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A Morning at The Brickell Backyard

December 6, 2022
by Meg Daly

Volunteers gardening at Day in the Dirt

It was a busy Saturday at The Underline’s Brickell Backyard, with free yoga and volunteer gardening at 9 AM. Followed by Friends of Miami Animals and Miami Dade Animal Services’ free pet vaccinations, microchipping, and adoptions before lunch. Over 100 community members took part in all our programs.

And I had the pleasure of talking to a few of them! 

9:15 AM: Day in the Dirt, volunteer gardening in the Oolite Room. 

I started my morning chatting with Gloria Deckard, an FIU professor in the Health Informatics/Information Systems part of the university. Gloria lives in Brickell but hails from Kansas City.  She volunteers for Day in the Dirt every month and now, also joins our Walk4Life Walking Group on Thursdays at 8 AM.  

“I volunteer for The Underline because it gives me the opportunity to be outdoors supporting The Underline’s plants and gardens that benefit ALL of Miami. I am encouraged that we are working on becoming a more walkable connected community with projects like The Underline and Baywalk that balance the high-rise development and concrete with protected green spaces. I love volunteering for Day in the Dirt because I feel like I have an impact. When I plant something or weed a garden, I can visit my work a week, a month, or more later and see how the plants have grown and thrived. Also, I love when people walk by and say thank you to us while we are gardening.”  

We say thanks to you too Gloria!

Walking north to the yoga class that finishes at 10 AM, I bump into Emily Nostro who is nannying for 8-month-old baby Harriet.  She says she loves The Underline because she can get the baby out of the Brickell apartment for a safe walk off the streets. Emily lives in Spring Garden and hears that there is a park coming to her neighborhood below the I-395 Bridge (formerly known as the Underdeck). 

9:45 AM: Free Yoga Sponsored by Baptist Health. Anny Noratto, yoga instructor.  

Yoga at The Underline

I sit and watch as Anny leads the people in her class through a rigorous abdominal strength series, laying on their backs, legs straight up in the air at 90 degrees dropping them to 45 degrees, then hovering the ground and then back up to 90 degrees … for about 5 minutes. When it’s time to relax and then show appreciation, they smile and give thanks to Anny for her kindness and commitment to their health.  

I ask a few of the women nearby “how do you feel?” 

Nandika, who lives downtown, shares that it’s her first yoga class on The Underline. Her friend Nancy lives in Brickell and is a regular in the class. “We feel great! We love the class, we love The Underline, this is so cool” she says. “We are coming back and bringing more friends. Thanks for doing this!” 

Martha Falls, chimed in eagerly “I am dying to talk to you! I moved here from New Orleans in 2020 and we were in lockdown. There was nothing to do in Brickell. The Underline has so many fun things to do that help me stay healthy. Do you need volunteers?”  (Yes, Martha, we love our volunteers.)  

Then, there’s Kimberly who moved to Miami from D.C. 3 months ago. She lives right next to The Underline and has recruited 3 of her friends to come to the class every weekend. Nastacia, one of Kimberly’s friends says, “I stopped doing yoga, but I am going to make this class part of my weekly exercise program. I feel great!” Kakia who lives downtown agrees, “I am coming back every weekend with my girlfriends.” Kimberly is in marketing and wants to help us with our community outreach and volunteer “for everything.”  “I love The Underline,” says the new transplant. “It’s my new backyard.”

Kimberly Turner, Kakia, Nastacia at Yoga

As the yogis disperse, the pet programming prep is ramping up.  Yolanda Berkowitz, founder of Friends of Miami Animals (FoMA) says, “On Thursday, I attended the unveiling of the Typoe Sculpture Garden and panel discussion. Today we’re preparing to give 40 free pet vaccinations and microchipping. Plus, we have over 100 people signed up to adopt a pet. I keep coming back. It’s easy to get here, there is always something to do and everyone is so nice. I feel like I live here.” 

Yolanda Berkowitz from FoMA and Genesis, from Miami Dade Animal Services at PAWS at The Underline

We love you feeling at home Yolanda. You and your colleague Genesis from Miami Dade Animal Services can come any time you want. We never close!

Well, it’s nearly 10:45 AM and I need to get home to decorate my Christmas tree. As I get close to our office, Maria stops me. “Are you Meg Daly?” she asks. I reply yes and she says, “I would love to talk to you.” I quickly respond “Great, because that’s what I am here for today!”

Maria Llorca and Meg Daly on the Promenade

Maria gushed about The Underline saying “I walk from my home on the Roads every day. The Underline makes my walk so beautiful! I take the trolley somewhere else, or I go to Brickell City Centre and do a little shopping. And, then I walk home. Since I retired, I feel like The Underline keeps me connected to people. There are so many people who love and use The Underline every day. And, I wanted you to hear that and to say thank you.”

Thanks, Maria, you made my day.