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The new positions, funded by the Knight Foundation, provide additional organization and structure as the project nears opening

Friends of The Underline (FUL), a 501C3 non-profit organization advocating to transform the underutilized land below Miami’s Metrorail into a 10-mile linear park, urban trail and public art destination, announced it has hired a new chief operations officer and chief technology officer to support the administration activities for the project. Both positions included an extensive hiring process and hundreds of applicants.

Patrice Gillespie Smith was appointed as COO and brings more than 20 years of experience as an urban planner working to build communities that are walkable, livable and resilient.  Prior to joining The Underline, she served as the Sr. Manager of Planning, Transportation and Resilience for the Miami DDA; led Neat Streets Miami and developed the Safer People, Safer Streets Action Plan and the Miami Dade Complete Streets Guidelines. Patrice also has executed transportation solutions in Seattle, St. Louis and Columbus, OH.

The role of CTO will be filled by Breanna Faye who has spent over a decade working at the intersection of architecture, design and technology throughout in the U.S., South America, Asia, and the Middle East.  A trained architect turned technologist, she has worked globally with organizations such as IDEO, MIT Media Lab, Dubai Future Foundation, and most recently Museum of Ice Cream where she was VP of Experiential Technology. She has overseen projects spanning the future of work, IoT, smart mobility, buildings and cities.

Funding for the positions comes from a grant that was awarded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in September 2019.  The foundation has been one of The Underline’s earliest and most active supporters donating nearly $2 million since 2015.

“As we near the opening of Phase I and prepare for facility operations, Patrice and Breanna add a new dimension of experience, knowledge and organization to our efforts,” said Meg Daly, President and CEO for Friends of The Underline.  “Building our capacity will help us leverage the momentum the Board has created and start delivering a world-class park for all of Miami to enjoy.”

The first phase of The Underline, The Brickell Backyard, is scheduled to open this fall.

About The Underline

The Underline is a planned 10-mile urban trail, linear neighborhood park and public art destination that will span from the Miami River, north of Brickell Metrorail station, to Dadeland South. The Underline project will feature dedicated bike and pedestrian paths, amenities, art, programming, lighting, native vegetation as well as safety features and improvements at road crossings. The Underline will be built in phases, the first of which will begin in the Brickell area. For more information visit, www.theunderline.org and/or follow them on social on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @theunderlinemia.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit kf.org.

By Meg Daly, Friends of The Underline CEO/President

With cars off the roads, we have taken to the streets and sidewalks walking and biking in droves. Bike sales have surged with The Guardian declaring “Bicycles are the new toilet paper: bike sales boom as coronavirus lockdown residents crave exercise.” A recent Reuters article says that US bike sales have boomed with bikes being considered essential transportation. And, back home in Miami on the MPath, the future Underline, neighborhood residents have doubled their use of the current narrow trail to get outdoors alone and with their families.
With the global shift to walking and biking during the coronavirus crisis, cities like Paris have added miles of new temporary bike lanes to build capacity, and cities from Bogota to Oakland are closing streets to make room for pedestrians and bikers.A flurry of articles explore a larger question: Could this crisis create an opportunity to remake our cities? Many experts think we would be healthier if our cities had more room for bicyclists and pedestrians. “Urbanists see a chance to save city dwellers not just from the sweep of a pandemic, but from the auto-centric culture that has dominated urban life for decades. They want to prioritize the movement of people, pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and their ilk-over cars,” says Wired Magazine.

And what does this mean for Miami? Certainly, projects like The Underline provide a large swath of safe, off-road, navigable trails for all ages and levels of ability. It provides a spine that connects to other off-road trails including Ludlam Trail and Miami River Greenway––and also connects to the popular Rickenbacker trail. In other words, we have an opportunity to be a city that embraces walkability and bikeability to ultimately be more resilient for future generations.

Let’s do this, together.

Photo courtesy Carl Kafka Photography 2020

In honor of Earth Day, Emma Loewe of mindbodygreen interviewed national green living experts about calming hacks to achieve tranquility during these stressful times.   Turns out that whether you are stuck inside or taking a hike, there are multiple ways to commune with nature.

