Little River and Biscayne Bay

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Little River where it meets Biscayne Bay. ©Jacob Katel. All Rights Reserved.

Little River, baby! Little River, baby! It’s going dooowwwn! It’s going dooowwwn! Off of 79th street. This is the real, reporting live from the urban core. This is Little River, baby, off of 79th street…on US1, Biscayne Boulevard, which goes all the way up the coastline of the United States and I’m gonna be running up under that vast concrete network today. Why? Because I’m off of Little River. Off of 79th street. A legendary location in the City of Miami.

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©Jacob Katel. All Rights Reserved.

This is the real city where it meets the bay. This is the Biscayne Bay.

This is the area known as Belle Meade. Belle Meade is a little island in the sun. It was man-made and built here for people to have mansions at where they could party right on the edge of the ocean. The Biscayne Bay where the pirates used to stay. Where they ran rum all day. Through prohibition with no prohibitions. Ok. It’s always a party over here. There’s very lively scene here. There’ve been so many numerous clubs and so many numerous parties here. But the truth of the matter that you must remember is that it goes back to the ancient times of the Calusa, the Tekesta, the Tequesta, the Miccosukee, the Seminole. These are all the indigenous peoples that populated the area before it was ever so-called “discovered” by the European conquistadors but was known about for thousands of years by people from the Bahamas, from Cuba, from all of the islands of the Caribbean basin, and even the places such as Nicaragua where people DID even float over on their boats.

That means it’s drawn a hearty level of people for all its history and that’s why you gotta be a real survivor to live here. The true meaning of survival in South Florida is how to get along with people. Develop relationships that exist over time and find a symbiotic relationship so that you can thrive. If all you wanna do is be a predator and destroy, you won’t make it because there’s always a bigger fish than you. Ok? You gotta cooperate. And that’s the true definition of living out here. For the Little River goes back through time. All the way.

It was even as important as the Miami River, the Oleta River, and other various channels of access. The Little River used to be a way for peoples to get back and forth from The Everglades to the trading post, and from the hunting grounds of the Biscayne Bay.

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©Jacob Katel. All Rights Reserved.

The difference between the Everglades and the Biscayne Bay is salt water vs. fresh water.

And as you get closer to or farther from each one in between, they combine and they create what’s called a brackish environment where both elements of each distinct environment create a mélange that is unmatched for its diversity and ability to create relationships between seemingly disparate creatures, flora, fauna, and the built and natural environment.

Little River goes all the way back. That’s history. Little River is 79th street. Little River goes through Liberty City. Little River goes through Hialeah. Little River hits the Okeechobee Trail.

Little River goes all the way to the Everglades. And it’s these combination of environments which co-exist and thrive upon each other’s greatness which create the beauty of the diversity that we see here today. Yo. Little River covers the industrial zone, the urban environment, the suburban environment, entirely other cities, and the ultimate wilderness. Go ahead and look at it on the map. Get geographic with it. You can track how it how it operates and what its meaning was. Little River is the environmental embodiment of structural racism and institutional…Hold up, I don’t wanna lose you all getting political on here.

Let’s put it this way. Little River is blocked off to see where the water goes and how the people are able to get there. Between Little Haiti and El Portal there’s a structural building: a dam and a lock that determines what, where, and how you’re able to access it.

El Portal is built on an ancient Indian burial ground. And at that point is where you’re going to find the train tracks that say this side and that side. Guess who lives on that side? Iggy Pop. Guess who lives on that side? The guy who probably gardens his lawn. Put it that way.

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What communities are along Little River?

And why does the water flow as it does? Little River has been blamed for a lot of the pollution that enters Biscayne Bay. And I wonder how it is that it ends up there because it is fully controlled. Every canal in Miami-Dade County is controlled in what water enters and exits its flow. It’s a complex mechanical labyrinth owned and operated by the South Florida Water Management District. So what does the railroad track symbolize to you? Do you think it should be that way? Why is the pollution running from Little River into the Biscayne Bay?

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©Jacob Katel. All Rights Reserved.

And why does that pollution run through Little Haiti? Think about it. You think it’s a mistake? No. It was done like that on purpose. And you could decide for yourself why you think of that and what it means to you.

What’s this? The Blue Whale was passing through on the day that I paddled up The Little River. I seen The Blue Whale. The Blue Whale is a massive County funded garbage pickup truck train with a crane It can’t pick up the runoff that forms in a liquid form. There are four tides a day. Every six hours the tide and the currents change. High and low tide are the water column at work. And upon the horizontal plane is where we find the current. Tides go up and down. And the current goes in and out. Horizontally. Now what’s that mean?

Four times a day we’re gonna see the push and the pull of the water. It’s the “Yin” and “Yang” and it happens four times a day. It’s a mysterious occurrence. We know that between the relationship of the sun and the moon upon the water through their gravitational pull that these daily phenomena occur, but yet they cannot even be projected more than a week in advance at best. And those projections are merely theories based on guesses, based on educated scientists who have hopefully expensive jobs to try to figure this out.

Ey. There’s a lot that goes into engineering and there’s a lot that goes into politics. So you gotta put two and two together. If you want to have a better environment for yourself, you have to be part of the defining of that environment. And the way that you’re going to do that is to take over these jobs that have traditionally been held by people that may have been outsiders. Somebody might have moved here from New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, West Tuscaloosa, South Alabama, Missahumpka, Hopekaloopkie… You know some made up place that they don’t even know nothin’ about here. So what the point of this entire documentary is to try to inform and to educate and to entertain. To try to give you something you can learn from that’s not lame. That’s really cool and that you can see and draw your own conclusions from through critical thinking and analytical thought. That you can create a true theory of your own about what things mean. So that is what we find upon the Little River environment.

Over here who knows what they’re doin’ today. They’re building. They’re building and if I had my way I would ask you to think about what is the role of pollution in the built environment, how it’s channeled, and to what degree this is a reflection of the politics of the populace who may be in power…

Written by

Jacob Katel is a Writer, Photographer, and Movie Maker raised in Miami since 1988 https://www.amazon.com/Jacob-Katel/e/B00C7VH40Y

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