Celebrating Creativity of Others and Julia Tuttle

Last week’s major writing project is completed. The zoom presentation also is over. In fact, a colleague and I were congratulated as the only two speakers for keeping to the 20 minute time limit during the multi-continent, marathon day of zooming. What’s next on my agenda of stuff to keep busy as the lockdowns return thanks to the Delta variant.*

*Note, for the past few months, my crafting juices have been stopped because our home is being torn up and new sewage pipes installed. The joys of home owning. Everything inside and outside is a mess. I predict another month of this situation!

One activity keeping me busy is honing up on my local history. A few years ago, I became one of many giving walking tours in our tourist-driven community. Outstanding examples of 1930s-40s art deco architecture coupled with so many stories are the gist of my tours.* Since the founding of the city, Jewish residents have been part of its fiber. Occupying my time now is preparations of a Jewish walking tour that will place their history into a wider national and international context. If anything else, it’s very interesting to learn more about this sector of our community.

*Context Travel is the company for which I work as a docent, not a tour guide (https://www.contexttravel.com/)!

Another story about larger community is that of Julia Tuttle, the Mother of Miami. Julia came here from blustery Cleveland with her two children in 1890 to take over the land owned by her father.

Julia Tuttle in Bayfront Park

After the Great Freeze of 1894-95 that destroyed orange groves in Central Florida, Tuttle enticed Henry Flagler to extend his Florida East Coast Railroad to nascent Miami, thus insuring the growth and prosperity of this city. According to the beloved legend, she sent Flagler several orange blossoms showing how much better our weather was. The rest is, as they say, history.

In the heart of the pandemic, a tai chi classmate asked if I would like to participate in a textile arts project she was planning to recognize Julia Tuttle and commemorate the 125th year anniversary of Miami, July 28, 1896. 

Her project was another blast to my past. I finished college long ago with a degree in African Studies and textile crafts; I wove together humanities courses about Africa (history, anthropology, geography, and religious studies) with textile and crafts classes. My weaving teacher, Janet Taylor, made an indelible mark on me and my visual sensitivities. I had long noodled around with needle arts – knitting and embroidery – and other crafts. The classroom training helped me to focus and gain additional skills, which I still enjoy informally.

A small weaving using tapestry and knotting

The knowledge I gained, on the other hand, contributed to my ability as a folklorist. I recognize certain crafts and am very familiar with how they are constructed. Enough about me save that I did not take up the invitation.

My classmate assembled members of PLY-Miami Fiber Art Collective, a diverse and dedicated community of fiber artists and textile enthusiasts for this ambitious project (https://www.pamelapalmadesigns.com/ply-miami.html). PLY’s mission is to make the world a nicer place, one thread at a time; their projects reflect the needs of our community. In 2019, they made nearly 100 crocheted and knitted nests for rescued baby birds at Pelican Harbor Seabird Station (https://www.pelicanharbor.org/).*

*Our family has long loved Pelican Harbor. A few weeks ago, they came to our assistance when Daughter found an abandoned baby mockingbird. Following their instructions we fed the baby for a few days. 

This year’s PLY project is a monumental textile collage, a huge textile art mural to honor the remarkable accomplishment s of Julia Tuttle, the Mother of Miami. HistoryMiami Museum partnered with PLY-Miami. The Julia Tuttle Mural is on display there for the second half of 2021 as part of the city-wide commemoration the 125th anniversary of Miami.

Orange flowers!
detail of leafs


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