Monday, March 05, 2012

Saving Matheson Hammock, One Tweet at a Time

Palm Trees Should Be The Only Tall Objects Here

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The Save Matheson Hammock Photo Day was well attended in spite of yesterday's blustery weather. About 30 folks -- including leaders in the cause -- showed up in support for what was a quiet day in appreciation of the park's natural surroundings through photography. It wasn't a protest at all, though someone jokingly called it "occupy Matheson."

We spent the first hour by the marina's bait and tackle shop waiting for late comers in what felt like a casual town hall. Afterward, we walked by the area where the proposed boatyard would be built, followed by a stroll up the bridge to enjoy a wider vista. Standing at the park's highest point, we talked about the sight lines, mangroves that would be destroyed and what would be paved over if construction ever took place.

Saving Matheson One Tweet at a Time

Save Matheson Group

Marina at Matheson

Miami Twitterati at Matheson

Slow Down for Manatees

Later we dispersed to take photos but a small group that I led stuck together, exploring the mangrove trail and the atoll pool. Our photographers ranged from iPhone instagram addicts (yours truly now quickly becoming one) to digital ninjas and even a fine art professional shooting old school with real film in a Hassleblad.

Throughout the day, we talked about our Matheson memories. Especially poignant were the stories from one family that had three generations of Matheson experience. And one woman spoke of how this had been the spot of her first kiss.

Boaters stayed home yesterday because of high winds and marine warnings. This was a blessing and a curse for us. Without the cold front, we would have experienced the traffic mayhem on a typical Matheson Hammock weekend and would have had a seriously dangerous challenge as pedestrians. But on the other hand, we enjoyed the peace and tranquility of this park as anyone might on days with little boat traffic. The silence was truly golden. Only the occasional crow disturbed the swoosh of the winds through the trees.

Boating School at Matheson

The Mangrove Trail at Matheson

Experiencing a Little Wilderness at Low Tide

Stop The Boat Warehouse With a Smile

CBS 4 Miami showed up for a TV interview, where yours truly volunteered to be in front of the camera to discuss social media and environmental conservation. And while I couldn't access my Twitter, others did tweet and post on Facebook to share the event live with the tag #savematheson.

As of today, a tweetreach report indicates that 17,139 people were reached via 50 tweets. Not bad for a simple, grassroots effort.

The Save Matheson Facebook page is constantly active. I'm really amazed at the community support Save Matheson is receiving through this social network.

Yet a handful of others who attended yesterday don't use social media at all, which just goes to show even an email newsletter can be an effective broadcast tool. In short, we're getting the word out effectively. Nearly 7,000 have already signed the petition.

Even the Puddles Are Beautiful at Matheson

Sea Grapes Matheson Hammock

Ecosystem and Boaters Must Coexist in Balance

Coconut Flotsam Matheson Hammock

Capuring But Not Touching a Spider

Photographer at Lagoon

A week or so prior to this event, I attended the City of Pinecrest public hearing where Aqua Marine Partners developer Andrew Sterner, as well as citizens pro and con, spoke to the representatives. I moved from my chair and sat on the floor behind Marc Buoniconti in his wheelchair, taking copious notes on my laptop after a fellow reporter took a picture of my laptop screen. (Yes, that actually happened and I called her out on it.) A few other weird things happened, but I'm not going to get into it.

Compassion got the better of me. I thought how sad this all was and how sad to see Mr. Buoniconti that way -- what an awful plight. I thought of how a community could be so divided when there could be so many other options. Only two people out of ten took the mic at the Pinecrest meeting to praise the development while complaining about scant boat ramp access. This warrants investigation. A number of boaters have talked to me about Miami-Dade boat ramp closings in recent years. Miami Herald? New Times? Hello? You out there?

I'd rather not belabor the political mess of all this, but suffice it to say that the City of Pinecrest disapproved of the development.

The cynics are going to call this your typical Miami story of political corruption and financial greed, but all I know is that there are nearly 7,000 folks who want to keep the park the way it is. There's nothing wrong with the idea of this dry dock facility. It's just the proposed location that's at issue.

It doesn't end here, of course. Any day can be your personal PHOTO DAY at Matheson. Just show up, enjoy the park, take photos and tag #savematheson.

What's next? Subscribe to the Save Matheson newsletter for more details and visit our Facebook page.

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