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August 2019

Miami’s Amazing Monastery

bigstock_Mail_Button_1727945Thanks to Erik Bojnansky for the article on the Ancient Spanish Monastery (“Miami’s Medieval Wonder,” July 2019). Bojnansky never fails to turn out good stories, and this time I enjoyed learning some of the early history behind the monastery, so much so that I spent a few fun hours online Googling for more.

Of particular interest is a 2015 Atlas Obscura story on the dismantling of dozens of Europe’s mansions and monasteries by U.S. robber barons. Also the history of the Cistercian monks, who wore white robes as opposed to the black cloth of the Benedictines, is fascinating because the order included wealthy knights who joined the Crusades and reportedly had some relation with the Knights Templar and even were the basis of the Arthurian legends surrounding the Quest for the Holy Grail.

At least the Ancient Spanish Monastery is still fulfilling a spiritual purpose. I went for a visit after the story came out, and it was a tranquil setting overseen by friendly staff. I can’t believe I’ve lived here for years and didn’t go earlier.

Madeleine Harris
Aventura

 

Editor’s note: Owing to a reporting error, “Miami’s Medieval Wonder” incorrectly stated that it took 39 months to reassemble the monastery. In fact it took 19 months. Also it was William Edgemon (not Edmonson) who dated the grandmother of an Assist News Service writer and later died in Tucson in 1978.

 

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Monastery Gets Stoned?

A passage in “Miami’s Medieval Wonder” caught my eye. It read: “Adding to the challenge was the fact that Hearst didn’t bring the entire monastery to America. While the chapter house was transported in its entirety, a two-story addition was left behind, and only chunks of the chapel and cloister were sent to the United States. As a result, Moss and Edgemon used limestone rock quarried from local rock mines to complete the monastery.”

I wonder if some of those stones came from across the street -- that is, Greynolds Park, which was a quarry before it became a park.

DC Copeland
Miami Shores

 

Editor’s note: We put that question to monastery historian Alan Sokol. His response: “This is very unlikely. Greynolds Park was created as a Civilian Conservation Corps project. At the time the monastery was being reassembled (1952-1954), Greynolds was already part of the Dade County park system. However, it is correct that the area was a quarry prior to becoming a park.”

 

So Like Miami, So Not

It’s fitting that William Randolph Hearst’s medieval plunder, brought here after he bribed Spanish officials, resides in Miami, where “Money Makes It Happen” could hang as a motto over any number of local city halls.

Still, as someone who’s not a churchgoer, I have to say that I recommend the monastery to anyone who wants to pass some time in a serene and beautiful setting.

Frank Campelo
Miami

 

Biscayne Boulevard: Built for Speed

I read Francisco Alvarado’s story about how dangerous Biscayne Boulevard is (“Proceed at Your Own Risk,” July 2019), and agree completely!

We’ve been living at 25th Street and Biscayne Boulevard for more than five years. It’s a scary situation trying to cross Biscayne. No one gives a crap about the lights.

Maybe the geniuses who did the traffic lights on NE 79th Street going toward the Beach should have used the same ones in our neighborhood. They are higher and more visible.

We’re risking our lives! Some police presence might help with better enforcement. Biscayne Boulevard was built for speed.

Betty Alonso
Edgewater

Immigrants Are Us

Mark Schultz was right on the mark with his story about his experience with a doctor who is not a native-born American (“Immigrants Make This Country Great,” July 2019).

Statistics show that immigrants are more likely than U.S.-born individuals to start and own businesses (especially true here in Miami), and that immigrants or their children have started an amazing 40 percent of Fortune 500 businesses.

It makes me hope that our Cuban-American neighbors who still support Donald Trump will consider that their families -- who came here decades ago with little on their backs and speaking no English -- likely would have been the targets of his hateful rants.

If Cubans faced hostility for “overrunning” Florida back then, think how much worse it would have been if Trump had been in the Oval Office. That man is no friend of immigrants, and immigrants are our history and our heritage.

Richard Diaz-Cordoba
Miami

 

We Don’t Need a Mall Monitor

Would someone please get “neighborhood correspondent” Jay Beskin off his duff and away from the fluff? We have many issues in Aventura that don’t require him to be a Rotary-type cheerleader.

A whole column on why we have indoor malls didn’t impart one piece of information and had no timeliness or subject value (“Shopping Center Shout-Out,” July 2019).

If he weren’t an attorney, Mr. Beskin would be a decent PR flack, but that’s not what I look for in Biscayne Times.

Madeleine Harris
Aventura

 

Who Will Fix Our School? Look Inward, Parents...

John Ise’s column on a 1966 study by James Coleman on how public schools “should target integration based on the socioeconomic status of students over race and ethnicity,” because “promoting a socioeconomic mix of students was even more important than changing the racial composition of the school,” leaves me scratching my head (“A Do-Over at Miami Shores Elementary,” July 2019).

First, as Mr. Ise acknowledges, the people (him included) highlighting the problem aren’t investing in the solution. If these parents would put their own children back into Miami Shores Elementary, I’m pretty sure they’d be involved in academics and after-school programs. But they haven’t. They’re waiting for someone else to fix it. So when they chose the charter school route, all they did was further impoverish MSES.

Second, iPrep Academy’s pupils do come from a socioeconomic mix, it’s true. But what’s more telling is that Superintendent Alberto Carvalho serves as its principal, that class size is tiny, that the teacher-student ratio is high, and that pupils are supplied with the latest computers and online video tutoring.

The poorer kids may be picking up some attitudinal shifts and behaviors from their peers, but the close supervision of teachers over their progress plays a much bigger role. In fact, from where I sit, it still looks more like a funding solution.

Third, just “replicating the iPrep model at MSES” may bring in its own problems, as it seems to be following the classic transplanter’s fallacy, a term used in overseas development work. It means, for example, that you can’t just “transplant” the “rules” of democracy into a country whose institutions are too weak support them and where local “big men” continue to run the show.

In other words, iPrep has the advantage of starting from scratch. MSES doesn’t. It may be harder.

Finally, I’m just not convinced that a socioeconomic mix means the same today as it did in 1966. I wish Mr. Ise had offered more information, like what compositional mix is ideal and how much influence family life has outside of school.

Not having read the original study, I can’t comment further except to note that we seem much more multicultural and multilingual today, and that the avenues for bullying and the need for adult intervention have increased.

Jonathan Meltzer, EdD
Miami

 

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