by Kamla-Kay McKenzie
With collages of bikini bodies sprawled on sparkling beaches, nightclubs hyped by the presence of a jet-setting celebrity, and notable fashion parties and events that showcase talent resembling New York Fashion Week, Miami’s rich eclectic culture and vacationing lifestyle often accentuates the city and surrounding area.To one who has never descended into the true heart of Miami living, the community can be defined by glimpses of reality show tapings, boats entering the harbor, and five-star restaurants that line Deco Drive.
As we turn down the loud music and hover over the shoulders of local chefs, the greater heartbeat of Miami revolving around organic foods, sustainable fashion, low emission transportation and natural habitation can be felt and experienced. With that, we say, leave any one-dimensional perspectives behind and experience this hidden gem; a socially responsible Miami awaits exploration.
An area well known for its fashion parties, no longer does the fashion industry have to take on the negative aura as in segments of the movie “The Devil Wears Prada.”Combating the tons of non-biodegradable waste that enters Miami-Dade landfills each year, local fashion designers take a more artful approach to their creations by finding the perfect marriage between style and sustainability.
Miami designer Luis Valenzuela, founder of EcoArtFashion, is an internationally acclaimed ethical fashion creative. Having his “art to wear” eco-inspired designs featured in fashion publications such as Vogue Italy and Elle Magazine, this Venezuelan-born artist coupled his artistic talents with his interest in maintaining a green community.Talented enough to have paintings, sculptures and wearable art within his collection, thought-provoking Valenzuela showcases have been featured around the Miami area.
Other local fashion designers too have made their mark on green living. In recent years, the first-ever sustainable swimwear show during Miami Swim Week presented the “Walk on Water” runway scene that boasted swimsuits made from organic hemp, wood pulp, bamboo and scraps of repurposed cotton.
Nested in Little Haiti, Earth ‘n’ Us Farm is an oasis of organic fertile plants, fruit trees and vegetables all cohabitating with pigs, goats, and chickens; don’t forget the small housing area surrounding this jungle-like atmosphere. Considered a permaculture business, one that inspires individuals to be self-reliant on sustainable organic farms, Earth ‘n’ Us Farm allows the neighboring community to purchase freshly picked seasonal vegetation. This 30-year-old operating farm is a veteran for sustainable eating.
A baby in age compared to Earth ‘n’ Us Farm, but mature in environmental living, Little River Market Garden is another at the forefront of green eating in Miami. Built on an empty city lot, Muriel Olivares began her garden just over two years ago and supplies about 40 types of vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers to local patrons. Her CSA farm, or “Community Supported Agriculture” land, allows locals to buy shares of crop as an investment into her operation.
So as repurposed cotton takes the place of man-made fabrics, locals dine on organic meals harvested from neighboring farms, and transportation becomes sustainable, “The Magic City” continuously flips the wand to become greener each year.
After all, it’s only befitting for a city built on fast nightlife and hidden sustainable lifestyles to showcase that luxury too can co-exist in creativity and responsibility within the universe.