Downtown Miami: A Work of Art


March 29, 2014, Washington, DC: The city of Miami is itself a work of modern art. Its scale pushes boundaries. Its colors are arresting. Its bold and sculpted subjects ooze style. The other night I watched from a high downtown balcony as someone threw a rainbow of strobe lights against this interactive exhibit to gear up for the weekend’s Ultra Music Festival. The city literally pulsed to the sound of a rave.

In Miami, I instinctively describe the city as an art critic might describe a gallery opening. I begin to study the negative space between shiny buildings, to consider perspective from high above Biscayne Bay, to observe how the shapes and lines that cover this canvas rest on the edges of the Miami River and spread wide over the port and South Beach beyond. I am struck by the contrast of the landscape, by this obsession with the color blue, by the bright white light and the glare and the pushing of the envelope.

Take a walk today and imagine your city as a work of art. What do you see? Who might have painted or sculpted it, and in which museum might it belong?

Related Posts on Neighborhood Nomads: 

Vallejo’s Story: A New Breath for Roshanda’s Hometown


Photo Credit: Roshanda Cummings

This is one in a series featuring cities, neighborhoods and the people who love them. Would you like to participate? Click here for more information about contributing to Neighborhood Nomads.

January 23, 2013, Washington, DC: “The stigma hangs.”

That’s how Roshanda Cummings described her hometown of Vallejo, California when she first wrote me about contributing to Neighborhood Nomads. She described a city that struggles to project a positive image despite having a lot going for it, despite triumphantly exiting bankruptcy in 2011. She shared links to a project she’s been working on called It was beautiful — the landscape, her photos, her words, all of it.


Photo Credit: Roshanda Cummings

When Roshanda and I talked a few days later, the story of the hometown that she grew up in and later returned to quite by accident took on a more meaningful shape. Roshanda never intended to go back, but since her return, she envisions greatness for Vallejo’s future.

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Neighborhood Nomad: Stuart of Broad Ripple

Justin Vining

Photo Credit: Justin Vining

This is one in a series featuring neighborhoods and the people who love them. Would you like to participate? Click here for more information about contributing to Neighborhood Nomads.

January 12, 2013, Washington, DC: “It’s all cyclical, right?” Indianapolis resident Stuart Drake and I are talking about how our choices concerning where to live often mimic those faced by our parents. Stuart’s friends and family constantly ask him when he, his wife, toddler and dog will leave the city and move to the suburbs. And Stuart and his family very well might. But Stuart also feels a tremendous pull towards his urban neighborhood of Broad Ripple– the very same neighborhood in which Stuart’s parents asked themselves these questions decades ago before packing their bags.

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Miles from Monday: November Moments, Near and Far


December 2, 2013, Washington, DC: November was my slowest month yet on Neighborhood Nomads, but November out here in the non-virtual world was anything but. November was busy. I know everyone is busy and it’s nothing to write home about, but in this case, life out here was an all-consuming frenzy that kept me away from life on the blog. Exciting projects are brewing in our home, neighborhood and city, and I can’t wait to share the details soon. For now, I’ll just say these days are full in the best of ways and I am optimistic about December.

Before we forge ahead, please enjoy these lovely moments collected during a month that went largely unrecorded. November moments were gathered in my favorite old hometown and a shiny new city, in the businesses along Barracks Row and the parks of Capitol Hill. Below is a collection of November snapshots, near and far.

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Miles from Monday: Oregon Coast Reunion


July 29, 2013, Washington, DC: Luckily Washington served up its most impeccable day of the summer today, otherwise it would have been impossible to get back to work after a vacation on the Oregon coast. The beaches of Manzanita, Cannon Beach and the broader Pacific Northwest are among the more drop dead gorgeous I’ve seen and provided a sublime location for a family reunion. I tend to think I’m a chameleon who could live happily in a variety of cities and towns, but this place reminds me I still have a type. I’m a west coast girl at heart, choosing to love and make the most of my east coast city for as long as I stay away. But I’d take the ocean towns of northern California and now the Oregon coast — sweatshirts, windburn and all — over most other landscapes without a second thought.

The backdrop was the perfect one upon which to reconnect with my energetic, wise and uplifting family, as evidenced by this week’s favorite photos included below. I think this place brought out the best in us. I know we brought out the best in each other.

Which places bring out the best in your family? Share with your fellow Neighborhood Nomads in the comments section below.


reading coastaldancemoon


Miles from Monday is a weekly travel series focused on venturing out of the spaces we inhabit during our work week and retreating to landscapes that feel far from routine.

Living in Detroit: Kerri’s Thoughts on a Struggling City

Detroit graffiti

Photo Credit: Kerri Schlottman

This is one in a series featuring our cities and the people who love them. Would you like to participate? Click here for more information about contributing to Neighborhood Nomads.

July 26, 2013: There’s one Detroit memory in particular that novelist Kerri Schlottman recalls after all these years. Her childhood recollections of the parade at Hudson’s department store or a visit to the museum aren’t particularly clear. But growing up in Detroit’s suburbs in the late 70s and early 80s, Kerri saw the streetscape change dramatically en route to occasional family outings downtown. Of all things, the car ride into the city sticks with her.

“Most of my memories are of looking out the car window, driving down Woodward Avenue,” Kerri told me this weekend. “You’d go from these nice, well-manicured suburbs to seeing burned-out buildings, windows smashed out, graffiti. This was the mid 80s; the city had been in decline for quite awhile at this point. It was always so intriguing to me. I did not understand what happened and no one talked about it.”

“These memories are stronger than my memories of the events we were actually going to,” she said. “I just remember thinking, ‘What happened here?’”

It is a question those who care about Detroit continue to examine on the heels of the city’s declaration of bankruptcy, the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history. I’ve found the story of Detroit compelling as I consider the lifecycle of place, but I’ve been curious to hear more personal stories from people who feel a connection to the city. Beyond the financials, what does Detroit mean to the people who love it?

Kerri gave us one perspective. Read on for snippets of her conversation with Neighborhood Nomads.

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First Impressions of Portland


July 24, 2013, Portland, Oregon: Right out of the gate, driving south along Interstate 5 and across the Morrison St. Bridge into the city, our first impression is that it looks like Canada. Then we catch a glimpse of Athens in the hills behind the neighborhood. Then we see Sydney in the high bridge at the end of the road. Chicago waves hello from shiny new condominiums. For a second, we notice New York in a gritty hotel, where a fan, lamp and hanging clothes clutter an open, second-story window.

First impressions of Portland are that this place is a mish-mash of lots of locations we love. But we know better. Portland is its own scene. We just haven’t had time to discover it yet.

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