Our very own Meg Daly, The Underline’s Founder and CEO, was featured talking about the healing effects of walks outside. “Nature gives me hope and reminds us that she will prevail in our darkest hour.” 

So, get out there, or stay in, but click here for tips on how to take advantage of South Florida’s verdant surroundings and enjoy the restorative power of nature! Thanks to Alex Daly of Daly.nyc, who connected us with the author.

It’s Volunteer Appreciation Week!

So we want to celebrate Friends of The Underline loyal volunteers who are passionate about The Underline every day and help our dedicated non-profit do more than we are staffed to do.

Seven years ago we advocated to create a world class linear park, urban trail and community destination below Metrorail.  In that time, our volunteers have fueled The Underline’s progress by contributing their expertise, time, and wallets to advance The Underline project, our mission and vision. From donating thousands of hours of expert legal, accounting, and marketing advice and providing leadership as board members to volunteering at free community yoga classes and bike rides, our volunteers are crucial to the operations, programming and fundraising of our organization.

Below a handful of those volunteers share why they chose to support Friends of The Underline 501(c)(3).  If you see any of these folks around town or at an Underline event, please say “thank you” for giving back and for helping to create a brighter future for our community for generations to come.

Daniel Balmori, Sr. Associate Hogan Lovells, Friends of The Underline pro bono attorney
“I volunteer with The Underline because I believe that public spaces reflect and promote public values. We deserve more active, connected, engaging, welcoming and world-class public spaces because we are all of those things.”

Irene Camberyo, Masters Candidate of Landscape Architecture FIU, Volunteer
“I volunteer my time to The Underline to help improve my community. It’s a chance to display our tropical gifts in an outdoor space that everyone will enjoy.”

Nick D’Annunzio, Tara Ink Principal, Friends of The Underline Board Member
“I am proud to be part of The Underline because it unites – not only people but communities. The Underline will be a new calling card for our county.”

Karen Gonzalez, Kimley Horn, Volunteer
“I volunteer because I dream of a more walkable and sustainable city and I believe in the power of The Underline to transform our community.”

Arden Karson, CBRE Sr. Managing Director South Florida, Friends of The Underline Executive Committee Board Member
“Seeing the impact that the High Line has in NYC really motivated me to get involved in a big way because I truly believe The Underline will be transformative for our community.”

Alex Larmier, Berkshire Hathaway EWM Realty, Underline Cycling Club Chair
“To do my part in helping shape Miami into a greener, more bike-friendly city!”

Ryan Marks, Kaufman Rossin Engagement Manager, Friends of The Underline Board Member
“ I believe The Underline will promote a cohesive and inclusive urban identity by bridging different neighborhoods.

Josh Merkin, rbb Communications Vice President, Friends of The Underline Board Member
“The Underline will make our community more connected while being part of the solution to address some of our bigger challenges such as transportation and green space.”

Salma Rahmathulla, Pelicans Group Director, Friends of The Underline Board Member
“It’s a chance to celebrate what’s special about Miami. It’s botanical beauty, art and creativity, and the richness of its diverse communities. It’s what this city has been waiting for!”

Brent Reynolds, NRI CEO and Managing Partner, Friends of The Underline Board Member
“Creating communities which connect people to their environment in a healthy and meaningful way has always been a focus and passion of mine and that is what the Underline is doing!”

Alicia Torrez, Media Relations Group, LLC/ Florida Department of Transportation, Volunteer
“I volunteer because the project bridges our communities and connects our people. The Underline represents the future of Miami and I am proud to be a part of it!”

Pamela Warren, Comcast, Volunteer
“As a Miami native, I have a deep affection for our communities. By donating my time to make Miami a better place supporting this incredible mission is an honor.”

Eric Zichella, Principal P3 Management, Friends of The Underline Board Member
“We Love Miami
We Want to Make it Better
Support Underline”

On another note, we want to thank all the people who go to work every day during the coronavirus pandemic.  From driving buses, to delivering food and mail to picking up garbage, thanks for keeping us safe while you keep the wheels of the community turning.

Thanks to all of you!

