Articles by

Fernando González

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    Think of the city as an orchestra – a rhythm section of cars and buses; the brass sounds of a factory; the emotions played out by a string section, told in the sounds of water; a choir of voices, perhaps in many different languages, all at once, telling stories.In Miami, we live surrounded by those sounds.
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    At the Dranoff 2 and Nu Deco Ensemble concert at New World Center in Miami Beach on Sunday, solemnity lasted a few bars — just enough for the orchestra to unpack the famous theme of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor,” and turn the piece into “Tocatta y Fuga en Re Minor,” as the program titled it. The arrangement by composer Sam Hyken, co-founder and co-artistic director of Nu Deco, quickly put Bach in the Caribbean, swaying in clave and leaving room for congas and a timbales solo — and off we were.
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    On most days, the broad median strip on Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami is just another parking lot. On Friday, and for the rest of this month, the segment between Southeast Second Street and NE First Street—just beneath the Metromover track—became Biscayne Green, a pop-up park with a stage, food stands, pop-up shops of local artisans and organizations, and tables and chairs where you can stop, sit and take it all in.
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    The concept behind the Masters of Tomorrow Summit, the daylong conference and music event focusing on technology, design and music at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse in Miami Wednesday, Nov. 30, is simple: bringing together smart people who have great stories to tell in a fun setting where they can meet, learn and, perhaps, nurture the next big idea.
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    The 33rd edition of Miami Book Fair, Nov. 13 through Nov. 20, turns the streets and campus of Miami Dade College in downtown Miami into a city of books — and more. There is storytelling in song, images and conversation, as much as in printed word, all celebrated in a street fair setting that gives this the nation’s largest literary festival, presented and produced by Miami Dade College, the feel of a community feast.
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    Photo of Teresita Fernandez's “Fata Morgana," courtesy of Allison Meier on flickr. It was perhaps fitting that an event titled “Artists As Citizens” took place on the same evening of the final presidential debate of this election season. But the conversation, held Wednesday at the headquarters of the National YoungArts Foundation in Miami as part of its Salon Series, was not about partisan politics but art, activism and social practice, beauty and community engagement.
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    Mention “design” and the word probably sparks ideas about objects, aesthetics and function. Design thinking is about creative doing. Developed over the past 40 years, it applies the principles of design to ways of working a particular challenge, emphasizing empathy with the users, outside-the-box thinking, prototyping and testing (with a generous tolerance of failure). It also favors collaboration and a loose but determined building process over notions of a lone genius coming up with the breakthrough idea in a eureka moment. The design thinking process has been used by leading companies, including Apple, AirBnb, and Nike, and has been embraced by Knight Foundation, which has integrated human-centered design into its own work, funded training for many of its partners, and suported initiatives to disseminate the principles.  “Design thinking is a process for innovation, or you can also call it a problem solving strategy,” says Ariel Raz, learning experience designer at Stanford University's d.School, which has received support from Knight Foundation to cultivate design thinking among media and civic organizations. “It can be applied to many different fields. Its application is almost unbounded. There are certain problems to which it applies more effectively than others,  but you can apply it to business, to healthcare or to education.” Raz will discuss design thinking at The Idea Center at Miami Dade College, today at 5:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. The talk will also serve as an introduction for “Design for Miami,” a 12-week program The Idea Center will offer this fall, beginning Sept. 6. Mariana Rego, co-founder and partner at DTM Studio, and Durel Coleman, founder of DC Design, will lead the course, which is geared to working professionals, social entrepreneurs and Miami Dade College students. The Idea Center is funded in part by Knight Foundation.
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    Photo by joiseyshowaa on Flickr.  Nico Berardi, managing director of Accelerated Growth Partners, a Miami-based angel investment group supported by Knight Foundation, is stepping down from the post to complete his MBA at Harvard Business School. Raul Moas, who served as executive director of Roots of Hope, Raíces de Esperanza, an international network focused on youth empowerment in Cuba, has been tapped as his replacement.  “I’m excited to stay connected to the Miami community. My partner is staying in Miami; she is a doctor at University of Miami Hospital, so I'll be commuting.” Berardi, who will remain a member of the board, joined AGP in 2014. The organization had started in 2012 as a group of friends, all successful investors, getting together over coffee to informally share information about early-stage investing. It grew quickly, and AGP investors provided seed funding to several Miami startups, including companies such as Kairos and LiveNinja. But without a structure, by mid-2013 the group became dormant. As it turns out, at that time, Knight Foundation was shifting its strategic focus for Miami, including the nurturing of a tech startup ecosystem. Funding and educated angel investors were key challenges. In 2014, AGP relaunched with support from Knight Foundation.