist Tony Goldman, who died last week. But his place on the panel will be taken by his lieutenant at Goldman Properties, Joe Furst, who shares Goldman’s vision and expertise on what makes a special urban place.
Just before Monday’s midnight deadline, a last-minute wave of entries brought the total number of videos and photos submitted to 170. Sorry to say, some entries trickled in just past deadline and can’t be included in the competition.
But what’s on hand represents a rich and varied panoply of places stretching from downtown West Palm Beach through Fort Lauderdale and down to Miami and environs, which captured the majority of entries.
The submissions range from the tony and established to the funky and emergent. Entries include some well-trod places — like Calle Ocho in Little Havana, West Palm’s Clematis Street, Miracle Mile in Coral Gables and Espanola Way on South Beach, all of which received multiple entries — to the more out-of-way but clearly deserving of broader exposure, like downtown Wilton Manors in Broward County.
The Miami Herald is sponsoring the competition in partnership with WRLN/Herald News, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Townhouse Center, a nonprofit that promotes redevelopment of urban neighborhoods through construction of human-scaled, multi-use buildings.
It aims to showcase the most vibrant urban streets in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, and discover what makes them so, as South Floridians flock to the region’s reviving downtowns, city neighborhoods and suburban town centers for fun, work and commerce.
The expert panel will judge nominations based on several criteria, including a block’s friendliness to pedestrians, the architecture of its buildings and the mix of activities it hosts, as well as the photo or video presentation.