Heart of the Grove tells the stories of everyday heroes

vintage sepia photo palm trees bay shore wooden boat house dock

Boathouse of the Barnacle, Admiral Ralph Munroe’s home, Coconut Grove, circa 1887. (University of Miami Library Special Collections)

Heart of the Grove stories are inspired by a legacy of resilience.

The idea for Heart of the Grove, a story series about Coconut Grove’s everyday heroes, was born during the Covid-19 pandemic and inspired by a legacy of resilience in adversity. 2020 wouldn’t be the first year neighbors helped neighbors in tough times.

As we approach Miami’s 125th anniversary of incorporation in 1896, we remember that Coconut Grove became a community years prior in 1873 with an official post office. Bahamian and U.S. pioneers — some freed African-American slaves and others white Americans from a relatively new nation ravaged by a Civil War — found ways to collaborate in order to thrive on the bay shore.

And what a shore!

Tequesta Indians thrived on this shoreline long before Europeans claimed terra firma sailing toward the Indies. The Tequesta lived and loved here, on the very same limestone ridge, under lush, verdant canopies of trees. They foraged, fished and hunted. They gathered freshwater from inland streams. They were intimately connected to the spirit of the land.

The heart of this place we call Coconut Grove today is actually millenia old, and its natural beauty still takes our breath away.

Heart of the Grove is about the people … and trees!

Today, we also live and love here. We sail on the same bay waters, and enjoy the shade of ancient trees that have witnessed the lives of many hearts beating in this village that would be annexed to the City of Miami in 1925, somewhat reluctantly, and perhaps in name only. The Grove has always stuck loyally to its unique character.

This legacy of resilience hasn’t always been pretty, but it has often been powerful — and definitely offbeat. Coconut Grove combines diverse histories, cultures, ethnicities and lifestyles with three important things in common: Thriving as a community in this beautiful corner of the earth. Connecting to land and sea. Keeping it that way.

We’re blessed to have legendary Grove elders who can still tell us stories about life in the early 20th century through memories of their forebears homesteading on the bay. We’re also fortunate to know newer Grovites who’ve shaped the scene in more recent decades. Everyone has a story about why they call this place home. Everyone agrees it’s about the people — and the trees — we really love our trees!

From Bahamian to Bohemian, from Victorian to hippy, from Vizcaya to tropical bungalow — the Grove truly embodies a concentrated eclectic mix of stories like no other community in Miami-Dade.

Getting to the heart of it

aerial view of coconut grove

Aerial view of modern day Coconut Grove.

Heart of the Grove recognizes that placemaking begins with stories.

We ask: Who makes the heart of the Grove beat? Who is its lifeblood and living pulse?

We highlight our everyday heroes who make a difference.

We share profiles of the colorful characters who make Coconut Grove such a special, historical community in South Florida.

We rejoice in our venerable elders who hold a treasure trove of stories.

We give readers a chance to get to know their neighbors and appreciate Coconut Grove through their eyes.

We lift each other up by recalling our struggles and joys.

We build a narrative of community wisdom.

We strive to inspire others to also give back and feel a sense of pride in their community.

All these stories weave us together in myriad ways.

Some of our Grovites have deep roots in the community, while others are relatively new to the city. We all have one thing in common — a passion to make Coconut Grove a better place to live, work and play — all while preserving the unique, quirky character of the city we love.

Heart of the Grove at a glance

Everyday heroes. Grovites young and old from all walks of life.

What and Where
A weekly blog series of profiles featuring Grovites on CoconutGrove.com
Social media campaigns #heartofthegrove
Street banners of featured Grovites in downtown Coconut Grove
Select online and in-person events

Early on in 2021, the Coconut Grove BID established an initial list of Grovites to interview. Each Grovite interviewed pays it forward with a nomination. Have a story idea or nomination? Contact us.

About Maria de los Angeles

Maria de los Angeles is the chief storyteller and editorial director for the BID.