Giving Newtown a voice — and listening to it

January 29, 2018

(Herald Tribune)When architect, artist and city planner Germane Barnes moved to Opa-Locka in 2013, he knew he was facing an enormous challenge. The low-income and predominantly African-American Miami suburb had a reputation for two things: the unusual Moorish architecture favored by its founder, and a rate of violent crime — once ranked the worst in the country — so out of control city leaders had blocked entrances to the neighborhood with metal barriers to stem drug traffic.Barnes, who received a grant from the Opa-Locka Community Development Corporation aimed at spurring a renaissance in the neighborhood, felt it would be the perfect place to test the theories he’d developed in his master’s thesis at Woodsbury University, about the connection between architecture and identity and how to revitalize a community without gentrification.

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