Many of us are trying to go about our daily lives but nothing is normal. Store shelves are bare, schools and businesses have been shut down, handshakes and hugs are weapons. And now, we are transitioning from social distancing to shelter-in-place/stay-at-home orders across the country. It’s stressful.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy recently noted that communities around the world are emphasizing the need to exercise safely and responsibly even while under a quarantine. The San Francisco Bay Area shelter-in-place order included an exemption specifically for “engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking, or running provided that you maintain at least six feet of social distancing.” In New York, residents have been limiting exercise and activities to things that can be done alone. In Paris, solo physical activity as well as taking the kids outside and walking a pet in your neighborhood are all considered essential. In the City of Miami’s recent shelter-in-place directive, outdoor exercise is permitted.

As we are compelled to stay home, many are solo biking and walking as an alternative to driving and taking public transportation––and for those of us who treasure the environment, it is encouraging to see one unintended consequence of the coronavirus: reduced car and factory emissions resulting in lower pollution levels in hard hit areas.

But cycling and walking have more than environmental benefits. While it is proven that cycling has the most beneficial physical health effects of all transportation modes, it also has mental health benefits: In a recent survey, three quarters of respondents noticed an improvement in their mental health after taking up cycling; one-third said cycling reduced their stress levels and some said it even helped with depression or anxiety. If you don’t own a bike, psychologists have suggested that a 10-minute walk is just as good as a 45-minute workout when it comes to relieving the symptoms of anxiety. Plus, for many of us working at home and need a little mental break, a walk in unpopulated areas can increase creative output by an average of 60%.

We are in frightening times and could be facing monumental economic and social impacts. Let’s do what we can to curb the effects of this pandemic by following the guidance of health and elected officials and take steps to take care of ourselves, both physically and mentally.

About author Meg Daly:

Meg Daly is President/CEO and Founder of Friends of The Underline, a 501(C)(3) non-profit partnering with Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works to build The Underline, a 10-mile park, urban biking and walking trail and public art and community destination below Miami-Dade County’s Metrorail.

As the coronavirus crisis forces changes in transportation, some cities are building bike lanes and protecting cycling shops. Here’s why that makes sense.

Speaking in Parliament in London earlier this year, Chris Boardman, the former Olympian cyclist and the walking and cycling commissioner of Manchester, said: “Pick a crisis, and you’ll probably find cycling is a solution.”

He was talking about climate, health and air pollution, but he also might as well have been talking about coronavirus.

As Covid-19 rages, almost half of the world’s population is under some form of restricted movement. In a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus, people must stay home, aside from strictly limited essential trips for food and medicine and a daily outing for exercise. We all need to comply with restrictions to bring this life-threatening virus under control. I believe the best way to keep a safe distance from others when we do move is by walking, and cycling.

Many experts view cycling as a safe way to avoid crowded public transportation systems — and the citizens in a number of world cities appear to agree. In New York, cycling spiked by 52% over the city’s bridges after social-distancing protocols were put in place. In Chicago, bikeshare use doubled in early March. In Dublin and London, advocates are offering support to new riders who are taking to the streets in droves.

Read the complete Citylab article here.

The January 2020 issue of Hemispheres Magazines gives its top 20 reasons to travel in 2020 and includes the opening of The Underline’s first phase one this summer.

#14 Explore Miami’s Game Changing New Park

About 70,000 commuters use Miami’s Metrorail each day, and city planners aim to turn the unused space beneath its tracks into an exciting new public space, a 10-mile linear park aptly named The Underline. Luckily, the Magic City is in good hands: The project is being helmed by James Corner Field Operations, the geniuses behind New York’s High Line. “Both projects share similarities in their overarching goals,” says principal designer Isabel Castilla, “to convert a leftover infrastructural space into a public space that connects neighborhoods, generates community, and encourages urban regeneration.” When finished, Miami’s park will be about seven times as long as its Big Apple counterpart. The first half-mile leg, set to open this June, is the Brickell Backyard, which includes an outdoor gym, a butterfly garden, a dog park, and gaming tables that call to mind the dominoes matches you’ll find nearby in Little Havana. “We envision the Underline dramatically changing the way people in Miami engage with public space,” Castilla says. —Nicholas DeRenzo

Read the complete article here.

