Friday, January 12, 2007

A Flower Grows In Umoja Village


Out of the vacant lot where Miami's shantytown Umoja Village has taken root, a feisty dandelion, scourge to many, loved by few, despite all obstacles has sprouted. Head held high, it symbolizes the indomitable spirit of the downtrodden, luckless bastards who trusted their government with providing affordable housing and found themselves homeless. Yesterday, the City of Miami backtracked on throwing the Villagers from their village. Buried deep within the Miami Herald, we're told the commission thought it best to "kill" the proposal and instead focus on finding long-term housing solutions rather than shutting the Village down.

Which begs the question: Why didn't they take this rational, humane approach from the beginning instead of a reactionary one usually associated with jackboot fascist dictatorships? What made them see the light? Could it have been seeing one of their fellow commissioners, Tomas Regalado, joining the Villagers in protest and getting arrested should the commission follow through on their threat to shut it down? MVB thinks so because inevitably the media microphone and lens would be pointed their way asking for an explanation, something we're sure they wouldn't be able to give...reasonably.

Now the wind has caught the dandelion and its seeds are traveling beyond Umoja Village.

Update (4/26/07): After six months, Umoja Village burns to the ground. An unattended candle brings the shanty town of nearly 50 people to an ignominious end. Miami police arrest those who refuse to leave and within hours the place is bulldozed and hauled away. Still, its founder Max Rameau vows to fight on.

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