Trolleygate Brings A Community Together
Diesel bus garage, February 27, 2013

While crews continue to build the nonconforming Coral Gables diesel bus garage, a lawsuit by West Grove residents is working its way through the court system. If the residents of the community have their way, (and why shouldn’t they?) the bus garage will never open. If Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff has his way, his constituents will get screwed . . . again.

Flier announcing tomorrow’s unveiling.

The residents of West Grove have sued to stop Coral Gables, the neighbouring town, from building its polluting bus garage in the residential neighbourhood of west Coconut Grove. Oddly enough, the border between Coral Gables and Coconut Grove is just one block west of this construction site.

However, before the residents even knew about the diesel bus garage they were already looking at the corner of Frow and Douglas for an urban renewal project. Teaming up with MLK Community Mural Project, the community decided to paint a mural on the wall of a convenience store. With the announcement of the diesel bus garage, the mural has now become a rallying point.

The design of the mural came together organically from the ground up. A survey was sent around asking neighbours three questions:

1). What symbols of the community would you like to see in a mural?

2). What elements of the community are you most proud of? 

3). What are the future dreams you wish for the community?

The wall before it had been transformed.

Kyle Holbrook, of MLK Mural, took all the suggestions and created 3 different designs for the mural, incorporating them all. The designs were then voted on, with the winning one translated to the wall in colourful paint. What had been a nondescript wall has been turned into a vibrant mural and symbol of community pride. The painting pays tribute to the original Bahamians who settled the area, as it also
honours the history and people that made the Grove what it is today.

Tomorrow afternoon at 1 the community will come together to dedicate this wonderful work of art.

One of the things I have heard several times recently, from more than one person, is how people used to just call it The Grove, or Coconut Grove. These days, however, people refer to North Grove, East Grove, West Grove, Black Grove, White Grove. The mural reflects the concept of One Grove, with a banner proclaiming that at the very top of the mural. Reunification seems to be the desire of the community and return to the idea that everybody is in this together. This is something Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff should take the time to learn, as opposed to pitting community groups against each other in order to divide and conquer. 

The wall after it had been transformed.

Close up of the center section of the mural. Grand Avenue and Charles Avenue do not actually meet, except as the two streets around which the community congregated and thrived.
Another close up.

A family visiting the mural, as the parents teach the children about their history and heritage.

Three of the important pioneers of Coconut Grove: (L to R) Father Theodore Gibson, who did so much to integrate Coconut Grove during the various Civil Rights struggles; Esther Mae Armbrister, who championed turning the Mariah Brown House into a museum and community resource, among other good works in a lifetime dedicated to serving others; E.W.F. Stirrup, whose forward thinking ideas about Black home ownership more than 120 years ago is what makes Coconut Grove a unique place in this country to this very day.

Mangos! Shotgun houses! Foliage! All symbols of Coconut Grove.

These four young ladies were among the first to show up to paint the mural. A photograph was taken of them posing with their paintbrushes, which was then incorporated into the mural.

Caribbean dancers! More foliage and shotgun houses. And, the very building on which the mural is painted.

Full circle: Young man admiring the mural within the mural.

This is a wonderful work of art which will adorn this building for many years to come. It has also become a symbol of pride for a neighbourhood coming together to fight the Coral Gables diesel bus garage.

About Headly Westerfield

Calling himself “A liberally progressive, sarcastically cynical, iconoclastic polymath,” Headly Westerfield has been a professional writer all his adult life.

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