 

Miami, Fla., Dec. 27, 2019 – Friends of The Underline (FUL), a 501C3 non-profit organization advocating to transform the underutilized land below Miami’s Metrorail into a 10-mile linear park, urban trail and public art destination, today announced that it has added six new board members. The group includes prominent community, business and civic leaders.

Those joining include:

  • Rudy Fernandez, Senior Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications and Chief of Staff to the University of Miami President
  • Alina Tejeda Hudak, former deputy mayor, Miami-Dade
  • Ryan Marks, manager in business consulting services, Kaufman Rossin
  • Grace Perdomo, director of urban design, Zyscovich Architects
  • Salma Merchant Rahmathulla, creative director, Pelicans Group
  • Rudy Prio Touzet, founder and CEO, Banyan Street Capital

”As we get closer to opening the first phase of this project, it is exciting that we continue to attract the attention of Miami’s best and brightest who are willing to give their time and energy to make The Underline happen,” said Meg Daly, President and CEO for Friends of The Underline.  “Fundraising remains one of our highest priorities and it will take a great team of board members to help the community understand how much their support is needed to deliver this transformative project to Miami.”

The first phase of The Underline, The Brickell Backyard, is scheduled to open Summer 2020.

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About The Underline

The Underline is a planned 10-mile urban trail, linear neighborhood park and public art destination that will span from the Miami River, north of Brickell Metrorail station, to Dadeland South. The Underline project will feature dedicated bike and pedestrian paths, amenities, art, programming, lighting, native vegetation as well as safety features and improvements at road crossings. The Underline will be built in phases, the first of which will begin in the Brickell area. For more information visit, www.theunderline.org and/or follow them on social on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @theunderlinemia.

 

 

Miami, FL December, 2019 – Friends of The Underline (FUL), a 501C3 non-profit organization advocating to transform the underutilized land below Miami’s Metrorail into a 10-mile linear park, urban trail and canvas for artistic expression, today announced that it has been awarded a $150,000 grant from Health Foundation of South Florida to support community outreach during planning, design, construction and technology master plan.

Specifically, the grant will fund The Underline’s community outreach for technology, accessibility, health & wellness and connectivity initiatives during the project’s planning, design, construction and technology master plan. The Underline is heavily dependent on community input and the grant from Health Foundation of South Florida will enable additional staff to facility conversations that ensure its facilities and programs are relevant to the hundreds of thousands of people who live in Miami Dade, as wells as tourists and business professionals seeking to utilize the transformative project.

”We are so thankful for the Health Foundation’s significant grant,” said Meg Daly, President and CEO for Friends of The Underline. “This grant will help us reach thousands of people who live, work and study near The Underline. It will enable us to hear not only what they want ON the Underline, but also want they want to DO on The Underline and how they will get there.”

“Health Foundation of South Florida was an early investor in The Underline and, since then, we’ve been nothing but impressed with all that’s been accomplished. Now, we’re proud to continue our support for this next chapter, as the Friends of The Underline seeks greater input from the surrounding community. The work they’re setting out to do—to learn more about the roles technology, art, education and connectivity can play in the further development of The Underline— is critical. Understanding what residents want and how they will actually use the park will ensure what’s built is truly of the community and by the community,” says Steven Marcus, President and Chief Executive Officer of Health Foundation of South Florida.

The first phase of The Underline, The Brickell Backyard, is scheduled to open in June 2020.

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About The Underline
The Underline is a planned 10-mile urban trail, linear neighborhood park and public art destination that will span from the Miami River, north of Brickell Metrorail station, to Dadeland South. The Underline project will feature dedicated bike and pedestrian paths, amenities, art, programming, lighting, native vegetation as well as safety features and improvements at road crossings. The Underline will be built in phases, the first of which will begin in the Brickell area. For more information visit, www.theunderline.org and/or follow them on social on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @theunderlinemia.

About Health Foundation of South Florida
Health Foundation of South Florida, a nonprofit grant making organization, is dedicated to improving health in Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. By funding providers and supporting programs to promote health and prevent disease, the Foundation makes a measurable and sustainable impact in the health of individuals and families. Since 1993, the Foundation has awarded more than $86 million in grants and program support. For more information, please call 305.374.7200 or visit the Web site, www.hfsf.org